At The End Of The Tunnel – Episode 8
© Jennipher Duru
Mama Stella and Florence arrived in the village in the middle of the night. The village had no proper electrification and only a few houses had access to solar energy. The house that Brian had built was a big house and it was well furnished and used solar energy. The house served as a rest house for them whenever they visited the village. Brian had asked his cousin Maxwell and his wife to take care of the house. He had given them permission to occupy one of the rooms.
“Anyone at home?” Hello” Mama Stella called as they struggled to put down their suitcases.
Maxwell opened the door and pointed his torch towards them. “Who is this?” he asked
“It is I, Mama Stella. Sorry to disturb your sleep. Please help us to carry the suitcases inside” Mama Stella answered
Maxwell looked surprised. He could not recognize Mama Stella because she had lost so much weight and looked older than before. Suddenly he shouted “Pauline, Pauline, we need to get out of this house”
Mama Stella and Florence could not understand what was going on. They stood still and watched what was going on. They heard Maxwell and Pauline talking. Mama Stella decided to enter the house. To her greatest surprise, there was no furniture left in the house except an old wooden rocking chair that Brian had once bought from a village carpenter. “Maxwell, where is the furniture that Brian and I bought for this house?” she asked
“Brian’s mother sent people to take it away” Maxwell answered. Pauline and him were busy packing their belongings. Mama Stella asked “Why are you now packing out? I didn’t ask you to leave this place. You know that you can stay here for as long as you want”
Maxwell looked at her and shouted “Please woman, leave us in peace. We are all aware of what you have done to our brother and we definitely can’t take the risk of staying in the same house with you. Pauline please get the rest of our things from the other room and let’s run for our lives”
They packed their things and as they were about to leave, Mama Stella held Pauline’s hand and said “Pauline, I can’t believe that you are also against me, after everything I have done for you and your husband”. Pauline shook her hand with all her strength and shouted “Please you have heard it already, leave us alone. Or are you trying to kill us also the way you killed your husband? You cannot try it with us because we are protected by our gods. You old witch!” Florence held Pauline by the neck “How dare you talk to my mother like that!” she shouted. Mama Stella pulled her back and asked her to calm down. Maxwell and his wife took their things and left in the dark.
Mama Stella went to sit on the wooden rocking chair “Flo, this was your dad’s favorite chair. This is where he used to sit every evening listening to the radio. My Brian look at me from heaven and ask God to have mercy on me. I want to hear your voice again asking me to go and bring some mangoes for you to eat. Brian what did I do to you for you to leave me alone in this cold world. I have no more strength in me to cry. What do you want me to do now?” Mama Stella cried bitterly. Florence could not help but cry along. She spread some bedsheets they had carried on the floor and lay down. After a while, Mama Stella fell asleep on the chair. Florence took another bedsheet and covered her.
The following morning, they woke up to the sound of people going to the farms. Mama Stella rose up and put her hand on her neck “Oh my neck!” she said. She went towards the window and saw a crowd gathering outside their compound. They seemed to be talking and looked perplexed. “Florence, come and see what is going on here” she said.
They both stepped outside and some people from the crowd started running. One mother shouted to her child “Get away from that compound before you are bewitched”. Florence knew exactly what was going on. “I am sure grandma has lied to everyone in this village that you are a ….anyway mom, let us go back inside”.
The first two months of their arrival in the village were extremely tough. Some people avoided talking to them while others were kind enough to offer their condolences and encouragements. They went through a lot of rejection. Brian’s family house was not very far from their house but they were forbidden to visit any of them. Austin tried as much as possible to send them some money for their food. Fortunately, their house had a borehole. This helped them to avoid going to the main water pump as they feared the mockery. Some shopkeepers never agreed to sell anything to them, while others did it but without exchanging any words with them. Mama Stella’s health was deteriorating. Her blood pressure was constantly high. Florence wished to go back to the city, but she couldn’t leave her mom in such a state. They had no money to send her to university and time was running out.
“Mummy, mummy! Austin is here” Florence shouted. Mama Stella came out of the house and smiled “Oh my baby boy. I am so glad to see you” she said, helping him to carry his bag
Mama Stella: How are you my son? How is the city?
