The Elder’s Daughter – Episode 12
© Jennipher Duru
Throughout the day, Esther thought of what her father had just told her. She thought of how to behave before Jacob, how to behave as a fiancée. “When did Jacob ever notice me? He has never shown any interest me. What about the girl in church who he seemed to like? Oh God help me!” she thought within her as she prepared lunch in the kitchen. Her mother had been quiet all along and Esther did not know how to talk to her and what exactly she could say. In Esther’s family, every decision taken by her father was final and incontestable. In their church, they were taught that the father, being the head of the house, had the capacity and power to take any decision concerning his entire household. Esther had never seen her mother contest any decision taken by Elder Barnabas. She was a very humble and submissive wife. She smiled at Esther as she chopped some vegetables “Esther, Esther my daughter! I am very happy to see you. You look so beautiful. City weather should be good because your skin is glowing!” she said.
Esther smiled “Oh mom. It is indeed beautiful, but it is not for the faint hearted like me. It is not like our city where people take things so easily” she said. She then looked at her mom and said “Mom, can I ask you a question?” Her mother smiled “Hmm, I think I know where it will lead to. Is it about what your father told you yesterday?” she said.
Esther drew closer to her and said “Yes mom, it is about the same issue”. Her mother took another stool and hit it gently, asking her to sit down. Esther sat down quietly and faced her mother.
Esther’s mother: So, my dear princess, what do you want to know?
Esther: Mom. That news came to me as a surprise. I know that it would happen one day, but I didn’t think it could happen so soon.
Esther’s mother: Well, God has a way of doing things that we cannot understand
Esther: Do you think it is God that wants me to marry Jacob? I mean, I hardly know him. We have never talked or anything like that.
Esther’s mother: I cannot speak on behalf of God, but one thing I know, that we are even taught at church, is that men are the heads of the home and whatever they decide is final, as they somehow represent God on earth
Esther: Mom, please be sincere with me. How did you get married to dad? Was it grandfather that asked you to marry him or did you know each other before then?
Esther’s mother could not answer. She hesitated for a while and kept looking up the ceiling. Esther asked again “Mom, please tell me the truth. Were you also obliged to marry him?” Her mother was becoming uncomfortable. She finally opened her mouth and spoke “My daughter, your father loves you and I believe he wants the best for you. If he has accepted the proposal from this young man, then you can be rest assured that he knows what he is doing. Just accept it as your destiny and enjoy the ride that life gives you”
Esther: But mom, I don’t even know this person. I only see him at church. What makes father so sure that he loves me or that I will love him?
Esther’s mother: Love! Did you just say love? My dear daughter, love is something that no man can ever explain. It is an abused word whose meaning people have completely distorted. You claim that you don’t know this young man very well. Well, I am glad to let you know that it is impossible to completely know a human being. Only God has that capacity. Even if you live with someone for 100 years, you can never be able to know the full identity of man. The only thing you can do is to cope with what you have at hand. You can learn to know him and maybe even love him with time. The rest will be sorted out by time itself.
Esther: But just tell me how you got married to dad. Did you know him be…
Esther’s mother: How I got married to your father has nothing to do with what is happening now. The decision has already been taken and all you have to do is to comply. The only advice I can give you now is to allow time to have its free course. Concentrate on your studies and be the respectful person that you have always been. Do not allow this situation to change you. Time will tell. Now, let’s finish our work.
Esther felt disappointed. She was expecting her mother to give her a full story of how she met with her father. This was a whole new thing to her and she did not know just how to take it. She continued what she was doing, but in deep thoughts. Her mother, who had been starring at her, said, resting her hand on her shoulder “Don’t think too much. Everything will be fine. Leave everything to God and time”. Esther just nodded her head and continued.
The following morning, Esther was getting ready to receive her fiancé, Jacob. She felt weak and felt like she was having a running stomach. She did not know what to expect. She wore a long blue dress with a white cardigan. She combed her long, black hair and covered it with a head scarf. She looked at herself in the cracked dressing mirror and stood still, thinking. “Esther, you now have a fiancé. What does this mean to you?” she said to herself. She then thought of David. Her heart beat fast. She stretched her hand to reach the top of the wardrobe and brought out the bracelet he had given to her. She held it tightly on her chest. “What will he think when I inform him? How will he take it? I know we are just friends, but I was hoping we could be…” she thought. A knock on the door disrupted her thoughts. “Esther, you need to come out of there. The guests have arrived” Her mother called. Esther was becoming more nervous. She quickly put back the bracelet and put on her sandals. She took a deep breath and left her room. She could hear her father laughing as he talked to the visitors. She went to the living room and found the guests settling down. The living room was filled with a sweet and strong perfume. She could recognize Jacob and his father, Elder Timothy. There was also with them, an elderly man.
