At The End Of The Tunnel – Episode 7
© Jennipher Duru
Florence had been staying for almost two weeks at home without going to school. Mama Stella was becoming so worried because she did not want her daughter to be left behind. Florence was pretending to be alright for the sake of her mother who was suffering emotionally. “Don’t worry too much mom, I know that I will be back in school very soon” Florence said.
Emily, Catherine’s daughter came back from school. Florence rushed to her so that she could collect her note books. “Hey Emily, kindly lend me your books again so that I can go through the notes, if possible write them down in my own note books. I am really missing out” Florence said
Emily got her books out and gave them to Florence. The two discussed and laughed at the stories that Emily was telling Florence concerning their classmates. Florence was really missing school. Early in the morning, Mama Stella and Florence heard some noise in the living room. They slightly opened the door to know what was going on. They heard Catherine shouting at Emily, “How can you be giving out your books knowing quite well that you will need them too? You are being very foolish Emily” she said
Emily responded” But mom, Florence has been missing out on school and I am just trying to help her catch up with the notes before she comes back to school”
“Well, you can wait till weekends to lend her your books so that you can revise through the week. Don’t behave like someone who has no brain. Now go and get your books and let us get going, because we are running late” Catherine said
Florence and Mama Stella quickly closed the door. Florence rushed to bring out Emily’s books and went to open the door when Emily knocked. “Thanks a lot Emily. I wish you a great day. Please say hi to all our classmates and Mr. Moses our Science teacher. I miss them all” Florence said. Emily took the books and hurried to enter her mom’s car.
Florence and Mama Stella helped the maid to clean the house and prepare food. Florence then went to their room and started revising. Her mom could hear her giving herself some lectures as though she was teaching some students. Mama Stella entered the room “Hmm, Madam, you have now become a teacher?” she said jokingly. Florence laughed “Yes mom, I like pretending as though I am teaching a crowd. It helps me to understand better” she said.
After a while, Florence decided to take a walk. “Mom, I am feeling quite bored now. Let me take a walk. I will be back shortly” she said. “Ok dear, take care and come back soon” Mama Stella said.
Florence took a long walk and decided to use the road that leads to her school. The school was enclosed with a wire fence. She could see through the fence. She sat down on a rock and watched as some students moved from one place to the other. She could clearly see her classroom as it was not far from the second gate. “Hahaha, look at Madam Samantha. I am sure she is giving them a tough time as usual” she laughed to herself. The bell rang. It was lunch break. Students rushed outside, each one heading somewhere. One of her classmates saw Florence and ran to the fence. It was her good friend Melissa. Other classmates also followed Melissa when they saw her running. Florence also ran to the fence to talk to them “Hey Flo, how are you? We really miss you” Melissa said
“Oh I miss you too my friends. I can’t wait to be back” Florence answered
Her friends looked so sad. One of them spoke “I am really sorry about what is happening to your family Flo. I pray that God comes through for all of you”
Melissa was the first to start shedding tears. Florence put her hand on the fence and said calmly “Oh come on, don’t cry. I am aright, believe me. It’s just a matter of time and I will soon be back”
After discussing for a while, the students went back to have their lunch while Florence went back home.
That evening, Mama Stella tried to talk to Catherine again.
Mama Stella: Cathy, please I am really sorry to disturb you again. As you know Florence has been absent from school for almost two weeks. I am not asking for money, but I am thinking you can help her enter class for the time being since you are the Head Teacher. I promise you I will pay back my sister
Catherine: Stella. It’s amazing how you think. The fact that I am the Head Teacher doesn’t mean I should be breaking the rules and regulations of the school. You know very well that I am not supposed to do such a thing. That will be a bad example to other teachers. I am sure something will come up for you soon. Just be patient. God is in control.
Mama Stella: O..o….oK Cathy. I understand
Catherine: Sure. And by way, please tell Florence not to repeat what she did today. I was told that she went to the school and sat outside, making her classmates to be running to her. Please tell her to be patient and not coming to school so that her friends can pity her. It’s not good at all. Those kids need to be in class and not feeling sorry for their friends
Mama Stella’s heart beat fast. These words came like a sharp knife to her heart. She walked to her room slowly and decided to keep everything to herself. She did not want to hurt Florence’s feelings.
Nadia visited them on Saturday afternoon. As she was about to go, she gave an envelope to Mama Stella. “What is this Nadia? Mama Stella asked surprisingly
Nadia: Oh mummy, please use this money to pay for Florence’s school fees. I know it’s not much but It will cover for the two months she owes her school.
Mama Stella: Nadia, I cannot take this money. I am sure these are your little savings you have been making. And besides you are preparing for your wedding. I can’t just be selfish and take what you need
Nadia: Mummy, you know that you mean everything to me. You and dad took care of me like your own daughter. I cannot just close my eyes and watch you suffer. Let me help within my little capacity. Don’t worry about the wedding preparations; my fiancé is taking care of it.
