The Elder’s Daughter – Episode 28
© Jennipher Duru
Esther walked slowly in the dusty road that led out of their compound. She could see some people looking at her. They wondered what was going on. “Hi Esther. Are you alright?” One lady asked. Esther ignored her and preferred not to answer because she knew that they all just wanted to have something to gossip about. She could hear some ladies giggling behind her. Esther did not care. All she wanted was to find some rest and move on with her life. She walked for at least 20 minutes. The sun was scorching. She dragged her heavy suitcases along the dusty road, wiping the sweat from her face with her torn dress. She was feeling tired. She got near a bush and felt the urge to throw up. She ran inside the bush, leaving her suitcases behind and threw up. “Ohh I feel terrible!” she said, as she wiped her mouth. She sat down on a fallen branch of a tree and thought of what to do next. “Where can I go?” she thought to herself. She had no friends to go to. “Maybe I can go to my father’s sister, aunt Helen” she thought to herself. With this, she stood up and started off her journey. She had not even had time to take her handbag where she kept her money. However, she still had a few notes in her phone bag. She took a bus and off it went. Her aunt’s place was at least 45 minutes from where she was because of bad roads.
The bus arrived and passengers disembarked. Esther had not visited her aunt for quite a long time as Elder Barnabas rarely gave them the opportunity to leave the house. However, aunt Helen was quite a frequent visitor. She got along quite well with Esther’s mother. As Esther opened the gate of the house, aunt Helen looked up in surprise. The whole family sat down on a mat under a mango tree having lunch. “Who is this? Is this Esther, daughter of my brother?” aunt Helen asked, rising up. Esther smiled “Yes aunty, it is I Esther” she said. Her aunt ran to her and hugged her “My daughter, how are you doing? What a surprise!” she said. ‘Yes aunty, a surprise indeed” Esther said. Aunt Helen’s sons helped Esther with her luggage as they took them inside the house. She asked her to sit down and have lunch with them. Esther sat down quietly. She had no appetite and but she did not want to disrespect them by refusing to eat. Aunt Helen asked her questions about the family’s well-being. She kept starring at her torn dress but waited until they had finished eating to find out what had happened. Her husband worked as a driver of one of the public buses and only came back in the evenings. After they had finished eating, Aunt Helen led Esther to the living room and gave her a glass of local juice to drink. Esther drank to quench her thirst.
Aunt Helen: So my dear Esther. You are very much welcome. I am happy to see you. Please feel free
Esther: Thank you aunty.
Aunt Helen: Now tell me. You don’t look very well. Is everything ok?
Esther started crying. Aunt Helen gave her a piece of tissue to wipe her tears.
Esther: I was chased from home by my father
Aunt Helen: What! What did you do?
Esther: I…I….I’am pregnant
Aunt Helen: Jesus! Is it Jacob? Because we have all been informed by Elder about your upcoming wedding to him. Elder has told us just how kind and mature the young man is
Esther: No aunty. Jacob is not who my father thinks he is. He is a bad man. My father only forced him on me without asking me for my opinion.
Aunt Helen: And you went ahead and fell pregnant for a man you don’t love?
Esther: No aunty. Jacob is not responsible for this pregnancy. It is another man from the university, someone that I truly loved
Aunt Helen: Jesus Christ! Is the man ready to marry you?
Esther: No, he doesn’t even know about it. We are no longer together
Aunt Helen: Aieee! Girls! Girls! I wonder what is wrong with us. Esther, do you realize what you have done? Not only will you bring shame on your family but you will also face the consequences of raising a child without a father. Your father is a respected man in the society and your actions will bring shame on him.
Esther: Why is it that everyone only seems to care about my father’s image and not me? I am the victim here and not my father. But nobody cares about how I feel.
Aunt Helen: You are behaving like a child Esther. You and I both know that in our tradition, parents have the right to choose our partners because they know better than us. Elder is not a fool for him to choose this young man. It’s because he knows that he will make you happy.
Esther: Oh really? And please tell me the benefits of marrying someone that you barely know, someone that you don’t even love.
Aunt Helen: Don’t be silly. We are all part of this tradition and we respect it in order to have peace in our lives
Esther: So you mean to say that you have peace in your home? Or you think I don’t know that your husband has been beating you all the time whenever he comes drunk? He spends his time womanizing and spending all his money on prostitutes!
Aunt Helen stood up and shouted “Esther, I think you have gone too far. You cannot come into my house and insult me. I am not your mate please and I am not the one that asked you to open your legs for men”
Esther looked down and said “aunty, please I am really sorry. I didn’t mean to disrespect you. It’s just that right now I feel that no one cares about me. I feel so alone and vulnerable. Please forgive me”
Aunt Helen sat down again and shook her head “Now tell me: what do you want me to do for you?” she said. “My father has asked me not to return to the house again. That is why I have come to seek refuge here. I will be going back to school in the next one week and I am only asking you to allow me stay here until the day I leave for the University” Esther said.
