The Elder’s Daughter – Episode 6
© Jennipher Duru
Early in the morning, around the wee hours of the day, Janet and Naomi arrived from their night out. As usual, they were laughing and giggling like two little kids. Esther, who had been in a deep sleep, woke up. She looked at the clock on the wall: it was 6am. The smell of beer and cigarette accompanied the two ladies. Esther covered her nose with her blanket. Janet threw herself on the bed like a log and fell asleep immediately. Naomi helped her remover her shoes, although she also staggered. She managed to remove her own shoes and also fell on her bed. Janet had already begun snoring. Esther shook her head and went back to sleep.
It was Saturday and Esther was enjoying her sleep. She slept until 11am as she had no classes. After taking her breakfast, she returned to the room. Janet and Naomi were now awake, although they were still on their beds, chatting and laughing “Oh men! Last night was just the bomb. Big Joe has such a big heart. I can’t wait to buy that Givenchy bag I saw in town last week” Janet said. “Good morning ladies. I hope you slept well” Esther said. “Good morning” they both responded. “You really missed out my dear. It was a night to remember. We came back early morning, but it was worth it” Janet added. Esther smiled “Thank you, but I really enjoyed my sleep too” she said.
Esther’s phone rang. She quickly opened her suitcase and brought the phone out. It was her dad. She went outside to answer. Naomi and Janet burst into laughter.
Elder Barnabas: Esther. How are you doing? How are your studies going?
Esther: I am fine sir. How is everyone at home? How is mom and Daniel?
Elder Barnabas: They are both fine and send their greetings. I know I was supposed to send you some money this week for your upkeep, but as you know we have not been paid for over two months now. Your mother and I are trying everything possible to sell some crops. We hope to have some money by Tuesday next week, by God’s grace
Esther: No problem sir. I still have some little money left for restaurant tickets. I believe that’s the most important thing to me here. I will buy more when you send the money next week.
Elder Barnabas: Oh my God Esther, how many times will I tell you to say “By God’s grace?” It is not by my own power, but by God’s grace. When will you ever learn?
Esther: By God’s grace sir
Elder Barnabas: Ehen! That’s how a Christian should be talking, because it is only by God’s grace that we live. Do you understand that?
Esther: Yes sir
Elder Barnabas: I hope you are concentrating on your studies. If you see how your mom and I are struggling daily at the farm to harvest some vegetables to sell so that you can have money for school, you will understand why it’s important for you to concentrate.
Esther: Aren’t you going for work sir?
Elder Barnabas: I took some days off to help your mom, since these agents of the devil have refused to pay us. I pray that God punishes them with severe punishment for making us to struggle. My airtime is about to finish. Concentrate on your studies and stay away from bad friends. Bye
Esther: Bye sir
Esther went back to the room feeling quite bad for her parents. Janet and Naomi laughed as she entered. “Esther, can I please see your phone?” Janet said. Esther shook her head and rushed to put her phone in the suitcase as she knew that Janet wanted to tease her. Janet laughed harder “My dear Esther. You are a very funny person. I just want to see it. I have not seen that type of a phone in such a long time” she said. Esther answered “Well, at least I can receive and make calls. Isn’t that what a phone is for?”
Naomi, who was busy laughing, said “Well not really my dear. There are so many new things that technology has put in place to which you cannot have access with your old fashioned phone. Things like Facebook, WhatsApp, and snapchat. The list is long my dear” Janet added “Don’t also forget YouTube for videos, Viber and my favorite thing: porn sites, I can’t do without them”. Esther starred at her “No wonder my father has been asking me to avoid all these new technologies, they are full of evil” she said. Janet stood up and laughed “Esther, you and your dad were not born in the same generations. The only reason why he asks you not to be current is because he is still living in the Stone Age. He doesn’t know how many new things you can learn from these new things”
“Please don’t talk about my dad like this, do you understand me? Esther said, getting upset. Naomi said “Ok, ok, ok. No need to be upset Esther. What Janet is saying is the truth. Your father can’t keep you from trying new things. Not everything about new technologies is bad. There are so many useful things about it. For example, you can download courses on your Ipad or your phone, since you like studying.. When I see you carrying books to class, I laugh within me. I only carry either my Ipad or laptop to take notes. It’s easier”
Janet added “You can even chat with your lover boy on WhatsApp so that both of you can stay up to date with what you are doing”. Upon hearing this, Esther opened her eyes wide. “Hmm, someone is touched by that advice hein! By the way, where is your lover boy? I haven’t seen him for some time” Naomi said. Esther hesitated for a while before she answered “Er,er,er..he took some days off from the campus to attend to some important issues” she said. “Oh really? I hope you guys communicate, although I don’t think that is possible because the only time you remove your phone from the suitcase is when your father is calling or when you want to charge it” Janet said.
Esther was quiet. She really wished she could talk to David but she remembered that she had lied to him that she had no phone when he wanted to give her his number. “You see Esther. If you had access to a phone like ours you would be sending instant messages through WhatsApp to your lover boy. I mean you guys can even send each other photos and videos to keep in touch” Janet said.
“But I don’t think I can ever afford to buy such a luxurious phone. I don’t have the necessary means” Esther said. Janet laughed “You don’t have to buy it with your own money my dear. You think that Naomi and I bought them with our money? Never! Even if I had the money, I wouldn’t do it. Every expensive thing I have was bought for me by my boyfriends” she said
Esther: First of all, David is not my boyfriend. And secondly, even if he was, I can never ask him to be buying things for me. David is only a student like me and cannot have enough money to buy such expensive things. My dad is there to provide for my needs.
Janet: Then ask him to buy the phone for you. It’s as simple as that!