Esther greeted them, starting from the elderly man to Elder Timothy and then Jacob. When she reached where Jacob was sitting, she noticed that he was the one that had filled the whole room with his perfume. He wore a very nice, black suit with a blue shirt. He smiled as he greeted her back, swinging his car key with the other hand. Elder Barnabas looked so happy. Esther sat next to her mother. Her mother made a sign to her to follow her to the kitchen. Esther stood up and followed her to the kitchen.
Esther’s mother said “Esther, get the drinks from the fridge and put them on the tray. Let me get the glasses. You will need to serve the guests”. Esther did not respond but went straight to the fridge and took out some bottles of soft drinks. Her mother looked at her and smiled “Esther, you need to be joyful. This should be the happiest day of your life. It is every woman’s dream to enter into marriage” she said, hugging her. Esther shed tears “But mom, why then am I not happy? Why do I feel like it’s not yet time for this?” she said. Her mother felt bad. She closed the door of the kitchen and asked Esther to sit down on one of the kitchen chairs.
Esther’s mother: My dear, it is simply because you have not made the decision to be happy. Happiness is a choice. You choose to be happy. I understand you perfectly, but all I am asking from you is to think positively and pray for the best. The Bible says in all circumstances we should give thanks. Begin to look at this young man as someone you will spend the rest of your life with and start loving him. Before you know it, both of you will get so acquainted. You also have to understand that he might be feeling the same way: anxious, nervous, but he has decided to cast away the fears and take a huge step.
Esther: You think he is also nervous?
Esther’s mother: Of course! What do you expect? Both of you don’t know each other well, so you will need to work it out together. Now take these drinks and serve your guests with a smile on your face
Esther was comforted by her mother’s words. She wiped her tears, took the drinks and went to the living room. She served all the guests as well as her parents. Elder Barnabas spoke “My fellow brethren, you are all welcome to our humble home. Thank you for taking time to visit us this beautiful morning. Please feel free. This is your house”. All the guests said “Thank you”. Then Elder Barnabas proceeded “As I promised you, my daughter Esther is back from the university and I have already explained everything to her and she has received the news with a joyful heart, knowing fully well that she has found favor in God’s eyes. Esther my dear, I am sure you already know Jacob, Elder Timothy’s son. As I told you, he was mature and respectful enough to come and ask for your hand in marriage, accompanied by his elders. This showed how serious and mature he is to respect our traditional procedures. As for you my son Jacob, I reiterate my approval to your proposal and I welcome you to our family”
Jacob knelt down and said happily “Thank you very much Elder. I appreciate”. Elder Barnabas looked at him in amazement “Nooo my son, you don’t have to kneel down, please get up immediately” he said. Jacob got up and sat down. Elder Timothy also spoke “My beloved and fellow Elder. I wish to thank you and your entire family for your warm welcome. When my son told me of his intention to marry your daughter I told him that he had done the right thing. The right thing not just because he wants to marry, but he has also chosen the right person. Esther is one of the most disciplined children I know not only in our church but in this community. It is therefore, with such joy and honor that we accept her also into our family. My Elder brother here is also excited. We have heard all that you said concerning her studies: how that she will have to complete her third year before finally tying the knot and both my son and I are in agreement with this decision. In fact my son has even decided to contribute 50% of the school fees of our daughter until she completes her studies, seeing that she is now his property. My son has also understood the condition that he should not engage in any sexual activity with our daughter until their wedding day. We have also, according to our tradition brought a couple of things to show our willingness to have the hand of our daughter: 5 bottles of wine, 5 traditional materials, 5 white chickens, a bag of rice and a symbolic fee of 5,000 (Equivalent to 250 Dollars). We ask you to accept this offer as our token of appreciation”
The whole family was happy, except Esther. She starred at Jacob, who was smiling and nodding his head in agreement. Elder Barnabas was very happy “Of a truth my daughter has found favor in the eyes of our God. We really appreciate this gesture and pray that the good Lord will continue to replenish your pockets” he said. They continued their discussion. Esther left the living room and went to the kitchen to prepare some food for lunch. Upon seeing that, Jacob asked for permission to speak to her in private. Elder Barnabas answered excitedly “Of course my son, go ahead”. Jacob entered the kitchen. Esther looked surprised. “Hello Esther. How are you doing?” he said. Esther looked down and answered “I am fine thank you and you?”
