Story: The Elder's Daughter

    Part 1

    “Esther, Esther, please hurry up before you miss the bus. It’s almost 12 and you are still not ready yet” Esther’s mother shouted from the living room. Esther came walking slowly with her suitcase “Mom, you exaggerate too much sometimes. It’s only 3 minutes after 11 O’clock” Esther said. “Whether it’s 3 minutes or 20 minutes, it still goes down to the fact that it will soon be 12 O’clock. Now go and call your dad from the garden and tell him you are ready” Her mother responded.
    Esther went to the garden and told her dad that she was ready to go. He was busy planting some vegetable seeds with his son Daniel. “Daniel, leave what you are doing and let’s get inside” he said. They both entered the living room and sat down. “Are these the only items you are taking?” Esther’s father asked. “Yes sir” Esther answered. Her father opened the two suitcases and searched through her items thoroughly as everyone watched. He brought out a small pink case. He felt it with his hand to know what was inside “What is this?’ he asked, looking at Esther. Esther went to open it “This is just a small case where I keep the keys to my locker and my room” she answered. Her father continued the search and when he was satisfied he asked her to close her suitcases and kneel down as he prayed for her.
    Re: The Elder's Daughter by sazy( m ): 11:15am On Sep 11 ,
    2017
    “Our Father, I thank you for my daughter Esther who is about to go to continue her studies at the University. I pray that you will watch over her and keep her in your ways. Let her feet not lead her into trouble. May your angels draw out their sword to strike any person that will want to make her do what is contrary to your word. Give her the wisdom to excel in her studies and let her heart be disgusted at evil. In the name of our Lord Jesus we have prayed. Amen” He prayed as he laid hands on her head.
    The entire family responded “Amen”. Esther’s father continued “Esther my daughter. You have to understand that you are heading to a place that is not less than Sodom and Gomorrah. You have to understand that you will be a sheep among wolves. University life is not easy. That is why you have to be very careful. Be cautious of the friends you will choose. This phone I have bought for you is only to be used when you want to call us, not for any other thing. I know if I had the money to send you to the Christian College near our house, I would have done it. But I trust that you will behave yourself according to the education that your mother and I have given you. Remember, God is watching you”.
    Esther nodded her head and shook her father’s hand, while her mom and brother escorted her to the car park. Her mother cried as she entered the bus. “Take care of yourself Esther” she said. Esther waved to her mom and the bus took off. She also felt the urge to cry, but she felt ashamed because of the other passengers.
    This was her first time of leaving her parents’ home for a long time. The only time she left home was when her aunt, who had given birth in another city, had called her to help her out with house chores. However, Esther’s father demanded that she come back after two days.
    Esther was the first born in the family of two. Her family was a typical African family of medium income. Her mother was a full time housewife. She was a beautiful and gentle woman. Her father, on the other hand was a man to be feared. He had served as a civil servant for at least 28 years and was planning to retire. He was an extremely strict man who never tolerated any nonsense. He was an Elder in their local church and many people had a lot of fear and respect for him because of the way he had managed to bring up his children. He made sure that they observed all his orders and rules at home. His children greatly feared him. They had no friends, except their fellow church members, although their friendship only ended at church. Known as elder Barnabas, Esther’s father was known to be a man of a strong character.
    Esther had grown up under the authoritative fist of her father. She was an intelligent 18 year old girl, who had passed her secondary school exams with flying colors. Her father had asked that she study Medicine in the public university, which was located in the capital city. It was a hard decision for him to make as he did not want her to be far from home. However, because he did not have enough money to enroll her in one of the private universities in her hometown, Elder Barnabas had no choice but to send her far.
    It was a long journey. After 5 and half hours, they finally arrived in the city. Esther looked at her watch; it was 5:16pm. The conductor asked everyone to get down. Esther hurried to get her suitcase. The car park was filled with people. Noise of car horns and people shouting rang in her ears. She wasn’t used to such noise as her hometown was a quiet place. This was her second time visiting the city. She had come to enroll a few months ago, with her father. She pulled her two suitcases and stood still, trying to find her way through. One boy came to hold her suitcases. “Let me help you carry them m’am” he said. Esther was afraid. She pulled them from his hands and said softly “No, thank you. I can carry them”. The boy insisted. Esther was panicking. A young man came from behind and pulled the boy away from her “Hey young boy didn’t you hear what she said? Get out of here” he said. The boy finally left. The young man looked at Esther and said “I perceive that you are new to this place right?” Esther, who was now trying to leave the place, said “Yes well not really. I mean, yes….” The young man laughed “Of course you are new. Otherwise you wouldn’t have been so gentle with that boy. People who live here can’t even allow that boy to stay seconds around them. Here, we shout and do everything by force. Now tell me, where are you going? Maybe I can help you” he said.
    Esther looked at him. “I am going to the university. I know my way. I’m going to grab a bus over there” she said. The young man laughed again and said “You see why I am saying you are new? Those buses go to the university quite alright, but they take ages to arrive because they don’t get filled easily. There is a place not far from here where you can find small cars that go directly to the university. I am also heading there. We can go together. Trust me”
    Esther followed the man. He helped her carry her luggage and went out of the car park. They arrived at the main road and Esther’s head was almost spinning because of the speed at which the cars were being driven. “How possible is it to cross this road?” she asked, looking really worried. “Hahaha. Very possible indeed my dear. Just hold my hand and we will cross together. It’s rush hour, that is why there are a lot of cars” The man said. He held her hand and pulled her across the road. Esther was trying to block her legs from moving, but the man strongly pulled her. She could see cars rushing towards them. Esther shouted “Mummy!” as they crossed. Some people looked at her. As they crossed to the other side of the road, the young man burst into laughter. He laughed so hard that he put his hands on his knees. Esther was breathing fast. “We almost got killed” she said, catching her breath. The young man wiped the tears of laughter and lifted the suitcase “This is the most beautiful day of my life. Let’s go” he said.
    They found that only two places were left to be occupied in the small car. They entered and off they went. Upon arrival at the University, the man asked “So, which department are you in?” “I am in the Medicine department” she said. “Wow! The geniuses hun? And do you know your room number and pavilion?”
    Esther replied “Yes, I am in Pavilion Bernadette room number 87”. The young man took her to the place. They found some young ladies having fun. Some were smoking cigarette while others were dancing to loud music outside the pavilion. Esther looked at them in astonishment.
    “Well, there you go miss. I think I have done my part. I hope you enjoy yourself. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. Do you have a phone?” he said. Esther had to lie “No, I don’t. But I really appreciate your help. May God richly bless you sir” She said. The young man started laughing again “Who are you calling sir? Hahaha. You are a very funny lady. I am just a young man like you. My name is David and I am currently in my second year studying Economics” He said.
    Esther felt ashamed “My name is Esther and I am in my first year. Once again, thank you for your help” She said. David shook her hand and left.
    Esther entered her room. She found a young beautiful lady in knickers listening to music. “Oh hello there! You must be Esther right?” the lady said as she stared strangely at Esther. Esther was dressed in a loose-fitting black skirt that almost touched the floor. She wore a sweat shirt that covered her chest and hands. “Yes, I am Esther. And you?” she said
    “My name is Naomi. I will be your roommate together with another lady called Janet, but she will be coming in the day after tomorrow. Nice to meet you Esther. Your bed is right here and on the left there is your locker” Naomi said.
    “Thank you Naomi. Nice to meet you” Esther said as she put her suitcase on the bed.

    Part 2

    Esther packed her suitcases in the locker. Her phone rang. She removed it from the inside the suitcase and answered. It was her father, Elder Barnabas.
    Elder Barnabas: Hello Esther can you hear me? Esther Can you hear me?
    Esther felt rather ashamed to talk because the father was shouting so loud and Naomi was now looking at her. She stepped out of the room in order to speak freely. Unfortunately, a group of girls had gathered just outside, doing their laundry, shouting and making noise. Esther rushed back inside the room. Naomi looked at her strangely.
    Elder Barnabas: Esther! Esther! Where are you? Why are you not saying a word?
    Esther: Hello sir. Sorry, there was some noise, so I had to move to a quieter place.
    Elder Barnabas: But you can at least say a word. Where are you now? Are you at the car park?
    Esther: No sir. I am now in my room. I arrived a few minutes ago.
    Elder Barnabas: And you didn’t bother calling me? How come you are in your room and there is such noise as though you are inside a market?
    Esther: It’s just a group of students washing their clothes outside, sir
    Elder Barnabas: Eh eh eh! Students behaving like market sellers! Jesus my Lord! Is this how people bring up their children? How can a girl child be screaming like a mad woman? You see what I told you? Be careful. Some of those students are not normal. They have been brought up like wild animals. Don’t just associate with anyone. So how was your trip?
    Esther: It was fine
    Elder Barnabas: You have to say “It was fine by the grace of God”. Don’t just say it was fine as if you protected yourself. Do you know how many people have died on that road?
    Esther: It was fine by the grace of God
    Elder Barnabas: Very good! We give glory to God for a safe journey. Let me allow you to rest. Make sure you pray before doing anything. Your mother and brother send their regards. I will be calling you every two days. Stay well
    Esther: Thank you sir. Send my greetings to mom and Daniel. I miss them already
    Esther hang up and put her phone back inside the suitcase. Naomi laughed. “Esther I am sorry for poking my nose in your business. But are you using a Nokia 3310?” She asked. Esther looked at her. “Well, I think so. I haven’t really paid attention to the name of the phone” She responded.
    Naomi laughed harder “Of course you won’t know. This phone is outdated. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I saw someone using it. Where did you get it from?” she said. “My dad bought it for me” Esther answered.
    “No wonder! Please you need to throw that phone away and get a new one, before you become a laughing stock in this campus” Naomi said as she wore her headphones back.
    Esther was quiet. She didn’t mind what Naomi said. “A phone still remains a phone, whether it’s an old model or not. As long as I can use it to call, then there isn’t any difference” she said to herself. She went to the ladies’ bathrooms to take a quick shower. She found a bunch of other students walking Unclad in the bathrooms. Esther’s heart beat fast. She was about to go back to her room, when one them shouted “Hey Madam, you can enter. There are bathrooms that are not being used”. Esther quickly hurried into the bathroom and locked her door. Some girls laughed “I am sure she is the Mama Mary holy of all type” one of them said.
    Esther bathed and left the bathroom, wearing a long green robe. Naomi was dressing up preparing to step out. She wore a tight pink mini skirt and a backless top. Esther starred at her in amazement.
    Naomi: Esther, let’s go have dinner at the Campus restaurant. Have you bought your restaurant tickets yet?
    Esther: Not yet. I will get them tomorrow
    Naomi: No problem my dear. I’ll give you one. Just dress up so that we go now before the place gets filled up
    Esther: Oh that’s very kind of you, but I am really exhausted from my trip and I just want to get some rest. We can go together tomorrow by God’s grace
    Naomi: Ok, Mrs. Pastor. Enjoy your sleep then
    Esther: thank you
    Esther knelt down on the floor and said her prayers before going to bed. Naomi looked at her and smiled “It seems we have Sister Mary as our roommate. Janet needs to see this” she said and left. Esther finished her prayers and went to bed.
    The following day, Esther woke up with a terrible headache. She groaned in agony as she returned from the shower hall. Naomi looked at her and went towards her “What is wrong Esther? Are you alright?” she asked. Esther sat down on the bed and answered slowly, her hand on the forehead “I have a terrible headache. I think it’s because of yesterday’s long journey” Naomi went to search for some pain relievers in her bag, but couldn’t find any. “Oh, I think they are finished. Let me take you to the campus dispensary. They will be able to take your temperature and give you some drugs” she said. She helped Esther to get up from her bed and went with her down the hallway to the dispensary. There were a couple of other students being attended to. Esther and Naomi sat down. “Esther, is everything alright?” Someone said. Esther, who had stooped down, looked up and saw that it was David. “Hello sir. How are you?” Esther said. David laughed “I thought I told you not to call me sir. I am a simple student like you. Just call me David” he said.
    Esther: Sorry David. I woke up with a headache, so I came here to get some painkillers.
    David: Sorry about that. Let me take your temperature.
    Esther: You really enjoy joking don’t you? How can you take my temperature when you are not a nurse?
    David: Actually, I work part time here. I have always been fascinated by medical work. Therefore, since I need to find a way to make some money for my personal upkeep, I decided to take up the volunteer work here. We do get paid some stipends though. Hahaha. I’ve been here for over 7 months now
    Esther: Oh that’s pretty good, sir. Oh sorry I mean David
    David: Thank you Madam. Oh sorry I mean Esther. Hahaha. Now let me get the thermometer to record your temperature.
    David went to the counter to get the thermometer. Naomi looked at Esther and said “Hmm. I thought you are new to this campus. So how do you know this guy?”. “Oh, we met at the car park when I just arrived. He helped me find my way to the Campus. He’s a kind man” Esther answered. Naomi laughed “You call him a man? This is a small boy my dear” she said. David returned and took her temperature. “Open your eyes wide…..Ok. Now let me check your eyes….perfect. Your temperature is normal. I guess it’s just due to fatigue. You need to get more rest before classes begin on Monday” David said. He went back to the counter and brought some painkillers and a glass of water “There you go Esther. You need to take one tablet three times a day for three days. You can take one now. Here is some water” he said. Esther took the tablet and left, thanking David.
    Naomi: So Esther tell me. You seem to be a very quiet and well reserved person. Do you come from a religious family?
    Esther: I don’t know what you mean by religious, but if you mean I come from a church going family, then the answer is yes.
    Naomi: Is your father a pastor?
    Esther: No. but he is an elder in the church.
    Naomi: Ok. So is this your first year at the University? What are you studying?
    Esther: Yes, I am in my first year, I am in the department of Medicine.
    Naomi: Hmm. It fits you. Most people in that department seem to be too strict. So you have passion for the medical field right?
    Esther: Hmm, not really. It was my father’s order to do it. I’ve always wanted to do Business Management, but dad says most people who are into business are thieves. Stealing is a big sin before God.
    Naomi: What? You mean to say your dad chose your area of study on your behalf? That doesn’t seem to be fair. You have the right to choose what you want in life.
    Esther did not want to continue the subject as she did not want to use her father as a topic of discussion. She thought of how to change the subject.
    Esther: And you? What are you studying? Are you also in your first year?
    Naomi: Nope! This is my second time doing my first year. I failed the course last year so I had to repeat my class. I was studying history, but this year, I have decided to change to Geography because there is this hot guy who is doing the same course. He comes from a very rich family, rides a nice BMW and is soooo sexy. Apparently his parents have tried to make him attend private college, but he has refused. I am going to try by all means to get him.
    Esther looked surprised. She couldn’t continue the conversation anymore. It was a great offence to her family for her to even talk about such an abomination. “Sorry Naomi, let me have some rest. We’ll talk later.
    The following day, Janet, the other roommate arrived. She entered the room, shouting “Naomi baby. I missed you so much. Give me a hug my b**tch”. Naomi ran to give her a hug “Oh my b***tch, I missed you too. Look at how sexy you are looking. I can see that Sugar daddy is really taking good care of you. That’s the way to go girl!” Naomi said.
    Esther watched them like a movie. Janet was dressed in a long white dress. She closed the door behind her and removed the dress “Oh thank God I have arrived. I just hate wearing such long things that make me look like an Orthodox priest! Let me wear my pair of pants” she said. Naomi laughed “Is it your dad that brought you?” she asked. “Yes, the old man insisted to bring me here in his car. I couldn’t say no to him. Sometimes, he just behaves like a little puppy” Janet replied.
    Esther couldn’t believe her ears. “This girl just called her dad a dog! Lord, where have you brought me?” she said within her. She was lost in her thoughts when Naomi said “Janet baby, meet our new roommate Esther. Esther this is Janet, the one I talked to you about”.
    Esther said gently “Nice to meet you Janet”. Janet made some grimaces on her face “Eh eh. Nice to meet you too Esther. Naomi told me that you are a religious person. I hope you won’t be disturbed by our constant noise and outings. We are club babes. Hopefully, you can join us soon, by God’s grace” she said.
    Esther was astonished. She wondered how she would survive in that room.

    Part 3

    Esther went to get some fresh air, and to obviously run away from the noise of her two roommates. It was a beautiful Sunday morning. The wind blew across the trees and made a beautiful sound. Esther was reminded of her hometown. She sat by a chunk of wood under a tree not far from the dormitories. She looked around and saw some students revising under the trees while others were discussing. A group of young men and women sat watching something on the laptop. She could hear them laugh and clap their hands.
    “Lord, Are you sure I am going to survive in this place? Is this what University life is all about?” she said to herself. David, who had seen her from afar, came to meet her. “Hello Esther, how are you doing today? I hope you are feeling much better” He asked, as he sat next to her. Esther felt a little awkward, as she was not used to sitting with boys that are strangers to her. She imagined what her father’s reaction would be if he saw her in such a situation. She moved away a little bit to create some more space between her and David. “I am doing much better, thank you” she answered.
    David laughed “Don’t worry my friend. I don’t bite. I can see that you are trying to keep a distance from me” he said. Esther felt ashamed.
    David: So, are you ready for classes tomorrow?
    Esther: Yes, I am. I can’t wait to see how it works. I am a little bit nervous though
    David: You don’t have to. It’s almost the same as Secondary school, although everything will have to be dictated and you take down the notes. So you just need to pay attention. Your department is a good one. Many of its students are quite disciplined, so you won’t have to worry much about slay queens
    Esther: Slay queens? What do you mean? Are you telling me that there are cases of murder around here?
    David stood up and laughed so hard. He put his hand on his stomach and laughed uncontrollably. Esther sat down, looking at him and wondering why he was laughing.
    David: Oh my God! Esther you are the funniest person I have ever met in my life. In fact, I need to be around you anytime I am angry so that you can make me laugh. This is just unbelievable.
    Esther: Well, what did I do or say that makes you to laugh?
    David: Slay queen is simply a slang word used to describe the so called “sexy girls”, party girls who think they are celebrities. There are many of them here. I actually saw you with one of them yesterday at the Dispensary. She took you there.
    Esther: Oh you mean Naomi? She definitely is a sexy girl, together with Janet. So you know them?
    David: Who doesn’t? I mean, they do all sorts of things to attract men’s attention. But not just any type of man, I mean rich guys both in and out of the campus. They are known to be big time party freaks.
    Esther: Sure. I just met Janet this morning. I actually had to leave the room to get some fresh air and escape their nasty discussions.
    David: I feel for you my dear. Living in the same room with those girls is a nightmare. They had another roommate who eventually became a drug addict and was suspended from the University. She used to go to class high on drugs and would insult the Lecturers.
    Esther: Oh my God! How can one do such a thing?
    David: Welcome to the campus. You’ll probably see even worse than that. You just need to be very careful, because such girls have a very strong negative influence on people around them. Last year, I knew a very decent girl who became totally indecent in less than 3 months.
    Esther: Now I understand why dad was warning me. May God help me!
    David: Your dad was right. You are even lucky that you have parents that care about you. Some of these girls don’t even respect their parents because they don’t really care about what they do here.
    Esther: I am not surprised. Janet called her dad a puppy this morning. That is just so wrong!
    David burst into laughter again. He looked at how serious Esther’s face was and shook his head in laughter “Oh Esther. You are amazing”. He looked at his watch and said “I am sorry, I need to leave now. I need to go and pick up some drugs from the main hospital in town. I’ll see you later”.
    Esther thought about what David had just told her. She hoped for the strength to be able to survive in such an environment.
    The first day of her classes was quite good. Ether enjoyed the introductory courses that she had. It was lunch break and one of the students, a short young lady with spectacles went to meet her as they packed their books “Hello there, my name is Angela. Are you getting ready to go for lunch?” she said. Esther was happy to see that someone paid attention to her “Hello Angela, I am Esther. Yes I am going for lunch. Do you want to come along?” she answered. “Yes, sure. I am new here and I feel awkward to walk alone” Angela said.
    Esther laughed “That makes the two of us. I am not only new to the Campus, but new to the city also” she said. They both laughed and went to the dining hall. It was filled with hundreds of students. Esther and Angela lined up on the queue to be served. They were served rice and beef stew and they looked around for empty seats. “Esther, there is a free seat here” someone shouted. Esther looked to see who it was and saw that it was Naomi. “Oh Angela, come” she said. They arrived at Naomi’s table where she sat with Janet and a few other students. “Oh thanks, but I am with a new friend Angela, and we will need two seats” Esther said.
    Janet laughed “Come on Madam Pastor, she can find another place. Sit down here and join us” she said. Esther felt embarrassed. She looked at Angela who was feeling rather ashamed and insulted and said “Oh no thanks. We’’ll just find another table with empty seats. Thank you”. Janet replied “Whatever! Suit yourself baby!”. Naomi and Janet laughed, while Esther and Angela left to find where to seat. They sat down and ate their food quietly. Angela was also a very decent girl. She was from a city not far from the University. She came from a well to do family and her father was a renowned Doctor at the University Teaching Hospital.
    Almost a month had passed since Esther’s arrival at the campus. She was enjoying her classes. Elder Barnabas called her every two days to know how she was doing. He was happy that she was enjoying her classes and as usual, warned her constantly to be careful. She had found a friend in Angela as they both seemed to have similar behaviors. It was a busy month. Esther had classes till 7pm. She always went back to her room, feeling very tired. Janet and Naomi get her a hard time to rest. They were constantly smoking and listening to loud music, even in the night. Esther was contemplating on finding another room. She wished to be in the same room with Angela, who testified of how calm and quiet her room was as her roommates were also quite mature and studious.
    One night, Esther, left her room because of the smoke of the cigarette that her roommates were smoking. She went to her favorite resting place and sat down, feeling very frustrated. David came to meet her. Esther felt somehow happy to see him as it had been a month since she last saw him. He smiled as he came. He looked quite tired and his head and beard were unshaven.
    David: Madam Esther. Good evening
    Esther: Good evening David. I haven’t seen you in a while. I guess you have been so busy with your studies
    David: Oh not really. I actually had some issues I needed to sort out so I was not around. I just came in this evening. I wanted to get some rest after a long journey, but it seemed impossible because there seems to be so much noise in the dormitories. Most students are preparing for the annual get together party to be held next month. So I decided to come here and I was also hoping to find you here.
    Esther: OK. I am also out here for the same reasons. It is impossible to have rest when my roommates are busy smoking and chatting. And what issues could be so important that you miss classes for an entire month? Are your parents aware of it?
    David: Well. First of all, both my mom and dad passed away when I was only 15 years old. And secondly, yes the issue was very important
    Esther: Oh my condolences David! So sad to hear that. Would you mind telling me what it is all about?
    David: Well, if you insist. Like I just said, my parents are no more. So I have been living with my father’s brother together with his family. I have a younger sister, who is about 5 years younger than me. We were both living with my uncle and we’ve gone through hell under the authority of his wife and children. My sister has sickle cell anemia and constantly falls sick. However, because of the hatred that our aunt has towards us, I need to make sure that I am there with her whenever she falls sick otherwise nobody would take care of her. I was informed last month that she has just been taken to the hospital, so I had to rush to be there with her. She spent almost 3 weeks in the hospital and since we had bills to pay, I had to do some work at a construction site in order to raise funds. That is why I am actually looking so fluffy right now. Hahaha
    Esther kept quiet. Her heart was filled with sorrow. “I really don’t know what to say David. I am really sorry to hear this. My heart aches. I hope your sister is feeling much better now” she said
    David laughed “Oh don’t worry my dear. It’s part of life. Yea, she is back on her feet now, except that I feel quite bad that she has missed out on quite a lot of things at school. But I managed to raise some money to pay for a private tutor for her. I believe she will catch up. She is a very intelligent and strong girl. I also have a lot of catching up to do. How are you finding your course? I hope you are happy?” he said
    “Yes, it’s pretty interesting. I have also found a new friend. Her name is Angela. She is quite decent and studious too. We spend most of our time together, reading and revising” Esther answered. “Wow. I am happy for you. It’s good to know that you are enjoying yourself. I wish you all the best” David said
    The two discussed for about half an hour and Esther, who was really feeling sleepy, decided to go back to her room to catch some sleep. David looked at her as she was about to leave and gave her a warm hug and said “I am really glad to see you”. Esther’s heart was beating fast. She had never hugged any man in her life. She softly pushed him away and walked away. David smiled “You have nothing to worry about. It’s just a hug to tell you that I missed your company” he said.
    Esther hurried to her room. She was happy to see that both girls were fast asleep although the room was filled with the smell of cigarette and beer. Esther covered her nose with her head tie and fell on her bed. She couldn’t stop imagining what had just happened. She couldn’t believe that she had just hugged David. “If my father knew this, he would kill me” she thought. But somehow, she felt so good. She couldn’t explain how she felt. She also thought of what David had just narrated to her regarding his family. Once again, she was filled with compassion. She couldn’t imagine being an orphan. She loved her parents so much. “Now I know why dad is always asking us to thank God for everything we have” she thought to herself. Finally, she slept off.

    Part 4

    “Madam Pastor, wake up please! You’ll be late for classes” Naomi said, rubbing her hand on Esther’s shoulder. Esther woke up, struggling to open her eyes fully because of the light. “What time is it?” she asked. Naomi laughed. “It’s almost 7:30. I bet your classes start at 8am right?” Naomi said.
    Esther rose up from her bed like a scared cat. “Oh my God, I am late” she said as she got her bathing kit. Janet, who was making up her face mocked her “Hmm, I guess you and lover boy had a long night last night”. Esther looked at her. “Which lover boy?” she asked. “Oh come on, don’t pretend to us. We saw you being so intimate with your boy” Janet answered. Esther was feeling very nervous. She refused to respond and ran to the bathroom. She was imagining what the two ladies were talking about. “Did they see David hugging me? I hope they will not tell anyone. If my father hears this, I will be a dead person!” she thought to herself. When she got back to the room, she was happy to find that Naomi and Janet had already left. She dressed up quickly and rushed to her class. On the way down the hallway, she met David, who was also heading to his class.
    “Hey Esther. Good morning” David said with a smile on his face. Esther refused to respond to the greeting and went past him like she never knew him. David looked surprised “What did I do wrong?” he asked himself. Esther didn’t even want to look behind. “I need to start avoiding this guy before I land myself into problems. I need to concentrate on my studies” she said to herself. She finally arrived in class and went straight to where Angela was seating.
    During lunch break, Esther and Angela were having lunch when David came to join them “Hello ladies, do you mind if I join you?” Esther responded immediately “Yes we do mind. There are many seats that you can occupy over there please. As you can see, we are having a private conversation between us”. Angela starred at her wondering why she acted so cold. David stood there feeling so ashamed. He was about to walk way when Angela held him by the hand and said to him “I am sorry my brother. I don’t know what’s gotten into my friend. Please you are welcome. Do take a seat and eat with us”. David thought for a second and then sat down. All of them were very quiet. Esther pretended like she didn’t know who he was. David kept on looking at her, while eating. Finally, Angela decided to break the silence.
    Angela: So, bro what department are you in?
    David: Economics?
    Angela: Ok. That’s great. I hear you guys have a lot of foreign lecturers?
    David: Yes, sure. Actually, more than half of our lecturers are foreigners. And you, what are you studying?
    Angela: Medicine.
    David: Hmm, you want to take care of us when we are sick?
    Angela: Hahaha. Yes! And I hope you will also help to bring development to our economy
    David: I will try. Can my children come to your hospital for free?
    The two laughed as they continued their discussion. David was such a funny man. Esther kept quiet, but deep within her she wanted to join them and laugh with them. However, she looked across the table and saw Janet talking to Naomi and pointing to her, laughing. Esther was getting nervous again. She stood up violently and left David and Angela. They both looked at her in astonishment. “What is wrong with your friend?” David asked. “I really don’t know. This is the first time I am seeing her behave this way. Are you sure you’ve never done something wrong to her? Do you know her?” Angela said. David smiled “Well, the only thing I know is that I have never done anything wrong to her. Maybe she just doesn’t like me. Anyway, I guess she has her own reasons. So tell me, what made you decide to do this course?” he said, trying to change the topic of discussion. They both continued chatting. Angela laughed so hard because of David’s jokes.
    Esther had gone back to her room. They had no classes that evening, so she had a free time. She lay on her bed, thinking about what she had just done to David. She felt rather bad, but she convinced herself that she did not want her roommates to think David was her lover. After a while, Janet and Naomi came back. Janet was smoking cigarette. “Madam Pastor. So you are trying to pretend that you are not seeing that boy hein?” Janet said. Esther got upset, rose up and said firmly “Please stop it. Just stop it! How many times will I tell you that I am not seeing anyone? David is just a friend”. Janet burst out into laughter. Naomi looked at her and said softly “Janet, stop troubling Esther. She has told you that they are just friends. Leave the poor girl alone!” Janet went to sit near Esther, and putting her hand on her shoulder, said “Don’t mind Janet. She behaves like a detective. But now tell me the truth, is that boy asking you out?” Esther’s eyes opened wide: “No he is not. He is just my friend” she said.
    Naomi: Listen, I know how most of these small boys here behave. Once they see a new student, they will start moving around her like hungry puppies, looking for an opportunity to eat the forbidden fruit. You need to be careful with them
    Janet: And you know what! Most of them have nothing to offer you except their dirty mouths that smell like a poultry house. You need to have class. You don’t just move with anyone, including your short friend with glasses. There is nothing you can learn from her. University is a training ground. You are not supposed to leave this place the same way you came.
    Esther: I like Angela. She is a good person. And I don’t think I am complaining about anything. I am perfectly alright
    Janet: Well, if you say so. But just know that you look so much like a village girl. The kind of clothes you wear, I haven’t seen them in like 15 years.
    Naomi stood up and shouted “Janet! Will you stop being so rude?” Janet continued “But I am saying the truth. She looks like a grandma. I am even sure that small boy laughs at her. But since the only thing he wants is to sleep with her, he will never tell her the truth”. Esther stood up from the bed and ran out of the room. She went behind the dormitories and cried. She felt like calling her dad to tell her that she was quitting, but she remembered that her phone was back inside the room. She definitely didn’t want to face Janet for a while. She sat down on a wooden bench and cried “God, why did you bring me to this school?” she said. She missed home, especially her mother. David had been looking for her after having his lunch. He thought she would be at her favorite place under the trees, but she wasn’t. He was ashamed to knock on her door as he didn’t want to be seen by Janet and Naomi. He finally saw her behind the dormitories. No sooner did Esther see him than she started running away. David ran after her. Some students, who were present, looked in amazement. David finally caught up with her.
    “Esther, what is wrong with you? What wrong have I done to you?” He said, pulling her hand towards him. When Esther turned to look at him, David noticed that she had been crying. “Esther, what is going on? Why are you crying? You know you can count on me. Talk to me please” he said. Esther wiped her tears and said pointing to her clothes “You think that I look like a village girl don’t you? Just because I don’t dress sexy the way other girls do, you think I am a fool right? Well you have to understand that this is the way I am and I like it. You can find other girls to sleep with, not me. I am a child of God and today you have been exposed”. David started laughing. Esther got even more upset “You think this is a laughing matter, don’t you? You can’t plan evil against me and succeed. Leave me alone and let me concentrate on my studies, please!” she shouted.
    David strongly held her by the hand “Listen young lady. I don’t know what you are talking about and I am not ready to listen to such stupidity. Who told you that I am after your body? I have so many things to worry about in my life, don’t add to the stress. I am sure those useless girls you call your roommates have poisoned your mind by telling you lies about me. They are lucky that I am no longer the fighter I used to be; otherwise I would have caused them to parade Unclad in the hallway for all to see. And as for you, if you can be so naïve to believe any single thing that you are told, then you definitely don’t deserve to be my friend” he said and walked away.
    Esther was speechless. She had never imagined seeing David like that. She looked at him as he left and shouted “David, David, please let’s talk”. David continued walking, ignoring her and eventually disappearing from her view. Esther went to sit down on the bench. She cried again. After a few minutes, she went back to her room. Janet went to give her a hug “Oh my dear Esther, I am really sorry if you were hurt by what I said. I didn’t mean to hurt you my dear. You know, I am a very frank person and if I like someone, I always tell the person the truth without any strings attached. You can ask Naomi if you want. Sometimes, we get into a fight when I tell her the full blown truth, not because I hate her but because I love and care about her. You are our roommate now and we need to be like sisters because you never know where you’ll find yourself tomorrow” she said.
    Esther felt much better, although she was still thinking about David. Naomi said “You know Esther, you have to understand that you are no longer a kid. Your parents who sent you to University should understand that you have the right to live the life you want”.
    “But I love the life I am living right now. I am not complaining. If you really want to be my friends as you say, then you will need to accept me just the way I am” Esther said, wiping out her tears.
    “Ohh, don’t cry my dear. Ok, ok, ok. We won’t disturb you again about that boy or how you dress ok? We accept you for who you are. Now wipe those tears and put a smile on that doll face of yours. Don’t you know that you look like a rabbit when you cry?” Naomi said. Esther smiled.