Esther: He can’t do that. My dad cannot waste his precious money to buy something that is susceptible of damaging my life
Naomi: Hmm, Esther dear. It all depends on how you use it. You are saying that David is just a student right? That is why we were telling you not to involve yourself with mere students who are poor. They have nothing to offer you. Did you see the man that came to our room last night? He is the CEO of a petroleum company. Just yesterday alone he offered each of us about 1,000 Dollars. Right now, we are preparing to go to town this evening and buy some latest fashion clothes for ourselves.
Esther: 1,000 Dollars? That is a lot of money! Even my dad does not earn that much monthly. Why would he give you such an amount of money? Are you working for him?
Naomi and Janet laughed. “Ah Esther, you will kill me one day with laughter. Anyway, I think you are too young to understand certain things. When you are fully grown up, you can come to us for some tips” Janet said. Someone knocked on the door. Esther stood up to open. It was Angela. “Hey Angela. What a surprise. Come in” Esther said. Angela looked at Janet and Naomi and said softly “No, thanks Esther. Can I talk to you in private?” Esther closed the door behind her and took her a little further from the room.
Esther: I hope everything is alright.
Angela: Of course. I just want you to do me a favor. I want to go and visit David now.
Esther: Where? Do you know where he is?
Angela: Well, I don’t know the exact place. I was chatting with him yesterday on WhatsApp and he told me the name of the place where he is doing some part time job, but he didn’t specify which job he is doing. So I want to pay him a surprise visit. I have also bought some chicken, chips and drinks to give him. I know the area quite well because my aunt used to live there before and I used to go to her house for holidays
Esther: Hmm, hmm, I really don’t think it’s a good idea. I have never stepped outside of the Campus area since I came here and my father would kill me if he heard that.
Angela: Listen Esther. I totally understand your fear and your father is right. But we are not going to do anything bad. We are trying to show love to someone who is in need. Doesn’t the Bible ask us to help others?
Esther: Well then. If you say so. But I don’t have any money with me for transport
Angela: Don’t even worry about that. I have enough money for a taxi.
Esther went inside the room and put on her shoes. She then went to look at herself in the mirror. As usual, she wore a long blue navy skirt and a long sleeved top. Her head was tied with a head scarf. She looked at herself closely and wanted to remove the head scarf, but she remembered how her dad warned her never to go out without it. She then hurried off without saying anything to her roommates. Janet and Naomi looked at her wondering where she was going.
When they arrived at the main gate, Angela stopped a taxi “Complex Mandela please, 50 quans” she said. The taxi driver made a sign with his hand to indicate his approval. They both entered and he drove off. Esther admired the big buildings of the city. “So, you’ve been chatting with David on MatsApp” Esther said. Angela smiled “It’s called WhatsApp, not MatsApp. Yes we did chat last night. He even sent me his photo. Let me show you” she said. She brought out her phone and showed her David’s picture. He was smiling on the picture and looked so happy despite his situation. Esther felt like crying. She starred at the picture and then looked away. It took them at least 20 minutes to reach the place. They disembarked from the taxi and Angela led the way. It was an industrious area with quite a number of factories. They walked past many of them until they arrived at a huge cement factory. They went to the guard’s room and asked. “Please sir, I am looking for a guy named David. I am very sure he works here” Angela said. The man went through the list of people who had reported for work that day and said “Well, I can see two people who bear that name. One is the Plant Manager and the other is a casual laborer”. “I am sure it’s the casual laborer. Where can we find him?” Angela answered. The man gave them the indications and gave them two badges to wear, after taking down their names.
When they arrived at the indicated place, they saw a group of men carrying bags of cement on their backs and putting them inside a truck. Esther and Angela looked at them in amazement. After some time, Angela shouted “There he is. That’s David right there”. Esther looked at the man and sure enough, it was David. He was carrying a bag of cement on his back like the others. Esther cried when she saw him. Angela also shed tears. Angela called his name and waved at him. David wiped the white dust from his face and looked closely. After loading the bag of cement in the truck, he came towards them smiling. “What are you girls doing here?” he said. He wore a pair of black shorts and a torn T-shirt. He was covered in dust.
“Sorry, I can’t hug any of you because as you can see, I am very dirty. Hahaha. What brings you here?” he said. Angela went ahead and hugged him “I don’t care if you are dirty or not, I missed you my friend” she said. Esther stood there, motionless. “Hi Esther. How are you doing? He asked. “I am fine thank you” Esther answered.
Angela: So this is where you are working? Aren’t you tired? I mean this is a very hard job to do. Most of the men I am seeing are very muscular.
David: Hahaha. I am muscular too, can’t you see my biceps. Anyway, this is the only job I could find in order to raise some money. They pay us nuts but what can a man do? I’ll continue doing this until I get something better.
Angela: I am really sorry David. I wish I could help in anyway.
David: You have already helped by caring about me. It’s not easy to find such a faithful friend.
Esther looked at both of them. She wished to talk to David, but she didn’t want Angela to know that she had lied all this while. David also kept on looking at her from time to time, as he continued his discussion with Angela. His Supervisor came to meet him and shouted “Hey young man, this is not the time to be chatting with your girlfriends. There is a lot of work to do. Go and do your job right now before I sack you. Useless boy!” Angela and Esther felt ashamed. David smiled and said “I am sorry sir. I am coming right away”.
Angela gave David the food she had brought for him. “Please let’s chat this evening and take care” Angela said.
“Sure my dear. Thank you very much” David said. He went towards Esther and fixed his eyes on her “Bye Esther. Thank you for visiting me. I really appreciate” he said and ran back to the site.
That night, Esther found it hard to sleep. She cried under her blankets as she pictured David lifting up heavy bags of cement and the humiliation he faced. She then thought of the discussion he was having with Angela. “I think I have lost my friend. I think they are both in love with each other” she thought and wept.
To be continued