Jacob: I am even better now that I have seen you. I have been waiting for so long.
Esther: Oh ok.
Jacob: I am very happy that you have accepted my proposal and I really appreciate. I promise to make you the happiest woman on Earth. I know that you might not know a lot of things about me, but I want you to be free with me. Ask any questions you want and with time, you will get to know me. I would also like to know you more. Can I pick you up this weekend so that we can talk in private?
Esther: Hmm, I am not very sure about that. I don’t think my father can ever agree to that
Jacob: Oh don’t worry about that my dear. You are now my wife and I know my father in law will be more than delighted to give you permission to go out with me because we definitely need to talk.
Esther nodded her head “Ok then” she said. Jacob put his hand on her cheek and said “Don’t worry; I am never going to hurt you. Trust me. By the way, I will need to have your phone number so that we can stay in touch” Jacob said. When Esther explained to him that her phone was being kept by the father, Jacob smiled and said “Oh, I understand him. He did the right thing. But don’t worry, I will talk to him and he will give it back to you”
Jacob left the kitchen and went back to join the rest of the group. After a while, they informed Elder Barnabas that they were leaving. Before they could leave the house, Jacob requested to talk to Elder Barnabas in private. Esther could see hear her father say “Of course my son, that is not a problem at all. You are now part of us. Do what pleases you. Let me give you the number”. Then the guests finally left. Esther waved at them as they left.
Elder Barnabas was smiling “Thank you my God for keeping the dignity and honor of this family. Esther my daughter, you are a lucky girl. You need to thank God. This young man is so respectful. I believe he will make a good husband. Can you imagine that he even went to the point of kneeling down for me? Unbelievable! It’s not easy to see such young men nowadays. Most of them have turned into monsters that have no respect for their elders. By the way, he kindly requested for two things: That I give you the phone so that you can be communicating with him and I also gave him permission to take you out this weekend as both of you need to talk” he said, handling over the phone to Esther. Esther just smiled and went back to the kitchen. Her mother was just watching to see Esther’s reaction.
That night Esther starred at her phone. She checked the account balance and saw that she still had some credit left. She felt the urge to call David, but she was hesitating. She went through her book and brought out his number. She tried to dial it twice, but could not do it. “If my father found out, he would kill me” she thought to herself. Suddenly her phone rang. Esther answered it as soon as it rang because she didn’t want anyone to hear the sound. “Hello” Esther answered in a very low voice. “Hello Esther, this is Angela. Finally, I managed to get you. You are so hard to get Madam” Angela answered
Esther: Oh My God! Angela, I am excited to hear from you. I am doing fine and you?
Angela: I am very well thank you. I have been trying to reach you for days now, but your number was not going through
Esther: Oh my phone was with my father. I only got it back today
Angela: Hahaha. Elder Barnabas the Detective! Anyway, I just wanted to know if you arrived safely
Esther: Yes I did. Thank you. Er-.er tell me, have you seen David since I left?
Angela: Oh yes my dear. I met him the other day in town when I was with my sister. He found a small job at the Ministry of Economy, trade and Industry as a Clerk. He told me that he is replacing someone for 3 months.
Esther: Wow! How wonderful. I am so happy for him. How is he doing? Did he ask about me?
Angela: Yes he did, he said you had asked him not to reach you because of your father. And by the way, he has a new….. Oh, Esther, sorry, I need to go now. Dad is calling me. I will talk to you later
Esther: He has a new what? Finish your sentence
Angela: Don’t worry, I will call you later. Bye
Esther held on to her phone and thought about David. She smiled as she imagined his new job. She felt so happy for him. But then she wondered what Angela wanted to say. “What new thing does David have? Oh my God I hope it’s not a new girlfriend! Or maybe not” she thought to herself. She tried to call Angela back but she was not picking up her phone. Esther lay down on her bed and many thoughts ran through her mind
To be continued