    Part 5

    It had been three weeks since Esther had an argument with David. David was nowhere to be seen. Esther had tried to sit at her favorite place thinking he would show up, but to no avail. Sometimes, she also passed near the dispensary to see if he was there, but David seemed to have disappeared. Esther was missing him and his jokes. She wished she had not treated him the way she did. She regretted her behavior. She was ashamed to share this with anyone, including Angela and she felt too proud to go and check on him in his department.
    One day, Esther and Angela were seated in class waiting for the Lecturer. One of the students shouted “fellow students, please be informed that our Lecturer will not be coming this morning because he is not feeling well. So you have two free hours before the next lecture”. The rest of the students cheered in joy. Some students left the class immediately while others stayed in class. Angela and Esther were chatting, when Angela finally spoke ‘Esther, do you remember that guy you chased from our table some weeks back when we were having lunch? I think he told me that his name was David”.
    Esther’s heart skipped a beat. She swallowed her saliva as she tried to hear more “Yes, what happened to him?” Esther answered. Angela continued “Well, it’s been almost two weeks now that I have not seen him. I was wondering if he is alright”.
    “Well, since you are friends, you should know where he is” Esther said, looking so paranoid. Angela laughed “Well, he is not really my friend per say. I just like how funny he is. I met him like twice after that event in the Dispensary and he seemed to be a nice guy. I was wondering if you can escort me to his department so that I can check on him” she said. Esther was getting even more nervous. “So you two have been talking since that day he met you in the dining hall?” she asked. “No of course not. I just met him coincidentally at the dispensary when I went for my eye checkup. We did chat a bit, as I was waiting for my turn” Angela responded.
    “And what were you guys talking about?” Esther asked. Angela looked at her in wonder “Esther, why are you asking me all these questions? You are scaring me” she said. Esther felt ashamed “Nothing my dear. I just wanted to know. You know that I am a curious person. Come on now, let’s go and see if he is at his department” she said.
    They arrived at the Economics department. It was quiet as most students were in class. They looked around to see if they could find someone. Two students were passing down the hallway. Angela approached them “Hello, excuse me. Please do you know where we can find the second year Economics’ class?” she asked. One of them answered “Yes. Just go down the corridor and take your first turn to the right. You will see a small library just at the corner. The second year classes are right in front of it.” Angela was happy “Thank you very much” she said as she pulled Esther by the hand. They arrived at the indicated place and found a group of students seated outside the class. Angela asked them if they knew David but none of them did. However, one of them asked her to ask the Librarian as he seemed to know every student from the department. They both went to see the Librarian.
    Angela: Hello sir, we are looking for a guy by the name of David who is a second year student studying Economics
    Librarian: Hmm. There are a lot of students with that name.
    Angela: Er, er. This particular David is quite tall, has big eyes and very handsome
    Esther looked at Angela when she heard those words. The Librarian laughed
    Librarian: You are a funny lady. Are you trying to say that all other guys are ugly?
    Angela: No, but this one is really handsome. I mean he has a good physical appearance and very joyful
    Esther was getting really upset, but pretended not to.
    Librarian: I think I might know who you are talking about. Is it not David that works at the Dispensary?
    Angela and Esther shouted at once “Yes, he’s the one”. Angela looked at Esther and laughed. The Librarian then further said “Ok, Mr. Lover boy. Many ladies like him because he is really kind and funny. He’s a very good guy too. He’s one of the few students with whom I have never fought. When he borrows books, he brings them on time. Well, he is out of the Campus for some time. I pray he comes back soon” Esther looked perplexed. She wanted to ask why he was away, but feared the reaction of Angela. So she waited till Angela spoke
    Angela: But why? Has he been suspended or what?
    Librarian: Well, it’s the right word, although it is not what you think. He has been suspended in some sort, but not because he did something wrong. But anyway, who are you two ladies?
    Angela: Er, er, er, I am his new girlfriend.
    Esther was shocked. She wanted to pinch Angela, but Angela stepped forward, drawing closer to the man
    Angela: You know, I had travelled to see my parents, but when I came back, I couldn’t find him again. I lost my phone in the bus during the journey so I couldn’t reach him. I am very worried. Why has my David been suspended? What did he do?
    Librarian: Oh, I am sorry to hear that. Well David has not paid his end of term school fees for last year. And since we have entered a new year, they have asked him to bring the money before he enters the class.
    Esther felt like crying. Both she and Angela became quiet. Angela then said “Thank you very much sir. Please, do you have his number? I never memorized his number and I need to call him as soon as possible” The Librarian was kind enough to give Angela his number and they both left.
    “Oh my God! This is really sad. Maybe his parents can’t afford to pay” Angela said. Esther, who knew that David was an orphan, refused to spill out the truth. She walked quietly as Angela spoke. Angela took her phone and decided to call David. “Hello, David. This is Angela, I don’t know if you remember me. I am the girl doing Medicine. You remember we met at the dining hall, when one of my friends chased you?” she said. Esther was getting upset. But Angela continued “Oh I am happy you remember me. I have not seen you for a while and I thought I should check up on you. I went to your department and someone gave me your number. I am sorry I had to lie to the person that I am your girlfriend because I wanted to know why you are out of school and I was told that it’s because of lack of school fees”
    Esther could hear David laughing. She smiled too as she remembered how funny he was.
    “I am really sorry to hear that. I hope you come back soon. I will be praying for you. Yes… yes… hahahaha…. David you’ll never stop being funny….hahahaha. really? Oh I am blushing right now. Thank you so much….hahaha….I’ll call you soon. Ok I will.. Byeeee” Angela said. Esther’s mood had changed as she listened to their conversation.
    “Ohhh David! Such a funny man! Anyway he says he will be back soon. He is actually saying hi to you” Angela said. Esther looked at her “What did he say about me? Hope he’s not upset because I chased him that day?” she asked. “No! He said “pass my regards to your Soldier friend”hahaha” Angela answered.
    Esther felt so stupid and embarrassed. They both went back to class. Esther was still thinking about David. She felt so sorry for him. She imagined what he was doing and how he was going to raise money for his school fees.
    In the evening, Esther was seated on her bed, revising her notes. Janet and Naomi came in, swinging the door open with so much noise. They were both in a hurry. Both of them went to their suitcases to get some clothes. Esther was wondering what was going on. Janet undressed and put on a very short red dress, while Naomi wore a pair of tight jeans. "Where are you going?" Esther asked. "My dear, today is Friday and you know what that means: It's party time. Tonight we are rocking it at one of the best night clubs in town. I can't wait to shake my body" Janet answered.
    "Let's go together Esther. It will be a good experience for you my dear. You need to learn how to enjoy life because you only live once" Naomi said as she applied red lipstick. "No, thank you ladies. I have a lot of reading to do as to prepare for my first semester exams" Esther said. Janet laughed "Semester! We have only done 2 months and you are talking about semester exams? Esther you are too serious. This is not how life is. You are such a beautiful lady. If only you could..."
    Janet was about to finish her sentence when someone knocked at the door. Esther went to open, hoping it was David. But it was a short dark man, probably in his mid sixties. He wore a flowery shirt and a blue jeans with a cowboy hat. He had a big belly and held a huge IPad in his hands. His perfume filled the entire room. Janet jumped and ran to him, hugging him so tight. "Oh baby I missed you so much" she said as she kissed him on his lips. Esther couldn't believe her eyes. Naomi quickly packed her bag and headed towards the door "Hello Big Joe" she said as she gave him a hug. The man put his hands around Janet and Naomi and they all left at once.
    Esther sat on her bed trying to convince herself that it was a dream. "This can't be true. This man is old as my father. How can he be going to clubs with young ladies?" she thought to herself.

    Part 6

    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.

    Part 7

    Three days had passed since Angela and Esther went to see David. Esther was really getting worried, because she thought of how much of his course he was missing. She thought of going to his work place, but she had absolutely no money, as her father had not yet sent anything for her. She also wished to find out from Angela how he was doing, but she felt ashamed to do so. Finally, she gathered some courage to ask as they finished the course for the day.
    Esther: Angela. Have you heard from your friend David since we left the cement factory?
    Angela: Ah, that guy is just something else!
    Esther: What do you mean?
    Angela: I sent him some chats the evening of the day we went to see him, but he did not respond. I tried to call him, but he was not picking up the phone. So I assumed that he was busy. The following day again, I sent him messages on WhatsApp. I could see that he had read them, but refused to respond
    Esther: What do you mean you could see that he had read your messages, as if he was with you?
    Angela: WhatsApp allows you to see if someone has read your messages. When I called him again, he cut the line and sent me a message saying that he really appreciates my friendship, but that he doesn’t want me to stress me because of his situation. I told him that I was not stressing myself. He later said that there are certain things he cannot do in life, so it’s better he stops communicating with me. I tried to send him a message, but he blocked me
    Esther: What!
    Angela: I tell you my dear! I was shocked, but I guess he has his own reasons, though I don’t understand what he was trying to say. I believe that he has a girlfriend somewhere and he’s afraid that she suspects both of us
    Esther: You really think so?
    Angela: Yes I do. And if that’s the case, then he’s really a good and loyal person. Because if he was a bad guy, he would just date both of us
    Esther: Were you planning to date him?
    Angela: Well, not really. I just enjoy his company and all that and I don’t think he saw me as his girlfriend anyway, otherwise he would have asked me out since the day we discussed at the Dispensary.
    Esther: And if he asked you out, would you accept?
    Angela: Hmm Madam Detective. I don’t know. It’s true that he’s handsome and all that and he makes me laugh a lot, but somehow I feel he’s not the kind of guy I would want to marry
    Esther: Hmm. Why?
    Angela: My mom can never allow me to marry a poor man. It’s not because I love money or anything, but my mom always tells me that I need to concentrate on my studies so that I can become someone in life and eventually marry a rich man. My parents cannot spend all this money for my education just for me to end up with a poor man. Impossible!
    Esther: Wow! I am surprised that such words are coming from your mouth. And what tells you that David will never be rich one day?
    Angela: Hmm, well he might be rich, but I think it will take a lot of time. For instance, he has been away from school for 3 whole weeks. How do you expect him to pass his exams? It means he will have to repeat classes. And I can’t be with a failure.
    Esther couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She kept shaking her head in astonishment. She couldn’t believe that Angela could say a thing like that. They both went back, each one to her room. Esther found Naomi listening to music. Naomi moved around the room as she danced to the rhythm of the song. Esther smiled. “Hello Naomi” she said. Naomi raised her hand to greet her and continued dancing. After a while, Naomi’s phone rang. She reduced the volume of the music player and answered: “Hello…Oh hi darling. I am doing just fine thanks…Hmm, I miss you too baby. Oh really! Oh my God! Thank you so much honey. I knew I could count on you. I’ll go to the bank tomorrow morning….I love you” she said. She jumped up and down “Yes! Yes! Yes!” she screamed. Esther smiled “Have you just won a jackpot?” she said jokingly. “Oh my dear Esther, this is more than a jackpot. My new boyfriend just deposited close to 900 Dollars in my account. I lied to him that I needed to pay for my school fees and he sent it right away. I need to completely change my wardrobe. Too many old clothes!” she said.
    “But you just bought some new clothes last week when that man gave you money” Esther asked. Naomi laughed “My dear, as a lady you need to be constantly buying new clothes. Fashion is moving at a fast pace and I need to be up to date. But anyway, you are also right. I have quite a number of new clothes, but I just asked out of greed. I really don’t need this money; after all I still have change from the money Big Joes gave us. Hahaha” Naomi answered. She picked up her purse and said she was going to have dinner.
    Esther sat on her bed, thinking. “Can I borrow some money from Naomi so that I can help David to pay off his school fees? But these girls’ money is dirty money. My father would kill me to know that I am borrowing money from my fellow students. Let me just leave it. Am sure David will find money” she thought to herself. She lay down to rest a bit and thought about David. She smiled as she remembered David’s jokes. Her eyes were filled with tears when she remembered how he carried heavy bags of cement on his back. “I know that David really loves school, but circumstances beyond his control won’t allow him” she thought. Suddenly she rose up “I can’t allow him to suffer. I will ask Naomi to lend me some money. But how much will he need? I can ask Angela, and I don’t care what she will think. David is my friend. He was the first person who welcomed here when I arrived” she said to herself. She quickly wore her sandals and hurried to Angela’s room.
    Angela was surprised to see her
    Angela: Are you alright? You look nervous
    Esther: I am ok. Did David tell you how much he owes the school?
    Angela: Hmm, why the question?
    Esther: Please just tell me and stop asking me silly questions
    Angela: Hmm, Esther you are scaring me. Anyway he said he owes about 300 Dollars. But why are….
    Esther did not allow her to finish. She turned back and started running towards the dining hall. Angela shook her head and went back to her room.
    Esther searched for Naomi until she found her sitting at her favorite place with a couple of other students. “Hi Esther, have you also come to have dinner?” Naomi asked. “No. I would like to talk to you” Esther answered. Naomi looked surprised “Hmm what is it? Is everything ok?” she asked. Esther asked her to move a little farther from the table.
    Esther: Naomi, I am really sorry to disturb your dinner, but I really need your help. I am in need of 350 Dollars. I promise to pay you back in instalments
    Naomi: What! That’s a lot of money Esther. What do you intend to do with it?
    Esther: I have an urgent need that I need to sort out. It’s confidential. I promise I will pay you back, by God’s grace. Please I beg you, just help me.
    Naomi kept quiet for a while then finally responded “Hmm, ok. No problem. I will give it to you when I come to the room” she said. Esther hugged her in excitement. “Thank you Naomi. I really appreciate. God bless you” she said. Naomi just smiled and went back to eat. Esther went to her favorite hideout under the tree. She smiled at the thought of seeing David again crossed her mind “God, thank you for making a way for my friend. He really needs to be in class”. Suddenly, she saw Angela walking towards her. Esther began to be nervous again. She thought of the response to give to her. Then she suddenly remembered that her father had always said the truth sets free and that no matter how painful the truth is, one just has to say it out. Angela sat beside her and said softly with a smile “Esther, you cannot lie to me. You have known David before I knew him, but you lied to me. I don’t know why you have been hiding this information, but I just want you to know that I am your friend and you can always count on me. As friends we need to tell each other the truth. So tell me, what happened between you and David?”
    Esther felt like cold water had been poured on her body. She felt ashamed that she had lied to her friend. Slowly, she explained everything that had happened between her and David as Angela listened quietly. “…..David is just my friend, but I really cherish his friendship. I was wrong to accuse him of being a womanizer. I shouldn’t have listened to those ladies” Esther said as she concluded her story.
    “Oh, I am really sorry my friend. But I think David is not holding any grudge against you. He is a good person and I am sure he still wants you to be his friend. Hmm, now I understand why he kept looking at you when we went to see him. You clever little girl!” Angela said, pinching Esther. Esther laughed “So you are not upset with me then?” she asked. “Of course not. You and I are friends and I’ll do anything that makes you happy” Angela answered. Esther also informed her of her decision to ask money from Naomi. Although Angela thought it wasn’t a good idea, she finally thought it was for a good cause.
    After discussing for a while, the two ladies went back to their rooms. Esther was about to enter the room, when she heard Janet talking “How can you lend money to someone who despises what we do? Esther is not a small girl. If she wants money, then she needs to work for it too. Or she thinks we pluck this money from tress? Does she know how many rounds of sex we have to endure in order to have it?”
    Esther entered. Immediately, Naomi whispered “Shhhuuu” in order to calm Janet down. “Esther, welcome back. Here is what you asked from me” Naomi said as she gave her an envelope. Esther wanted to refuse, but she thought of the golden opportunity to bring her friend back to school. She gently collected the money and put it in her suitcase. Janet looked at her with an angry face, but Esther did not mind her and went to bed.
    When Esther and Angela arrived at the cement factory in the evening after classes, they found the workers leaving the site. Upon seeing them, David wanted to run away to avoid talking to them. Esther called him “David, David, please don’t run away. We need to talk”. David stopped and looked at them quietly. He had lost so much weight and looked extremely tired.
    David: hello ladies. I really appreciate the fact that you both care about me, but you have to understand that I don’t want you to be stressing yourself. You cannot be leaving the campus at this time of the day just to see me. It is not fair. I will soon be back at school and I promise to see you both. Now, you need to go back and concentrate on your studies. Let me take you to the main road, because it is getting dark.
    Esther: David, you don’t have to worry about us. I have already explained to Angela that we have been friends even before I met her. I am really sorry for all the accusations I raised against you and for treating you coldly. Please forgive me.
    David: Oh Esther! I have nothing against you my dear and I am glad that you decided to tell Angela the truth. The three of us can be good friends. Now let me take you girls to the main r….
    Esther: Before you do that, please have this. Don’t ask any questions please and just take it. Use it to clear off your school fees.
    David refused to take the money and walked away. Esther ran to him and begged him. “How do you expect me to receive money from a girl, a mere student for that matter? I am not selfish. Yes I need the money, but I can’t be going about collecting money from people, money for which I have not worked. I really appreciate this gesture, but I cannot take it” he said.
    Esther held his hand and begged him to take the money “David, if you don’t take the money, I will kneel down right here to beg you” she said.
    “Please, don’t even try to do such a thing before people begin to wonder what is going on. Just understand me, please” David said. It took Esther and Angela almost 30minutes to convince David to take the money. When he finally accepted, he asked “Where did you get such an amount of money?”. Esther was figuring out what to say. “Er, er. It is my own money that I got from selling some vegetables in my hometown. I have had it since I came to this place and since I am not using it for anything, I thought of lending it to you. You can pay back in instalments” she said. “Sure, I will. I don’t even know what to say. Only God will be able to pay you back” David said.
    Esther: When do you intend to go back to school?
    David: Oh, I will just take a bath and then rush to take a bus to the campus. I am staying with a friend, whose room is not far from here.
    Esther: We can wait for you to freshen up so that we can take a taxi and go back together to the Campus
    And so David took a bath while Esther and Angela waited for him at a nearby public garden. He came back with his clothes carefully packed in a plastic bag and they all went back to school. They al laughed as David told funny stories of his work at the cement factory.

    Part 8

    David, Esther and Angela arrived in the evening at the University Campus. David looked so excited. "Oh mehn! I am happy to be back here. I know I missed quite a lot but I will put in all my efforts in order to catch up. Joseph will definitely help me with the lectures" he said as they walked towards the main entrance, after coming out of the taxi. Before they could part their ways, David spoke to Esther "my dear Esther, can we meet at the usual place in the next thirty minutes? Let me just inform the dispensary that I am back then I'll meet you there". Esther looked at Angela. Angela smiled "What are you looking at? Go ahead!" She laughed, hitting her hand on Esther's shoulder.
    Esther and David laughed. They all parted their ways. Esther arrived in her room and found Naomi and Janet chatting and laughing. When she entered the room, they both kept quiet and looked at her. Naomi was the first to speak "Madam Pastor, where the hell did you go? You look happy". Esther just smiled as she removed her shoes in order to wear a pair of sandals.
    Janet laughed "Are you sure she did not go to see one of her boyfriends? Because this is the first time I am seeing her this happy. I guess you used the money to shower it on your boyfriend" she said. Naomi looked at her and tried to give her a sign to stop. But Janet refused to cooperate and continued "But I am telling the truth. Beware of men who ask you to be spending money on them. A real man should be the one to do anything to spend money on you, even if he has to steal to do so. Because the day he will disappoint you, you will feel the heat of the day".
    Esther was getting irritated and finally responded "Listen Janet, what I do with my money is none of your business. I am old enough to know what is best for me". Janet laughed "Old enough you say? When you can't even take decisions for yourself. Your father chooses everything for you, even the clothes you wear and you end up looking like an old woman from the village" she said.
    Naomi shouted "Janet! Please stop it! Leave this girl alone for God's sake!” Esther put on her sandals and left in fury, banging the door behind her. She walked furiously to the place where she was to meet David. She sat down on the rock and thought about what Janet had said. She felt like going back to grab her by the neck and hit her "Oh God give me the strength to overcome this anger" she said to herself. She was lost in her thoughts when someone touched her shoulders "Hello Madam". Esther jumped up in fear. It was David. She laughed upon seeing him. "Hmm. What were you thinking about? You seem to be lost in your thoughts" David said as he sat next down. “Oh nothing much, I just get irritated by the behavior of my roommate Janet” Esther answered. David smiled “Oh I can understand perfectly well. It’s not easy to share the same room with someone whose values are completely different from yours. But you just have to be strong. Moreover, in the second year, you will have the possibility to change rooms. You can even decide to share the same room with your friend Angela” he said.
    Esther: I can’t wait. That girl drives me crazy. Sometimes I just feel like leaving the room to sleep outside
    David: Haha. I don’t think you can manage to sleep outside with the fear that you have. Any slight strange noise might scare the hell out of you.
    Esther: David!!
    David: True my dear! Anyway, let’s forget about the story of your roommate. I actually called you here to express my gratitude to you for what you have done for me. I must admit that this is the first time someone is really doing such a great favor for me. Ever since I lost my parents, I have always done things on my own, without much help from people. So it was a huge surprise to see the effort that you put in just to see me back at school. I pray to be able to show my gratitude in a grand style
    Esther: Oh it is nothing, really. At church we have been taught to always try our best to help others out for a good cause whenever it is in our power to do so. You were the first person to welcome me here and I thought it normal for me to show my gratitude too
    David: Thank you my dear. I promise to pay back soon. I just went to see the Officer in charge of the Dispensary and she told me that they will need my help during the blood donation and free medical checkup days that will soon be held at the campus. I will be paid quite a reasonable amount for the 3 days and I believe it will not only help me to clear my debt but also help my younger sister with some cash to buy some necessary food stuffs because of her condition
    Esther: Oh, to God be the glory! By the way, how is she doing?
    David: Oh, she is doing quite well. She will soon be sitting for her first semester exams. For the short time I was away, I was constantly visiting her and I think it really helped her pick up. Are you ready for the exams?
    Esther: Yes I am. I know I will pass with flying colors.
    David: Excellent! I trust you. It’s always good to have self-confidence. It allows you to focus on what you are doing, regardless of the present circumstances. I also believe I will make it despite the fact that I missed a lot of courses. But I had been studying every evening after work. Thank God for internet! I do my research online. Talking about internet, I have noticed that you don’t have a phone. Is it a personal decision?
    Esther: Er-er-er. Yes. No. I mean, I do have a phone but I don’t use it for anything else except to call my parents back home
    David: Oh ok. Well I respect your decision. But I would really appreciate if you could give me your number so that we can communicate from time to time.
    Esther: You mean on MatsApp?
    David: Hahaha. Oh my God! Esther there you go again with your comedy! You never cease to amaze me. It’s called WhatsApp. It is a platform that al………
    Esther: I know! Was it not the one you were using to communicate with Angela?
    David: Exactly! Since we are friends, I think we can chat frequently to keep each other abreast with what is going on
    Esther: I wish I could, but my phone is not of the new technology models. It is a Nokia 3310 and can’t use WhatsApp
    David: Oh! Anyway, then at least give me your number so that I can call you from time to time. And please start carrying it around. You can’t be keeping a phone inside your room.
    Esther: Hmm. I will try to do so. My number is 4879669
    The two friends continued their discussion which lasted for more than 2 hours. Esther felt comfortable to narrate her family life, especially concerning her father, Elder Barnabas. David laughed as she talked about how strict he was. It was finally time for them to separate as it was getting late and each one had to prepare for classes the following day. As they left, David held her hand and said with a rather serious tone “Esther, thank you for sharing with me things about your family. I must admit that I actually envy you. I wish my parents were still alive to show so much concern about my sister and I, but I guess it’s all part of life. The only thing I can tell you today is to continue being the respectful girl that you are. Don’t think your father is being too tough on you. I believe he does it out of love. It is true that we are not of the same generation with our parents, but I want to believe that they have a lot of experience and can see things that we cannot see. Continue respecting your father. Don’t listen to anyone that will tell you that you are old fashioned. Be who you are. As long as you are happy with yourself, don’t pay attention to anyone that would want to make you feel uncomfortable with yourself. You are still very young and you have a life ahead of you. Concentrate on your studies and once you are through, you can become whatever you want”
    Esther felt like crying. She closed her eyes for a while and looked down. David laughed “Oh come on! Don’t behave like a baby. Just because I said you are young doesn’t mean that you are a kid. You are an old kid! hahaha” David said, as he tried to make her laugh. Esther burst into laughter “Thank you old David!” She said. They both laughed and each one headed to their rooms.
    Esther found Janet and Naomi listening to music. As soon as she entered, Janet ran to hug her :”Oh, my own Pastor! I am sorry for making you upset. You know that you are my very own Bishop and I wouldn’t want to hurt you. My mouth is like a tap, as my mom says. I can’t seem to hold it. I am sorry my dear, ok!” she said, tickling Esther on her sides. Esther smiled “Ok. No problem I have forgiven you. Just try to watch your mouth at times. The words you use can really be hurtful” Esther said.
    Esther went straight to her suitcase to bring her phone out. Immediately, she turned her back to face the other side, Janet looked at Naomi and made grimaces on her face to mock Esther. Naomi smiled and shook her head. Esther’s phone rang. It was David. The ringtone was quite loud so both Naomi and Janet looked at her, expecting her to answer the call. Esther didn’t know what to do. If she picked it up, the two ladies might want to know who it was and if she didn’t pick it up, David might think she was avoiding him again. She took the phone and ran outside. Janet went to block the door. Esther tried to push her off her way, but Janet stood there like a statue. Esther answered
    Esther: H-e-l-l-o-w
    David: Hi Esther. I was trying to make sure that you gave me the correct number. Have you arrived?
    Esther: Y-e-e-e-e-s
    David: Ok. You don’t sound confident. Is everything alright?
    Esther: Y-e-e-e-e-s
    David: Hmm, I think I know what it is. Your roommates are around right?
    Esther: Hmm, Y-e-e-e-e-s
    David: Hahaha. Ok, sleep well then. We shall meet tomorrow. Good night my dear
    Esther: Y-e-e-e-e-s
    Esther was almost sweating as Naomi and Janet starred at her. Immediately, she cut the line, Janet shouted “Woooo! Someone has finally found herself a boyfriend! I knew it!”. Esther refused to talk. She hid behind the curtain that separated their beds and put on her night gown. Janet was still laughing “My dear, this is nothing to be ashamed of. Having a boyfriend is a normal thing for a girl of your age. In fact, you should even be proud of yourself. It’s a great achievement. It makes you a real woman”. Esther answered “I don’t have a boyfriend. He is just my friend, please”. Naomi and Janet laughed. Naomi slightly opened the curtain and looked at Esther, who was already feeling so shy. “Listen Esther. You don’t have to be ashamed of anything. We are all ladies here and we should be treating each other like sisters. You don’t have to hide anything from us. As a matter of fact, we can even give you some tips and advice on how to handle your relationship. We have been in this game for quite some time now and we have a lot of experience that we can share with you. Just be open minded and you will learn a lot” Naomi said.
    Esther nodded her head “Ok. Thank you for your concern. I need to sleep now. Good night” Esther said. “Good night dear” Naomi responded.
    Weeks passed by and students were preparing for their first semester exams. Esther, Angela and David had become the best of friends. They usually revised together, as David helped them with some questions in mathematics. Naomi and Janet were still partying in clubs every single weekend. One cold Saturday afternoon as Esther prepared to go to the Library, someone knocked at the door. Janet rushed to open. A tall elderly man, probably in his sixties came in. Janet greeted him “Hello, Dr. Albert, please come in. The man entered the room and touched Janet’s behind. Janet giggled “Oh sir, stop it!” Naomi stood up, hugged him and gave him a long kiss. Janet laughed, pulled Naomi from the man and kissed him too. The three laughed. Esther was watching from her end with total amazement. She felt disgusted at the sight of what was happening.
    The man sat on Naomi’s bed and both ladies sat on his laps. “So how are my little sl*ts doing?” He said, putting his arms around them. Naomi answered ‘Very fine, especially that you are here. We missed you. How is your wife?” The man laughed “she is fine. She keeps getting bigger like an elephant. I travelled out of the country for my niece’s wedding and I was just too shy to take her along with me. She embarrasses me big time. I also missed both of you. When are we grooving?” he said
    Naomi: This weekend, God willing. I would like us to go to the Buddha bar for massage before entering the main item.
    Janet: Great idea! Meanwhile, what about our issue? Are you handling it?
    Dr. Albert: Oh yes, anything for my two puppies. I have already spoken to the Head of your department. He will give you straight As, don’t worry about it. I gave him an advance then I will pay him the rest of the money once I see the results
    Janet: Youpi! You are simply the best sir.
    The man suddenly looked at Esther and said “Who is this good looking lady?” Esther was now in a hurry to leave as she no longer wanted to witness their ugly scene. She ignored the man’s question and continued packing her books. Janet then answered “This is our roommate Esther. She is a virgin!”
    Esther couldn’t believe what she had just heard. She looked at Janet with anger. Naomi burst into laughter “Oh Janet!” Naomi said. The man stood up and went towards Esther, starring at her like a hungry lion “Hello young lady. Nice to meet you. I am Dr. Albert, the Dean of the History and Philosophy of Science department. I am also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the entire University. What course are you taking?” he said with a proud look. Esther picked up her bag and answered arrogantly “I am studying medicine”
    “Wow, excellent! I can help you get all the best results you need my dear Esther. You don’t need to study!” Dr. Albert said. Esther was now getting nervous and irritated. She tried to leave the room but the man held her hand “Don’t be afraid lovey one. I can’t harm you. I just want to talk to you” he said. Esther pulled off her hand and left. Dr. Albert grabbed one of her buttocks with his hand as she left. Esther turned back and hit him on his chest “Are you mad? How dare you do such a thing?” She shouted. Janet and Naomi stood up. “Esther, what is wrong with you? How can you slap an elderly man? A Dean for that matter!” Janet shouted.
    Esther left without saying a word and left the door wide open. Dr. Albert laughed “Oh, girls of today! They have no fear or respect for elders. Anyway, now that we are left alone, kindly close the door and let’s go back to our usual business” he said. Naomi and Janet giggled and closed the door.