“What! You should be out of your mind my dear. I can’t do such a thing. That will be total disrespect towards your father. I am not allowed to keep you in my house considering what you have done. The only thing I can advise you to do is to go back to your father and apologize. He is not a monster. He will accept you back. He only did it out of anger, but he will calm down” Aunt Helen said. Esther went down on her knees and pleaded ‘Please aunty, I beg you. Allow me to stay here just for a few days. My father will not allow me to go back to that house. And he won’t know that I am here. Please”
“I am sorry Esther. I cannot do such a thing. By so doing, I will be encouraging evil and I definitely don’t want my daughters to do what you have done. Here, take this money and use it for your transport to go back home. I assure you Elder will not send you back” Aunt Helen said, bringing out some money from her wrapper. Esther did not have the strength to beg again. She gently took the money and thanked aunt Helen ‘thank you aunty” she said and left. Tears ran down her cheeks as she imagined what to do next. It was around 3:30pm and the sun set quite early in that part of the country. She opened her phone bag and counted the money that was in it. When she added it to the money that she had received from her aunt, she realized that it would be enough to take her to the University. She was not ready to go back home. “My father will kill me. I will just go back to the campus and get some rest. I don’t care if I have no money for food, but things will work out as they wish. If I have to die of hunger, then no problem at all. It will only allow me to rest from this cruel world” she said to herself. She courageously lifted up one of her suitcases and dragged the other one. The main car park for different destinations was not far.
The bus to the city was not yet full. There remained at least 8 seats to be filled. Esther sat down quietly and watched people moving to and fro. She thought of her life and what would come out of it. She had never experienced such a situation before. She thought of her mother and what she would be going through. After at least 1 hour 30 minutes, the bus was finally full. It was going to be a long journey. Jacob had tried to reach her line but Esther did not pick up. She eventually switched off the phone. Esther managed to get some sleep. She was really tired
Meanwhile back at home, Elder Barnabas was confused and did not know what to do again. Jacob had passed by the house to see Esther but her mother had told him that she had gone to visit her aunt. Elder Barnabas had refused to eat. He sat in the garden as he thought about everything that had happened. When his wife tried to give him food to eat, he threw the plate on the ground and shouted “I don’t want to eat anything from you. It is all your fault. As a mother, you did not carry out your role to teach that girl how to behave. Now I am facing the consequences of your lack of responsibility. Get out from before me and allow me to rest!” Esther’s mother gently picked up the broken plates.
In the evening, she was getting worried about her daughter. She asked Daniel to use his phone to call Esther secretly but her line was not going through. She also called her sister in law as she knew that it was the only place where Esther could find refuge. When Aunt Helen told her that Esther had left two hours ago, Esther’s mother was filled with fear. She wept within her and said a prayer “Lord, please take care of my baby wherever she is. Do not allow any evil thing to happen to her. I can’t afford to lose her. Let your hands rest upon her and protect her from evil” she said, lifting up her hands.
It was around 21:15 when they arrived at the motel that served as a refreshing point for passengers. Esther watched as passengers got out of the bus to buy some food and freshen up. She was very hungry, but she had no money to buy food for herself. “Ahh, let me just try to stretch my legs a bit” she said. She got down and moved around a bit. She looked at a couple that was having a nice time, cuddling and laughing “You don’t know the pain that awaits you my dear lady. if only you knew how evil men can be” she said to herself. She looked at her dress and thought it would be a good thing to change into something much better. She went to the reception area and asked for permission to use one of the rest rooms to change. The receptionist smiled “Of course my dear. These rest rooms can be used by anyone” she said. Just as Esther was about to get her clothes from the bus, she bumped into Brian. “Wow, Esther! How are you doing? What a surprise!” he said. “Hi Brian, it’s good to see you too” she responded. Brian looked at Esther from her head to her feet. Esther felt rather ashamed. “What are you doing here?” Brian asked. “Er-er-er. I am going back to the Campus” she answered. “Campus? But we are still remaining with a couple of days before we resume classes. Are you in such a hurry to go back hahaha?” Brian said. Esther didn’t know what to answer again.
