Like a Bantaba, which is a center where villagers, mainly adult men gather to chat and discuss almost everything, the “Joint” is a place for a young group of youth including a few girls. They meet there, chat and talk about everything.
As usual, they gathered at the “Joint” as if someone was beating the talking-drum to summon them there. Langboy was making attaya and they were listening to music as always. It was not long when Jabou passed by them. Jabou was one of the girls that used to come to the ‘Joint” but that was before her father came from abroad. She now doesn’t come there anymore because her father has condemned her from going there. Her father said “those boys have no aim and will corrupt [his] daughter.” This angered the boys that came to the joint but they would turn a deaf ear to the accusation.
Someone mentioned about Jabou’s husband and they all began to talk about her. She among the four girls that used to come to the “Joint” was the only one who did not have a boy friend, at least no one knew about it. Her parents were so proud of her because unlike the other girls, no one has ever accused her of fooling around with men in the village.
“So tonight is going to be her test?” Mai said. “What test?” asked Ismaila. “The test that will prove whether she was sleeping with another man before her husband.” They all busted into a sarcastic laughter as soon as Mai said that. “You know she is going to pass it because she has never slept with anybody before.” Ismaila said. “Who can tell? Some people are a wolf in a sheep clothing.” said Bakary. “Okay let’s not judge anyone here. In fact I heard that this test is not accurate sometimes because some people don’t show anything on their first time.” Ismaila added. “I don’t know if that is true or not but we will find out come tomorrow if she is the angel that her parents called her.” This statement by Mai also set off another loud laughter that almost caught the attention of the children playing soccer in the street.
Alfa was quite all this time smoking his joint of manis (a tobacco leaf dried and cut into small pieces). He wrapped it into a specially made thin sheet of paper called “rizzler.” As soon as he finished his joint, he restarted the conversation about Jabou’s first night with her husband. “Do you guys think that is really necessary? Especially the way they do it?” He asked. “I don’t know about you guys but I will not do it. Not when they are eavesdropping on me and my wife on our first night.” Ismaila said. “I think it is embarrassing even if the girl is a virgin because everyone knows what happen. I heard that in the past, some men divorce their wives for the reason that they are not virgins when their husbands marry them.” Ismaila added. “In fact what is the importance of it? Mai asked. “I think it’s just for the girl’s family to be proud that she has been a good girl for keeping herself under control against the temptation of men.” said Langboy, who pretended not to be listening to the conversation.
Surprisingly for everyone, Jabou came by the “Joint” to chat. “What will you cook for your husband tonight?” Mai asked. “I am not here to talk about that, ok…, just here to chat.” Jabou replied coyly. They started to talk about other things and gossiped about a few people until Jabou’s mother sent for her. It wasn’t long after that when everyone left and the session at the ‘Joint’ went into recess.
That evening as is the tradition, Jabou’s friends accompanied her to where her husband was lodged to chat. They kept her company until when it was time to sleep. That is when Jabou’s grandmother came with a white piece of linen. As if they were signaled to leave, all the girls that were keeping Jabou accompany left. Jabou’s grandmother told her what to do with the cloth, and the grandmother would stay in the house until she got the proof of Jabou’s virginity. As Jabou goes into the bed room, she hissed at her grandmother who situated herself in the living room waiting for her message. Jabou went inside without the cloth and her grandmother followed her with it. “You better get this from me. This is our tradition even before you were born so you must do it. Don’t you trust yourself?” Her grandmother asked with a smile. Jabou grabbed the cloth from her and closed the door.
This white linen is like a litmus paper. They would find out in the morning whether she was a virgin or not base on the color on the cloth. Many young girls have lately been refusing to do this.
When they felt they were alone, Jabou and her husband began to talk rather than act. They talked about many personal things before they come to the issue of the cloth. Jabou’s husband told her many things including when he first became a man. Jabou felt since her husband was open about his past, she should also do the same thing, but at the same time, she thought that will earn her disrespect from her husband so she didn’t tell. “I don’t like this virginity test so if you also don’t like it then we will not do it.” Her husband told her. “Oh no, we have to do this because if not people will look at us differently.” She said. “Look Jabou, I love you that is why I married you. Whether you are a virgin or not, does not matter to me. No one is perfect. Everyone could be tempted to break the taboos and if that is the case why should everyone know about it?” Her husband continued. “You know how they will look at you if you fail this. It will be embarrassing.” he added. “I know that but I am not the first daughter of my parents and they all did it so if I don’t do it that will be shameful for my parents.” she said. “Well it’s up to you. If you want we can start cooking now.” They both smiled at each other then the husband took off his pants and put on a pair of shorts. Jabou lay on her back staring hard at the ceiling with her heart beating faster and faster. She was worried that she might fail the test. She remembered a time when she fell for a boy that she used to admire. “Will that make me fail the test?” She thought. She then looked at her husband and asked him to promise her that he will love her no matter what the result is. “Look Jabou we are not going to do this.” Her husband said. “Let me take back the cloth.” He added. “No! No!” Jabou protested. “Let’s go ahead; I don’t care about what people will say. All I care is that you will still love me for who I Am.” she said. “Well, okay…, if that’s what you want. But I promise that I will love you for who you are as a person and nothing about your past will affect that. I love you Jabou.” “I love you too.” she said, smiling nervously.
As they got closer to daybreak, her grandmother, who was waiting in the living room, became worried because she did not hear anything and she knocked on the door as the couple were about to engage. The knocking startled the man who was doing his best not to hurt her. As he moved suddenly, he forced himself into her with a force that made her scream so hard that even her grandmother froze at the door. He came out quickly and decided not to repeat the act, at least not for that day. For about ten minutes, she kept her eyes close either because she was hurting or she did not want to see her failure. Her husband gave her a kiss on the lips and then on the forehead and whispered in her ears, “you have passed the test.” she opened her eyes surprised and looked at the white linen that has the proof of her virginity. She looked at her husband and smiled with a deep sigh of relief.