    Part 9

    “Oh my God! You mean to say that those girls are sleeping with Dr. Albert?” Angela asked, with her eyes wide open as Esther narrated to them what she had seen. David looked at Esther and shook his head. They were all having lunch. “I tell you Angela! I am still trembling at the thought of what I saw today. I have never seen such an abomination in my life. The man is old enough to be their father” Esther said. David, who had been quiet all along finally spoke “My dear friends, this is not news to me. Strange things are now happening in our generation because many people want free and quick success. They are not willing to work and endure in patience before eating the fruit of their labor. There are many students here who do all manner of things just to obtain results, especially ladies. You girls need to be very careful. Many temptations will arise, but you have to stay strong. I had a lot of friends when I came here, but because I refused to comply with their way of life, many of them discarded me from their friends’ list, but I care less because I know where I want to be” he said.
    Esther and Angela shook their heads in dismay as David narrated to them how one of his friends who had entered into illegal trafficking of human body parts had been shot dead by the police. “What! Oh Goodness. May God help us!” Esther shouted. Their discussion went on for the rest of the lunch time before they all went back to class.
    That evening, when Esther was seated in her room, trying to relax, Janet and Naomi came in making so much noise. “We are indeed divas! Jealous ones will have a heart attack!” Janet shouted. Immediately they entered, they both became quiet and looked at Esther scornfully. Esther looked the other way and pretended not to have noticed. Janet went straight to her and pushed her from the shoulder. Esther fell on the bed. “How dare you slap my man! Who the hell do you think you are? You lousy village, good for nothing girl!” Janet shouted.
    Esther was afraid. She rose up and shouted back “Your man! An old man enough to be your dad! And anyway that is none of my business. I slapped him because he touched my behind. How can an old man do such a thing?”
    Janet: Which behind? And so what if he touches it? Do you even have anything to boast of? No man can even look at you. You look like a slave. Your clothes look like rags!”
    Esther: I don’t care what you think of me or my dressing. It is my life and I live it the way I want. You or any of your stupid friends have no right to tell me how I should live my life
    Naomi: Heeeey, heeey, don’t you dare involve me in this whole issue, do you hear me?
    Esther: I am not talking to you Naomi
    Naomi: Oh yes you are. When you say stupid friends, who are you talking about? Listen young girl, just because I have been nice to you doesn’t mean you need to take me for granted. I am not your mate. And Janet is right. You have no right to slap a visitor we bring in our room. Do you know who that man is? All I need to do is to talk to him and you can forget about passing your exams
    Esther: He has no right to touch me
    Janet: Of course he has! You silly little brat. Who do you think you are? You are a nobody. Even that young man you are hanging out with knows that you look so ugly
    Esther: Leave David out of this please!
    Janet: I won’t. You think that guy loves you? You are deceiving yourself. He is an experienced guy and he is only waiting to sleep with you before he can dump you like a hot brick. I don’t think there is a man who can cope with your old fashioned lifestyle. Every man wants a pretty girl with class, not a village girl who only follows the ways of her stupid old father!
    Esther’s anger was stirred up by these words. She went towards Janet and slapped her very hard. Janet fought back and tried to hit her, but Esther was stronger than her. Upon seeing this, Naomi also joined in the fight and started hitting Esther from the back. She hit her so hard with her bag that Esther shouted and fell down. They kicked her on her sides as she cried in agony. Some students who were passing by pushed the door open. They found Esther on the floor crying for help. One of the male students recognized her “Esther, what is going on?” he shouted, as others tried to stop Naomi and Janet from beating her. Esther could not talk. Her mouth was bleeding because of the kicks. The student helped her to get up, with the help of other students and made her to sit on the bed. Meanwhile, Angela who had come to bring a book for Esther, was shocked to see what was going on. She ran to Esther and shouted “Esther what happened?”
    Janet shouted “This girl is a thief! She stole a huge sum of money from my friend Naomi some weeks ago.” Esther looked astonished. Everyone became quiet. Naomi also looked surprised. “W-h-a-a-a-a-t!” Esther shouted in agony, putting her hand to support her jaw because of the pain. Angela shouted “It is impossible! Esther can never steal. I know her very well”
    Janet: Idiot! Stay out of this because it is none of your business. This girl that you call a friend is a liar. Try to recall if she did not have a huge sum of money a few weeks ago, on a Sunday to be specific. She even went out to town, I guess to spend it.
    Angela looked at Esther and thought for a while. She tried to figure out if she had seen Esther with any money. Then she remembered the money Esther had used to clear David’s school fees. Her heart skipped a beat. But she kept quiet. She looked at Esther and said gently “Stand up, let me take you to the dispensary”. Everyone around them looked at her and shook their heads as they left, one by one. Esther struggled to stand. Janet mocked her and spat on her face. Angela wanted to fight back, but Esther forbade her to do so. Esther put her hands on Angela’s shoulders and off they went, slowly. People starred at them as they walked through the hallway.
    David was doing some evening work at the Dispensary. He rushed towards them as he saw them. “Oh my God, Esther what happened? Who did this to you?” he shouted. Esther was not talking; tears were just flowing from her eyes. They put her gently on the hospital bed as the nurse did some observations. David and Angela stood next to her. “Angela, what happened?” David asked. The nurse also turned to Angela and asked her the same question.
    Angela answered “I went to give back this book to Esther and found a huge crowd of students gathered in and outside of their room. When I entered, I found Esther being helped to sit down by one of the student. It seems to me that she was beaten by her two roommates, for a reason I do not know”. “What! Are you trying to tell me that they both pounced on her?” David asked. Angela nodded her head. The nurse sighed as she cleaned Esther’s wounds on the sides of her mouth. “Oh, this place is truly hell! Sometimes I just wish I could be posted elsewhere because I am tired of seeing innocent people being mistreated. Just a few weeks ago one student was stabbed to death by a group of other students” she said
    Angela: What! Have they been arrested?
    Nurse: Arrested? The police are still looking for the suspects. Even the few people who know the real killers are afraid of coming out to disclose it because they are afraid of being killed by the gang members
    David: What a shame! I can’t wait to leave this place. We have so many animals in human form here
    After giving her some medication, the nurse released Esther and asked her to go and take a rest. Esther looked at David and said gently “I am afraid of sleeping in that room with those heartless beings. They can kill me”. David felt very bad. He stood up and ran out of the dispensary. Esther shouted “David, where are you going? Please don’t do anything that you will regret”
    David ran like a mad man. He arrived in front of Esther’s room and knocked hard on the door with his fist. Naomi and Janet refused to open the door at first but when David insisted, Janet opened the door with anger. “What do you want here?” she said arrogantly. David resisted the urge to beat her. He spoke with so much anger “I don’t know why you did what you did, but I want you to know that you might end up being locked up in jail for assault on an innocent girl”
    Janet: Haha. Innocent girl my foot! Has she told you the main reason why we beat her? Has she told you that she stole money from my friend?
    David: You devilish liar! Esther is not capable of doing anything like that. Both of you are just a bunch of prostitutes that have no life. If you are not careful, I will report you to the University Chancellor. I will tell them of your disgusting relationship with the Dean and many other dirty things that you do. And the next time I hear that you have done anything wrong to Esther, I swear to God, I will hire some boys to beat you so badly that you will forget your home address.
    Upon hearing this, Janet looked scared. Naomi felt frightened too. She came towards Janet and said gently “Janet, please close the door and let him go”. Janet tried to close the door but David pushed it back and said “If you really love your lives, you will leave this girl in peace. I know you think that you are so called divas, but the day I will hear any news from Esther that you are giving her trouble, you will both regret your actions for the rest of your life. I can trace your movements very well and just a single phone call would do to have your legs cut off so that you will figure out how to walk around, causing trouble. Idiots!”
    Esther and Angela arrived. Esther looked at David carefully, trying to figure out what had happened. “David, leave this issue. I can handle it” she said. David smiled “My dear go and get some rest. If these good for nothing prostitutes try to do anything funny to you, please just dial my number. I am ready to commit crime. Now go and have some rest. I will pass by early morning tomorrow” he said as he took her by the hand and helped her to lie down on the bed. He looked at Naomi and Janet and sneered at them.
    Esther found it hard to sleep as she was afraid of what her roommates could do to her. However, she noticed that they had become so quiet. She wondered how David had managed to calm the ladies down, considering the fact that they were very vicious. She finally slept off as her body was quite tired.

    Part 10

    Esther woke up in the morning with a swollen face. She struggled to get out of bed as her whole body was in pain. Naomi was also awake. She watched Esther from her angle and when she saw her face, she felt very bad within her. She felt sorry for what they had done to her. Esther slowly rose up and went to the bathroom to take a bath. “Ouch, ouch” Esther said gently as she tried to stretch her joints. As soon as she left, Naomi went to wake Janet up “Janet, Janet, wake up. Wake up! We need to talk” she said. Janet slowly sat up “What is it mehn! Why are you waking me up? You know that we are not going to class until 2pm” she said.
    Naomi: Janet, I really feel bad about what we did to this girl. I don’t think it is fair.
    Janet: What is not fair? And you think it is fair that she slapped a man who is our only hope of passing our exams?
    Naomi: I know what she did was wrong, but I don’t think we should have beaten her up that badly. I just saw her this morning and her face is all swollen up. I feel so guilty
    Janet: You make me laugh. Is this the first time we are involving ourselves in a fight? Have you forgotten how we almost killed that useless girl who slept with Big Joe?
    Naomi: That was a different case altogether Naomi. This girl did not deserve such a treatment.
    Janet: Oh really? You mean to say that you don’t care if we fail our exams? Are you ready to repeat classes for the second time? It’s only because Dr. Albert is a good man otherwise he could have just left the room yesterday and decide not to help us because of the embarrassment he went through.
    Naomi: Oh God! Another thing: why did you have to lie that she stole my money when you know very well that I lent it to her?
    Janet: To cover ourselves up my dear! If those students knew the real reason why we were beating her, they could have done justice to us. Listen; don’t even think of telling anyone that you just lent her that money. We have already entered into the deal, too late to back off. We need to cover ourselves up before we are sent to jail.
    Naomi kept quiet and gave it a thought. Janet put her hand on Naomi’s lap and encouraged her “Don’t worry. She will soon be alright, and you know how naïve she is. We just need to play with her and she will soon forget the incident. You and I have an image to protect. Now, allow me to go back to sleep. I was actually dreaming that Big Joe had taken us to Dubai for a summer vacation. Let me go and continue my dream” she said. Naomi laughed and shook her head “Oh Janet, you are terrible!” she said.
    Esther came back from the bathroom and was getting ready to go to class. Janet opened one eye and looked at her from her bed. She rose up and went towards her. Esther, who was so scared stretched her hand towards her and said “Please Janet, I don’t want any trouble. You people have done enough harm to my body already. Just leave me alone please”. Naomi was feeling so bad already. Janet smiled “Oh come on Esther, you surely don’t think I want to fight again, do you? I am not a monster. Let’s just forgive each other and move on. Fights between girls are so common and we cannot allow what happened yesterday to spoil our friendship. Come on now! Be the good hearted Esther that I know” Janet said. Esther looked at her and pushed her violently with the little strength in her as she tried to come close to her. “Leave me alone! I don’t ever want to talk to you. Both of you are so evil. If you can do what you did to me, then you are capable of killing me. You don’t deserve to be called my friends. And as for you Naomi, I will soon pay you back your money. Thank you for lying against me that I stole your money. God will definitely judge between us” she said. Janet knew that she was very serious and decided to withdraw while Naomi was speechless.
    Someone knocked at the door and Esther knew it would be David. Sure enough, it was him. He looked at her face and sighed: “Oh Esther! Your face is swollen. How are you feeling? He said.
    Esther: I am feeling much better. Let me just get my bag. Why are you sweating this early morning?
    David: Oh, I had to make sure that the guard of the girl’s hostels did not see me as I came in, because they don’t allow male students at certain hours. So I ran as fast as I could when he went to the toilets.
    Esther smiled and went inside. She took her bag and they both left. When they were getting near to the main gate, Esther went to have a fake discussion with the guard in order to distract him as David went through. They both went to have breakfast. They found Angela who had already reserved seats for them. She stood up and hugged Esther ‘How are you doing my dear?” she said. “I am doing fine just having some joint pains, but I’ll be fine soon” Esther answered. They all sat down and started having their breakfast. David looked at Esther and spoke gently
    David: Esther, you know that you can always count on Angela and I as your friends right?
    Esther: Yes. Why do you ask?
    David: Angela briefly explained to me what happened yesterday although she says she does not have enough information. According to her, your roommate accused you of stealing money. Is this true?
    Esther: Are you trying to say that I am a thief?
    David: Not at all! I know you can never do a thing like this. I am asking if it is true that she accused you
    Esther: Y-e-e-e-s, she did, but she is lying. I have never stolen in my life. Never! It’s against our Christian values
    David: Then explain to me what really happened. What brought up the fight?
    Esther: it’s simply because they were upset with the fact that I slapped that old Dean who tried to touch me. When I told them that he had no right to do so, Janet insulted me. I didn’t mind at all, but the moment she called my father an old stupid man, I couldn’t hold myself. I went to slap her and that’s how the fight started. When Naomi saw that I was stronger than her friend, she pounced on me and started hitting me hard until I fell to the ground. They both continued kicking me until people passing by heard my cry.
    David: My God! These are animals. I don’t think they deserve to be in this Institution. They need to be thrown out of school to be on the streets where they belong. How can girls behave like gangsters?
    Esther: I have left them to God. He will judge them
    David: If you wish, I can escort you to the police station so that you can file a complaint
    Esther: No, I don’t want to involve the police. I am already coping with the situation and I will be fine. And besides, they seem to have been really frightened by you because they were both so quiet last night and this morning, Janet even wanted us to become friends again but I refused. What did you tell them exactly?
    David: Hahaha. Don’t worry about that, I just did what any man can do. If they think they are tough, let them do something stupid to you again. I was also thinking you can inform your dad about it, maybe he can call the Administratio….
    Esther: No way! I don’t want my father to know anything about this. How will I explain that I borrowed money from a prostitute to pay for your school fees?
    David looked surprised. Esther realized she had spilled the beans. She put her hand on her mouth and became silent. “Esther what did you just say? Are you trying to tell me that you borrowed money from those girls in order to settle my arrears?” David said. Esther stood up from her chair and tried to leave, but David pressed her hand firmly and asked her to sit down. People looked at them. “Ouch, my hand, you are hurting me!” Esther said.
    David: I am sorry, but you need to explain to me what you just said now, or else I will not even allow you to go to your class. Esther had no choice but to explain everything to David. David looked perplexed. “My God! Anyway, I won’t be angry with you because you did it out of love. However, you have to understand that every friendship that should last must be built on the truth and honesty. You lied to me about the source of that money. Now look at the problems you have put yourself into. But I promise to settle that date next week once I get paid. I am really sorry for putting you in this kind of situation” he said. “It’s not your fault David. My fight with these girls actually had nothing to do with the money. She only brought it up to cover their evil deeds” Esther answered. David held her hand gently and said “Thank you Esther. You are the purest soul I have ever met. I promise that one day, I will show my gratitude in a grand style”.
    “Oh there you go again with your grand style issue!” Esther laughed. After having breakfast, they all hurried to class.
    And so it was that from that moment on, that Esther stopped relating with her roommates. She stopped talking to them, even though Naomi would sometimes try to talk to her. After getting paid, David gave Esther the money and asked her to pay her debt. Naomi was rather surprised to see the money. She tried to refuse to accept it, but Esther forced it into her hands “I know that we are no longer friends, which I think is a very good way to avoid problems between us. However, I just want to thank you for helping me out when I was in need. Thank you” she said as she put the money in Naomi’s hands. Naomi was left with a guilty conscience. She knew deep within her that Esther was a good person.
    It was exam time and students were busy. Most students were writing their final papers that day, including Janet and Naomi. Esther woke up very early to revise. Her roommates didn’t seem to be moved by the exams. They continued attending parties every weekend and sometimes, even during week days. They boasted of how they would easily pass their exams without studying. “Dr. Albert is in control baby!” Janet would shout as they gave each other a high five.
    “Oh my God! I can’t believe we are through with these exams!” Angela shouted as they came out of the exam hall. “Yes indeed. Thank God!’ Esther replied. They both decided to go and sit in the public garden as they discussed. “As David suggested, we will go out to town the whole Tuesday once the results are out so that we can show you around and have some fun” Angela said. Esther smiled “I am really excited. I can’t wait to visit the whole city” she said. Esther’s phone rang “Oh, it’s my father” she said.
    Esther: Good afternoon sir
    Elder Barnabas: Esther, how are you doing? Have you finished writing your exams? How was it?
    Esther: Very well thank you sir. We just finished now
    Elder Barnabas: And you didn’t think of calling to inform me
    Esther: Sir, we just finished a couple of minutes ago
    Elder Barnabas: Ok, so when are the results coming out? Are you confident enough that you will pass?
    Esther: Yes sir.
    Elder Barnabas: Oh my God! I think I am really getting tired of teaching you the same things over and over. Esther, I have told you to always say “by the grace of God”, how many times will I….
    Esther: I will pass by the grace of God, sir. I am confident. The results are coming out on Monday.
    Elder Barnabas: Good! I hope you have already packed your bags, because you have to leave early in the morning on Tuesday
    Esther: Er-er-er. Sir, Tuesday will be too early. I need to…
    Elder Barnabas: You need to do what? Once you receive the results, you have nothing more to do in that place. The annual church conference for youths will be starting on Thursday, and I want you to be here in time because I have very important news for you. Do you understand me? Esther!! I said do you understand me?
    Esther: Y-e-s sir
    Elder Barnabas: Good! The Lord be with you. I will call you on Monday afternoon. Bye
    Esther looked sad “Ohh, this means I won’t be able to go out with you guys on Tuesday because my father demands that I leave the Campus early in the morning on Tuesday” she said. “Ohh, that is really sad. Can’t you talk to him to change his mind?” Angela asked. “My father? You don’t know him! Anything he says is final” Esther answered.

    Part 11

    It was Sunday already and Esther had not had the opportunity to see David because he was very busy with his exams. Esther had gone to the Dispensary about three times but he seemed to be very busy there too. She sat in her room thinking about what her dad had told her “I wonder what news my father has to announce to me! What a pity I won’t be able to go out with my friends. It was my dream!” she thought to herself as she packed her bags. She was already feeling nostalgic.
    In spite of the terrible ordeal she had gone through in the hands of her roommates, she would definitely miss the place because of her two friends. She looked at the time and saw that it was already past 7pm. She thought of taking a walk around the hostel to stretch her legs a bit. As soon as she stepped out of the room, she saw David coming in her direction. Esther was excited “Hello there, I thought I could never see you” she said. David gave her a hug “Madam Esther, how are you doing? I am sorry I haven’t been able to see you ladies because of my tight schedule both a school and the Dispensary. It is exam time and we always receive a lot of students complaining of headaches and all manner of discomforts” David said.
    “Oh I understand. I actually passed by the dispensary a couple of times but I could see that you were very busy” Esther replied. David took her by the hand and walked with her.
    David: Esther, I met Angela last night with her father. She told me that you will not be able to make it on Tuesday as planned
    Esther: Yes indeed. My father said I have to leave that very day because of the youth conference and apparently he also has important news to tell me
    David: Oh what a shame! I was really looking forward to having a great time with both of you
    Esther: I know! Me too.
    David: Anyway, he is your father and you need to respect his decision. I will definitely miss you. Three months is quite a long period
    Esther: Yes it is. So what are your plans for the holidays? Are you going back to your uncle’s house?
    David: Not at all. I prefer staying with my friend. I am planning to go back to the Construction site to do some work so that I can raise money for the next semester and for my sister as well. Since my friend’s house is not far from where she is living, I will be visiting her frequently. I hope we will be able to communicate when you get home
    Esther: Communicate? It’s impossible. I am sure my father will get the phone as soon as I arrive. Please don’t even try to call or send any message. You might put me in deep trouble. I might call you from the telephone center whenever I get a chance to.
    David: Wow! That’s tough hein! Ok then, let’s do as you have said then.
    It was Monday morning and students were all gathered outside their department halls as they waited for the results to be published. Esther’s heart was beating fast. Angela smiled “Hey, don’t be too nervous. We will make it. I know we will. We worked very hard for it” she said. Suddenly, two lecturers came out with huge papers in their hands. All the students rushed towards them. There was total disorder and so much noise. One of the lecturers shouted “Please, please calm down! Try to observe order as we stick the results on the board. If you don’t adhere to my instructions, we will go back to the office with these results”. Upon hearing this, the students maintained order and kept quiet. Once the two lecturers had finished sticking the results, every one of them ran to see. “Yes! Yes! I did it!” One female student shouted. Esther, who was quite short, forced her way through the crowd in order to get to the front. Angela wiped her glasses and forced her way through too. Esther screamed “Angela, we made it! Look at our names right here!” she said pointing to their names on the results sheet. Angela hugged her “I knew we couldn’t fail!” she said.
    They managed to come out of the crowd. Some students, who had passed were jubilating while others looked so sad. They were both excited and clapped their hands in joy. “Let’s go to David’s department to see” Angela said. They both rushed to see David. On their way, they met Janet and Naomi celebrating. When Janet saw them, she celebrated even more “Let the jealous ones die of jealousy, we have made it. Let those who think they are holier than anyone be ashamed today” she said giving Naomi a high five. Esther ignored them, but Angela shouted back, pretending to be singing “Well, my dear Esther, let us celebrate our good results because they are the fruit of our labor. We aren’t like some people who need to open their legs before they can get what they want. We are clean and proud!”
    Esther felt ashamed. She pinched Angela, asking her to shut up, but Angela continued “Our bodies are not for sell. Our brains function to their capacity. We are clean!” she shouted. Janet and Naomi looked at her with anger. Janet tried to go near her to cause trouble, but immediately she saw David coming, she stopped. David looked straight into her eyes. Naomi took her by the hand and asked her to leave. Esther asked “So, Mr. David, what’s the news from your side? Angela and I have passed”. David kept quiet and said softly “I didn’t make it”. “Oh no!” Esther and Angela shouted. They both felt so bad. Then David shouted “It’s a joke!!! I got you! Hahaha. I made it my friends, I made it!”
    Angela tried to hit David with her book but David ran away, laughing. “You scared us. You will pay for it” Angela said. David and Angela laughed so hard. David hugged them both “Congratulations my small friends I am very happy for you. Since Esther is leaving tomorrow morning, let’s celebrate a little bit today. We can go to Magic land now and spend some time there. I have to be at the dispensary in the next 3 hours” he said. The girls were excited. Suddenly, Angela ran towards someone. “Oh it’s her father” David said. She hugged him as she told him about the results. He seemed so happy. She brought him to her friends and said “Dad, meet my friend Esther, the one I have been talking to you about. As for David, I am sure you remember him. You met him a couple of days ago. Esther, please meet my dad, Dr. Vincent Makani”. Angela said. Esther and David greeted him back as he shook their hands “I am glad to meet you Esther. My daughter has been telling me about you. Congratulations on your results. Your parents must be proud of you” He said to Esther. Esther nodded her head. After talking to Angela for a while, Dr. Makani left, giving each of them a fair amount of money. They thanked him and escorted him to the parking lot, where he got into his car and left.
    “Youpi! We now have enough money to even buy some things!” Angela said.
    They all left at once to Magic Land park. Esther was simply mesmerized by the beauty of the place. They paid a small entrance fee and went around. Angela took photos with her phone as they played around. There was a small group of women that sold some few items. Esther bought some nice dresses for her mother, a pair of jeans for her brother and a coat for her dad. She was excited and couldn’t wait to see her mother’s reaction when she saw the dresses. “My mom will shine in these dresses at church. I want the other women to admire her” she said to herself. After having fun for a couple of hours, they went back to the Campus. David went straight to the dispensary, while Angela and Esther went back to their rooms. Before Angela could go, she paused and said “Esther, I wish you a very safe journey back home tomorrow. I am really going to miss you. I will also be going back tomorrow afternoon since I won’t have anyone to hang out with. Take care and keep in touch”. Esther hugged her and said “I will miss you too my friend. Don’t worry; the three months will finish so fast that you won’t even know. Take care of yourself too”
    It was 5am and Esther was already awake. She had taken her bath and was ready to leave the room. Naomi woke up, rubbing her eyes. She looked at Esther and said “Esther, are you leaving?” Esther did not answer. Naomi stood up and approached her “Esther, I was asking if you are leaving. You don’t have to be angry forever” she said. Esther looked at her and answered “Yes, I am going back”. Naomi gave her a hug “have a safe journey my dear. We will meet after the holidays. Please bring me some fruits when coming back because I hear your region has a lot of fruits” Naomi said. Esther nodded her head and replied “Sure, no problem”. She took her bags and she left the room. There were quite a number of students that were also travelling. She arrived at the main gate and found David waiting for her. He took her bags and they boarded the car that took them to the car park. The car going to Esther’s region was almost getting full as only 3 seats were left. David entered the bus to know the state of the seats. “Oh great! There is one by the isle. That should allow you to be comfortable enough during the long journey” David said as he placed one of Esther’s small books on the seat to reserve it. “Thank you David” Esther said. David held her hand and asked her to come down with him. They stood behind the bus and David brought out something from his pocket: A tiny bracelet with David’s picture embedded on it.
    David: I made this specially for you so that you will remember me during these 3 months. You have been a good friend to me and I really appreciate
    Esther: Oh David! You didn’t have to. The bracelet is very beautiful. It is the first time I am receiving a gift from someone.
    David: You are welcome. You deserve all the best things in life. Please take care of yourself and enjoy your holidays
    Esther: Take care of yourself too, especially at the construction site.
    The bus Conductor made a call to inform passengers that all seats were now filled. David gave a long hug to Esther. Tears began to flow from her eyes. “Oh don’t do that! I hate to see people crying” David said. He gave her a handkerchief to wipe her tears and encouraged her to stop crying. Esther and other passengers entered the bus and it took off. David smiled and waved at her. Esther waved back and as soon as the bus left the park, she cried. She was going to miss him. She couldn’t believe that she had managed to have a male friend. She looked at the bracelet and imagined her father’s fury if ever he saw it. “Where will I hide it? Because my father will definitely search my bags when I arrive” she said to herself. She decided to hide it in her bra.
    The journey was very long. Esther arrived around 5:30pm. She was happy to see her city again. Nothing had changed. It was still the quiet and dusty place that she had always known. She starred at a group of girls who were carrying firewood on their heads. She could also see the famous “Professor” roaming the streets wearing only a torn short. Professor was a mad man who had been living in that city for as long as he could remember. He was a well-known university professor who had lost his senses shortly after the death of his wife. Esther smiled as she saw him writing some jargons on the wall with a piece of charcoal. The bus finally arrived at the park and passengers disembarked. Esther just heard someone shouting:
    “There goes Esther! There goes Esther!” she turned back and saw that it was her brother, Daniel accompanied by his father, Elder Barnabas. Esther ran towards Daniel and hugged him “Danny, Danny! I missed you young man” she said.
    Elder Barnabas stretched his hand and greeted Esther. “Welcome back Esther. How was your trip?” he said. Esther greeted him back, facing her head down and said “Thank you sir. The journey was ok by God’s grace”. “Very good! By God’s grace indeed. All praise be unto our Father in heaven. Where is your luggage?” he said. They took her bags and entered into a small old bus that went to their area. When they arrived at home, Esther’s mother saw them from the window and ran to them “Esther my daughter! How happy I am to see you. I missed you so much” She said. “I missed you too Mama” Esther said.
    Esther’s mom wanted to take the luggage to Esther’s bedroom, but Elder Barnabas shouted “Where do you want to take them? Put them right in the middle of the living room. All of you should come to the living room”. They all went to the living room. Elder Barnabas put the luggage at the center and asked all of them to stand as he prayed “Father, we want to thank you for the safe arrival of our daughter Esther. We know that not everyone that takes a journey arrives safely. It has only been by your grace. We also thank you for helping her to pass her exams. Not everyone that sits for exams passes. It has only been by your grace. We ask that you will make her stay in her home memorable again. We thank you in the name of your son Jesus. Amen". Everyone said "Amen". Elder Barnabas then went straight to the luggage. "Esther give me the keys to open your suitcases" he said.
    He opened the first suitcase nd thoroughly checked. He lifted up every item from it and put it aside, examining it thoroughly. When he had finished with the first suitcase, he opened the second one. This time around his eyes opened wide. He picked up a the coat Esther had bought for him and asked "Whose coat is this?". Esther excitedly answered "Oh this is for you sir. I bought it for you as a souvenir. Look! I also have other items for mom and Daniel". She brought out the clothes she had bought for her mom and brother. Elder Barnabas was silent as he looked at his wife and son celebrating. "Wow! Esther these dresses are very beautiful and they will fit me so well" Esther's mother said. Elder Barnabas suddenly asked firmly
    Elder Barnabas: Where did you get these clothes?.
    Esther: From the market near the campus sir
    Elder Barnabas: And may I please know where you got the money?
    Esther: Er-er. I used some of the pocket money I was left with. My friend Angela's father also gave us some money to congratulate us on our good results, so...
    Elder Barnabas: Angela's who!! Are you telling me that you have been collecting money from your friend's father? Oh my God! I knew that sending you far from here would change you. Have you ever lacked anything since you went there? Haven't I been cracking my head here just to make sure that you have what you need? Now you are going around receiving money from your friend's fathers.
    Esther: No sir. I didn't ask him for any money. He gave it to us to congratu...
    Elder Barnabas: And why couldn't you refuse? Didnt I warn you not to be receiving anything from anyone?
    Esther's mother: My dear, I am sure our daughter just received it as a sign of respect. Can you imagine what the man could have thought of Esther if she refused to take the money? I mean, that's not how to behave with elderly people.
    Upon hearing this from his wife, Elder Barnabas kept quiet. He breathed deeply and continued searching her suitcase. He brought out the phone and put it in his pocket. When he was through, he looked at Esther and said "Anyway thank you for the items you bought for us. Next time, don't collect anything from people you don't know. You are welcome. Go and freshen up and eat your food".
    Esther felt relieved. Her mother hugged her once again and helped her to take the luggage to her room. "You are welcome my daughter. Go and have your bath and meet me in the living room so that you can tell me all about your experience at the campus. Your food is also ready" Esther's mother said and closed the door behind her. Esther locked the door and carefully removed the bracelet from her bra. She looked at it and smiled as she remembered David. "Oh David, I miss you already" she said to herself. She hid the bracelet on top of her wardrobe under her suitcases and went to take a bath.
    "The place is so big mom. Everyone seems to be busy doing one thing or the other. What I liked most was the big buildings, like skyscrapers. They are simply magical!" Esther said as she narrated city life to her mom while eating. Her mom, who was listening attentively, asked "What about older women like me? What do most of them do? Are they housewives like me?". Esther smiled "Not really mom. Most of them work in offices" she answered.
    Elder Barnabas was fixing the bulb in the kitchen. Unknown to them, he had been listening to their conversation. He shouted from the kitchen "That is the main reason why children from the city have no manners and are not well brought up. This is because their mothers are busy looking for money and doing unworthy things. At a certain age in life, a woman is supposed to be at home, taking care of her family, not running about with skimpy skirts like kangaroos".
    Esther and her mom looked at each other and laughed quietly. "Your father is a real character!" She said to Esther.
    The following morning, Elder Barnabas asked Esther to come to the living room as he had an important discussion to hold with her. Esther finished washing the plates and went to sit down. Her mother was also present while Daniel had gone to school.
    Elder Barnabas: Esther. I know that you have just enrolled in university and you are probably concentrating on your studies, which is a very wise thing to do. However, you have to understand that it is always a good thing to plan ahead. It is obviously good for a lady to be educated. Many people in both our community and at church admire the way I have brought you up. But you have to know that the glory of a woman is not just in the education she acquires, but also her capacity to have and keep a home. No matter how beautiful a woman is, if she is not married, her beauty is in vain. My prayer for you has always been to see you get married with dignity because of the position I occupy in my community at large. Last week, I was approached by a wonderful family from our church asking for your hand in marriage.
    Esther's heart was beating fast. She didn't know what to say. She looked at her mom but her mom looked down. Elder Barnabas continued
    Elder Barnabas: I am sure you know Elder Timothy's son, Jacob. By the grace of God, they have seen you to be a good lady fit to be their son's wife. Jacob is a very good young man. His commitment to the church is commendable. He graduated from university two years ago and he is now working as a Branch Manager for our region at one of the biggest banks. I have personally given them my approval because I know he will make a good husband.
    Esther was shaking. She gathered her courage and asked
    Esther: So does this mean that I will put an end to my studies?
    Elder Barnabas: Not at all! Jacob will wait for you until you are in your third year. You will just be his fiancee until that particular time. He told me that at the end of the third year, you will have the possibility of finding a job in one of our clinics here. Then once you are married, it will be up to your husband to decide whether to send you back to school or not. So this is what I had to tell you. Jacob will be coming home tomorrow morning to see you. Make sure you receive him well. I am very proud of you Esther. You have, by your good behaviour, managed to attract a good man to marry you. He recently bought a very nice car.
    Esther didn't know what to say. Her mother looked at her trying to see her reaction, but Esther kept quiet. Elder Barnabas spoke, while stretching his legs "Woman, bring me my Bible bag. I should be going to church now to prepare for tomorrow's conference". Esther's mother nodded her head and stood up. Esther also went to her bedroom. She sat on her bed and breathed deeply. Her mind was filled with thoughts. She didn't know what to do with the news given to her by her father. She knew Jacob, but they had never talked before. The only thing she knew about him was that he seemed to like a certain girl from the church. "That guy looks so proud!" She thought to herself

