A Lost Youth


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175 in stock


By Abigal Muchecheti

ISBN: 978-1-84991-973-9
Published: 2013
Pages: 142
Key Themes: Mental Health, Female Genital Mutilation,


This is a story about Female Genital mutilation and its physical and mental consequences on its victims. The story is set in a very remote village in Africa. As people of different tribes came together there were bound to be cultural clashes. The subjects of these clashes ranged from how girls were treated to smaller issues such as grazing lands.

For the four brave women caught in the middle of these cultural clashes, life took its course. Immaculate, just twelve when the story begins, was determined to continue with school even on the eve of her marriage – a marriage that was complicated. Manyara, another village girl, struggled to understand what it meant to go through female genital mutilation. Then there was Makandida, married off at twelve against her will – but what could she do? Her parents’ death meant she didn’t have much choice about her life any more. Her life turned into a nightmare when she developed a medical condition, obstetric fistula, and was abandoned by her husband. Finally, Egifa had to leave her home because of the stigma she bore as the result of an outdated religious ritual.

The story explores how these women struggled to try and mend their lives shattered by loved ones.

About the Author

Abigal Muchecheti was born in Zimbabwe. After graduating from the University of Zimbabwe, she moved to Botswana and then the UK and currently lives in Faringdon. Abigal‘s work is based on her experiences in dealing with issues that affect women and consequently the mental trauma that follows. Having moved to the UK, Abigal realised this was an opportunity to bring forward the issues affecting women especially Female Genital Mutilation. Being the voice of the voiceless is her priority and ‘A Lost Youth’ is her second novel. The book explores the physical and mental trauma caused by Female Genital Mutilation and aims to raise awareness to help stop this horrific practice. Besides being a campaigner against Female Genital Mutilation, Abigal works full time.

Book Extract

Days before my marriage, I found it hard to fall asleep. This particular day, the smell of smoke and the hooting of an owl woke me from my deep slumber. It was dawn, and I had been having a nightmare. I dreamt a woman was about to stab me with a knife. I screamed and got up. I guess this was just me worrying about my relationship with the wife of G, the man I was going to marry. I needed the toilet, but my brother was sitting by the fire outside, and we did not use the pit latrine in the dark. I quickly went to the other side of the house to help myself. After that I went over to my brother and asked why he was not in bed.

”I am doing some thinking, sister,” he said. That was worrying.
”But how are you managing with all that smoke?“ I asked him. I could barely see him through the thick grey smoke. Dogs started barking, and I shivered. When I was younger, my brother used to say that if you are outside and suddenly hear dogs barking, they must have seen something, so run for your life. He used to scare me with stories of ghosts and vampires in the village. The barking dogs scared me now, so I told him, ”I am going in; good luck with your fire.” My eyes were full of tears from the smoke.

At the last minute, though, I decided to stay with my brother a while longer. Maybe he needed a shoulder to cry on, like I did. Something must be wrong – he would not be out this early for nothing.

”Which pile of firewood have you used?” I asked him. “From the smoke, I gather you have used the one that has not dried out. Take it out of the fire and use the pile I fetched yesterday. This smoke will wake the entire village.”

Eventually we sorted out the fire. I was the fire expert in the family, the one who always got up early to light the fire and boil the water for all of us to use. There were times when I felt tired of it all. Work all the time, except when I was with my books.

”What is the matter?” I asked my brother again. “Tell me about it. I know you are worried about my going to this man, but surely this is not the reason you got up so early to sit by yourself?”

”I have messed up, sister,” my brother finally confessed. “I got a girl pregnant. What am I going to give her? We can hardly manage as a family, and here I am bringing in another mouth to feed. What am I going to tell Baba? He will kill me.” ‘Baba’ was what we called our father.

”You idiot!” I exclaimed. “When did this happen, and how far gone is she?” I did not know what to say. I had so many worries myself, but this was big. “Have you told Mother yet, or Meju?” I asked. “Maybe you should tell Meju about this pregnant girl first. She will not be impressed, but don’t delay – you don’t want Baba to hear it through the grapevine.”. I was worried for my brother.

There would be no more school for him – he would have to look for a job now, to look after his new family. I was angry with him, too, for being so careless. He should have known better, considering how poor we were.

I left my brother and went back to bed. My mind was going in all directions. I had my own life to worry about, but for everyone else life had to go on.
How could my brother be so selfish? I thought to myself.

I did have a party on my birthday, a marriage party disguised as a birthday party. Normally we would not and instead of enjoying I was angry. We didn’t have any birthday celebrations in the village, so even the villagers might have been surprised by us having such a lavish party. People celebrated many things, including circumcision and initiation ceremonies, but not birthdays.

I had been dreading being a wife ever since the evening when I had overheard a clamour of voices on the subject. Having heard rumours about my marriage, I asked my mother why she was doing that to me.


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