After one year of dating, Parsanka introduced her to his parents, he was given consent to go ahead and marry her, after all, he was way too late not to have married. Now it was Josephine’s turn to introduce him to her parents. Her parents right away loved Parsanka and gave him consent to have their daughter. Josephine’s father remembered her words; that she would marry at the right time. He was very proud of her! A goat was slaughtered as a sign of acceptance. That very night, Parsanka proposed to her queen with what he considers a very expensive gold ring – that he had bought during his trip to Europe -in a Manyatta where he was to sleep.
Before dowry negotiation between the two families could begin, it was mandatory that Josephine undergoes the cut; first as a tradition and second as a prerequisite for marriage.
Earlier before the lovebirds had agreed to get married, Parsanka had made it clear to Josephine that he will not allow her to undergo the cut. That he loved her the way she was and would fight the ‘stupid’ tradition to ensure that she remains safe.
Josephine had narrowly escaped the cut in the past since she was in school and whenever schools closed she chose to stay at her uncles’ place in Nairobi. Her brother too was opposed to having her married. He had turned down two marriage proposals persuading his father to let her complete school. Her brother was her keeper. He paid her tuition fees and constantly protected her. She, on the other hand, worked very hard not to disappoint him.
The tussle began during the first visit to her home when Josephine uttered the ‘stupid’ words; ‘Mom, I will not undergo the cut!’ Her mother thought she was teasing. She repeated again and again. It was now clear to her mother’s ears that she meant it. How could she? Coming from a community that practices FGM, it was impossible, it was unheard of. How will her father welcome the news? ‘Your father will not accept it! Period!’ Warned her mother. Their visit had brought both good and bad news!
They traveled back awkwardly hardly conversing. They both wanted to be role models in both of their communities. Parsanka reached out to Josephine’s brother to convince his father about her sister’s decision but nothing yielded. It only worsened family relationships. ‘It became so complex!’ recalled Parsanka. Josephines’ brother quit talking and told them he can only wish them the best.
Parsanka and her fiancée were left with one option; to do away with traditional marriage and marry the civil way, but this meant cutting links with both families. Which would have been very wrong, this option was impractical.
They sought to go back to Josephines’ home and agree to the requirement that can only bind them together but by coy about it by convincing the circumciser to cut Josephine’s thigh so that the blood that drops convinces the parents that she had gone through the cut! On arrival, he met the circumciser awaiting Josephine. The circumciser begged Parsanka to allow her to perform the rightful cultural procedure and stop embarrassing his father-in-law who was a respected member in the community. She refused to adhere to his tricks and feared for her life! She could only perform the real cut nothing else!
At this point Josephine’s mother was depressed, she could not eat, she developed ulcers and was in no talking terms with her husband. The stubborn lovebirds returned to the city to think of another smart way out. They were withdrawn, they had lost so much weight and the situation was putting so much pressure on their relationship.
Parsanka thought of bringing his parents to negotiate dowry where he would quickly pay dowry and take off with his wife. Once Josephine’s father accepted dowry it would automatically mean he had rightfully given off his daughter. He therefore set off to bring his father and a couple of elders to meet Josephine’s father. While on their way, Parsanka broke to them the news about him marrying Josephine who hadn’t gone through the cut and that they should support him before his father-in-law when he brings it up during their negotiations.
Hell broke loose! Parsanka’s father was very furious for having been fooled. All this time it had never occurred to him that his daughter-in-law to be was uncut! To him, she was an outcast and would never set foot in his compound again. The village elders were very furious that Parsanka had wasted their time and that he had become insane! They both threatened to cut off their journey. They could not be part of Parsanka’s meritocracy. How could they negotiate dowry of an uncut girl?!
He convinced them to proceed with the journey and stick to the main agenda which was dowry negotiation. The rest he would handle. After many hours of persuasion they agreed, in addition, the elders did not want to embarrass themselves by going back home after they had packed bags and bragged to their wives about their trip.
They made it to Josephine’s home the following day. Dowry negotiation went perfectly. As the negotiations came to a close, Josephine’s father stood up and made it clear that the girl had to undergo the cut. It was taboo, the ritual was important to him more than the dowry. He requested Parsanka to stand up and admit before the elders that he would allow his wife-to-be to observe the tradition. Parsanka stood up and explained how education had changed their view about many things including retrogressive cultures.
He did not move them a single bit. They stayed firm to their decision. ‘Josephine must be cut!’ reinforced her father. Well, the tricky Parsanka convinced them that with both their work schedules Josephine could only be cut during her leave days since healing takes almost three weeks. They agreed to plan for leave (before their soon to be wedding) where both of them would be free to take care of each other but meanwhile, they were going to settle the bride price.