    Part 12

    Throughout the day, Esther thought of what her father had just told her. She thought of how to behave before Jacob, how to behave as a fiancée. “When did Jacob ever notice me? He has never shown any interest me. What about the girl in church who he seemed to like? Oh God help me!” she thought within her as she prepared lunch in the kitchen. Her mother had been quiet all along and Esther did not know how to talk to her and what exactly she could say. In Esther’s family, every decision taken by her father was final and incontestable. In their church, they were taught that the father, being the head of the house, had the capacity and power to take any decision concerning his entire household. Esther had never seen her mother contest any decision taken by Elder Barnabas. She was a very humble and submissive wife. She smiled at Esther as she chopped some vegetables “Esther, Esther my daughter! I am very happy to see you. You look so beautiful. City weather should be good because your skin is glowing!” she said.
    Esther smiled “Oh mom. It is indeed beautiful, but it is not for the faint hearted like me. It is not like our city where people take things so easily” she said. She then looked at her mom and said “Mom, can I ask you a question?” Her mother smiled “Hmm, I think I know where it will lead to. Is it about what your father told you yesterday?” she said.
    Esther drew closer to her and said “Yes mom, it is about the same issue”. Her mother took another stool and hit it gently, asking her to sit down. Esther sat down quietly and faced her mother.
    Esther’s mother: So, my dear princess, what do you want to know?
    Esther: Mom. That news came to me as a surprise. I know that it would happen one day, but I didn’t think it could happen so soon.
    Esther’s mother: Well, God has a way of doing things that we cannot understand
    Esther: Do you think it is God that wants me to marry Jacob? I mean, I hardly know him. We have never talked or anything like that.
    Esther’s mother: I cannot speak on behalf of God, but one thing I know, that we are even taught at church, is that men are the heads of the home and whatever they decide is final, as they somehow represent God on earth
    Esther: Mom, please be sincere with me. How did you get married to dad? Was it grandfather that asked you to marry him or did you know each other before then?
    Esther’s mother could not answer. She hesitated for a while and kept looking up the ceiling. Esther asked again “Mom, please tell me the truth. Were you also obliged to marry him?” Her mother was becoming uncomfortable. She finally opened her mouth and spoke “My daughter, your father loves you and I believe he wants the best for you. If he has accepted the proposal from this young man, then you can be rest assured that he knows what he is doing. Just accept it as your destiny and enjoy the ride that life gives you”
    Esther: But mom, I don’t even know this person. I only see him at church. What makes father so sure that he loves me or that I will love him?
    Esther’s mother: Love! Did you just say love? My dear daughter, love is something that no man can ever explain. It is an abused word whose meaning people have completely distorted. You claim that you don’t know this young man very well. Well, I am glad to let you know that it is impossible to completely know a human being. Only God has that capacity. Even if you live with someone for 100 years, you can never be able to know the full identity of man. The only thing you can do is to cope with what you have at hand. You can learn to know him and maybe even love him with time. The rest will be sorted out by time itself.
    Esther: But just tell me how you got married to dad. Did you know him be…
    Esther’s mother: How I got married to your father has nothing to do with what is happening now. The decision has already been taken and all you have to do is to comply. The only advice I can give you now is to allow time to have its free course. Concentrate on your studies and be the respectful person that you have always been. Do not allow this situation to change you. Time will tell. Now, let’s finish our work.
    Esther felt disappointed. She was expecting her mother to give her a full story of how she met with her father. This was a whole new thing to her and she did not know just how to take it. She continued what she was doing, but in deep thoughts. Her mother, who had been starring at her, said, resting her hand on her shoulder “Don’t think too much. Everything will be fine. Leave everything to God and time”. Esther just nodded her head and continued.
    The following morning, Esther was getting ready to receive her fiancé, Jacob. She felt weak and felt like she was having a running stomach. She did not know what to expect. She wore a long blue dress with a white cardigan. She combed her long, black hair and covered it with a head scarf. She looked at herself in the cracked dressing mirror and stood still, thinking. “Esther, you now have a fiancé. What does this mean to you?” she said to herself. She then thought of David. Her heart beat fast. She stretched her hand to reach the top of the wardrobe and brought out the bracelet he had given to her. She held it tightly on her chest. “What will he think when I inform him? How will he take it? I know we are just friends, but I was hoping we could be…” she thought. A knock on the door disrupted her thoughts. “Esther, you need to come out of there. The guests have arrived” Her mother called. Esther was becoming more nervous. She quickly put back the bracelet and put on her sandals. She took a deep breath and left her room. She could hear her father laughing as he talked to the visitors. She went to the living room and found the guests settling down. The living room was filled with a sweet and strong perfume. She could recognize Jacob and his father, Elder Timothy. There was also with them, an elderly man.
    Esther greeted them, starting from the elderly man to Elder Timothy and then Jacob. When she reached where Jacob was sitting, she noticed that he was the one that had filled the whole room with his perfume. He wore a very nice, black suit with a blue shirt. He smiled as he greeted her back, swinging his car key with the other hand. Elder Barnabas looked so happy. Esther sat next to her mother. Her mother made a sign to her to follow her to the kitchen. Esther stood up and followed her to the kitchen.
    Esther’s mother said “Esther, get the drinks from the fridge and put them on the tray. Let me get the glasses. You will need to serve the guests”. Esther did not respond but went straight to the fridge and took out some bottles of soft drinks. Her mother looked at her and smiled “Esther, you need to be joyful. This should be the happiest day of your life. It is every woman’s dream to enter into marriage” she said, hugging her. Esther shed tears “But mom, why then am I not happy? Why do I feel like it’s not yet time for this?” she said. Her mother felt bad. She closed the door of the kitchen and asked Esther to sit down on one of the kitchen chairs.
    Esther’s mother: My dear, it is simply because you have not made the decision to be happy. Happiness is a choice. You choose to be happy. I understand you perfectly, but all I am asking from you is to think positively and pray for the best. The Bible says in all circumstances we should give thanks. Begin to look at this young man as someone you will spend the rest of your life with and start loving him. Before you know it, both of you will get so acquainted. You also have to understand that he might be feeling the same way: anxious, nervous, but he has decided to cast away the fears and take a huge step.
    Esther: You think he is also nervous?
    Esther’s mother: Of course! What do you expect? Both of you don’t know each other well, so you will need to work it out together. Now take these drinks and serve your guests with a smile on your face
    Esther was comforted by her mother’s words. She wiped her tears, took the drinks and went to the living room. She served all the guests as well as her parents. Elder Barnabas spoke “My fellow brethren, you are all welcome to our humble home. Thank you for taking time to visit us this beautiful morning. Please feel free. This is your house”. All the guests said “Thank you”. Then Elder Barnabas proceeded “As I promised you, my daughter Esther is back from the university and I have already explained everything to her and she has received the news with a joyful heart, knowing fully well that she has found favor in God’s eyes. Esther my dear, I am sure you already know Jacob, Elder Timothy’s son. As I told you, he was mature and respectful enough to come and ask for your hand in marriage, accompanied by his elders. This showed how serious and mature he is to respect our traditional procedures. As for you my son Jacob, I reiterate my approval to your proposal and I welcome you to our family”
    Jacob knelt down and said happily “Thank you very much Elder. I appreciate”. Elder Barnabas looked at him in amazement “Nooo my son, you don’t have to kneel down, please get up immediately” he said. Jacob got up and sat down. Elder Timothy also spoke “My beloved and fellow Elder. I wish to thank you and your entire family for your warm welcome. When my son told me of his intention to marry your daughter I told him that he had done the right thing. The right thing not just because he wants to marry, but he has also chosen the right person. Esther is one of the most disciplined children I know not only in our church but in this community. It is therefore, with such joy and honor that we accept her also into our family. My Elder brother here is also excited. We have heard all that you said concerning her studies: how that she will have to complete her third year before finally tying the knot and both my son and I are in agreement with this decision. In fact my son has even decided to contribute 50% of the school fees of our daughter until she completes her studies, seeing that she is now his property. My son has also understood the condition that he should not engage in any sexual activity with our daughter until their wedding day. We have also, according to our tradition brought a couple of things to show our willingness to have the hand of our daughter: 5 bottles of wine, 5 traditional materials, 5 white chickens, a bag of rice and a symbolic fee of 5,000 (Equivalent to 250 Dollars). We ask you to accept this offer as our token of appreciation”
    The whole family was happy, except Esther. She starred at Jacob, who was smiling and nodding his head in agreement. Elder Barnabas was very happy “Of a truth my daughter has found favor in the eyes of our God. We really appreciate this gesture and pray that the good Lord will continue to replenish your pockets” he said. They continued their discussion. Esther left the living room and went to the kitchen to prepare some food for lunch. Upon seeing that, Jacob asked for permission to speak to her in private. Elder Barnabas answered excitedly “Of course my son, go ahead”. Jacob entered the kitchen. Esther looked surprised. “Hello Esther. How are you doing?” he said. Esther looked down and answered “I am fine thank you and you?”
    Jacob: I am even better now that I have seen you. I have been waiting for so long.
    Esther: Oh ok.
    Jacob: I am very happy that you have accepted my proposal and I really appreciate. I promise to make you the happiest woman on Earth. I know that you might not know a lot of things about me, but I want you to be free with me. Ask any questions you want and with time, you will get to know me. I would also like to know you more. Can I pick you up this weekend so that we can talk in private?
    Esther: Hmm, I am not very sure about that. I don’t think my father can ever agree to that
    Jacob: Oh don’t worry about that my dear. You are now my wife and I know my father in law will be more than delighted to give you permission to go out with me because we definitely need to talk.
    Esther nodded her head “Ok then” she said. Jacob put his hand on her cheek and said “Don’t worry; I am never going to hurt you. Trust me. By the way, I will need to have your phone number so that we can stay in touch” Jacob said. When Esther explained to him that her phone was being kept by the father, Jacob smiled and said “Oh, I understand him. He did the right thing. But don’t worry, I will talk to him and he will give it back to you”
    Jacob left the kitchen and went back to join the rest of the group. After a while, they informed Elder Barnabas that they were leaving. Before they could leave the house, Jacob requested to talk to Elder Barnabas in private. Esther could see hear her father say “Of course my son, that is not a problem at all. You are now part of us. Do what pleases you. Let me give you the number”. Then the guests finally left. Esther waved at them as they left.
    Elder Barnabas was smiling “Thank you my God for keeping the dignity and honor of this family. Esther my daughter, you are a lucky girl. You need to thank God. This young man is so respectful. I believe he will make a good husband. Can you imagine that he even went to the point of kneeling down for me? Unbelievable! It’s not easy to see such young men nowadays. Most of them have turned into monsters that have no respect for their elders. By the way, he kindly requested for two things: That I give you the phone so that you can be communicating with him and I also gave him permission to take you out this weekend as both of you need to talk” he said, handling over the phone to Esther. Esther just smiled and went back to the kitchen. Her mother was just watching to see Esther’s reaction.
    That night Esther starred at her phone. She checked the account balance and saw that she still had some credit left. She felt the urge to call David, but she was hesitating. She went through her book and brought out his number. She tried to dial it twice, but could not do it. “If my father found out, he would kill me” she thought to herself. Suddenly her phone rang. Esther answered it as soon as it rang because she didn’t want anyone to hear the sound. “Hello” Esther answered in a very low voice. “Hello Esther, this is Angela. Finally, I managed to get you. You are so hard to get Madam” Angela answered
    Esther: Oh My God! Angela, I am excited to hear from you. I am doing fine and you?
    Angela: I am very well thank you. I have been trying to reach you for days now, but your number was not going through
    Esther: Oh my phone was with my father. I only got it back today
    Angela: Hahaha. Elder Barnabas the Detective! Anyway, I just wanted to know if you arrived safely
    Esther: Yes I did. Thank you. Er-.er tell me, have you seen David since I left?
    Angela: Oh yes my dear. I met him the other day in town when I was with my sister. He found a small job at the Ministry of Economy, trade and Industry as a Clerk. He told me that he is replacing someone for 3 months.
    Esther: Wow! How wonderful. I am so happy for him. How is he doing? Did he ask about me?
    Angela: Yes he did, he said you had asked him not to reach you because of your father. And by the way, he has a new….. Oh, Esther, sorry, I need to go now. Dad is calling me. I will talk to you later
    Esther: He has a new what? Finish your sentence
    Angela: Don’t worry, I will call you later. Bye
    Esther held on to her phone and thought about David. She smiled as she imagined his new job. She felt so happy for him. But then she wondered what Angela wanted to say. “What new thing does David have? Oh my God I hope it’s not a new girlfriend! Or maybe not” she thought to herself. She tried to call Angela back but she was not picking up her phone. Esther lay down on her bed and many thoughts ran through her mind.

    Part 13

    Friday afternoon, Esther attended the youth conference that was being organized by their church. She entered the church hall quietly and sat down. The hall was filled with young men and women. They all listened to the sermon by their Youth Pastor who taught on “avoiding youthful lusts”. “Don’t give in to youthful lusts. They are a trap from Satan to rob you of the glorious destiny that our Good Lord has planned for you. Flee fornication, theft, drugs and all these things that have corrupted the world. Your destiny is very bright” he said during his teachings. Members laughed as he cracked some funny jokes during his message. Esther heard someone whispering her name “Esther, Esther”. She looked on her left and saw that it was Jacob. He waved at her. Her heart beat fast and she waved back, feeling rather shy because some ladies were looking at her. She realized that one the ladies was actually the one that usually hanged out with Jacob in church. Her name was Clara. She gave Esther a very strange look. Esther ignored her and focused on the teachings.
    At the end of the first session, all participants rose up to go and take a break outside, while others still remained in the hall. Clara quickly walked to Jacob and said, putting her hands on her waist “Hello Mr. Nice guy. I haven’t seen you in a while. Did you receive my messages?”. Esther pretended as if she didn’t hear anything. She fixed her eyes on her Bible and pretended to be reading. Jacob felt rather ashamed. He coldly answered her “I am ok thanks. Please excuse me, I need to talk to someone”. He immediately left. Clara looked at him angrily as he went towards Esther.
    “Hello my dear. How are you doing?” he said with a smile. Esther looked up and said sheepishly “I am fine thank you and you?”. Jacob sat down next to her
    Jacob: So how was your night?
    Esther: very well thank you.
    Jacob: Great! I am very happy to see you. I have been looking around for you since morning, but you were nowhere to be seen
    Esther: Oh ok. I couldn’t attend the morning session because I had to help my mom wash the clothes. Aren’t you supposed to be at work?
    Jacob: That’s nice. No, I took a few days off until Monday. I wanted to participate in the youth conference because I am a member of the youth executive. So I need to stick around
    Esther: Ok.
    Jacob: I hope you have not forgotten our appointment tomorrow. I will pick you up at exactly 2pm. Hmm, that food smells nice. Let’s go and grab something to eat at the entrance. Some church members are selling food during the event. I tasted some very nice fish pies this morning
    Esther: Oh that’s kind of you, but I am not hungry, thank you.
    Jacob: Oh come on! Let me just get you something light. You need to be free with me. As for me anything you need, I am ready to provide.
    Esther: Well, if you say so then.
    They both stood up and went to the place where food was being sold. Jacob got himself a chicken sandwich while Esther bought some local chips made from sweet potatoes. “I can’t allow you to just get such tiny food. Are you an ant?” he said jokingly. He went ahead and bought her a big sandwich, orange juice and two apples. He put them in a plastic bag and said “These are for you, whether you like it or not. I will make sure that you carry them home. I can’t watch you eat all these food stuffs for babies”. Esther smiled. Clara and her friends were all starring at them. Esther then talked to Jacob “I think that lady wants to talk to you. You are friends aren’t you?” she said, looking at Clara. Jacob felt uncomfortable and answered “Forget that useless girl. She is too cumbersome” he said, pulling her by the hand. Esther didn’t know how to react. This was the first time that she was being seen with a man in that particular community. She gently pulled her hand from Jacob’s and proceeded.
    After the final session of the conference, Jacob insisted to drive Esther home despite her refusal. When they were in front of Esther’s house, Jacob looked at her as she unfastened her seatbelt and said “Have a good evening my dear. I will see you tomorrow. Dream about me”. Esther was lost in her mind. She shivered as she opened the car door with a hand full of the food he had bought for her. Jacob smiled and said “Well the least you can say is a simple good night”
    “Good night” Esther said. She rushed to open the gate. Jacob smiled, shook his head and drove off. When Esther entered the house, she found her family watching TV. Elder Barnabas was the first to speak “Welcome back. How was the conference?” he said. “It was fine sir” Esther answered. Elder Barnabas looked closely at Esther’s hand and removed his glasses “What is it that you are holding in your hands Esther?” he asked. Esther trembled “Oh, it’s food that Jacob bought for me at church. I refused to take it but he insisted and said I should carry it home. I tried again to refu…” she did not finish her phrase before Elder Barnabas interrupted with a loud laugh “Hahaha. My daughter, you don’t have to explain much about it. I totally understand. Jacob is your fiancé and he has the right to buy anything for you. It’s also a good thing that you refused to take it in the first place, because he needs to know that you are not a hungry person. Your parents provide anything you need and you are not entering into this marriage because of money or anything but because it is the right thing to do. Now, share that food with your brother and have your dinner” he said.
    Esther was shocked to see her father’s reaction. She couldn’t imagine that he had allowed her to collect something from a man. She sat down quietly and shared the food with Daniel. Elder Barnabas stood up and went outside with Daniel to bring in any house item that was left outside. Esther’s mother smiled “My Princess, you see that this young man likes you? You will also learn to like him soon. Your father told me that both of you have an appointment tomorrow. Make sure you ask him any question that comes to your mind. Let there be no secrets between you” she said. Esther nodded her head and said “Alright mom”
    The following day, Saturday, Esther was getting more nervous. She tried in more than six of her clothes as she didn’t know what she could wear. Her mother entered her room and laughed “Ah, ladies! We never seem to be satisfied with what we have. My dear, just wear anything that makes you feel comfortable. Let this young man appreciate you for who you are, because that is what true love is all about” she said. Esther smiled “But mom, don’t you think my clothes are old fashioned?” she said. Her mother kept quiet for a while and gave her a strange look “Esther, did you just call your clothes old fashioned? This is how you have been dressing ever since you were young and you have never complained. Who put such a thing in your mind? Who?” she said. Esther became afraid when she saw the look on her mother’s face. “Well, when you look closely at Jacob, you will notice that he is a very modernized person. He wears the latest fashion and I am just afraid that he might think I am not his type” she said, looking at her mom to see her reaction.
    Her mother shook her head. “Esther, I must say I am very shocked by your response. But I somehow understand you. You are just coming back from the capital city and I know you got exposed to a lot of things. But I want you to understand that real love accepts someone the way they are. Don’t try to pretend to be what you are not. Let Jacob fall in love with the real Esther. The beauty of a woman is not in her clothes, but what she has inside her. I am not saying you should wear rags. Just put on something nice that you enjoy and let love lead the way” she said. Esther hugged her “Mom, you are the best mom in the whole world!” she said. Her mother laughed “Get away from here! Dress up and get ready!” she said, slapping her gently on her back. Esther put on her favorite yellow long dress with a black pair of shoes. She tied her head with a black head scarf and took her small bag. She sat in the living room, waiting for Jacob. Elder Barnabas was getting ready to go to the farm. He smiled at her “Hee, look at the bride waiting for her groom! God is wonderful!” he said. Esther smiled back. She still couldn’t believe that her father could even joke about something like that.
    Jacob honked his car horn outside the gate. Esther informed her mother that she was leaving and went to meet him. She entered his car and as usual, he was handsomely dressed. “Hello baby, how are you?” he said. Esther felt like a sharp knife went through her chest “He called me baby? This is the first time someone is ever addressing me with such a name” she thought to herself. “Good afternoon Jacob. I am doing well thank you” she replied. They drove off and arrived at a beautiful lodge. Esther starred at the place as they entered. The lodge had a beautiful and quiet restaurant surrounded by beautiful flowers. It looked like a garden. Esther had never been to such a place before. Jacob took her to a table that was at the far end and they both sat down. The waiter brought the menu card. “So my dear, what are you taking?” Jacob asked. Esther didn’t know what to answer. She looked at the menu card and looked confused as there was so much food to choose from. “I’ll just have some water” she said. Jacob burst into laughter. “Are you serious? You mean I can take you out on a date and all you ask for is water? Come on, don’t behave like a village girl!” he said. Esther did not find his words funny. She kept quiet and looked at the menu. “Ok then let me choose for you. We’ll both eat braised fish with mushroom soup and French fries. We can also have bottles of tonic water. As for desert, I’d prefer we get some mixed fruits. Very good for your health” Jacob said as he called the waiter to take the order.
    Esther was quiet all along before Jacob spoke
    Jacob: So my dear Esther, I am so glad you could make it. As you know we are now engaged and I want us to get to know each other well. Please tell me, how old are you by the way? Obviously I know that you are over 16.
    Esther: I am 19, turning 20 very soon
    Jacob: Wow! Nice age. Your bones have just started getting strong. As for me, I am 29 years old, born on 25th February.
    Esther: 29? You mean you are 10 years older than me? Doesn’t that bother you at all?
    Jacob: Bother me for what? 10 years difference is very good. I don’t intend to marry my age mate because she won’t have respect for me. I want someone fresh and able to treat me like one of her elders. Marriage is about respect
    Esther: So why did you choose me?
    Jacob: Hahaha. Good question. Well, because I have seen that you are a very good girl. You are well mannered and you seem to be very intelligent. You have been brought up very well and I believe you can manage a home very well.
    Esther: When did you notice me?
    Jacob: I have been noticing you for a very long time. However, the day I made up my mind was when I was told that you had gone to the university. I told myself that if I don’t go for it, I might lose you to all those jumpy town boys. I was also impressed when I heard that you are doing Medicine. What an intelligent girl!
    Esther: What about Clara from church? I thought both of you were quite close
    Jacob: I thought I told you to forget about that girl. She was only coming close to me because of my money. I just used to talk to her because I didn’t want her to feel bad, but she started exaggerating and I couldn’t keep up with such nonsense. I am a man of integrity and I can’t allow myself to be hanging out with people who have no manners.
    Esther: Oh ok then.
    Jacob: Listen Esther, I know that you have not yet experienced life and I like it that way. I want to be the first person to teach you about life. I can see that you have not really enjoyed the good things of life, but I promise to bring out the queen in you
    Esther: What makes you say that?
    Jacob: haha. Well, I see the way you dress, the way you talk. It shows that you are still living like some local people in this community.
    Esther: You mean my dressing is not nice?
    Jacob: Hmm, not really, I mean you might need some help to polish up your dressing. For instance this dress you are wearing now is quite old fashioned: pardon me for the word. And that head scarf is just something else my dear. But no worries, baby. I will buy latest clothes for you. I am a very smart guy and I want people to look at my wife and know that she is indeed Mrs. Jacob. I don’t want a situation where someone will look at you and think that you are my maid. Hahaha
    Esther got irritated and hurt by Jacob’s words. She did not know what to say to him again. Suddenly, a couple walked in, holding each other’s hands. Jacob saw them and laughed “Hey my man, Christopher, what’s up?” he said. He stood up to greet both of them. He hugged the lady and said “Hello, Queen, how are you doing? You look gorgeous as usual”. Queen wore a tight mini dress which showed a part of her breasts and high heels. Her Brazilian weave rolled down her back as she greeted them. She was very beautiful and looked like a model. “Hello my dear Jacob. Nice to see you. What are you doing here and who is this young lady with you?”
    Jacob somehow hesitated to answer and said “This is my church mate Esther. We are having a discussion about the church youth committee” he said. Esther looked surprised, but she held her peace. After their greetings, the couple left and went to sit inside the main restaurant. Esther looked at Jacob and asked “Why did you have to lie?”. Jacob smiled “Oh my dear, don’t worry about that. I just didn’t want him to start asking all manner of questions. I want our relationship to be done discreetly to avoid people’s nonsensical comments” he said. Esther kept quiet.
    Jacob: So as I was saying my dear, I will make sure I buy you the latest clothes. Did you see how Queen was dressed? She looked so good. That is why her man is proud to take her anywhere he wants. You will dress more than that soon baby, just wait and see.
    Esther: That kind of dressing is not decent at all. Do I need to show my breasts just to look good? Didn’t you hear what the youth Pastor preached the other day?
    Jacob: My dear, forget that guy! Most of them preach against such dressing and yet leave their old fashioned wives to sleep with the so called indecent ones. I know what I am talking about. So instead of me going outside, I’d rather have my wife dress indecently for me. For example, your face is too oily. You need to apply some powder and lipstick on your lips. I will buy all that for you. I understand that your dad doesn’t have much money that is why you haven’t been able to wear expensive clothes. But it will all end soon. Do you know how much I bought this watch I am wearing? A whooping 250 Dollars! You see my shoes? I ordered them online all the way from Italy. I am an expensive guy my dear, let no one lie to you.
    Esther sat there listening to Jacob as he bragged about how expensive he lived. When they were about to leave, Jacob brought out a smartphone and gave it to her “When I saw the phone you have, I almost died of laughter. It’s too old. That is why I decided to buy you this phone. It’s a smartphone. I have installed WhatsApp on it so that we can chat. I hope you know what it is…..Ok. Good. Take it. I want you to be sending me some nice photos of yourself especially when you are about to sleep. Here is also a scratch card for your credit” he said. Esther was surprised. She took the phone in total amazement and thanked him.
    That night when she lay on her bed, she shook her head as she remembered everything he had said. “This guy is really proud” she said to herself. She remembered David and how down to earth he was. Would she spend the rest of her life with a man as proud as Jacob? Would she learn to love him and accept him with time as her mother said? All these thoughts ran through her mind.

