© Pauline Mumbi
“Relax and just hope for the best” Atusaye said.
Atusaye gave me a kiss and he asked me to calm down again before starting the engine
As we approached we suddenly saw smoke escaping the yard.
“Oh my God what is happening..” Atusaye said as he looked in shock.
He pulled over houses away and we both rushed to the house as there was a crowd and fire men were trying to stop the fire.
I was confused and so many thoughts ran through my mind. Atusaye managed to ran before me and he pushed himself through the crowd.
I overhead people saying someone had died and I was shuttered. What did we do? Perhaps if we were home this wouldn’t have happened.
I was hysterical and I knew I was in trouble. I was bad luck on the family. Who had died? Why did I allow myself to get into his car?..
As thoughts ran through my head something was clear, if I stayed behind the wrath I would face would be too much. I had to go.
Without even thinking about it, I started running. I ran so fast as I cried. I ran just as I was with nothing in my hands.
“Lord please forgive me…. Forgive me dear Lord” I cried as I ran.
I passed through thorny bushes and I noticed some bleeding on my legs but I kept running through the plots.
My legs were now feeling pain and I finally stopped running.
I was far away from the house but I could see the smoke escape into the sky.
I had no idea what time it was or where I was going.
As I walked on I came across some unfinished building which had a roof on one side. I wondered who lived there or if someone actually lived there.
“I need a place to lay my head” I thought.
I slowly walked into the building and noticed it was empty. It was quite dark but I had no choice, I sat in the corner and quickly fell asleep.
The sun hit my face from the large window opening and I stretched myself. It was morning and I had no where to go and no food to eat. I couldn’t face my life or my problems, I had to start afresh.
My legs had many tiny bruises but luckily the blood had clotted
When I stepped outside I couldn’t even recognise where I was or which route I had taken. A lot of farms surrounded the area and people were few.
I saw a bicycle coming from a distance with a man who was singing out loud.
“Excuse me sir I need directions to the main road” I said.
The man and I could not understand each other as he spoke a very strange language.
A few cars by passed me and none of them stopped to ask where I was going.
I saw a very nice mansion that was on a huge farm. The mansion looked like it was owned by a wealthy person, the first thought that crossed my mind was to go and ask for a job.
After hitting the gate many times I finally gave up and sat on the pavement near the gate. Almost an hour passed and suddenly a van came and parked at the gate, a white old woman was driving the van.
“Excuse me dear how can I help you?” She said.
I quickly got up and looked at her.
“I am looking for a job” I said.
“A job? Where are you from?” She asked me.
I decide to give her my uncles address and explained everything concerning my uncle while omitting Mrs. Martins.
“Dear kindly open the gate for me and come in too” she said
She drove in and I closed the gate before I walked to the house.
I was welcomed by a man who was about Atusaye’s age. He was also white.
“This is my son his name is Shane” she said.
Shane and I shook hands and we entered in the house together. I was led into the sitting room of the beautiful mansion and I sat next to the woman who was still unknown.
She offered me food and we sat talking as she encouraged me. The woman who I now knew as aunty Bertha offered me a room where I could spend a night and she left the house to do some grocery shopping.
As I sat in the room I thought of my Darling Atusaye, he must have been wondering where I was and why I had decided to run away. Tears rolled my cheeks and I wiped them quickly, maybe he would marry Claudine after all… I thought
I had been at aunty Bertha’s house for a week, even though she told me that she had no job for me, she did not chase me. She was also kind enough to buy me a couple of clothes.
Aunty Bertha was a wonderful woman, she lost her husband to a young Zambian girl who he eloped with and now she was staying with her 5 children. Although Shane was the only one at home the time I spent with her.
Shane was nice and funny, he loved to cook a lot and he liked to get me involved when he was cooking.
One afternoon aunty Bertha called me to the living room after she returned home.
“Dear I’m not sure if I have anything for you concerning work but I ran an orphanage, its not around this place its quite a distance from here” she said.
I listened attentively as she spoke.
“My orphanage is in an area called 15miles, you mentioned that you ended in 7th grade right?. She asked me.
” yes mum” i responded.
“What can I offer you?….” She said as she looked up to think for a moment.
“Madam I can read and write very well. I just don’t have qualifications” I responded.
“Is it? Are you Christian?” She asked me.
“I know and love the Lord so much but I don’t belong to a church and I am not baptised. I never had the chance to” I responded.
“Would you like to be?” She asked me.
“Yes I would love to move my faith further, I believe God has truly been there for me” I said.
“That’s good. I really like you.” She said
“I will give you a few short novels that you can read through for now and they have questions at the end. I will assess you based on those books” she said.
“You can sit in the living room over there and let me know when you are done” she said.
I went to the living room and aunty Bertha gave me the two books to read.
The books were very interesting and I quickly started answering the questions.
When aunty Bertha saw my answers she was so impressed. She even asked me to read a chapter and she said my pronunciations were perfect.
“My dear you have really impressed me with your work” she said.
“We have a literacy class which we introduced and we have been looking for people that could take up this class. Your job will be reading stories to them and making sure they can also read and understand. The children will move from one book at a time depending on how well they do” aunty Bertha said
“Do you think you can manage that?” She asked me
I smiled and nodded my head. .
“Madam it will be my pleasure” I responded.
” that’s wonderful then you can start tomorrow” she said
I was so excited and I thanked her a lot.
“The orphanage has houses for members of staff so you can occupy one there, I would however encourage you to start furthering your studies. Most teachers there are doing so” she said.
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“Madam i would love to go back to school” I responded.
Shane, aunty Bertha’s son drove me to the orphanage in the afternoon.
He was very jovial and narrated a lot of things about the orphanage to me.
When we arrived he went to the staff room to get the keys for my new house while I waited in the car.
Shane came back with a set of keys and he unlocked my house. The house had three bedrooms, nicely built and well furnished too. I was shocked.
“You will get your free dstv subscription this month but starting next month you take care of the bill” Shane said with a smile.
“Oh thanks sir,” I said.
“Most of the houses are occupied so you should have company. I will be leaving now. Take care” he said.
When Shane left I went round the apartment and I still couldn’t believe my eyes.
A lot of things were running through my mind and I thanked God that this was a new step further to realise my dreams.
I still mourned Atusaye so badly but i was comforted by the fact that he had declared his love for me and that will be the memory I would live with forever.
“Stop crying Mwansa, it is well. Where ever the Lord leads us.. It is well” I said to myself.
To be continued…
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