Mama Stella knelt down and thanked Nadia. Nadia asked her to stand up. “Stop it mummy, please don’t do this” she said. Mama Stella cried and prayed for her “You will never lack help in your life my daughter. Your marriage will be a success” She said
Florence was more than excited. She danced before her mom in excitement. Mama Stella called Austin and informed him about the good news. He promised to come the following day. Austin could no longer spend a night with his family because he had nowhere to sleep and did not want to disturb his mom and sister by sleeping with them in the same room. He only came on Sunday morning and went back in the evening.
That Sunday was a day of excitement for them. Mama Stella laughed as her two children remembered how their dad would shout at them because of the remote control whenever there was a football match “I remember the day he almost slapped the dog because it took the remote control in its mouth. Fire almost came out of dad’s mouth that day” Florence said. They all laughed loud. Austin was ready to go. He looked at his mom and spoke “Mom, I have been trying to gather some money in order to pay for Florence’s school fees. I have been doing a part time job as a cleaner in one of the libraries at the university. I also bought some shirts from the main market here with the pocket money you gave me and sold them with profit to my fellow students. I managed to make at least 400 Dollars. Please use part of the money to pay for Florence’s examination fees so that your mind can be at peace and use the rest for your upkeep”
Mama Stella stared at the envelope. She gave her son a warm hug and said “Your father is very proud of you wherever he is”
Florence went back to school with joy. She paid her arrears and examination fees. During her exams, Florence spent most of her nights studying. She was determined to pass her exams and make something out of her life. Catherine was rarely seen by Mama Stella. She was now hanging out with the new Director’s wife and other women. She rarely sat down with Mama Stella to chat.
“Mummy, mummy! I got it! I passed my exams with distinction!” Florence shouted as she came back home. Mama Stella ran to her daughter and hugged her “Oh my God! My heart has been beating so fast since you went to take your results. I am happy, my daughter, I am happy” She said. Catherine and the husband were also waiting for their daughter’s results. Emily had also passed but with average results.
“What do you expect to get when all you did was to give out your books to your friends, instead of revising” Catherine said angrily. Her husband looked at Emily angrily too and entered the house. Mama Stella and Florence stopped celebrating. Mama Stella held Catherine’s hand and said “Cathy, you don’t have to say that to your daughter. What matters most is that she has passed her exams, whether with distinction or not. Be happy for her”
Catherine let go of Mama Stella’s hand and entered inside the house.
That night, she called Mama Stella and spoke to her
Catherine: Stella. I think my family and I have really tried our best to help you and your kids. You have been staying with us for more than 5 months and we have been feeding you and giving you shelter for free. I am sure you understand very well that things are quite hard for everyone in this life. My sister will soon be visiting us and the only room available for guests is the one that you and your daughter are using. I suggest that you find another place to stay or simply just go to the village house that your husband built for you since your family in law said they will not disturb you with that one. You need to get back on your feet and start taking care of your family. Emily will soon be going to university and I don’t want her to be hanging out with Florence who, I believe will not afford to go to university. I want my daughter to hang out with her fellow students so that she can concentrate on her studies.
Mama Stella breathed deeply. She was short of words. She spoke softly “Catherine, my family and I would really like to thank you and your husband for welcoming us in your home. We have not taken it for granted and I pray that God will continue to bless you all. Please give us at least a month to find a place to stay”
Catherine interrupted “A month! No, that is way too much Stella. My sister will be coming in less than two weeks and she will need a room. Please I advise you to look for something quickly”
Mama Stella sighed “Ah, ok my dear. I will try my best”
“Mummy, I suggest we just go to the village. We have no money at hand to rent a place for the moment. Since the house in the village is free, we can stay there and when it is time to enroll in university, I will come back to the city. I believe by then, something would have come through for us. We can use the little money we got from Austin for transport and for some food” Florence said. She said this out of a broken heart but did not want to express it before her mom.
It was time to go to the village. Austin was helping them to carry the suitcases. Mama Stella went to meet Catherine and her husband who were watching TV and said “Once again, we really appreciate all that you have done for us. We are about to leave now. Please I am wondering if your driver can drop us at the car park”
Catherine answered softly “Oh sorry my dear, I will soon be using the car to go and visit a friend in town. You can just take a taxi outside. I can ask the driver to stop one for you outside the gate”
Florence and Austin looked at them in amazement. Emily felt ashamed. She gave a long hug to Florence and they left.
Austin shed tears as he saw his mom and sister leave the car park. He tried to be strong, but he couldn’t help himself. “God please watch over them I pray” he said to himself.
To be continued
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