    Part 14

    Esther and David were seated at their favorite spot under the eucalyptus tree and a small lizard crawled before them. Esther stood up and jumped on the rock in fear. “Oh Esther, you are something else! You make me laugh so much that I forget my worries” David said, laughing so hard. Esther was still standing on top of the rock “But what have I done that makes you laugh this way David? I hate lizards!” David was still laughing “How can you just run away from a small lizard like this? It can’t kill you. Ok come down now, it has gone” David said. Esther came down sat down again, this time around lifting up her legs.
    David: Ok, I think we can now go to town to buy your books, because the dispensary just sent me a message telling me that it will be closed for the rest of the evening today
    Esther: Oh great. Let me go and change my clothes then
    David: Why?
    Esther: I can’t go to town with these clothes. I think they look quite old fashioned
    David: What! Come on Madam. You look beautiful in this dress. I love the color and design
    Esther: You mean it doesn’t disturb you in anyway?
    David: Disturb me? Of course not! Listen Esther, you are a very beautiful girl, whether you wear cheap or designers’ clothes. Your beauty is natural. I understand that right now you are just a mere student, but once you start having your own money, you can now buy whatever you like, but the bottom line is that you are beautiful just like this. Now let’s go to town before the bookstore closes.
    Esther looked at David with astonishment. “David is so adorable. He is indeed a real friend” Esther said to herself. She was about to start off with David when she suddenly heard someone shouting “Esther, Esther, wake up, you need to get ready for church service”. Esther opened her eyes and realized that it was a dream. She frowned her face as she woke up, stretching herself “Yes mom. I am awake” she said. Her mother insisted until she opened the door. “Go and take your bath before we are late. Today is thanksgiving service and the place will be jam-packed” her mother said. Esther hurried off to take her bath and they left.
    During the whole service, Esther was only thinking about her dream. “David appreciated the same dress I wore on my day out with Jacob. What does this mean? I miss David. I know that he is my true friend.” She thought to herself. She could see Jacob seated on the special seats reserved for some members who held certain titles in the church. They sat behind the Reverend. From time to time, Jacob looked at Esther, but she was lost in her thoughts.
    In the evening of that day, Esther was about to go to bed when her phone rang. It was a WhatsApp message from Jacob
    Jacob: hey baby, what’s up? Are you already in bed?
    Esther: Yes, I was just about to sleep.
    Jacob: Oh cool. Can you please send me your picture?
    Esther: Which picture?
    Jacob: Oh come on! Your current picture, I mean take a pic now as you are lying down on the bed and send it to me
    Esther: I can’t do that. I will take one tomorrow when I am correctly dressed
    Jacob: I don’t need that one. I want one when you are in bed and make sure it covers your bare chest
    Esther was surprised and irritated by this message. She decided not to continue the conversation. Jacob still continued sending her messages, asking for the same thing. He called her line, but she refused to pick up. He sent one last message “Esther, you have to understand that you are now my fiancé and I have the right to ask you for anything. You belong to me now so you need to start respecting me. I bought that phone for you so that you can be communicating with me. That phone costs a lot of money my dear. Anyway good night, but know that you have really hurt my feeling tonight”. Esther read it with frustration. She threw the phone on her suitcase which was lying on the floor. “What kind of man is this that my father wants me to marry?” she said to herself. Another message came. She did not want to read it, but was curious to know what he had said this time around. But she saw that the message did not come from Jacob. She opened it and it read “Hi”. She imagined that it was Jacob trying to use another number. The display picture was the picture of a beautiful dog. She looked at the number closely and thought to herself “Hmm, I think I know this number, but I can’t remember from where”. It suddenly dawned to her that it could be Angela. She rushed to switch on the light, got her book where she kept Angela and David’s numbers and went through it. When she compared the two numbers, she realized that it was David’s. Esther’s heart beat so fast. She took her phone and responded “Hello David is that you?”
    David: Yes. Esther?
    Esther: yes, it’s me Esther. So glad to read from you. How are you doing?
    David: I am doing fine my dear friend. I miss u. so you are now on MatsApp? Lol
    Esther: Yes I am. Hahaha. I know it’s WhatsApp.
    David: I am so happy right now. When I saw that you are online, I hesitated thinking it’s your father. That is why I removed my display pic and put something else so that I could send u a msg. Can I call u?
    Esther: Hahaha. Yes please u can call me
    Esther was smiling. David called and they spoke for a very long time. Esther spoke in a low voice so as to avoid being heard by her parents who were already sleeping. David narrated to her how he had managed to get a short term job. Esther could not tell him about Jacob as she did not want to spoil the joy.
    And so it was that Esther was engaged to Jacob. Her family was thanking God for the wonderful news. Elder Barnabas was more than excited as Jacob proved to him that he really wanted to spend his life with Esther: he would usually pass by their house and buy a lot of food stuffs and other items. He even went to the extent of buying fertilizer and seeds for their farm. He also bought quite a lot of items for Esther including handbags and nice long dresses. “I am only buying you these long dresses because of your father. Once we are together, you will need to start dressing sexy” Jacob would say. Esther accepted the gifts out of respect for her parents because she did not want them to think of her as a disobedient child. However, deep within her, she was not pleased with the situation. Jacob seemed to be too proud and authoritative to her. He never allowed her to express herself or her desires. Only his way seemed to matter to him.
    Holidays were finally over and it was now time for Esther to return to the university. She was excited within her but pretended not to be. “Don’t worry my daughter. You will soon come back again. I know you’ll miss your fiancé, but since he has given you a phone, both of you can stay in touch.” Elder Barnabas said as they put the last suitcase in the pick-up that Jacob had brought. He had requested to drive Esther all the way to the university: a request granted gladly by Elder Barnabas. As they were about to leave, Esther’s mother called Esther by the side and said “My daughter, please take care of yourself and concentrate on your studies. I know that you are now engaged, but that should not stop you from following your dreams. You have a bright future ahead of you so don’t allow anything to distract you, not even Jacob. Go in peace” she said. Esther found this advice rather strange. She got into the car and off they went.
    Jacob seemed to be so excited. He had packed a lot of groceries for Esther. He kept bragging about how he could take any car that he wanted from the Bank “…..so I just told the Fleet Manager to give me this particular pick-up because I need it to drive my baby back to university and he did it without any resistance because I am the boss mehn!” he said, chewing his chewing gum lousily. Esther listened to him with remorse. “Baby, this is going to be a very long journey, so you really need to be in the mood to talk, otherwise it will be too boring. So bring up a topic that you want us to discuss’ he said. Esther kept starring in front of her and finally said “Well, let’s talk about your university life, how was it?”. Jacob sneered “Oh please! That topic is too boring my friend. Let’s talk about the latest cars. There is one particular car I saw on the internet and I definitely need to consider buying it. It looks like a Range rover sports, but it is hard metal. If I drive that car around our area, people will literally faint. I have a good taste for cars. The one I currently have came all the way from the States. The first day I drove it in town, some ladies were asking for a ride. Hahaha. I just looked at them and went my way. I don’t hang out with local girls. That is why I even chose you among all the girls in our community. At least you are learned. What you need is just some extra training on how to dress like a learned person” Jacob said.
    Esther, who was getting upset, said firmly “Well, you have to understand that money is not everything in life. There are things that are more important than money”. Jacob laughed so hard “You are a funny lady. I understand why you are saying this. It’s because you have not had the opportunity to have money. The day you will do, you will agree with me baby. Money is the most important thing in this world my dear. Without money, you and I cannot survive. Is it not money that made your father to send you to school? Am sure he wanted you to start working and earn a big salary. But his sorrow is over because God has sent me as a savior to your family. I will make sure that none of you lacks food to eat. Don’t worry baby, you will see” he said. Esther shook her head in dismay. The journey was indeed going to be very long with all the bragging.
    When they were half way through the journey, Jacob drove to a motel that was by the road side. This motel served as a refreshing spot for travelers. “Let’s get something to eat before we continue” Jacob said. They got off and Jacob went to discuss with the receptionist. He took out some money from his pocket and made a payment. Esther thought he was paying for the food, but he got a key from the receptionist and called Esther. “My dear, I want us to relax in the room for at least an hour before we continue our journey. I have not driven such a long distance for so long, so I need to rest a bit. We can also eat our food there. It’s better than staying with all these people in the cafeteria. They are so dirty because of the dust. I hate bad smells” he said. Esther was not enthusiastic about this at all. “Well then, let me allow you to take your rest in the room, then I can stay at the cafeteria. I don’t mind staying there. I can ask the receptionist to wake you up in one hour”. Jacob fixed his eyes on her “What! You are not serious. How can you even think of such a thing? We are engaged for heaven’s sake and we need to be together” he said. He took Esther by the hand and took her to the room.
    Esther sat down on the bed feeling so shy. She had never been in a hotel room before. The motel staff brought some food for them to eat. Jacob ate it like a hungry lion, while Esther ate slowly. After they had finished eating, Jacob removed his shirt and lay down on the bed. “Come and rest a bit” he said to Esther, pulling her by the hand. Esther shook her head and said “No, I am ok thanks”. Jacob insisted and pulled her with so much strength. Before Esther could even realize it, he was already on top of her. Esther couldn’t believe what was happening. “Stop it Jacob, stop it” she shouted. Jacob did not mind. He tried to unbutton Esther’s shirt with force, but Esther resisted him. He then said gently “Come on Esther you are now my wife and you need to allow me do what I want with you”. Esther pushed herself up and stood near the bed crying “What is wrong with you? Didn’t you hear what the elders said? Didn’t they ask us not to engage ourselves in sexual activities until the marriage is established?” she shouted.
    Jacob sighed “Oh please, don’t allow old people to control your life. Who tells you that they did not engage in sexual activities before they got married? Everyone is doing it my dear, let no one deceive you” he said. Esther shouted “Well I don’t care who is doing it. I am not just anyone. I live the life that pleases me”.
    “I know, I know. Ok my dear I am sorry for forcing you. But let me ask you politely to do it please. I promise I will give you 500 Dollars just for your upkeep for this month. And I will also get you a laptop. Please”
    Esther shook her head and left the room in fury. She sat down near the reception, her heart panting in anger.

    Part 15

    Esther stayed at the cafeteria for a while. She thought Jacob would come back to apologize for his act, but she was wrong. “Unbelievable! So this guy doesn’t really care about me, does he?” she said to herself. She watched as some passengers came in and out of the motel. “Hello Esther” someone said. Esther turned to see who it was. It was a young man whose face looked familiar. “Hi, do you know me?” Esther said. “Yes I think I do. Aren’t you a first year student studying medicine at the university?” he said. Esther answered “Yes indeed I am. Ohhh, I think I have seen you at the university”. “Correct! My name is Brian, you and I are actually in the same class. I usually see you with your friend Angela” Brian said.
    Esther felt rather ashamed that she didn’t even know his name.
    Esther: I am sorry; our class is so big that it is practically impossible to know everyone
    Brian: You are definitely right. We have about 100 students. So, are you going back to school now?
    Esther: Yes, I am. I was just taking some rest before continuing the journey. Where do you live?
    Brian: In Manif, a few kilometers away from this place. And you?
    Esther: Oh, I actually have an aunt who lives in Manif. I hear it’s a very good place. I am from Gemba.
    Brian: Yes, it’s a touristic area and we have a lot of spectacular sites. Gemba is quite far hun! Are you in one of the big buses?
    Esther: No, I am travelling in a private car.
    Brian: Good. I would have asked you to come with us because my dad is the one driving. He’s right over there talking to some of his friends. He owns this motel.
    Esther: Wow! That’s nice. It’s a busy area.
    Jacob came down and found Esther discussing with Brian. He looked at them with a proud look and said “Hey baby, what’s up? I can see that you have already made friends around here”. Esther was ashamed. “This is my colleague from university” she said as she stood up to leave. She turned to Brian and said “Ok Brian. See you at school then. Safe journey”. “Safe journey to you too Esther” Brian said.
    Jacob took Esther by the hand and went to the car. Brian starred at them as they went. They started off the rest of the journey. Esther was waiting to hear Jacob’s apology, but it was in vain. Jacob seemed not to be bothered by what had happened. He drove at a high speed, moving his body to the rhythm of the music he was playing. Esther watched the scene in total dismay. Jacob brought up discussions that made no sense at all to Esther. She imagined how she would survive with such a man as a husband.
    The journey finally came to an end. They arrived at the university and Esther directed Jacob to her hostel. The university was slightly crowded as many students had not yet resumed. Before they could come out of the car to bring down the luggage, Jacob looked at Esther and said “Hey my love. Since we are now engaged, there should be a symbol of our engagement. Here! give me your finger. You need to wear this all the time to signify our union” He got a ring from his pocket and gave it to Esther. It was a beautiful silver ring. Esther did not know what to do. However, to avoid any dispute with him, she reluctantly stretched her hand as Jacob put the ring on her finger. “Very good baby. Your finger looks nice with that ring” Jacob said.
    Jacob helped Esther to carry the luggage to her room. She noticed that the door was not locked “Oh God! I hope these girls are not here already!” she thought to herself. She was definitely right. Janet and Naomi were already back. “Heee, look who’s here! It’s Madam Pastor herself” Janet shouted. Naomi ran to give Esther a hug. When they both saw Jacob coming with the luggage, they both stood still, wondering who he was. Esther just smiled and said “Hello ladies. I hope you enjoyed your holidays”
    Janet shouted “of course we did. But I can see that you enjoyed it more than us” she turned to Jacob and asked gently “Hello there. Are you Esther’s brother?”. Esther got nervous. She tried to hurry up so that Jacob could leave the room, but Jacob went to Janet and said, stretching forth his hand to greet her “Not really. I am actually her fiancé. My name is Jacob”. Janet and Naomi screamed “Oh my God!”. Jacob laughed “Why are you so surprised?” he said. Naomi answered “Because we never thought Madam Pastor can even look at a man”. Janet added “Yes indeed. Well except her good friend David. They seem to be very close though. He’s the only man we’ve seen her talk to”.
    Esther was now getting angry. She held Jacob’s hand tried to bring him out of the room, but Jacob said gently “Esther, please get the remaining bag from my car. My hands are quite painful because of the long journey. Let me rest here a bit” Esther hesitated in anxiety. She moved to and fro just to hear what Naomi and Janet would say, but they all kept quiet. When she came back, she found them all laughing as Jacob led the discussion. “So that’s it my dear ladies. I am planning to travel to the US very soon to get the car then it will be shipped to this place. I am also planning to get a small car for my dear Esther” Jacob said. Naomi and Janet looked at him in admiration. “Wow. Esther you are a very lucky girl” Naomi said. Esther gave a fake smile “Thank you” she said.
    Jacob stood up and put his hand around Esther’s waist “Well ladies, it has been a pleasure meeting both of you. I need to go to the hotel now. I will be spending three nights at the TownHall hotel before finally going back. I wish you both a wonderful second semester. Please have this for a drink” he said. He pulled out a bunch of money and gave about 100 Dollars to each of them. Naomi and Janet opened their eyes wide “Wow, thank you so much” they said. He held Esther’s hand and they were about to leave the room, when suddenly David walked in. “Esther, I was told that you are b..” he failed to finish his sentence when he saw Jacob tightly holding Esther’s hand. Esther didn’t know how to react. She wanted to give him a hug, but she didn’t want Jacob to suspect anything as he might inform her parents. “Hello David. Nice to see you. How are you doing?” she said, trembling and trying to remove her hand from Jacob’s hand. David smiled as usual “I am doing fine my friend. Welcome back. My colleague at the dispensary told me that she saw you entering the hostel, so I came to see if you needed any help” David said.
    Jacob interrupted them “Well, as you can see my friend, Esther is well taken care of. As her fiancé, I made sure that she arrives safely and that nothing stresses her” he then turned to Esther and said “My baby Esther, are you going to do any introduction?”. Esther felt like digging a pit and falling into it. She was so disturbed that she was literally shaking. “er-er-er-er, This is David my colleague. He is studying Economics and ….” Jacob laughed “Hahaha. Economics! What a boring subject. We have so many economists in this country that can’t even elaborate a good strategy to curb the level of poverty and suffering that the populations are going through. People need to stop doing certain courses. Like me for example, I did proper Banking and then had a Master’s degree in Business Management in London. Look at me now, a young man occupying the position of Branch Manager. Economics! Pfff”. Naomi and Janet laughed hard at these words, while Esther kept starring at David to see his reaction.
    David felt so hurt, but he pretended not to be. He put on his usual smile and said “Wow, congratulations on your success my bro. It’s always good to see young people who have made it in life. Just pray for me to that I can succeed in my career too”. Jacob felt like an idiot. He looked at Esther and said “Darling, let’s get going now. I need to check in the hotel and have some rest. Make sure you always pay attention to your finger. The ring on it is quite expensive. I bought it out of love for you”. David looked at Esther’s finger and smiled “Congratulations Esther, you deserve the best. I am very happy for you” he said. Esther did not answer. Jacob took Esther by the hand and they left. David also went back.
    “Do you really have to talk about money any time you are in front of people? And did you really have to make David feel so bad about the course he is taking?” Esther said angrily as she escorted him to his car. Jacob didn’t mind “Forget that thing my dear! What I was saying is the simple truth. By the way, I will pass by tomorrow evening so that I can show you around town. We can go and have dinner at a very nice restaurant close to the beach” he said.
    After he had left, Esther went back to her room, feeling rather sad. She couldn’t believe what was happening to her. She did not feel like entering the room because of her noisy roommates. But she was tired and needed to rest. She entered the room slowly. “Hmm, Esther! So you decided to get engaged without even letting us know hun? Who could have thought you can even look at a man? The caterpillar has now become a butterfly” Janet said. Naomi added “Yes indeed. Jacob is really hot. I wonder where you got him from!”. Esther shook her head, took her toiletries and went to take a bath.
    Janet clapped her hands “Eheeee! Wonders shall never end! How did that handsome young man get to fall in love with such an old fashioned village girl?” she said. “I am definitely shocked too. I don’t even know what to say. The guy is so hot and very successful. I have been looking for such a man for so long. Someone I am sure of spending my life with. I am tired of all these old fools who have already lived their lives and only want to use our bodies for their satisfaction” Naomi said. Janet became serious and nodded her head” You are right my dear. I am in the same boat. I need a rich young man to get married to” she said.

    Part 16

    The following day, Esther woke up in the morning to register for the new semester. Classes had not yet started and many students were just carrying out some administrative duties. She was glad that her roommates were still sleeping as she did not want to undergo any investigation. She could hear Janet snoring. She tiptoed as she walked around the room to prepare herself before she finally left. As she passed through the Dispensary, she noticed that it was open. She didn’t know whether to pass by and say hi to David or not. “I am sure David does not want to have anything to do with me because as a friend, I could not even inform him about Jacob. And after the humiliation that Jacob made him to go through, I just don’t think he would even like to talk to me” she thought to herself. She walked passed the dispensary when suddenly someone called her name “Esther, Esther”. She recognized David’s voice and her heart beat so fast. True enough, it was David. He ran to her, smiling.
    “Madam Esther, how are you doing?” he asked. Esther looked rather surprised. “I am fine David and you?” she answered shyly.
    David: where are you heading to this morning?
    Esther: To the admin building. I want to register for the new term.
    David: Oh great!
    Esther: And you? Have you done so?
    David: Yes I have. I did that yesterday.
    Esther: That’s great. I am happy that you got the money
    David: Hahaha. Yes my dear, I did. The Ministry paid me quite a handful and I used it to pay for the whole semester, gave some cash to my young sister and I have also invested the remaining amount in a small business.
    Esther: Oh my God! God is good. I am so happy for you David. You deserve it.
    David: Sure He is!. I also got a gift for you. I was waiting for your arrival in order to give it to you. I also want to congratulate you on your engagement. I must admit it came by surprise, but I am happy for you. I was a little jealous when I saw both of you. Hahaha. Anyway, don’t mind me. I guess the gift I bought for you will be a pre-wedding gift.
    Esther didn’t know what to say again. She had mixed feelings: a feeling of sadness and that of shame. She looked at David and said “Thank you David. I can’t wait to see the gift” she said. David smiled and said “Well, let me leave you now. By the way, Angela said she will be coming in two days’ time”. Esther felt relieved. She definitely missed her friend and was impatient to see her. She also felt relieved that David was not upset with her. “He is such a wonderful person” she told herself as she walked across the small green grass.
    When she arrived at the admin block, she found a small number of students. Among them was Brian, the guy she had met at the motel.
    “Hello Brian. How are you doing? I hope you had a safe journey” Esther said. “Esther! Yes I did. I am glad you arrived safely too. How is your fiancé doing?” Brain answered. Esther hesitated “He is fine, thanks. So, have you already enrolled for the second semester?” she said, trying to change the topic. However, Brian seemed to enjoy the conversation “Yes I have. So, has your fiancé gone back to Gemba?” he asked. Esther got upset. “Sorry Brian, let me please go to the Cashier’s office. See you later” she said, pretending to be in a hurry. Brian gave her a strange look as she went. He shook his head and left too.
    Once Esther was through, she went back to her hostel. By this time, Janet and Naomi were already awake. They were both having breakfast in the room. “Come and join us Esther” Naomi said. “Yes, please join us because, thanks to your handsome fiancé’s generosity, we are having this wonderful breakfast. He gave us some cool cash yesterday, remember” Janet said as she recklessly ate the sausage. Esther smiled “No, thank you. Enjoy your breakfast” she said. Janet looked at her and said “So, Esther tell us, how did you two meet? We are really anxious to hear the story, because none of us can actually believe that you can even look at a man, let alone, become a fiancé” she said.
    Esther was thinking of what to tell them. She felt like leaving the room, but then she knew that she had to deal with it once and for all. “Please, I would really appreciate if both for you can just stay out of anything that concerns me. Do not think, for one minute, that I have forgotten what you did to me a couple of months ago. What happens in my life has got nothing to do with any of you. So please, let us just respect each other and mind our own business” she said. This response got both of them shocked. They could not believe that Esther could give them such a harsh answer, and she looked so courageous.
    “Hey listen to me. It’s not because you have a man you are sleeping with that you have to treat us this way, you understand? We are not your mates, so next time know how to talk to us, otherwise..” Janet said. Esther interrupted her “Otherwise what! Otherwise what! You are going to beat me the way you did last time? Well, in that case I am asking you to go ahead and do it. But just be aware that this time around you will not get away with it. Both of you will spend your days in jail. If you think that you can be scaring me with your gangster life, you are very wrong. I am no longer the same Esther you saw last semester. If you try anything stupid with me, you will regret it for the rest of your lives” she said, swinging her small bag. Janet and Naomi kept quiet as they starred at her in amazement. Esther started unpacking her bags as she carefully arranged her clothes in her locker. Her heart was beating fast, but she did not want her roommates to notice, so she started humming a song and moved her head to the rhythm. She couldn’t believe that she had managed to talk to them in such a manner. She wondered where the courage and boldness had come from. She also wondered what was going on in their minds as they had suddenly become so quiet.
    After a few minutes, someone knocked on the door. She went to open it. It was Jacob. The strong and sweet smell of his perfume filled the room immediately she opened the door. As usual, he was smartly dressed. “Hello baby girl” he said, giving Esther a hug. Esther was not very excited to see him. Before she could even ask him to enter, Jacob entered and found his way to Naomi and Janet. “Hello pretty ladies. Bon appetit!” he said. Janet stood up from the bed and hugged him “Hello Mr. nice guy. You look amazing” she said. Naomi also stood up and gave him a hug. Esther felt like leaving the room. She was disgusted at this scene. She looked at Jacob and said firmly “Can I please talk to you outside?” Jacob looked surprised. He wondered what was going on. He stood up and followed Esther outside. Janet and Naomi tiptoed slowly and put their ears on the door to hear the conversation. However, Esther knew just how curious they could be and decided to take Jacob to her favorite spot, under the Eucalyptus tree
    Esther: Jacob. I respect you very much and I would like you to show me the same respect
    Jacob: Hmm. But you know that I respect you too baby. What have I done?
    Esther: No I don't think you do, because if you did, you would think twice before displaying some kind of behaviour.
    Jacob: Will you just go straight to the point instead of beating about the bush?
    Esther: You see! This is exactly what I am talking about. You have no consideration for me. The only thing that matters to you is yourself and nothing more. You never take the time to hear what is on my mi...
    Jacob: Ok then. I am listening. I am all ears!
    Esther: I don't like the way you behave in front of my roommates. I mean, you hardly know these girls, but you behave as if you've known them for years!
    Jacob: What do you mean? Is it because I gave them money yesterday? Come on! You need to understand that I am a very generous guy and every time I feel like giving, I can't hold myself.
    Esther: I am not condemning your giving. I just don't appreciate the way you behave so familiar with them. These ladies are prostitutes!
    Jacob: What! Are you kidding me?
    Esther: I know what I am saying. Not only are they prostitutes, but they are also gangsters. Last semester, they beat me up until I bled. Had it not been for my fellow students who rescued me, I could have sustained severe injuries.
    Jacob: I can't believe this! And......did you report them to the police?
    Esther: No, I just left the matter in God's hands, even though David asked me to do so
    Immediately Esther mentioned David's name, Jacob's face changed. He didn't seem to be interested in the conversation again. "I hope you understand me Jacob. They will try by all means to frustrate me by being close to you" Esther said. Jacob did not say a word. "Jacob, I hope you've understood me. Jacob!" Esther repeated. "Yea. Whatever! Do as you wish anyway, although I don't see anything wrong with being kind and generous. I actually think that it's just an issue of jealousy and envy. You don't have to envy anyone in life" Jacob said. Esther looked surprised "I don't understand. Who is envying who?" She said
    Jacob responded "Listen, I do understand what you might have been going through being a local girl in the midst of town girls. I know they dress in such a modern and sexy way that it would definitely make you to be jealous. But don't worry. The next time you come back home, I will buy you so many sexy clothes. I am actually planning to ask your dad to reduce the number of years we have to wait before getting married. I want us to get married next year. I can't wait. And I know he will accept. I will make sure you continue your studies even then". Esther looked at Jacob. She was speechless. She couldn't imagine that a normal human being could respond in such a way. She sighed and held her silence as she didn't think there was anything she could do to have a normal conversation with him.
    As Jacob continued talking jagons, David passed by. When Esther saw him, she felt weak. She wished that she could hide but it was too late. David waved at them as he passed. Esther waved back while Jacob just looked at him. "I have noticed that you are quite close: you and this young boy" Jacob said. "David is my friend. He was the first person to welcome me when I got here" Esther said. "Well, just make sure he doesn't get too close to you. Most of these poor boys are only looking for something to snatch from innocent people like you". Esther stood up in anger "Stop saying such things about him. You know nothing about him. David is a very good and serious person" she said.
    Jacob laughed "You can be very naive my dear! But I don't blame you. You've stayed too long in the local community that your mind isn't open yet. But I am very sure that you will soon wake up from your slumber" he said. "I have had enough of this. I am going back to my room" Esther said as she tried to leave. Jacob held her by the hand with a lot of force and said "You aren't going anywhere. How dare you walk out on your fiance like this! I need to inform your father about how disrespectful you are ever since you came to this place. I know that if I convince him, he can decide to remove you from this place and take you to the college in our region. I can just tell him that I would pay for it. Now let's get into the car and go to town as planned" .
    Esther's heart skipped a beat. She tried to analyse what Jacob had just said. Tears ran down her cheeks as she thought on these things. Jacob didn't seem to care. He forcefully held her hand and made her to enter the car. Esther was still shedding tears. "How will I ever escape this? I wish my father could know just how much I am suffering all in the name of dignity" she thought to herself.

    Part 17

    “I wonder what to do next. If I go ahead and marry Jacob, I I’ll be the unhappiest person on earth. If I decide not to marry him, my father will take it as an act of disobedience and will hate me for the rest of his life. Lord what can I do? Is this really your plan for my life? To marry a man who’s so full of himself? A man that has no consideration for others, whatsoever!” Esther thought to herself the following day as she sat outside the hostel. The previous day had been hell to her: Jacob had behaved like a small boy in front of so many people when they had gone out. She remembered how he boasted in front of so many people as they gathered to watch a soccer match in one of the restaurants where they had gone to have lunch. After the match, he had tried to force Esther to spend the night with him at the hotel. But Esther had resisted even after much confrontation with him.
    “Esther my friend! I am so glad to see you. I missed you so much!” Angela shouted as she came running towards her. Esther rose up in excitement “Oh my God! Angela!” She shouted as they both gave each other a long warm hug. Angela was looking very beautiful. She wore a pair of blue jeans and a pink top with pink canvas.
    Esther: Oh my friend you look so beautiful. I can see that the holidays really did you well
    Angela: Oh come on! You are the one looking so beautiful. Your skin is glowing. Oh my God!!!!!! Is this what I think it is? Esther what is this ring doing on your finger? Did you get engaged without telling me?
    Esther: Er-er-er-er
    Angela: Come on, tell me the whole story and don’t beat about the bush. Hmm now I know why David was telling me that he couldn’t wait to see you because he had something important to tell you. I should have guessed! So how did he propose, please tell me?
    Esther looked perplexed. What was Angela trying to say? Did David have the intention of proposing to her? Why didn’t he tell her then? All these thoughts ran through her mind. She looked at Angela and started crying “No my friend. David has nothing to do with this. I am engaged to another man from my town” she said. Angela looked at her steadily “But then why are you crying? Don’t you love the man?” she asked, trying to understand what was going on. Esther just broke down in tears. She put her head on Angela’s laps as she wept bitterly. Angela rubbed her back gently to comfort her. When she was finally ready to talk, Esther wiped her tears and said “I am in deep pain Angela, I am in deep pain”. She narrated the whole story to Angela.
    Angela felt really bad for her “I am really sorry my friend. I wish I could say that I understand how you feel, but I cannot because my parents have always given me the liberty to make my own choices considering the fact that I am not a baby anymore” she said. Esther shook her head “You are lucky my dear. I have no say in any decision that is made by my father and I have to respect him at all times” She said. Angela answered “Of course you have to respect him because he is your father. I am just sad that regarding such a huge decision that will affect your life forever, you were not consulted to know your stand. I believe that no one should force a marriage partner on anyone, not even our own parents because it is between two people. If truly this man is who you say he is, then I wonder how you will cope with him the rest of your life”. Esther wept again upon hearing this.
    “There, there, my friend. Don’t cry. There should be a way out of this situation” Angela said. Esther looked at Angela upon hearing this “you mean there is something that I can do about it?” she asked curiously. Angela put her hand around Esther’s shoulder and spoke to her gently “My dear friend, in everything, it is always expedient to use wisdom. It is true that your father has already made a decision that you have to respect at all cost. I would advise you to allow time to play its role in arranging everything in your life”
    Esther: You are speaking like my mother. She told me the exact words: to allow time to take its full course. I just don’t understand what she really means
    Angela: Yes she is right. Just go with the flow. Accept that you are now engaged to Jacob and just play along, but be wise. Don’t allow him to win your heart because of money, because I can assure you that people can change because of money regardless of their former state of mind. Continue being who you are and concentrate on your studies. Most importantly, do not have any sexual contact with him. Time will tell whether you will eventually fall in love with him or if things will not work out. But believe me, at the end, you will have what will bring joy to your heart because you are a good person.
    Esther: What about David? What if he wanted to propose to me?
    Angela: My dear, time will tell. Besides, David is still not in the capacity to marry you. I am sure that even if he wanted to propose to you, it would just be for you to become his girlfriend because he is also still just a mere student. Continue being friends. I personally believe that friendship is even better than a relationship.
    Esther: You are a true friend, Angela. I thank God for bringing you my way. By the way, I have some local fruits that I brought for you from my town. I know you like them so I thought of carrying quite a handful for you
    Angela: I am not even wasting my time. Let’s go and get them right now. Those fruits are quite expensive here in town.
    Esther laughed as they both went to her room. They found Janet seated alone, watching a movie. She looked at them scornfully as they entered. Esther did not mind her, but Angela looked at her scornfully as well. “Leave her. Don’t waste your time on such people” Esther whispered to her. She brought out a huge plastic bag and gave it to Angela. “Oh my God! Esther, this is a lot. I can’t believe this. I will even share it with dad because he loves these fruits. Thank you so much” Angela screamed. Esther smiled. They both stayed for a while discussing school matters before Angela decided to leave. Esther was escorting her down the hallway when Jacob arrived. Angela was surprised when he went straight to give a hug to Esther. “Hello baby” he said. Angela then understood that he was the one Esther had told her about. She stood still and starred at both of them, in amazement. “Please meet my friend Angela. She is the only friend I have here. She is like a sister to me” Esther said to Jacob, pointing to Angela. Jacob smiled “Oh this is your second friend, apart from that so called economist. Nice to meet you Angela. I hope you are not also studying economics because I will personally ask you to study something else” He said, as he stretched his hand to greet Angela. Angela did not stretch her hand. She said to him in a seemingly irritated voice “And just what is wrong with economics, if I may ask?” Jacob laughed “Well, like I told that economist, it is an obsolete subject that does not make sense at all because we have so many economists in the country who cannot even provide tangible solutions to eradicate poverty” he said.
    Esther was already feeling so ashamed. She was thinking of how to put an end to the conversation, when Angela responded “Well I guess the country is still in this terrible situation because of people like you who think they have got it all. Even if economists put in place good strategies to help boost the economy of the country, people like you will discard it like a hot brick, because you think you know it all. Esther told me that you are a Banker. Well I would like to let you know that there are a lot of cases where bankers have preyed on people’s hard earned money. In other words, they were caught stealing and busy buying luxurious cars and going from one night club to the other, living a life that is fake”. Esther couldn’t believe her ears. Jacob was equally shocked. He looked at Angela and said arrogantly “How dare you talk to me like that? Do you even know me before you can open your mouth to speak such stupidity?” Angela replied “And how dare you say such nonsense about my friend David? Do you also know him before opening your mouth to speak such insanity?”
    Esther knew that if she did not stop them, they would continue arguing and probably turn it into something else. She spoke firmly “Both of you, just stop it please. This is not the time and place to be arguing about useless matters. I did not introduce both of you to solve quarrels, please” Jacob shouted “How can you allow a stupid girl like this to speak to your fiancé in such a manner? Instead of defending me you are busy trying to cover her up”
    Angela answered “I am sorry Esther. I didn’t mean to bring up a fight of any sort. I was just hurt by his words and because David is my friend, I had to speak for him. Let me leave both of you as I wouldn’t want to spoil your day. I will see you later”. Angela left in fury. Esther was also upset, but she was also somehow glad that Angela had told him off. He definitely needed someone to put him at his right place.
    Esther: Is it possible for you to stay a day without despising others by showing that you are better than anyone else in life?
    Jacob: Please don’t make me more upset than I already am. What kind of a fiancé are you that cannot even defend me in front of your so called friend. That little brat that looks like a rodent!
    Esther: you have such a terrible character. Sometimes I wish you could record yourself and hear just how inhuman you sound whenever you talk
    Jacob: How dare you call me inhuman! Just who the hell do you think you are? Is it because I have humbled myself to the point of asking for your hand in marriage that you should insult me this way? Don’t you know that there are so many girls that are after me? Girls that are far better than you!
    Esther: then I beg you in the name of God, please go and marry one of them and leave me in peace. Get someone that is better than me and make her your wife
    Jacob: you are crazy! Will your father be able to pay me back all the money that I have invested in you? The dowry, the school fees and all the expenses I have spent on you!
    Upon hearing this, Esther broke down and cried. She thought of her poor father. She thought of the hustle he would have to go through in order to pay Jacob back. She shook her head in remorse. Jacob put his hand on her shoulder but Esther pushed him so hard. Some students who were passing by starred at them. Esther, because of her timidity, ran to hide in her room for the fear of being looked at. Jacob followed her. Janet looked at them as they entered in anger. “Hello Janet, sorry to disturb you in such manner. Could you kindly excuse Esther and I for a few minutes as we need to discuss something very important? I promise it won’t take time. Thank you for your understanding” Jacob said. Janet nodded her head and left the room, as she starred at both of them.
    Jacob spent more than 30 minutes apologizing to Esther until she finally stated that she had forgiven him. “Thank you my dear. You and I have to understand that our relationship is bound to experience some minor difficulties because we are just getting to know each other, but I know that with time, we shall learn to understand each other and everything will be fine. Thank you for forgiving me. I actually came to inform you that I am leaving this morning instead of tomorrow morning as planned because I have an urgent thing to do at the office. However, I have good news for you: I will be coming back to this place next month for three whole weeks as I have to train a new branch Manager that has just been employed in one of our branches here in town. I promise that we will spend more time together when I am here. I love you” he said. Esther was both surprised and happy that he was finally leaving. She pretended to be sad as she wanted him to leave the room as soon as possible. “It’s alright. Work is more important because it is what puts food on your table. I wish you a safe journey back home. Please pass my regards to my family” she said. After talking to her for a few minutes, Jacob stood up and left. Esther escorted him to his car and off he went.
    Esther went back to her room feeling so relieved. She took her phone and dialed David’s number.
    David: Hi Esther. How are you doing?
    Esther: I am fine thanks. I was wondering if you are busy. I would like you to escort me to town to buy some books at the bookstore
    David: Hmm. What about your fiancé? Will he allow you to go out to town with me? I don’t want to cause any trouble
    Esther: Which trouble? He can’t do anything because he has just left now. He is going back to our town
    David: Oh really? So that is why you have the liberty to do something that won’t please him behind his back hun? I am sorry, but I don’t think I will be able to escort you. You can ask Angela maybe
    Esther: Oh come on David! It’s not as if it’s a crime to have you as my friend. Please just escort me, I promise I won’t take much of your time. I don’t know the place very well
    David: I am sorry Esther, I wish I could help, but I am quite busy. Maybe next time. I need to go now, my boss is calling me
    Esther: David…Hello…..David…..Hello…..hello
    David had hung up. Esther stood still. She felt hurt and abandoned. She was hoping that she could go back to the old days of friendship with David but it seemed that she was wrong. “How will I cope at school knowing that my good friend no longer wants to be my friend?” she asked herself. She threw herself on the bed and lay down, starring at the ceiling.