Brian held her hand and whispered to her ear “Follow me.” Esther hesitated, but Brian assured her that she had no need to worry. She followed him to a room just opposite the main area. Brian opened the door and it gave way to a beautiful office. “Please sit down” he said to Esther, pointing to a chair. Esther sat down and glanced at the office. She could see a picture of Brian and his family: his father, mother, two ladies and one younger boy. There were Christian posters on the wall. One of them read “With Jesus, I am a winner at all times. His strength is made perfect in my weakness”. She also saw another picture of Brian holding a beautiful young lady. Esther starred at it. “Oh that’s my fiancée Jennifer. She is studying Business Management in London but she is currently here with us for a few more days” Brian said with a smile. Esther smiled back “She is beautiful” she said. “Thank you very much m’am…So tell me. From the look of things, you don’t seem to be alright. I am sorry to say this but you look quite perplexed. Is there any problem? Are you having any issues with the driver of the bus or did you fight with anyone on the bus? Because I can see that your hair looks fluffy and your dress is torn. What is going on? You can trust me.” Brian said. Esther found it hard to talk “Sorry Brian, I need to go now. I don’t want the bus to leave me here” she said. “The bus has at least 20 more minutes before it leaves Esther. And even if it leaves, I can still ask our driver to take you to the city tomorrow because he will be going there to get some few items for the motel. Now tell me what is wrong. Trust me Esther, I will try my best to help you out.
Esther tried much not to tell him what was going on. However, she felt the kind of peace she had not felt in a very long time. And before she could even realize it, she had gone halfway through her story. She explained her situation with David, Jacob and her father. Brian listened to her story quietly and when she had finished, he spoke “I am really sorry to hear what you have been going through my friend. It’s sad that sometimes the people we look up to tend to make us sad. But I want you to know that there is a reason for everything that happens in life. If God allowed you to survive this trauma, it is simply because He still has a plan for you”
“Please don’t talk to me about God. I truly don’t think God exists. And even if he existed, I am sure He doesn’t consider me. I am of no worth to Him” Esther interrupted. Brian was surprised “Wow. This situation is more critical than I thought. But I understand you perfectly. Listen Esther, I know that you are very tired right now. You look so worn out. Kindly allow me to help you. You can take up one of the rooms and stay until the day I will be leaving for the Campus. Don’t worry, you will not need to pay anything. I will take care of your food and everything. Our house is not far from here. I can introduce you to my parents. They are good Christians and they are warm and welcoming. You need to rest. You cannot go to school in such a condition. My mother is a nurse and she can also help you out” Brian said. Esther couldn’t believe her ears. She was not ready to trust anyone again but there was something about this Brian that made her feel at home. She accepted the offer.
Brian accompanied her to the bus and together they brought out her luggage. Some of the passengers in the bus shook their heads “Hmm, kids of nowadays are very promiscuous. This girl is supposed to go to school but she has decided to stay with her boyfriend. God have mercy” One of the women said.
Brian took her to one of the motel suites: a big room with a king sized bed. ‘This is one of the few suites we have here. I believe you will love it” Brian said. He pulled the store curtains and said “This is the best suite because of its view, you can see the Mambe game reserve and the animals”
Esther looked through the window in admiration. She could see a pack of lions and some giraffes gazing on the grass. “Wow this is beautiful!” She exclaimed. Brian smiled “Feel free my dear. What do you want to eat tonight?” he said. “Anything is ok for me” Esther said. Brian smiled. He picked up the phone and dialed the room service number “Hello aunty Mercy, please get a full plate of the buffet for today and bring it to the reserve suite. Also bring 2 big bottles of water and a big bottle of orange juice. Don’t forget the dessert too.” Esther kept starring at Brian. She wondered why he was being so nice to her. They both sat down and had a chat about school. After a while, a woman brought the food that Brian had ordered. “Hee aunty Mercy! Aunty Mercy my friend. Look at how you are shinning! Esther meet my personal aunty. She’s the best cook you can ever meet. Aunty Mercy meet my friend and sister Esther. We are in the same class” Brian said. The lady, who was probably in her late forties, smiled and greeted Esther warmly. Esther greeted her back and she left. Brian turned to Esther and said “Don’t mind me. I like teasing her. She’s a wonderful woman who has been working here from the very first day the motel opened. I take her for an aunt… So your food is served. Make sure you eat everything because you are no longer alone. But before I go, I would just like to ask you for permission to pray with you. I know that you are presently discouraged but just allow me to pray with you”
Esther was ashamed to reject such an offer. After all, Brian had been so kind. She asked him to pray with her. Brian held her hands and prayed “Father I come before you in the name of your son Jesus. I thank you for your daughter Esther who is present with me here today. Thank you for the plans that you have for her life. Thank you for the bright future you have for her. Father I pray for her faith tonight that it will not fail her. Strengthen her and let her find rest in the bossom of your love. Fill every empty space in her heart and mend every broken dream. Watch over her tonight in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
“Ok my dear. Take a bath, eat your food and have a good rest. God watch over you. I will see you tomorrow morning. If you need anything, just give me a call or the reception” Brian said. Esther went on her knees and, with tears in her eyes, said “Thank you Brian. I have never received such a VIP treatment in my entire life.” Brian asked her to stand up. He gave her a handshake and left. Esther was amazed. She opened the food and saw all manner of good food: chicken, rice, stew, vegetables just to name a few. She took a bath and felt refreshed. She hungrily ate her food and fell on the bed like a log.
To be continued