Austin: I am fine mom. You don’t look so well. Are you alright?
Mama Stella: Yes baby, I am fine. I am just a little tired. I’ve been struggling with high blood pressure. But don’t worry, I will be fine. Now tell us all about your studies.
Austin avoided the question and opened his bag “Flo, I bought you a nice MP3 player. I know you love music. I downloaded a lot of songs so you can listen to them. I also got you some nice shoes and dresses” he said
Florence jumped in excitement. Austin turned to his mom and said “And for you my beautiful mom, I brought you these nice sandals and mixer. I know you would want to bake from time to time”
Mama Stella smiled and hugged him. “You are an amazing boy Austin. But now tell me, I noticed that you avoided my question. How are your studies going” she said
Austin: Oh mom, come on. Can’t we just talk about something else? Let me take a bath then we’ll talk later
Mama Stella: No, you will not. I need you to give me a proper answer otherwise you won’t go anywhere
Austin: Ok, mom if you insist. I have been out of school for close to two months now because of lack of payment
Mama Stella: What? And what are you doing now? Where are you living?
Austin: Oh mom, I am a man! I am not a small boy anymore. I am doing some jobs in town. I am working part time for some Indian companies that deal in shipping of goods and I also work as a cleaner in the university library
Mama Stella started crying. Florence felt very sad. Austin hugged her and said “Mom, am not suffering. I am alright and once I raise enough money, I will certainly go back to school. Stop crying”
Mama Stella looked at him steadily and asked “But where are you living?”
“I am living with some friends in an apartment. We are sharing the costs” he said. He felt bad that he had lied to his mother because the truth was that he lived in an incomplete building not far from the university.
“Oh don’t cut down those plants. They are extremely helpful” Austin said to a certain white man. He was strolling around in the village when he saw him cutting down some grass. The white man looked at him
“Oh really? And just how helpful are they? The white man asked
Austin drew near and took one of the plants in his hands “This is citronella grass and it has a lot of health benefits. One of them is the fact that it is a mosquito repellant and can also be used to cope with cold or fever” Austin answered.
“Wow! That’s great. I’ve actually been avoiding mosquitoes in this area” the man said
Austin: Yep! You can just place them inside your house and it works like magic
The man: Oh that is really good to know. What is your name young man? And how come you know so much about plants?
Austin: My name is Austin. Well I am very interested in plants and all that. I have been studying agriculture science at university so we do have some courses on plants and their uses
The man: Excellent! My name is Pastor Rowland, but you can just call me Rowland. I am working as a missionary here. I am from Canada.
Austin: Oh really? That’s great to hear. And how long have you been here?
Pst. Rowland: Hmm, close to a year and a half now.
Austin: That’s nice. And what do you do?
Pst. Rowland: Well, like I said I am a missionary. I came with two other colleagues and we are spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and also doing some community work in the village. We have a small chapel just behind this place. I can show you around if you want
Pst. Rowland showed Austin around, he introduced him to his two other colleagues. He showed him inside the small chapel made of red bricks and straw. As they arrived near the chapel kitchen, Pst. Rowland made fun of his colleague “Hey Joshua, you are really in for it hun! I hope the meal will be good enough to be eaten” he laughed. He then turned to Austin and said “Actually, we had a young lady that was cooking for us but she is no longer available because she got married. Now we are looking for someone or even two people that can cook and wash”
Austin: Were you paying her for the services?”
Pst Rowland: Yes indeed. We can’t allow someone to work for us for free. That’s not what our Savior tells us to do
Austin: My mom and young sister are very good at house chores. They recently came from the city and have nothing much to do. Can I ask them to try and take up the jobs?
Pst. Rowland: That will be great, thank you my son. Indeed all things work together for good to them that love the Lord. I don’t know what brought me out of the house at this time. I had no idea that Father was bringing good tidings my way. Lord you are worthy of praise!
Pst. Rowland escorted Austin to the gate and invited him to a church service they organized every Wednesday evening. Austin promised to go. When he arrived home, he told his mom and Florence about the job offer. They were both excited as they were tired of staying at home without having anything to do
To be continued
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