    Part 18

    Angela had gone to pay Esther a visit. She found her reading through her books. Esther was happy to see her.
    Angela: Hello Esther. How are you doing this morning? Where are your roommates?
    Esther: I am doing very well thank you, and you? Well, Naomi did not come back since yesterday, while Janet went out a couple of minutes ago. I am very happy to see you
    Angela: I am fine. Oh really? I was actually afraid that you were upset with me because of what happened between your fiancé and I yesterday.
    Esther: Upset? Never! You didn’t do anything wrong. Moreover, I was happy within me that he found someone to give him a piece of their mind. You can now imagine what I have been going through every single day I am with him. His pride is a pin in my neck. So no worries, you bailed me out yesterday. I am glad he has gone back
    Angela: Oh has he? I though you said that he would leave today
    Esther: He said plans had changed and needed to be at his office. I definitely don’t care. I am just glad that he is gone. On the other hand though, I am quite sad because David was so cold with me yesterday. I feel he no longer wants me to be his friend
    Angela: How? What happened?
    Esther: I called him to ask him to escort me to the bookstore in town, but he coldly refused saying he did not want to get into any trouble with Jacob. He even cut the line on me
    Angela: I guess it’s all my fault. When I left you and Jacob, he met me on his way to the dispensary and when he saw that I was very upset, he asked me what had happened. I explained everything to him. I guess that is what made him to be afraid of seeing you, thinking that he might put you into trouble. I am really sorry.
    Esther: You don’t have to apologize. I understand how you felt. Jacob can be very annoying.
    Angela: You don’t have to worry about David. He is just doing this to protect you and because he is a true friend, he wouldn’t want you to have problems with your fiancé. Otherwise, he is not upset with you. You just have to understand that things might no longer be the same between both of you as he has to respect you.
    Esther: Sure I understand even though it is somewhat painful. Can you then escort me to the bookstore now? I have some books to buy, but I don’t know the way very well.
    Angela: With pleasure my dear.
    The two ladies left the hostel and went to the bookstore. Esther managed to buy all the books that she needed and they stood by the roadside to stop a bus going to the university. Suddenly, Esther sighted a car that looked exactly like the one Jacob had been driving. She looked closely to see if it was the one. The car drove to a nearby fast food. Esther touched Angela’s hand “Angela, that car looks exactly like the one Jacob had been using” she said, pointing to the car. Angela looked at the car “Hmm, but how can you be sure? There are so many of those pick-ups in town” she said. “No, I mean, you see that red logo? It looks just like the logo of the bank where Jacob works. The car had the same logo and if you look at it closely, it seems to have red dust, the kind that you meet when heading to our town” Esther answered.
    “Well then, we only have one choice: that is to go and see who is driving the car” Angela said. The car parked in front of the fast food and a man came out of the car. Angela and Esther stood a little bit further away to see who it was. “Oh my God! It’s Jacob! I can see him clearly” Esther shouted. Angela put her hand on her mouth “I thought you said he had left yesterday” she said, looking so surprised. Esther moved forward “Yes, he told me he was leaving that very morning. I wonder what he is still doing here. Let’s go and see” she said.
    They went towards the fast food and tried to be as discrete as possible. They peeped through the window of the car to see if there was anyone in it: there was no one. Esther looked at the backseats of the car and saw a lot of shopping bags. It looked like he had been doing some shopping. She also saw some empty bottles of beer. Esther looked surprised “I never knew that Jacob drinks beer. For all I know, our church preaches so much against the consumption of alcoholic beverages” she said to Esther. Angela clapped her hands “Amazing!” she said. They both went inside the fast food and found Jacob ordering some food. Esther went straight ahead to meet him, while Angela stayed behind. She went behind him and touched his shoulder “Hi Jacob” she said. Jacob turned back to see who it was. His eyes opened wide when he saw that it was Esther. He looked terrified and guilty. He gave a smile but Esther could see that it was a fake smile “Hey, baby girl, what are you doing here?” he said, looking so confused. Esther smiled ‘I should be the one asking you this question. I thought you said that you were leaving yesterday. What happened?” she said. Jacob laughed “Esther! I know you might be thinking that I was lying. Well, er-er-er, I was about to leave yesterday when I left the university, but I was called by my office to pass through our Head Office here in town. When I got there, I spent almost the whole day because I had to help some new colleagues. By the time I finished, it was already 7pm, so I was booked in a hotel nearby. I just came to grab some food I might need on the journey” he said. Esther replied “And you couldn’t inform me of the change?”
    “I am sorry baby. I didn’t want to disturb you especially that I knew that you were very upset with me because of what happened yesterday. I just thought it would be good for me to just keep it to myself. In any case there isn’t much difference between yesterday and today. I will soon arrive anyway.” Jacob answered. Esther just kept looking at him. She didn’t know whether to believe him or not, but in any case, she just didn’t care. “Ok then, let me allow you to do what you have to do. My friend Angela and I came to buy some books in town. Safe journey once again” she said. Jacob held her hand as she tried to turn back “No, don’t go. Let me get some food for both of you. They sell quite nice grilled chicken here. You can have it for lunch” he said. His phone rang, but when he looked at the screen, he refused to pick it up and continued talking “Yes, so as I was saying, let me get some food for you and your friend”
    “Oh no, thank you very much. That’s kind of you, but we definitely need to rush as we have some urgent stuff to sort out at school. Once again, safe journey and my regards to my family” Esther said. Jacob gave her a hug and she left. She narrated his side of the story to Angela. Angela laughed “I am sorry to say this, but this guy is a crook! Who makes such changes and refuses to inform his beloved? He shouldn’t think you were born yesterday” she said. Esther smiled “I don’t even care whether he is lying or not. I am waiting for time to tell, as you and mom said” she said. Angela nodded her head “You are right. And time will definitely tell, my dear”.
    They entered a bus and arrived at the main gate. When they were about to enter, they found a small group of students gathered around the main entrance. “Give me the medium sized one please……How much is the pink one?.......yes, that one please” they said. Angela and Esther were curious and went to see what was going on. Surprisingly to them, they saw David seated on a small mat on the ground, selling some nice looking gadgets: nicely designed key holders, journals, phone cases and many more items. Students gathered around him as they bought them like hot chocolate. “David!” Angela called out. David looked up and smiled “Hey, my dear friends, what’s up? Are you….” He could not finish his sentence as the crowd pressed him. He continued his business as more students kept on coming. Esther and Angela were surprised. They left the place totally astonished “Wow, David is something else!” Angela said. Esther shook her head with a smile “He’s the most courageous and down to earth person I have ever seen in my life. It takes a lot of courage to humble oneself like that in front of fellow students, especially in a place where there are so many well to do students” she said as she kept looking backwards.
    “I am totally surprised. I don’t even know what to say. I pray that God will help him to succeed” Angela said. Esther replied “Amen. He truly deserves it. He actually told me that he has invested part of the salary he received into a small business, but I didn’t know what it was”
    Almost five days had passed since Esther and Angela last saw David. He had become very busy with both his work at the dispensary as well as his sales. The two ladies did not want to disturb his busy schedule. From time to time, Esther sent him some messages on his phone to which he replied. It was Monday morning and classes had just resumed. Esther walked out of the class feeling excited as she was eager to learn more that semester. She went back to her hostel and fell on the bed after a long day of jumping from one subject to the other. Naomi had not been back since the day she left. Esther wondered what had happened to her, but she couldn’t ask Janet as they were still not in good terms. It was almost 8pm. After taking a shower, Esther took her restaurant tickets and was about to go and have dinner when Janet entered the room with another strange looking lady: the lady wore buggy trousers and a loose fitting T-shirt with men’s trainers which made her look like a man. Her hairstyle was also quite mannish: Low cut on both sides of the head with a bit of brown dyed hair left in the middle. Janet was dressed in a short tight dress as usual with high heels. Esther looked at both them in astonishment. She wondered how ladies could dress in such a manner in class. Janet touched her friend and laughed, pointing at Esther “she is the one”. The other lady laughed “Oh really! She is just like you described her. Dear lord!” she said, laughing to scorn. Esther didn’t even want to understand what they were talking about. She banged the door behind her and left. She could hear them laugh as loud as they could. Esther shook her head and continued.
    She was happy to meet David at the dinner hall. She put her bag to reserve a seat next to him. David smiled. “Ah David, the busiest man on planet earth! It is easier to see the President than you” Esther said as she sat down. David laughed “No my dear, don’t say that. A man needs to work!” he said.
    Esther: I understand. But spare some time for your friends my dear.
    David: Sure, I will. It’s just that it’s the beginning of my business, so I really need to organize myself well. But in the next few days, I believe I will be able to properly organize my work, especially that classes have resumed. I might be obliged to stop my work at the dispensary for some time. Then once I make some gains, I will employ someone to be in charge of the sales. There are many boys I personally know on the streets looking for some jobs.
    Esther: Good. So where are you buying all these items?
    David: I met a Chinese who brings some goods from China and Turkey. He resells them to wholesalers in town. I got in touch with him and he agreed to be reselling them to me as well, but in much less quantities. I prefer buying from him directly because it is cheaper. The wholesalers add some VAT to the selling price which makes the goods more expensive
    Esther: Wow! I am very happy for you.
    David: Thank you dear. So, how is your fiancé doing? Is he still in town?
    Esther: er-er-er, he left a week ago. How is your sister?
    David: my sister is fine. I am really happy for you Esther. I just want to advise you to be very serious with your relationship. Being engaged means a lot of things. It is serious business.
    Esther: David can we just stop talking about this issue? I know I am engaged, but that should not stop us from being friends
    David: I never said that you are no longer my friend Esther. If you are talking about your phone call the other day, I was very busy that day and I also didn’t want to bring problems between you and your fiancé especially after what Angela told me that day. She narrated to me what had happened. I didn’t want to be seen as an intruder.
    Esther: Well, hear it from my mouth: you are not an intruder. You are still my friend, ok?
    David: ok
    Esther: By the way, Angela told me that you had something important to tell me during the holidays but you preferred to wait until I come back. What was it?
    David: hmm, er-er-er, it’s nothing really. I just wanted to…er…er…to tell you that I was about to start my small business. Nothing important
    Esther: really? Are you sure? From the way Angela explained, you looked quite serious
    David: Of course my business issue is a serious one? Or is it because I am still using a small table outside the gate that you think it’s not serious? Hahaha
    Esther: no, of course not. Well then, if you say so! What about my gift? I am still waiting to see and receive it
    David: Oh yes! Oh boy, I had completely forgotten. Please give me five minutes. Let me go and pick it up from my room.
    David went to his room and came back with a package wrapped in a nice paper. He gave it to Esther who opened it with all enthusiasm and curiosity. Behold, it was a beautiful painting of her face. Esther held her breath “Oh my God! This is the most beautiful thing I have ever received. It looks just like me. Who did this?” she said. David answered “I secretly took a picture of you the day we went to town after the exams with my phone and gave it to a friend who is a painter” David said.
    Esther stood up with tears in her eyes and gave him a firm hug. David laughed “You are welcome my friend, you are welcome” he said. Esther sat down and kept looking at the painting. She was filled with emotions of joy.

    Part 19

    Esther went back to her hostel, holding preciously the gift she had received from David. She smiled as she thought of him. “I am so glad we are still friends. I don’t know what I could have done if he stopped seeing me as his friend” she thought to herself. She rushed to the hostel as it was getting quite cold that night. Angela had gone to bed quite early. Esther opened the door of the room and she couldn’t believe what she saw: the lady that Janet had come with was lying on top of Janet, kissing her passionately, both of them Unclad. Esther shouted “Jesus!” and ran as fast as she could. She trembled as she stopped near the entrance of the hostel to catch her breath. “Oh Lord, what have my eyes seen today? What abomination is this?” she said to herself. She picked up her phone and called Angela, but she was not responding. ‘I am sure she is sleeping and has put her phone on silent mode. What will I do now? I can’t go back to that room, it’s just too disgusting” she thought. She went to the public garden and sat down, breathing profusely. She imagined what to do next. She could not call David because she did not want to disturb him.
    Esther stayed there for at least an hour. She was feeling very cold and decided to take up the courage to go back to the hostel. When she arrived, she opened the door slowly and found Janet and her friend laughing and smoking. Esther was breathing so fast, as she sat down on her bed. Suddenly Janet burst out in laughter. It was such a loud laugh that Esther almost ran away because of fear. “Esther, Esther! You are an amazing being. I thank God for bringing you here. Without you, I don’t think I could have been able to laugh like this at this stupid university. Now tell me, why did you run away? Did you see anything that scared you?” Janet asked. Esther did not respond. Janet continued “You don’t have to be afraid my dear. This is life and you have to take it a day at a time. I know you are surprised to see two ladies making out, but that is absolutely normal. We are just enjoying our lives right now, nothing serious. So cool down my dear. Life is meant to be enjoyed”
    Esther felt disgusted. She removed her shoes and covered herself with a blanket, without removing her clothes. She was so afraid that she couldn’t take the risk of showing any part of her body. After a while, she fell asleep.
    “This is unbelievable! Those ladies are dogs!” Angela shouted as Esther narrated to her the whole story during lunch time the following day. Esther replied “My friend, I am still in shock. My eyes have seen evil. I wish I could move out of that place and find a new room. I am just disgusted at this!” David was also listening to their conversation. He shook his head in shock and said “I am not surprised. These cases are frequent at the university. You will just have to learn to deal with it and be courageous enough to wait until next year when you will be given the opportunity to change rooms”
    1 YEAR LATER
    Esther, Angela and David were still the best of friends. Esther had narrated her situation to David and he asked her to just hold on and allow time to play its course: just as her mom and Angela had advised. Jacob was still the same old, proud Jacob that he had always been. Despite his terrible behavior, Esther could not do anything about it as she did not want to disobey her father, who had become so acquainted with Jacob. “Jacob is truly my son” Elder Barnabas would say. Jacob had bought him a second hand car and helped him buy seeds and all the necessary items he needed for his farm.
    Elder Barnabas had finally taken his retirement and was happy working on his farm. Jacob visited Esther at the university at least twice a month. Every time he came to the university, serious quarrels broke up between him and Esther because he suspected that Esther was seeing David. Esther had tried to deny, but Jacob was always threatening to leak the information to her father. On the other hand, David was even busier because of school and his business which had grown quite fast: he now had a medium sized shop just opposite the university. He had employed a young boy to take care of it and he was making some good profit. Esther was now sharing the same room with Angela, and she couldn’t be happier. Naomi and Janet were still in the same room, this time around with the young lady that hanged out with Janet.
    They were preparing for their end of year exams for the second year. Angela and Esther were busy revising. The second year exams were quite tough as they would determine the continuity of their studies. David, on the other hand was now in his third year and striving to enter his fourth year. One day, as David was resting in his room, someone knocked on his door. His roommate opened the door and heard a man’s voice mention his name. His roommate asked the man to enter. David looked at the man: he was quite an elderly man. David looked surprised because he had never seen him anywhere. “How can I help you sir?” he asked as he stood up from his bed. The elderly man looked at him and said “Is it possible for us to have a chat outside, in private?” upon hearing this, David’s roommate excused himself and asked the man to stay in the room as he went outside. “Thank you my son. May God bless you. I promise I won’t be long” the man said. David asked him to take a seat. He offered him a drink, but the man refused to take it. David sat down to listen
    David: You are welcome sir. Please how can I help you? I must admit that I can’t seem to know who you are.
    The man: Yes indeed. You might not know who I am, but I know who you are. My name is Elder Barnabas and I have come all the way from Gemba, a six hour journey from this place
    David was breathing fast. He couldn’t believe that Esther’s father had come to see him. He wondered the reason for his visit.
    David: Elder Barnabas? Are you my fellow student Esther’s father?
    Elder Barnabas: Ehen! You have guessed right. I am Esther’s father, her only father who cares so much about her. I am the one that toiled day and night just to find money to send my daughter to school
    David: You are welcome sir. Esther has said so much about you. Please what brings you here sir?
    Elder Barnabas: Oh really has she? Hope she has been saying good things about me?
    David: yes she has, sir
    Elder Barnabas: Very well then. Well I came all the way from Gemba to see you as I have received reports that you have been trying to be an intruder in the relationship between daughter and her fiancé Jacob.
    David: But…
    Elder Barnabas: Shut up! Is this how you talk to your elders? Do you cut their speech abruptly like this?
    David: I am sorry sir
    Elder Barnabas: I don’t blame you. Most of you city boys have no respect. So as I was saying, I have received reports of how you are trying to come between my daughter and her fiancé. I have worked so hard for my daughter to reach the level she has reached today. I have spent my energy and time to make sure that she grows into a beautiful and well-mannered lady and eventually find a respected man to marry her and I will not allow anyone to destroy all that I have worked for. I know both of you are young and think that you can play with your lives anyhow, but I want you to know that my daughter is not the kind of lady that moves around with men. I sent her to university to study, not to hang out with small boys like you. Esther is engaged to Jacob. All traditional rites have been observed and they will soon be getting married officially, by God’s grace next year. That is why I have come all the way from Gemba to ask you my son to leave my daughter alone. Don’t bring problems upon yourself that you will one day regret. See me as your father that can place a curse on your life if you try to do any evil to my daughter.
    David looked down and shook his head in astonishment. He didn’t know what to say or how to react. “Elder, I have heard all that you have said, but I want to reassure you that there is nothing between Esther and I. We are just friends an…” Elder Barnabas interrupted “Why will you decide to be friends with a lady that is engaged to another man? Mere friendship does not exist between a man and woman. It’s either they are in love or they stay away from each other” he said. David could not answer again as he did not want to look disrespectful. Suddenly Elder Barnabas went down on his knees and begged David saying “My son, please for my sake, just stay away from my daughter. Just take a look at how old I have become. I took a 6 hour journey with all the dangers that are on the road just to speak to you. I beg you in the name of our God to please leave my daughter alone. I have high blood pressure and I believe you wouldn’t want me to lose my life because of you. If Jacob decides to break up with my daughter, it will bring so much shame on me and my family that I won’t be able to bear it. Please I beg you”
    David held his hands and begged him to rise up “Elder please be on your feet. I promise with everything that is in me that I will not have anything to do with Esther” he said. Elder Barnabas looked at him and brought out his Bible “Please swear with this Bible that what you are saying is true” David hesitated, but when Elder Barnabas was about to go on his knees again, David said "I swear with the Bible that I will leave Esther alone. I swear".
    Elder Barnabas put his Bible back in his bag and said "I hope you understand the meaning of what you have done. You have sworn to God Almighty and I am a witness to it. I thank you for your understanding and I pray that God will help you find the right woman for you. I beg you in the name of God not to let my daughter know about this. Let is be between just the two of us. Don't put enemity between my daughter and I" David nodded his head and said "I promise sir"
    Elder Barnabas left. David was left in much perplexity of heart. He wondered what to do next. He imagined how he could possibly stay away from such a good friend. He sat on his bed in deep thoughts. He received a message from Esther that read "Can we meet at the our favourite place? I just feel like talking to someone this evening. I feel low because Jacob just sent me a nasty text". David threw the phone on his bed in frustration and put his hands on his head. Oh my God!" He said to himself

    Part 20

    “Hi David. I sent you messages and even called you a couple of times yesterday around 5Pm, but there was no response. I hope everything is fine with you. I got a little bit worried” Esther said to David as they met him at the dining hall. David looked at Esther and Angela who had come to join him where he was having his lunch and said firmly “Hi ladies. Good afternoon to you. I am sorry, but I need to get going. I have some urgent things to do” He stood up and left as fast as he could. Angela and Esther looked at each other in shock. “What’s up with our friend?” Angela asked. “I really don’t know. I hope everything is ok with him. He looks quite disturbed. Or maybe it could be stress related to the upcoming exams” Esther responded. They quickly had their lunch and went back to class.
    After classes, Esther decided to go and check on David. When she went to his hostel, she was told that he was not around. She was told the same at the dispensary. She decided to go to his shop across the main road. This time around, she found him. He was busy going through some receipt books and doing some calculations. “Hi David. I hope I am not disturbing” Esther said with a smile. David looked surprised and angry “Hi Esther, yes please as you can see, I am quite busy right now. I am doing some calculations and I need to be focused” he said and continued what he was doing. Esther wondered what was going on “David, what is going on? Why are you behaving like this? Have I done something wrong to you?” she asked. David did not respond. “Peter, please give me the account book on top of those carton boxes” he said to his salesman, completely ignoring Esther. Esther was in total dismay. She was determined to get to the bottom of this. She was not going back to the hostel until she understood what was going on. She put her hand across the open counter and touched David’s hand “David, what is going on?”. David withdrew his hand as if something had bitten him and shouted “Will you please leave me al….” He did not finish his sentence when he suddenly fixed his eyes towards him, looking beyond where Esther was standing. Esther turned behind to see what David was looking at. It was Jacob. He came towards the shop looking so angry. Esther was trembling as she was not expecting to see him that week.
    David shook his head and continued his work. Esther was motionless. “Hi baby girl. Are you buying anything here?” Jacob said proudly. Esther swallowed her saliva in fear “Humm, er-er-, I am buyin…” she tried to speak. Jacob interrupted “Let’s get out of this stinky place” he said. He held Esther’s hand with so much strength that Esther cried “Ouch, ouch! You are hurting me”. Jacob did not hearken to her cry. He dragged her along the road like a small girl and opened his car door “Get inside!” he shouted, pushing her inside the car. David was hurt by the scenario. His heart cried for Esther. Tears ran down his cheeks. He wiped them out, pretended as if there was nothing wrong and continued his work. His heart was beating fast as he thought of the pain that his friend was going through.
    Jacob and Esther were both silent as he drove downtown. “Where are we going?” Esther asked, tears flowing from her eyes. Jacob did not respond. Esther cried even more “Where are you taking me?” she shouted with a cracked voice. Jacob shouted “Shut the hell up you undisciplined girl!” Because of the slow movement of cars due to heavy traffic in town, some car drivers starred at Esther as she cried. Esther felt so ashamed that she wiped her tears with her dress and kept quiet. They finally arrived at an isolated guest house. It was beautiful and big. “Now, I want you to wipe those crocodile tears and behave like a grown up person. Both of us need to talk” Jacob said, handing a face tissue to Esther. Esther wiped her tears and blew her nose. They both came out of the car and Jacob led her to the reception area “Hello Mr. Jacob. Welcome back. You father left successfully an hour ago. The driver took him to the car park” The receptionist said. Jacob smiled “Thanks my dear. Please send someone to bring us two cold bottles of coca cola and some chicken sandwiches” he said. Esther was surprised to hear it. She wondered what Jacob’s father had come to do in town. Jacob took her by the hand and led her to one of his room. The Receptionist shook her head and smiled as she watched them go. All rooms in the guest house were in form of separate and independent bungalows. Jacob removed his tie and threw it on the bed when they arrived. Esther sat quietly on the chair while Jacob went to take a shower. Room service staff brought what they had ordered and put it on the table. Esther was lost in thoughts. She thought of David and why he had reacted in such a manner. As she pondered on these things, she saw a shiny bracelet lying on the floor. She looked at it closely ‘This bracelet looks quite feminine. I know Jacob wears chains and all that but this one looks small and feminine” she thought to herself. She stooped down and picked it up. It was a nice, golden bracelet with some flower-kind of designs around it. “This is definitely a lady’s bracelet” she thought and put it back where it was.
    Jacob finished taking his shower and came out girding himself with only a towel around his waist as he wiped his head with another towel “Oh boy! I am so hungry!” he said as he opened the pack of sandwich and gave it a bite. “Humm, very nice. Baby, please eat. This is very good” he continued. Esther looked at him in frustration. “I am fine, thanks” she said. Jacob continued eating, humming a song. He switched on the TV and selected a music channel “I got a feeling, that tonight’s gonna be a good night!” he sang along, making some moves. Esther was speechless. She watched him behave like nothing had happened. After he had finished eating, he moved close to Esther and said “Baby, I really don’t like your behavior. How many times will I warn you not to associate yourself with that useless boy called David?”
    Esther: Don’t call him a useless boy. David is just a friend. Why won’t you understand me?”
    Jacob: I don’t want him to be your friend, damn it!!! I don’t want!!! Why are you so stubborn? And you even have the guts to defend him! You are such a disrespectful girl. I used to think you are well mannered but I was wrong
    Esther: I only became ill mannered because of you
    Jacob: are you answering me like that? You stupid girl! Take a look at yourself. You need to even thank God that I can even ask you to marry me. There are millions of beautiful and sexy girls out there that I can easily have
    Esther: Then get the hell out of my life you proud, arrogant and good for nothing idiot! I have had enough of your stupidity. I hate you from the bottom of my heart. You are a heartless and useless pig.
    Jacob rose up and gave Esther a hot slap. Esther screamed and fell down because of the viciousness of the slap. Jacob lifted her up and covered her mouth with his towel. He slapped her on her head once, twice and the third time, he pushed her against the wall “How dare you talk to me like that!” he continued saying, pressing her against the wall. “Now, you shut the hell up before I kill you in this room” he said again. Esther stopped screaming and Jacob removed the towel from her mouth. She was trembling like a leaf, fearing for her life. “I will tell my father exactly what you have done to me” she cried. Jacob laughed “you are not serious. If only you knew what your father went through last week when I told him about your affair with David. He had high blood pressure and was rushed to the clinic. If it was not for God, he could have died, all because of your foolishness” he said. Esther opened her eyes wide in total shock “What? What do you mean? How is my father?” she cried and fell down on the floor. Jacob looked at her and said “Yes, you heard me right. He almost died because of you, because I told him that I was calling off the engagement. Do you know the shame you will put him through if I announce to the whole church that you have been sleeping around with another guy?”
    Esther wept bitterly “Oh my God!” she cried. Jacob went to her and put his hands around her shoulder, but she pushed him away. He went the second time, this time around squatting beside her and said “Listen baby, I don’t know why you behave like this. I have told you that I can give you anything you want in life. Just be obedient to me. I am capable of calling your father right now and telling him that I found you with this guy again and believe me, he won’t take it well. Now let’s do a deal. If you don’t want me to tell him what I saw today, just accept to have sex with me and I promise I’ll even call him to tell him that you have changed”
    Esther lifted up her head and fixed her eyes on him “You must be joking! Over my dead body will I allow you to touch me!” she said. Jacob laughed “Hahaha. You are crazy. You mean you prefer seeing your father dead to having sex with me?” he said, putting his hands around her. Esther pushed him with all her strength and because he was squatting, he fell down. She shouted “Get away from me you idiot!” Jacob stood up and took Esther by force, tied the towel around her mouth again and threw her on the bed “In that case, I will have you by force” he said as he tried to unbutton Esther’s dress. Esther tried to resist him but he was definitely much stronger than her. He undressed her and raped her ruthlessly. When he had satisfied his desire, he stood up and went to sit down, fanning himself with his towel. Esther lay on the bed, powerless. She closed her eyes in sorrow and wept within her. She trembled as she tried to rise up. Jacob threw his towel on her and shouted “Clean yourself up and try to eat something”. Esther was filled with sorrow. She took the towel and cleaned herself. When she looked at the towel, she saw blood on it. She fell down and cried with the little strength left in her. Because of the nature of the bungalows, it was quite difficult for people to hear what was going on in one of them. Jacob went near her and said “Listen. You don’t have to cry. I am your husband and I have the right to do anything I want with you. There is nothing you can do about it. And if ever you think of telling anyone about this, especially your father, I will make sure I deny it and call off our wedding, then ask your father to reimburse me every single coin I have invested in your family. Both of us know that he can never be able to pay me back in 10 years. And another thing you have to understand is that your father will not even believe you when you tell him because he does not love you per say. He is only interested in the money I give him. So my dear, let’s just make peace and continue our lives. We are meant for each other”
    Esther could not cry anymore. She stood up and went to the toilet. She cleaned up and when she had come back, she looked at him and said “I am leaving. I need to go and revise for the first series of tests the day after tomorrow” Jacob smiled “I am sorry if I hurt you baby. I love you and I just want us to be happy, ok? Don’t be angry with me. Here, take 100Dollars for your food today and tomorrow. I might spend the whole day at the office tomorrow so I will only be able to see you the day after tomorrow” he said. Esther refused to take the money, but Jacob forced it inside her bag.
    He drove her until the main entrance of the university. “Good night my love. Take good care of yourself” he said as she got out of the car. Esther had pains all over her body. She walked to her hostel slowly, limping in agony. Tears gushed out of her eyes. She arrived in her room and found Angela studying. “Esther, where were you lady, I have beee…” Angela said. She stopped suddenly as she saw Esther crying “Esther, what is it? What happened to you?” she asked. Esther continued crying and did not say a word. Angela asked several times “Esther, please talk to me. You are scaring me. What happened? Did you quarrel again with Jacob on phone? Or is it David? Please say something” she asked. Esther sat on her bed and said “I need to rest. I am very tired. We will talk tomorrow. I am fine”
    Angela tried to convince her to talk but Esther lay down on her bed and covered herself with a blanket, shaking. Angela looked at her friend and sighed “Oh God, what has happened again?”.

    Part 21

    “Esther! Esther! Please wake up! It’s 10am!’’ Angela said as she tried to wake Esther up the following morning. Esther slightly opened her eyes. “Ouch! My head! My neck!” she said, putting her hand on her forehead. She closed her eyes again. “You need to wake up Esther. We have to go to the library to revise” Angela insisted, this time around trying to pull her hand. “Ouch! Ok, I am awake now. I am awake” Esther said. She sat on her bed with her hand on her forehead, groaning in pain. Angela looked at her, wondering what was wrong with her. She sat next to her and put her hands around her shoulder.
    Angela: Please Esther, tell me what is going on. Yesterday you came back crying. I asked you to explain the reason to me, but you promised to do so this morning. Now you are groaning in pain. Please tell me what happened yesterday.
    Esther: Nothing serious Angela. I am just not feeling well right now. I have a terrible headache and my whole body hurts!
    Angela: Don’t lie to me. There is definitely something wrong. Esther, I am your friend and I can help
    Esther: If you want to help me, then just get me some pain killers.
    Angela sighed with anger “I just wish you could tell me what is wrong. Ok then, go and wash your face so that I can escort you to the dispensary because I don’t have any painkillers with me” she said. Esther stood up slowly and tried to change her pajamas. She held on to her study table next to her to get some support. Upon seeing this, Angela rushed to help her “There, remove your hand” she said as she helped her dress up. Esther walked slowly to the bathroom. Angela looked at her and shook her head. She picked up her phone and dialed David’s number. However, there was no response. She tried a couple more times but there still wasn’t any response. “I am sure David is behind this. He’s probably afraid to pick up my calls because he knows I will give him a hard time” she said to herself.
    Esther returned from the bathroom. She looked quite weak. “Esther, you were crying again, weren’t you?” Angela asked. “No I was not. Please let’s go to the dispensary” Esther answered. Angela replied “Yes you were! I can see it from your eyes. Well since you don’t want to tell me exactly what happened, I will not force you”. Esther did not answer back. They both went to the dispensary. When they arrived, a beautiful young lady came to attend to them. She looked at Esther and asked “What is the matter my dear?”. Esther hesitated for a while before she could answer. “I am..I am…I am having body pains and a terrible headache” she answered.
    The young lady: Since when did you start experiencing all this?
    Esther: Yesterday, I mean today when I woke up
    Angela: No it’s not yesterday. She came in last night complaining of the same thing
    Esther: Yes, it was yesterday, sorry
    The young lady: Ok. And do you perhaps know what caused it?
    Esther: Y-e-e-e-e-s. I fell down in a ditch near the university. I was concentrated on my phone and didn’t pay attention to the ditch in front of me
    The young lady: So sorry about that my dear. Please put this thermometer under your armpits for a few seconds.
    Esther did as she was told. The young lady checked her eyes and mouth as well then she went to talk to one of the Nurses. Angela looked at Esther and said “Why did you lie about falling inside a ditch, because I know that it is a lie?” Esther did not answer. As they sat there, David walked in. When he saw them, he looked closely at Esther, fixing his eyes on the thermometer. He wanted to go and ask what was going on, but he went straight ahead to the young lady that was attending to them “Hello Betty. How are you doing this morning?” he said and they both started having a discussion. Esther and Angela looked at each other in astonishment. After a while, Betty came back to check on Esther, while David sat across the reception area as he seemed to be waiting for something. “Hmm, your temperature is quite high. Do you have any wound anywhere?” Betty asked as she shook and looked closely at the thermometer. Esther hesitated “No, I don’t have any wound. I just hit myself quite hard on my head” she answered. Betty went to the drug storeroom. Esther put her head to rest on Angela’s shoulder. David glanced at Esther, trying to figure out what was wrong. However, he refused to succumb to the desire to ask them what was going on. Betty came out and gave David a certain document. “There you go big boss. See you this evening” she said. David smiled and left the dispensary. Angela followed him while Betty spoke to Esther as she gave her instructions on the drug dosage.
    “Hey David. I need to talk to you” Angela shouted. David turned back.
    David: Yes Angela, how can I help you my dear?
    Angela Are you trying to say that you did not see us?
    David: I am sorry my dear, I am quite busy right now and I had to collect this important document from the dispensary
    Angela: You are a joker David!
    David: With all due respect Angela, I think you are being disrespectful by calling me a joker
    Angela: Why won’t I call you a joker? First, you start ignoring Esther and I as if we are viruses and now you hurt my friend physically to the point that she has to seek medical attention
    David: What! What are you talking about? Who did I hurt?
    Angela: Oh please don’t pretend to me. I know very well that you had a fight with Esther yesterday. She came back in the night crying with pains all over her body
    David: What! What happened to her?
    Angela: You are a big pretender David and I am disappointed in you. I am very sure you are the one with whom Esther fought. I would have thought it was her fiancé but he is not around yet and you are the only person I can think of. Now Esther is sick and you even dare walk out on us.
    David: I am so surprised that you can accuse me of physically abusing someone, especially Esther. Just because I have been avoiding her doesn’t mean that I can do anything to harm her. The last time I saw Esther was yesterday in the late afternoon when she came to my shop. Her so called fiancé came to pick her up from there and that’s the last time I saw her.
    Angela: What! So you mean Jacob is in town?
    David: yes he is. Now tell me what happened exactly?
    Angela: Esther came back in the night crying. She was so weak and when I woke her up this morning, she was in total pain. I believe Jacob beat her up yesterday.
    David: Oh my God! Oh my God!
    Esther came out of the dispensary limping on the right leg. David looked at her and left. “David, please wait” Angela said. Suddenly Esther shouted ‘Let him go! Who the hell does he think he is? Let him go please!”. Both David and Angela were surprised. David looked back to see if it was truly Esther that had shouted. When he saw the anger on her face, he walked away. Angela said “Esther what is wrong with you? Why did you have to shout like that? I just spoke to David and he told me that you were with Jacob yesterday. But you refused to tell me. I wonder what kind of friendship we have”
    Esther felt bad. Tears ran down her cheeks “I hate men! I hate them with passion! They are nothing but dogs and beasts” she cried. Angela held her hand and they walked to the hostel. When they arrived, she took a glass of water and asked Esther to take her medicine. “There, take your medicine so that you will feel better and please stop crying otherwise your headache will get worse……Now please explain to me what happened” she said. Esther wiped her tears and took the medicine. She was in deep thoughts for a while before she finally spoke
    Esther: Jacob is in town, although he had not informed me. He met me at David’s shop and took me by force to where he is lodging. When we got there, he started accusing me of going out with David and when I answered him back, he hit me on my head and pushed me against the wall.
    Angela: Jesus Christ! That animal! And you are peacefully sitting here? Have you informed your parents? Did you report him to the police?
    Esther: I don’t think my father will believe me. Jacob explained to me that he even had hypertension when Jacob told him that I am sleeping around with David. And I guess Jacob is also right when he says that my father doesn’t really love me. He is only interested in money
    Angela: Esther, I cannot believe you choose to believe this beast. How can you even believe such things about your father? This guy needs to be exposed. If your father is behaving this way, it is only because Jacob is pretending to be a saint when in the actual fact, he is a devil. You need to inform your dad. I don’t even believe the story of hypertension. He is just scaring you
    Esther: In any case, I am not going to inform anyone. Right now, I just want to finish my third year and try to run away from the house once I get a job. I don’t think I mean anything to anyone. I believe that I am just a useless being who doesn’t deserve to be happy.
    Angela: Stop saying that Esther. There are many people who care about you, including me and David
    Esther: Please don’t mention that wicked person’s name. All men are dogs. When I went to see him yesterday, he treated me like dirt. I guess Jacob is right: I am a nobody. Now I believe why Janet and Naomi always treated me like a fool. I am not worth anything.
    Esther wept bitterly. Angela tried to console her but to no avail. She kept repeating how worthless she was. After a while, Angela received a call from her father informing her that he had come to pay her a short visit. Esther watched as Angela left the room. “What a lucky girl you are to have people around you that care for you. As for me, I was born to suffer and be rejected because I am worthless. I have no value here on Earth. That is why nobody notices me. People abuse me and use me anyhow they want. Even my own family doesn’t care about me. My parents only care about the money that they will get from their business transaction of selling me off to a monster” she lamented to herself. “I curse the day I was born. I wish I had never existed” she shouted. She looked at the packets of tablets that she had received from the dispensary and fixed her eyes on them “Maybe I should just end my life. Do I have anything to live for? What is the use of living in a world where no one values or cares about you” she thought to herself.

    Part 22

    Esther took the tablets. She looked at them closely. “What is there to live for when I have no worth here on earth?” she thought to herself. She opened the bottle and took out as many tablets as she could. She poured some water in a glass and, with tears flowing from her eyes, was about to put all the tablets in her mouth. Suddenly, she felt like someone touched her shoulder. Out of fear, she threw the medicine on the ground and looked behind to see who it was: there was nobody. However, she could still feel the presence of someone in the room. Esther put on her slippers and ran out of the room. She even forgot that she had been limping a while ago. Some students starred at her as she ran. She ran all the way to the main entrance of the girls’ hostels and stopped near the public garden, panting like someone who had just seen a ghost. She went to sit on one the garden chairs made of stones. She wondered what had just happened to her. “Oh my God! What was that?” she thought to herself. She was so afraid that she didn’t think she could go back to the room alone. She stayed at the garden for almost two hours before she decided to go to the library. As she was about to enter the library, Angela came running towards her “Esther, Esther! Where have you been? I have been looking for you for almost an hour now.” She said. “Oh really, I was at the public garden” Esther said. Angela looked surprised. She touched Esther’s forehead and asked “Are you alright? What happened in that room? I found almost all the tablets on the floor, with a bottle of water”
    Esther did not know what to say anymore. She started crying again. Angela held her by the hand and took her to the public garden again. “Esther, please tell me what is going on” she said, looking very worried. Esther was not ready to tell Angela that Jacob had raped her. She only narrated her attempted suicide and the presence of a strange being inside the room. “I could swear there was someone in the room. I felt the person’s hand on my shoulder” Esther said as she narrated the story. Angela shook her head in wonder “My God! I hope we are not living with a ghost in that room. But Esther, how can you even think of doing such a thing? Don’t you know that it is a big sin before God to take one’s life?
    Esther: To tell you the truth Esther, I do not think I believe in God anymore
    Angela: What! Esther stop it!
    Esther: I am serious. If God was truly real, do you think He would allow me to go through what I am going through right now? I have been a good girl all my life. I have always tried to please Him: I go to church, I don’t misbehave, and I respect my parents, so why would He allow me to be treated like dirt?
    Angela: Well, you know what? I might not have an answer to your question and query, but one thing I know is that your situation is not critical enough to push you to doubt God’s existence. Maybe you have never seen people who suffer. There are some people that have been condemned to life imprisonment for a crime they did not commit, others are sleeping under bridges because they have no shelter, but they have not taken their lives. You need to have hope for a better tomorrow.
    Esther: I don’t know if hope exists. Right now I just feel like I have no more reasons to live on Earth again. I just feel like digging a pit and falling into it.
    Angela: Just because of a man? Esther I thought you were more than this my dear. Listen, when you start working, just get yourself a flat and put an end to your relationship with this beast. Your father will be upset in the beginning, but he will definitely calm down later on. He cannot abandon his daughter because of an outsider, especially when he hears what he has been doing to you. Blood is thicker than water.
    Esther: Whatever!
    Angela and Esther discussed for a long time. Angela tried to convince Esther to keep her hope alive. Esther did not seem to be very motivated even though she reluctantly said she had hearkened to Angela’s advice. They later went to the library to do some revisions. As they went back to their room that evening, Esther and Angela were afraid to meet the “strange being”. They both walked inside the room quietly and sat on their beds. After a while, Angela burst into laughter “Oh my God, I can’t believe we are actually fearing the unknown!” she said. Esther just smiled.
    Angela: Ok my dear. Let us just pray and sleep. My mother says we should quote and read out Psalm 23 if ever we are afraid. Please bring out your Bible so that we can pray together
    Esther: I am not in the mood of praying.
    Angela: Don’t say that Esther. We all need God’s help. Just get that Bible, let us pray
    Esther: I don’t need God’s help. If He is as powerful as we say, He should be able to know that I needed his help when I was being raped
    Angela stood up in total shock “Esther what did you just say? You mean to say Jacob raped you?” she shouted. Esther was shaking already. She had not planned to reveal the secret. “I didn’t mean to say that. He didn’t rape me!” Esther said as she tried to cover herself with the blanket. “Oh yes he did! Now I know what you have been hiding from me. Esther how can you allow this man to do this to you and you stay quiet about it? That is it! I am going to tell David so that we can go to the police” Angela said as she put on her sandals, ready to go out. Esther rose up from the bed and pushed Angela on the bed. “Don’t you dare do that! It has nothing to do with any of you. It’s my life and I choose to live it the way I wish!” she screamed. Angela was surprised to see her in such a state. She sat down on her bed and shook her head. Esther went to the door and removed Angela’s keys. She then put them under her pillow and lay down. Angela watched her in total dismay. “Esther, I know that what you went through is horrible, but you cannot allow this man to get away with this crime. He needs to pay for his deeds. You can at least inform your father. And it will be a good reason for you to finally be free from him” she said gently.
    “Don’t say you know what I am going through, because you have no clue at all of the kind of mental torture that I am suffering from. I don’t plan to involve anyone in this. I am going to forget about it and move on. That goes for you too. If I ever hear that you have told anyone, I will hate you for the rest of my life”” Esther answered with anger. Angela shook her head “My God. Lord please help” she said. That night, both of them failed to sleep. Even though they had switched off the lights, both of them could not close their eyes for a while. “If anyone else knows about this, I will be treated as a useless girl and no man will ever want to be with me again. I am truly a worthless person, it is being confirmed every single day” Esther thought to herself.
    “I need to inform David about this. He is the only one that can help us to report this matter to the police. Or maybe I can steal her father’s number and call him? But I fear her reaction. I know that right now she is so hurt, maybe I should give her some time when she is much calmer. But it is always better to report such cases earlier. Oh God! What will I do? I can’t allow this man to hurt her just like this and go scot-free” Angela thought to herself.
    The following morning as they were getting ready to go for classes, Esther knelt down before Angela and pleaded “Please Angela, I beg you not to tell anyone about what I told you. If you do so, I will feel so used and worthless. Help me to keep the little dignity I have left. You are the only friend I can trust, so please promise me you will not do it. Jacob is a rich guy so I don’t think I can win this case against him even if I had to report the matter to the police.” Angela felt so bad within her. Her plans to inform David about the situation had just been cut off by Esther’s plea. “There, there. Get up now. You don’t need to beg me. I promise I won’t say anything to anyone” she said as she helped Esther to be on her feet. She gave her a consoling hug and they both left.
    In the afternoon, Esther received a call from Jacob who informed her that he was not able to see her before leaving. According to him, he had some pressing issues to attend to and therefore, could not have enough time to pass by the Campus. Esther was glad that she was not going to see such a monster.
    Days went by. Esther was more than ever, losing hope for her life. Her only aim was to complete her third year and find a place to live alone. Jacob had only been sending some text messages once in a while, but did not call her. That didn’t seem to bother Esther at all.
    On a certain Saturday, Esther woke up feeling very weak. She cleared her throat as she sat on her bed. Angela was awakened by the noise. “Esther, what is it? Are you having a cold?” she asked. Esther continued clearing her throat as if she has swallowed something unpleasant. “I don’t understand what is going on. I feel so weak and my throat hurts. My back aches too. Ouch!” she said. “Oh sorry dear, maybe you are about to have a sore throat. Let’s take a bath then we can go to the dispensary. I guess it’s because of the weather” Angela said. Esther nodded her head and they both went to take a bath. When they arrived at the dispensary, there were a lot of patients waiting to be attended to. All seats at the waiting area were occupied. Esther and Angela stood at the back as they waited for some seats to be vacant. All of a sudden, Esther fainted. The assistant-nurses rushed to attend to her. Angela was in tears as all the students watched what was going on. Betty was among those that helped to resuscitate her. Esther opened her eyes and wondered what had just happened. One of the male nurses helped them to lift her up and they took her inside for consultation. Angela stayed behind, trembling “Oh Lord, please help my friend” she prayed. After about 20 minutes, one of the nurses called her. “You will need to accompany your friend to the general hospital in town. There are some tests that will need to be carried out on her as we don’t have the necessary equipment here. Betty will go with you. She will drive you to the hospital in her car” the nurse said. Esther put her hands around Angela’s shoulders as they followed Betty to her car.
    When they arrived at the hospital, the doctor carried out some tests on Esther and asked her to wait. Angela waited impatiently at the waiting area. After close to an hour, the doctor came back with the results and asked Esther and Betty to come in his office. “Please sit down” he said. Esther and Betty sat down as they looked at the doctor who was going through the results, nodding his head to show his understanding. He looked at Esther and said “Young lady, are you sexually active?” Esther felt rather embarrassed. “No, no sir, I am not” she said. The Doctor smiled
    Doctor: You don’t have to be ashamed. I am a Doctor and Betty here is also a nurse, so you don’t have to worry about confidentiality. I know why I am asking you this question
    Esther: But I am not sexually active. In fact I have never had sex with anyone in my life, except…except…
    Doctor: Hahahaha. Except what? You ladies of nowadays are funny. Well, you can lie to me, but the results here are quite clear. You have a sexually transmitted infection.
    Esther: What? What do you mean? No I can’t have it
    Doctor: Well, yes you do. That is why you are having all these symptoms of sore throat, back pain, itching beneath and others. But no need to worry about that, I am going to prescribe the specific medicine that you will need to take and you should be fine in no time. But please as a father I would like to admonish you to be very careful with your life. You are so young and you have a bright future. Don’t allow boys or men to rob you of your precious destiny. Abstain from sexual activities and preserve not only your future, but your body too because there are so many disease out there.
    Esther broke down and cried. Betty hugged her “Don’t cry. It happens. You just need to be more careful now. Once you take your medication, you will be fine” Betty said. “But I am innocent in all this. Why is it happening to me?” Esther said. Betty hugged her again and gave her a face tissue to wipe her tears. She collected the prescription and they left the Doctor’s office. As they came out, Esther ran to Angela and put her head on her chest “Angela, I am innocent” she cried. Angela rubbed her hand on her back “It’s ok Esther. Let’s go. You’ll explain to me later.” Betty passed by the pharmacy and bought the prescribed medicine for her. “There you go Esther, don’t worry about the money. I have offered it to you” she said. “Thank you” Esther said, sobbing.
    “Oh my God! I can’t believe this. That bastard not only raped you, but also infected you with an STI. May he rot in hell!” Angela shouted that day as Esther told her about the results. Esther just sat on her bed, starring at the ceiling as Angela rumbled and shouted, cursing Jacob. Esther went straight to her bag and took out her Bible. She mercilessly tore it into pieces like a mad man and threw it in the dustbin. Angela watched the scene with her hand on the mouth. Esther lifted her head up and shouted, as though she was talking to God “I don’t believe you exist. You are fake!” Angela did not have the courage to stop her as she looked quite violent. Esther threw herself on the bed and slept.
    Meanwhile Betty ran to David’s shop. “David, David. We need to talk my dear” she said. David, who was just about to leave the shop, looked surprised “What is the matter? Is everything ok?” he asked. Betty pulled him by the hand and took him behind the shop.
    Betty: David. You won’t believe what I am about to tell you. Your so called friend, Esther is a LovePeddler!
    David: What! What do you mean?
    Betty: She was brought at the dispensary today by her friend Angela. She fainted as she waited for her turn to come so we rushed her to the general hospital. After running some tests on her, we discovered that she has an STI.
    David: Impossible! Esther is not that type of a girl
    Betty: Well, are you saying I am lying? I was there when the doctor gave her the results. I even bought the medicine for her. Check this out…This is the prescription that was given to her. The girl is a pretender. She has been sleeping with men and she pretends to be holy
    David: My Lord! I guess it’s her fiancé that passed it on to her. I feel so bad for her
    Betty: Fiance or not, she is infected. I just thought I should tell you since both of you were very close and you’ve always told me how much you like her. Be careful my dear, before you get infected.
    David stood there thinking about Esther. “I guess I have completely lost her. If she can be having such diseases, it means that she is really into her fiancé. I Just pray he doesn’t infect her with an incurable disease” he thought to himself. Betty smiled and pinched him gently “Hey, don’t think too much my dear. Just thank God that He has revealed this to you. Who knows what diseases she could have given you if your plan to run away with her had worked?” she said

    Part 23

    Weeks had gone by since Esther discovered that she had been infected with an STI. She had finished taking her medication and she was back in shape. Things were getting rather tight at school as the students prepared for their mock exams. Esther and Angela were concentrated on their studies as they were eager to pass these exams to test their level before the final exams few months later. However, Esther was becoming colder by the day: she refused to believe that she could amount to anything in life. “I am only concentrating on these studies because I just want to get a diploma, get a job and run away from my father’s house” she would say as Angela tried to encourage her. According to her, the whole notion of God was a mere philosophy by men who just wanted to control others by faking the existence of a God to place rules on their lives. Angela was still very supportive and always offered words of encouragement.
    Elder Barnabas and his wife regularly called Esther to know how she was doing. They reminded her of her upcoming wedding immediately she completed her third year. “Make sure you put in all your efforts so that you can acquire your diploma. I know, in a few months’ time when you get married to your fiancé, he will definitely allow you to get a job. And anyway even if he doesn’t, I know that you will be very happy with him. He will take very good care of you. You should see how he has furnished our house here. May God bless this young man!” Elder Barnabas would say whenever he called. Esther pretended to be comfortable with their plans. But deep inside her, she was suffering from emotional pain and was seeking a way out. The emotional trauma made her to become very rigid. Her anger and hatred towards men was heating up daily. She blamed men for the situation she was going through. She made a vow to never get involved with a man out of love or affection.
    “I don’t ever want to get married. I prefer living alone” She said as she discussed with Angela. Angela laughed “Esther you are funny. Don’t allow one situation to dictate the events of your future. Does it mean you don’t want to have children?” Angela said. Esther thought for a while and said “Of course I want to have children. You forget that we are medical students and we learn that you don’t have to sleep with a man to have children. What is artificial insemination for? I am ready to undergo the process, without knowing the sperm donor and he will not know me either. Then I can take care of my child” Angela was not shocked to hear these words from Esther because over the few weeks, Esther had truly changed. She was no longer the soft Esther that Angela had known. However, Angela was patient with her, knowing that she was still undergoing tough times.
    Esther had just finished revising in the library. She was about to leave the library when she met with David. David looked at her and was thinking she would try to greet him. He was determined to just pass by without saying a word to her. But to his greatest surprise, Esther bypassed him as if she had never known him. David was shocked by this. He never expected to see such a reaction from Esther. “Indeed, this girl is not what I thought she was” he said to himself. “Men think they are superior beings on earth. They forget that we are all mortal people and we are equal. Rubbish!” Esther said to herself.
    Angela had gone to spend the weekend at her parents’ house. Esther was left alone. She decided to take a walk around the Campus. When she got to the entrance of the hostels, she met Naomi and Janet. They were both looking very classy, although Naomi looked even more beautiful. She wore a beautiful pink dress with black high heels. She had a beautiful and flashy pink bag and walked like a star. Esther looked at them in admiration. She had not seen both of them for quite a while and she wasn’t expecting to be in good terms with them. However, Naomi shouted upon seeing her “Esther, my lovely Esther! How are you? Come over here.” Esther looked rather surprised. She walked towards them slowly and greeted them ‘Hello ladies, how are you doing?” Naomi smiled and gave her a hug, spreading her arms straight as though she didn’t want her nails to be touched “Helloooooo my dear. It’s good to see you after such a long time. Where have you been hiding?” she said. Janet also hugged Esther and laughed “Madam Pastor. You disappeared from the act. Where have you been?” she said. “I have been around. I’ve just been busy with my studies, that’s all. You both look beautiful” Esther said.
    “Thank you darling. Hey we are about to go and have lunch at Caesar’s. Come with us. I’ll pay you good lunch” Naomi said. Esther kindly rejected the offer stating that she was already full, but the two ladies insisted until she finally gave in.
    She followed them as they walked out of the hostel. Esther was thinking that they were about to stop a taxi when suddenly, they both turned to the other direction. Naomi took out some keys and pressed them with a proud look on her face. A small but beautiful red car flashed its lights and Naomi opened the front door. “Come on in ladies” she said as she carefully put her bag inside the car. Esther was surprised to learn that she had finally bought a car. Naomi put some loud music and danced to it as she drove. Her phone rang and she answered “Hello baby….I am fine and you?....Yea I miss you too and I can’t wait to see you too……Not really, I am just going out with some friends to have some lunch……oh come on! Just some friends……Ok, I am with Janet and another friend by the name of Esther…..yes….Yes….Nothing….Ok baby listen, I am driving and I don’t want to be caught by the police. Talk to you later but please don’t forget to bring my Gucci bag when coming. Love you”
    She smiled as she put down her phone, looking at Janet who was also laughing. They arrived at the restaurant and sat down as they ordered for food. As they waited for the food, Naomi started up a discussion
    Naomi: So Esther, how is your fiancé doing?
    Esther: He’s fine thank you?
    Naomi: Does he usually visit you here?
    Esther: hmm, it’s been almost two months now since he visited. He’s quite busy at work. But we are definitely in touch
    Naomi: Ok, that’s great. However, there is something I really wanted to tell you but I have not had the courage and opportunity to see you. I know that both of us have not been in very good terms for a while now. But I want you to know that I have always liked you Esther. It’s true that sometimes Janet and I behave somehow wild, but deep within our hearts, we have nothing against you. I cannot see something bad happening to my sister and keep quiet about it.
    Esther: Something bad happening to who? Please shed more light
    Naomi: To you my dear. That man you call your fiancé is not really a good man. I have personally seen him taking girls out to hotels and clubs whenever he is in town. For instance, there was a day he told you that he had left and yet he was still in town. He had spent a night with a lady I know from the club. She is the one that narrated the story to me. She said Jacob had told her that you surprised him in town and he had to lie to you that he was at work.
    Esther looked down. She felt rather ashamed to hear this. Although she knew that Jacob was a playboy, she did not expect or even wish to hear it from Naomi and Janet as she knew that they would use it to mock her. However, Naomi sounded so nice and concerned.
    Naomi: You don’t have to feel bad my dear. Let me tell you one thing. This life is very short and you only live it once. You can’t allow a man to play with your feelings just like that. You are an educated person and you need to fight back
    Esther: How can I fight back? In any case, I have no interest in men as they are all dogs. I hate them with all my heart and I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I just want to finish my studies, find a job and move on with my life
    Janet and Naomi looked at each other in amazement. They wondered what had pushed Esther to say such things.
    Naomi: Why do you say that? Not all men are bad. What about your friend David? He seems to be a nice person and I was actually going to suggest that you maintain your relationship with him and dump Jacob
    Esther: Which David? Pffff. I have told you that all men are dogs. David and I are no longer friends. He’s just like every other man
    Naomi: Hmm. This is getting interesting. What did he do?
    Esther: Just forget about it. I don’t want to talk about it
    Naomi: Come on tell us. Maybe we can advise you on what to do
    Esther: He stopped communicating with me. He completely ignored me and when I tried to ask him he treated me like a fool
    Naomi: Hmm. My dear, I know exactly what happened
    Esther: What?
    Naomi: David is a good man and I am sure he only did that because he didn’t want to bring problems between you and your fiancé. And who knows, maybe Jacob might have warned him to stay away from you. Now tell me something, do you really love David?
    Esther: No! I mean yes I do, but it doesn’t matter anymore
    Naomi: Please just answer my question. Do you love David?
    Esther: Yes I do, bu…
    Naomi: No conditions here my dear. Love is worth fighting for. If you truly love David, you need to go back and try to reconquer his love for you too because I know that he loves you very much. He is just afraid that he might bring problems between both of you. But to be honest with you, Jacob is not a man worth marrying. He is a hardcore player and if you marry him, you will suffer for the rest of your life.
    Esther: But how can I become friends with David when he does not even want to talk to me?
    Naomi: It’s very simple my dear. As ladies, God has given us so much intelligence and asset that we can use to win the love of any man. Just go to his room and beg him with all your heart, cry in front of him and explain to him what Jacob has been doing to you. Then tell him that he is the one that you truly love and that you are ready to break up with this playboy just to be with him. And if he refuses, my dear just gently remove your clothes and seduce him. There is no man that can resist the seduction of a determined woman.
    Esther: I can’t seduce David to sleep with me!
    Naomi: Then you can lose him forever! Listen David is a very handsome and good man who can make a good husband. And believe me, there are many ladies out there who are dying to be with him, especially that he now seems to be making it financially with his little shop. It’s either you grab this opportunity or you lose him forever. The choice is yours
    Their discussion lasted the entire time they were having lunch. They left the place and arrived at the university. Naomi and Janet continuously advised Esther to beg for David’s forgiveness. When Esther arrived in her room, she seriously thought about what the ladies had told her. She was reluctant to go to David’s room. “What if he embarrasses me? Maybe his roommate is there too” she thought to herself. She resisted the feeling until around 7:30pm when she could no longer take it. She looked at herself in the mirror and shook her head “I don’t think I am sexy enough to make David fall for me again” she said to herself. She opened the door and ran to Naomi and Janet’s room.
    They were both surprised to see her. “I need you ladies to lend me some of your beautiful clothes. I want to go and see David now” she said, catching her breath.
    Janet and Naomi gave each other a high-five. “Now, you are talking! Way to go my girl! This is what we call woman power!” Naomi shouted. Naomi made Esther to sit down. She brought out a beautiful yellow dress and asked Esther to put it on. Esther was skeptical at first, but Naomi and Janet insisted. She tried to pull the dress a little bit to make it longer. Naomi and Janet laughed “My dear, don’t worry about it. You look beautiful” Janet said. They sat her down, removed her headscarf and styled her long hair “Wow, I wish I had such lovely hair” Janet said. They did her make-up and gave her a pair of not very high heels to wear as she could not walk in higher ones. When Esther looked at herself in the mirror, she could not believe what she saw: She looked exquisite and sexy. The shape of her hips made her look like a real goddess. “Wow!” she said to herself. “You look splendid my dear. David will melt in his trousers” Janet said.
    Esther left the room feeling a bit uncomfortable. Some male students looked at her as she passed by, some even whistled to her. It was getting dark, so Esther moved as fast as she could. She arrived in front of David’s room and took a deep breath. Her heart was beating so fast that she wondered what she would say to him. She took another deep breath and knocked on the door at least twice. She could hear footsteps. Finally someone opened the door. It was David. He was stunned to see Esther. He looked at her from her toes to her head. “Wow! Esther, what brings you here?” he said with admiration in his heart. Esther was shaking “I….I…I came to talk to you” she said. Before she could continue, someone came behind David and said “Baby, your phone is ringing”. Esther could not believe her eyes: It was Betty, the assistant nurse. She wore only a pair of short knickers and a bra. They both looked at each other. Betty, with a smile on her face said “Oh hi Esther. It’s good to see you. I hope you are doing well” she looked at David and said “Baby, your phone was ringing. I think it’s your sister paging you”
    David looked rather ashamed. Esther felt like fainting. She could not believe her eyes. She looked at David and said “Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you both. I need to get going now” she said. Before David could utter a word, Esther ran as fast as she could, almost falling down because of the shoes. David watched her as she left, feeling quite confused.

    Part 24

    Esther ran as fast she could, feeling very disappointed. The door to Janet and Naomi’s room was not locked. Esther pushed it wide open. Naomi and Janet were surprised to see her return early. “Hey Esther, didn’t you find David?” Naomi asked. Esther went to sit on her bed and cried. The two ladies looked at her. “What is it? What happened?” Naomi asked. Esther wiped her tears and narrated to them what had happened.
    Naomi: I can’t believe this! Men are vipers!
    Esther: You can say that again. That is why I told you that I no longer want to be involved with any man. They are all dogs
    Janet: But to tell you the truth, I don’t blame the guy. I am sure he has been trying to win your heart, but you were busy believing the lies of your so called fiancé
    Naomi: Yes, Janet is right. David was surely tired of waiting for you. He’s a human being, not a piece of wood and he needs to satisfy his desires. And I am very sure that you can still win his heart
    Esther: I don’t even want to try again. I think I am fine just like this.
    Janet: And you want to allow that small cockroach called Betty to take the man that you have ever loved? What surprises me is how David can even think of going out with such a witch! I have known Betty for some time now. She is a subtle young lady. I remember very well that she used to go out with one old politician. He is the one that even bought that car for her. She almost ruined the man’s marriage until the wife came with some men who beat her up very well at one of the clubs.
    Esther: What? But she looks very quiet and kind?
    Naomi: Hahahaha. Quiet my foot! You are too innocent Esther. Don’t let anyone fool you. That girl is a green snake in green grass.
    Janet: Yes. Naomi, do you also remember the day she fought with that colored lady because of the footballer?
    Naomi: Hahaha. It was like comedy. They pulled each other’s wigs. Betty almost ripped off that girl’s eyes. She’s a crazy lady.
    Esther: I am surprised. I hope she won’t hurt David. Anyway I don’t even care. Let them do what pleases them. I will live my own life
    Naomi: Hmm, actually you are right Esther. You need to live your life. One thing I know is that David loves you very much. Even from the way you narrated the story, I believe right now he is feeling so bad. I am sure he is only trying to satisfy his desires with her but you are the one he loves sincerely. There is a way you can get him back
    Esther: H-o-w? I am sure he has already forgotten about me
    Naomi: It’s simple! Just make him jealous and he will come crawling back to you like a baby
    Esther: How?
    Naomi: Listen; there are many men who are ready to have fun with a beautiful girl like you. You don’t need to be in a serious relationship with them, but you can use one of them to make David jealous.
    Esther: Are you asking me to start seeing other men? I can’t do it
    Naomi: It won’t be forever my dear. The aim is to make David jealous. When he is jealous, he will come back to you because he doesn’t want to lose you. It’s simple my dear. In life, one just needs to be very clever and know how to play the cards well. Janet and I usually do it. For instance, when I was seeing a certain guy, he started playing games with me, going after useless girls. I just played along by going out with a man much older than him, filthy rich. Not less than a week when he saw me with my sugar daddy, the guy came back running to me like a puppy
    Esther: Are you still with him now?
    Naomi: Nope! I didn’t like him that much so I left him, but he keeps begging me like a fool till date.
    Janet: You don’t even need to sleep with the men. Just use them to make David realize his mistakes. Make sure he sees you hugging the man tightly in front of his shop. You will thank us later my dear.
    Naomi and Janet put in all their efforts to push Esther to find a man she could use to make David jealous. Esther was very skeptical and did not accept. She left their room, promising to think about it. She also expected David to pass by and ask why she had gone to see him, but her expectation was in vain as David did not show up at all. When Angela came back, she narrated the whole story to her, but did not mention that she had been in touch with Janet and Naomi. “Amazing! So Betty has been eyeing David all this while hun!” Angela said. She advised Esther to just concentrate on her studies, emphasizing that she would definitely meet the man of her dreams at the right time.
    One day, as Esther was going to the dining hall in the evening, she met David and Betty on their way to the dining hall as well. Betty was all over David, holding him tight, laughing as David seemed to be telling her some funny stuff. Esther felt like a sharp knife pierced her heart. She remained focused and continued walking. David and Betty saw her. Betty was the first to greet her “Hi Esther, how are you doing?” she said. Esther put on a fake smile and said “I am very well thank you and you Betty?” David looked at her and with a smile on his face, said “Hi Madam. What’s up?”
    “I am fine thank you David” Esther said. Betty put her hands around David’s waist and hit him gently on his cheek with her finger “Let’s go baby, I am very hungry” she said. Esther went her way as David and Betty also entered the dining hall. Esther felt hurt. David seemed to be happy with Betty. Esther looked at them as they sat down, laughing and cuddling while she sat alone to have her supper as Angela, who never had the habit of eating in the evenings, was in the room. As Esther looked at David and Betty, she began to remember the advice she had received from Janet and Naomi. “Maybe those ladies were right. I can’t seem to get over David no matter how hard I try. And if what Naomi and Janet said about Betty is true, then I can’t allow David to continue with such a lady. He deserves better” she thought to herself. She thought about this until she was about to leave the hall. Betty and David were still eating, looking so much in love. Esther finally decided to go and meet Janet and Naomi. “I am ready for it” she said as she told them her decision. Esther and Janet gave each other a high five “Now you are talking! I have always known that you are an intelligent lady. A real woman fights for what belongs to her” Naomi said. She picked up her phone and made a call ‘Hi Prince……doing well thanks…..yes….Ok so you remember the beautiful sexy lady you asked me about the other day?...yes that’s the one…..She is ready for the game….hahaha…Ok see you in a minute then” She said looking very happy. “Hey Esther!. There is a guy that fell in love with you when he saw you with us having lunch the other day. He was with his stupid girlfriend when he saw us so he couldn’t come to say hi. But he later called me the following day to ask of you. I even told him that you are actually looking for someone to play around with in order to make David jealous and he is ready to do so. He is a rich guy and will actually make David be on his knees for your once he sees both of you” Naomi said.
    Esther was not sure if she was ready to take up the challenge. She had never been involved in such a thing, but then she was ready to do anything to win David back. The two ladies asked her to put on something sexier. Esther asked for the same dress she had worn the day she went to see David. After a couple of minutes, someone knocked on the door. “Yes! That should be Prince” Naomi shouted as she jumped from her bed. She opened the door and shouted “Hello Prince of Bel air. You look gorgeous. Come on in.” Esther watched to see who the famous Prince was: He was a tall dark skinned man. He was probably in his early forties. Esther trembled as she looked at the man. She couldn’t imagine going out with a man old enough to be her uncle. The man smiled “Hello beautiful ladies. How are you doing?” he said. Esther looked at his mouth and noticed that he had lost one of his front teeth. Naomi introduced him to Esther. And after a few minutes, she asked both of them to take a walk around the school premises ‘Make sure you go near his shop. I usually see him around there at this time of the evening” Naomi said. Prince stretched his hand towards Esther and said “Come with me beautiful one. You lead the way.” Esther stood up and they both left the room. This was definitely the hardest thing that Esther had ever done in her life. Prince tried to put his hands around her waist, but Esther shouted “What are you doing?”
    Prince laughed “Don’t be afraid. I am just trying to help you get your man back. And you will need to put in more effort if you want this thing to work” he said. Esther looked at him naively and gave in. Prince put his hands around her waist as Esther led him to David’s shop. They had hardly reached the shop when suddenly they met David heading to his shop. He was alone and was rushing. “That’s David!” Esther whispered to Prince. Upon hearing that, Prince held Esther tightly and kissed her ear “You are simply the best my love. You’ve made me so happy” he said. Esther did not feel comfortable at all but she pretended to be enjoying Prince’s company. They both pretended not to see David as he came from the other side of the men’s pavilion. David experienced the shock of his life when he was saw what was happening. Prince went ahead and gave Esther a kiss on her lips. Esther would have pushed him with anger, but she played along. “Hi Esther. Enjoy your evening” David said as he looked at them angrily. Esther responded ‘Oh David thanks dear. I didn’t even see you.” Prince hugged her again and said gently “Baby, let’s go to my house this evening. I’ll bring you back to school early morning tomorrow”
    David shook his head and continued his way. “Wait, let him go so that I can now go back to my room” Esther said as she asked Prince to stop. “Oh come on, let’s continue the game. I am enjoying it. Let’s go to a nearby restaurant so that I buy some nice food for you” Prince said, pulling Esther’s hand. Esther let go of his hand with so much anger “No! This thing is only supposed to end here. Thank you for your time” she said as she went back to the hostels. Prince smiled and shook his head “Ah, village girls. So hard to get. But I will soon have you my dear. You have something that every man is looking for, something so rare” he said to himself as he left.
    “I hope that David will come to apologize to me this evening or even tomorrow” Esther said to Naomi when she had gone back. Naomi laughed “Ah Esther, don’t be too impatient my dear. People have different levels of ego. If he doesn’t come back tomorrow, Prince is still available to play the game until you get what you want” she said. Oh no! I am not going to continue this game with this guy. He is exaggerative. I was thinking it was just a simple game but he was taking it too far to the point of kissing me. I have never been so disgusted in my life. And his mouth smells so bad. He needs to spend some of his money on proper toothpaste” Esther said with anger as she put on her clothes. Naomi laughed but Janet seemed to be upset with Esther’s words. Esther left the room. When she had left, Janet looked at Naomi and said “Who the f**k does this little brat think she is to be talking about Prince like that? Idiot! With her village scent, she even has the guts to say Prince has a bad mouth odor. I hate this girl with passion. Sometimes I just feel like throwing her in a pit of s**t”
    Naomi laughed again: Oh come on! Don’t take it too personal. This whole thing is going to be over soon and you and I will soon be enjoying our shopping on Oxford Street, London. It’s just a matter of time baby. Let’s just be patient” she said. Janet smiled ‘Oh I can’t wait. I’ve heard so much about Oxford Street that I will surely shout with joy when we get there”

    Part 25

    The following day was the first day of the mock exams. Esther had found it hard to sleep the previous night. She thought of what she had just done. She wondered what David was thinking in his mind. “Am I slowly turning into a bad person? Am I becoming like Janet and Naomi?” she thought to herself. “What if my father found out what I am doing? Oh, why should I even think of my father when the only thing he cares about is money and not my well being?” she said to herself that night. She shook her head and decided to rise from her bed to revise as she couldn’t sleep. Angela was fast sleep and in order not to disturb her, Esther only switched on her torch to study. She revised throughout the night and only slept off around 3am.
    “Wow, the first paper wasn’t that bad. I have hope that I will score above 70” Angela said that day as they came out of the exam hall. Esther smiled happily “Oh yes. I also found it quite fair. Most of the questions that were presented were very familiar to me especially that I went through some of them last night when I was studying” she said. “That even reminds me. At what time did you come back last night? I waited for you until around 8:30pm but you were nowhere to be seen” Angela added. Esther hesitated for a while “Uhmm, I was just trying to take some fresh air” she answered. Esther’s phone rang. Esther was reluctant to answer when she saw that it was Elder Barnabas’ number, but when she answered she found out it was her mother that was calling.
    Mother: Hello my princess. It’s me
    Esther: Mom! I am happy to hear from you. How is everyone doing at home?
    Mother: Oh we are all fine by the grace of God. Your father went to church a couple of minutes ago and left his phone. So I asked Daniel to call you. Hahaha
    Esther: I am happy to hear from you mom. I miss you so much
    Mother: I miss you too my daughter. How are you coping with the exams? Your father told me that you are starting today
    Esther: Yes mom. We just finished the first paper. It was fair, waiting to see how the rest will go
    Mother: God will see you through my princess. So tell me, are you getting ready for your wedding? The whole city is talking about it.
    Esther: uhmm……uhmmm…..uhmmm
    Mother: Hello Esther, are you there? Are you ok?
    Esther: I am fine mom.
    Mother: No you are not. Why are you finding it hard to answer my question? Is there anything wrong? Did you and Jacob fight?.......Hello Esther speak to me……Esther…..My Princess, please talk to me, I am getting worried
    Esther: I am fine mom. I just want to concentrate on my studies for now until the end of the final exams
    Mother: Hmm, I know my dear but you can’t lie to me. I know you like I know myself and right now I can tell that there is something wrong. Please tell me my princess
    Esther started crying as she held her phone to her ear. Angela looked at her, wondering what was going on.
    Mother: Esther! Esther! Why are you crying? Oh my God, what is going on? Please say something, my heart is already paining.
    Esther: Mom I am fine. I just miss you that’s all. I wish you were here to advise me on this whole issue of marriage. I have no knowledge on marriage and I feel so vulnerable
    Mother: Oh my princess. I wish I was there right now. Listen to me, forget about this wedding issue. I am sorry for even mentioning it. I only said it because I thought you were excited about it. Concentrate on your studies. When it is time for the wedding, everything will fall in place and God’s will shall prevail. Don’t you worry about anything ok? I am praying for you every day and I know everything is going to be alright. Now, soothe your tears and make me feel better by promising that you will be fine.
    Esther: I promise mom. I am alright
    Mother: Good. Don’t worry, when you come for the 2 weeks break soon you and I will have enough time to talk. Just make sure you study hard. I will make you a big banana cake the day of your arrival. I know it’s your favorite
    Esther smiled. “Thank you mom” she said as they said goodbye to each other. ‘Is everything ok Esther?” Angela asked. “Yes it was my mom. I just miss her so much. I can’t wait to see her soon” Esther answered. “Oh I can imagine. By the way, dad called me last evening when you went for dinner. He told me that he can help us to do a training at the university teaching hospital immediately after our final exams. He said it will help us to gain some experience before finding a job. And since it is for at least one month, you might use it as an opportunity to look for some jobs around and run away from that beast” Angela said. Esther looked so happy “Oh really? That would be great my dear. I can’t wait” she said, jumping up.
    “Esther, Esther” someone called from behind. Esther and Angela turned back to see who it was. It was Janet and Naomi. Angela looked at Esther ‘Since when did those two start talking to you again after what they did to you?” she asked. Esther did not know what to answer. She pretended as if she was innocent and said ‘I don’t know what they want from me. Let me go and find out. I am coming.” Angela watched her carefully as she went to meet them.
    Naomi: Esther my dear, how are you today?
    Esther: I am doing fine thanks and you?
    Naomi: I am alright thanks. So tell me, Prince called me this morning and he said he is ready to pick you up this evening around 7pm.
    Esther: I am sorry, but I can’t do that. I have closed the chapter. If David loves me, he will come back to me and if he doesn’t, well then it just doesn’t matter
    Naomi: Don’t be naïve Esther. Just this morning, when Janet and I were going to class, we met David and Betty near the dining hall, quarrelling like small kids
    Esther: Why? What happened?
    Naomi: From the look of things, Betty was accusing David of the fact that he is still in love with you. David, of course was pretending that it was not the case, but from the look on his face, one can easily tell that he was lying. The guy still loves you and am sure he is becoming so jealous ever since he saw what happened last night.
    Esther: You think so?
    Naomi: Of course. That is why I am encouraging you to make another show with Prince tonight and this time around, play it so well. Believe me, David will come back running to you
    Angela decided to come to where they were standing as she wanted to know the trouble that the ladies were causing again. Janet made a sign to Naomi to stop talking. “Esther, is everything ok?” Angela asked. Esther was trembling “Yes Angela everything is ok. These ladies just wanted to know if I can help them with some mathematics this evening” Esther answered. Angela held Esther by the hand and pulled her “Esther, I don’t think you have time to even teach others when you are also having exams, especially not some people. Please let’s leave this place” she said. Esther went along, looking back at Naomi who was making signs to her to indicate that they would meet later. Angela pulled Esther by force and they left. Janet and Naomi laughed ‘What a piece of garbage this so called Angela is! She looks like a stupid cow!” Janet said, sneering.
    “Esther, are you crazy? How can you even think of helping those two demons, after everything they did to you?” Angela said as they arrived at the hostel. “Oh come on Angela! It’s just simple help. I have forgiven them for what they did to me. This world is a small world. Who knows, maybe one day I might need their help!” Esther said. Angela became upset and warned her not to go anywhere near them. Esther thought about what Naomi had just told her “Could it be true that David is still in love with me? If that’s the case, then he will show up soon. But what if Betty manages to convince him to stay? Maybe I need to make him even more jealous again today. I think Naomi is right” she thought to herself.
    It was already 7pm and Esther was thinking of how to escape from Angela. She waited until 7:30pm and said “Angela, I am going to talk to David. I am just going to apologize to him for all the childishness I have been doing. I want him to know that he is still my friend and that I am happy that he has found someone.” Angela looked at her “Hmm, are you sure you are not trying to go and help those ladies?” she asked, looking suspicious. Esther smiled “Oh come on Angela. Why should I lie to you about something like this? I can’t go back to those ladies’ room. Am I a fool? I have better things to do” Esther answered. Angela seemed to have believed her. Esther took her phone and left. When she arrived in their room, she only found Janet and Prince. According to Janet, Naomi had gone to meet her boyfriend. “Hello beautiful angel” Prince said. Esther did not answer. Janet asked Prince to leave the room for a while as she helped Esther to dress up. “Wow, sexy lady!” Prince shouted as Esther went to meet him. Esther was disgusted. “Listen, if you want me to help you get your man back, you will need to go with me to a nearby restaurant. I am very hungry” Prince said. Esther rejected the offer but Prince insisted and told her he would leave without accomplishing his mission. When he was about to enter his car, Esther shouted “Ok, we can go. Rubbish!” Prince smiled and off they went. They arrived at a cozy restaurant in town. Prince ordered food for both of them even though Esther only drank a glass of water. Prince had also ordered some beer for himself. He drank the bottles of beer like water. It was getting dark. Esther was panicking already. “Please, shall we go now?” she said. Prince, who was now drunk, laughed “Come on baby girl, let’s have fun. Listen I like you so much and I am ready to replace that silly guy of yours. I will give you the whole world” he said. Esther couldn’t believe her ears. She looked around to see who was looking at them, but there was only one couple seated quite far who were not even paying attention to what was happening.
    Prince stood up and held Esther so tight. He gave her a kiss on her neck. Esther tried to push him, but he was quite strong. Suddenly, the image of what Jacob had done to her flashed in her mind and with all the strength she had, she pushed Prince until he fell on his back “Ouch, you stupid b***tch, ouch” he shouted. The waiter and bartender ran to see what was going on. Esther took her bag and left in fury. Prince stood up and, staggering, he shouted “You are very lucky that I am drunk otherwise I would kill you. Idiot” Esther ran as fast as she could. She checked her purse to see if she had enough money to take a taxi and fortunately for her, she had enough. She stopped a taxi and asked the driver to drop her at the University. Her heart beat so fast as she sat in the cab, thinking about everything that had just happened. ‘This is it! I need to stop all this and just be me” she thought to herself. When she arrived at the campus, she wanted to go straight to her room but she feared Angela’s reaction if she got to see how she was dressed. She went to Naomi’s room. Janet was still alone. She was surprised to see Esther in such a state. She was about to ask her what went wrong when suddenly Naomi entered looking very happy. “Hello ladies. Madam Esther, how did it go?” Naomi Said as she put her hand bag and a paper bag on her bed. Esther explained to them what had happened. Naomi laughed hard “Esther you are a funny human being. I am very sure Prince has fallen in love with you because he kept sending me chats asking me questions about you. Maybe he might even be better than David. Why not give him a try?” she said.
    Esther shook her head in anger as she put on her clothes “Never. This was the last try. I don’t want to have anything to do with any man. So please just leave me alone” she said. Just a few seconds after that, Naomi made a strange noise, putting her hand on her stomach “Ouch! Ouch! Somebody help me!” she said. Esther and Janet looked at her. “What is going on? Are you having stomach pains?” Janet asked. Naomi held on to her stomach, this time around groaning in pain “My stomach, my stomach! Help me” she said. Janet got scared. Esther went near her “Naomi, how are you feeling? Explain to me maybe I can help” she said. Naomi screamed again “Aieeeee!” She fell down on the floor and started breathing profusely as if she was losing her breath. Esther lifted her head while Janet put her hand on her stomach gently “What is it Naomi?” she said. Naomi was now screaming so loud. “Please call a man to help us lift her up. We need to go to the dispensary immediately” Esther said. Janet ran outside to call for help. Naomi was screaming in pain. Janet came back with three male students. They were about to lift her up when Naomi noticed blood rushing from Naomi’s legs. “Oh my God! What is this?” Esther screamed. She tried to lift up Naomi’s dress a bit to see where the blood was coming from as the students lifted her up. Behold, she noticed that it was coming from her private part. “Jesus!” Naomi shouted. The three men lifted her up as Janet led the way to the dispensary. Esther took one of the bedsheets and wrapped it around Naomi’s waist to prevent the blood from spilling on the ground. She held Naomi’s hand to comfort her. “It’s going to be alright. Stop screaming. You’ll be fine” she said. Naomi was still agonizing in so much pain. Esther, while holding Naomi’s hand, suddenly looked at her hand closely and saw that she was wearing a bracelet that looked familiar to her. She wondered where she had seen it. Suddenly, she remembered that it was the same bracelet she had found in Jacob’s hotel room. Esther couldn’t believe it. She looked at Naomi who was crying in agony and thought “Could it be that she was the one sleeping with Jacob?”
    Thoughts ran through her mind. When they arrived at the dispensary, they found that there was only one nurse. When she examined Naomi, she referred her to the General hospital, stating that her case was a complex one. One of the students ran to stop a taxi that was passing through the campus and they took Naomi to the general hospital. Nurses rushed as they wheeled her inside the intensive care unit. Janet, Esther and the rest of the students stood at the reception, waiting for news from the nurse. They waited for at least 1 hour 15 minutes. Finally one of the nurses that had taken her in came out. Janet and Esther ran to hear what she had to say. “Are you her friends?” the nurse asked. Janet and Esther both shouted at once “Yes.” The nurse shook her head “Does she have any family or relatives close by?” she asked again. Janet became upset “Not really. Her family lives quite far from here. Please what’s going on? I am her best friend and I need to know” she said. The nurse sighed and shook her head again “I am sorry to inform you that we lost her. She passed away as we ..” the nurse had not finished her sentence when Janet and Esther screamed “No! No!” Janet rolled on the floor, rose up and held the nurse by her dress “No, Naomi can’t die. It’s a lie! Please tell me it’s a lie” she cried. Esther pulled Janet from the nurse and hugged her in tears. People at the reception area all looked at them feeling sorry for them. The male students who had come with them were all in shock. Esther went to the nurse and asked “What happened?”
    “Your friend tried to abort. She was at least 3 months pregnant but it seems she took a very harmful substance today to kill her child. Unfortunately for her, the substance was too strong. She lost a lot of blood in the process and eventually lost her life. I am really sorry” the nurse said. Janet and Esther both sat on the floor looking very perplexed. Esther trembled out of fear. She did not know what to think again.

    Part 26

    Janet and Esther wept for Naomi. Janet stood up and ran to the nurse “Please allow me to see my friend just one more time before she is gone. Please let me just pay my last respect. Naomi was a sister to me, more than a friend” she cried, kneeling down. The nurse looked at her and with her hands, made a sign to ask her to wait. She went inside the room and after about two minutes, she came back, waving her hand to Janet. Esther followed her. They found Naomi covered in a white bed sheet from head to toes. Esther’s heart was beating fast. The nurse lifted up the sheet from her face. There was cotton wool in her nostrils and ears, probably to drain blood. Esther looked at her in wonder: she still looked so beautiful, except that her face had somehow become pale and darker. Janet fell down on the floor and wept. Esther remained strong. She picked Janet up and, with the help of the nurse, managed to bring her out of the room. They brought her to the waiting room and made her to sit down. “Calm down Janet. You need to be strong” Esther said. Janet wept like a child, hitting her hands on the floor.
    After a couple of minutes, they saw a group of medical personnel taking Naomi’s body to the cold room. “Oh no, they are taking her to the mortuary! She is going to be left alone. Naomi please come back. Please come back to me!” Janet screamed. Esther hugged her and comforted her. The nurse came to meet them after a few minutes “Ladies, I am really sorry for the loss. I pray that God comforts your hearts. Please make sure you inform her parents and relatives so that they can make funeral arrangements” she said. Janet, who had managed to calm down, nodded her head in agreement. She picked up her phone and made a call to Naomi’s home landline. She cried as she informed her mother of the passing on of her daughter. “I don’t know what killed her aunty, I don’t know. You will need to find out from the doctor” Janet said, weeping bitterly.
    After all this, they decided to go back to the Campus. Janet was still crying as the male students boarded a taxi. It was almost 10pm when they arrived at the Campus. Esther escorted Janet to her room. “Are you sure you will be ok?” Esther asked. Janet nodded her head “I will be fine. I am calling someone to spend the night with me. I would have gone to Naomi’s house but I can’t miss tomorrow’s exams” Janet said. Esther gently closed the door and walked down the hallway. “Hey, how is your friend doing? Did you manage to take her to the hospital?” One lady asked Esther. Esther felt weak “She passed away” she answered. The group of ladies all put their hands on the mouth in astonishment. Esther was becoming weaker. She felt like she was having a running stomach. In all her life, she has never felt the pain of losing someone she knew. The only time she lost someone close to her was when her grandmother passed on. However, she was still very young and couldn’t feel the pain of losing her. She walked down the hallway, lost in her thoughts. She decided to spend some time under her favorite eucalyptus tree. She sat down and thought about what had just happened. She thought of Naomi and how she had lost her life in such horrible conditions. She imagined how the boyfriend would react. “But what about that bracelet? And what if she was carrying Jacob’s child? But Jacob is not around right now, unless he came without letting me know” she thought to herself. Suddenly, she felt so terrified as she thought of death. She cried like a little baby, holding the rocky chair tightly. After a few minutes, she felt someone touch her shoulder. She stood up in fear and shouted. It was David. He was about to laugh when he saw tears on Esther’s face. “Esther, what is the matter?” he said. Without even hesitating, Esther ran into his arms and cried so deeply. David held her tight and waited for her to finish crying. He could see that she was very broken. He hugged her and made her to sit down, holding her. “What is going on my friend?” he asked. Esther was still sobbing. David allowed her to cry as he rubbed his hand gently on her back “It’s alright. Whatever it is, it will pass. Just calm down. Crying doesn’t solve issues” he said gently. Esther calmed down and slowly narrated Naomi’s death to David. However, she did not tell him anything about her game with Prince. David shook his head in dismay “My lord! This is really sad. What a wasted life! Why would someone think of aborting a child when there are millions of people seeking to have just one child?” he said. “I am sure she was not ready to become a mother. She was still enjoying her life” Esther answered. “Well, look at where all this brought her to! I wonder what the boyfriend or the father of the child will say.” David said. Esther was quiet for a while.
    David: What are you thinking about?
    Esther: I really don’t know David. I am suspecting that Naomi was having an affair with Jacob
    David: What! Which Jacob?
    Esther: Jacob my fiancé
    David: How do you know? And how did they even meet? I thought your fiancé stays in your city and only comes here once in a while
    Esther: Sure he does, but he knows Naomi and Janet. I introduced them the first day he brought me to school
    David: Oh yes, I think I remember. That was the day I found him in your former hostel. But what makes you suspect such a thing?
    Esther: Yes. One day when I went to Jacob’s hotel room, I found a bracelet on the floor. It seemed to me that he had brought a lady and she probably forgot it there, or maybe it fell down there. But this night, when we were taking Naomi to the hospital, I saw the same bracelet on Naomi’s wrist. I could swear it’s the same one I saw in his room
    David: Hmm. Well, I can never be surprised. That girl lived such a promiscuous life. Do you know that because of her, at least two women have divorced their husbands?
    Esther: What! Are you serious?
    David: Yes. Honestly I am not trying to judge her or anything, but I sincerely believe that she has just reaped what she sowed. If you know how many families those girls have ruined, you would be shocked
    Esther: Hmm. Anyway, I am going to ask Jacob. This time around, I am ready to face any consequences with my father
    David: But Esther, I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but I really don’t know why you should be upset that Jacob is cheating on you when you are also doing the same.
    Esther: What do you mean?
    David: well, what about the guy that I saw you with the other day? Both of you were busy cuddling.
    Esther: There is nothing between us
    David: Hmm. That didn’t look like nothing to me.
    Esther looked at David and asked “David, do you love me?” David looked surprised. “Why are you asking me such a question Esther? You are engaged and whatever I say wouldn’t make any difference” he said. Esther held him by the hand and asked again, with a serious look on her face “David, do you love me? Please just be honest with me.” David looked straight in her eyes and smiled “I have never loved any other girl the way I have loved you Esther. It’s just a pity that we can’t be together..” Esther did not allow David to finish his sentence. She hugged him so tightly and gave him a kiss “Then let’s run away together” she said. David laughed “I can’t do that Esther. It’s true that I had once thought of that, but you are engaged now and I wouldn’t want to bring trouble to your family” he said. Esther looked sad. She cried. David hugged her “Enough of the tears. You need to get some rest now. Let me take you to your room so that you can rest. You are having exams tomorrow and so am I. I also need to go and study. My roommate is not around, so I have the whole night to study without disturbing anyone” he said. Esther turned back “Please can I sleep in your room tonight? I am filled with fear. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep.” She said. David gently disagreed with Esther, but because she insisted a lot, he finally agreed. Angela called her as she got inside David’s room and Esther told her she wouldn’t sleep in her room that night. Angela was surprised, but she did not insist.
    “Do you need anything to eat?” David asked Esther as they arrived. “No, I am fine thanks. I just want to rest” Esther answered. David covered her with his blanket as she starred at the ceiling, thinking about everything that had happened that night. David, who saw that she was perplexed, slept beside her. That night, they both had sexual intercourse.
    “Grrrr, grrrr” the alarm rang. David switched on the light. “Damn, time goes so fast!” he sighed. Esther arose from her sleep “What time is it?” she asked. “It’s 5am” David answered. Esther quickly rose up and got dressed “I need to rush to take a bath, have my breakfast and leave for classes” she said. David laughed “You look like someone who has just robbed the bank” he said jokingly. Esther laughed. She got dressed and left. David escorted her to her room as it was quite dark. “Let’s meet this evening at 7pm. I will be at my shop. We need to talk. David said as he gave her a hug. Esther smiled. She entered her room feeling so happy. Angela woke up “Hi Esther. You are back!” she said, rubbing her eyes. Esther was dancing and singing happily “I am back my dear” she answered. “Hmm, you look too happy this morning. You need to fill me in” Angela said. “I will. Wake up, let’s go and take a bath then I’ll tell you everything that happened” Esther said.
    Esther narrated every single thing to Angela. This time around, she decided to tell her everything, including her game with Prince and her night spent with David
    Angela: I can’t believe you were lying to me Esther. What if something bad had happened to you?
    Esther: I am sorry Angie! I didn’t mean to lie to you. I was just so desperate. Please forgive me
    Angela: No problem my dear. I am just glad this whole thing is over. But I am equally shocked to hear about the death of that lady. What a waste!
    Esther: It’s incredible. I still can’t believe I witnessed her death.
    Angela: If Jacob is the owner of the pregnancy, then I would say he is an animal. But there is also something I would like to say to you Esther because you are like a sister to me and I can only tell you the truth
    Esther: Go ahead
    Angela: I think it was not wise for you to spend the night with David. I know you love him so much, but you don’t have to force yourself on him. If he wants you, he would eventually come. You need to keep your dignity as a lady
    Esther: I know Angela. One part of me is happy that I did it but another part is quite disappointed that I threw myself in his arms like a prostitute. But to tell you the truth Angela, ever since I was raped by Jacob, something in me changed. I no longer see myself as a person with dignity. I consider my body as worthless.
    Angela: My God! This is the main reason why this beast should be taken to prison. What he did was a terrible act
    Esther: I know. Sometimes I just wish I could kill him with my own hands. I would be happy to shed his blood myself. He robbed me of the most precious thing that I ever had, a symbol of my dignity and ever since then, I feel naked and useless
    Angela: I wish I could give you back what he stole from you, but the only thing I can tell you is to just move on with your life. Don’t allow this issue to rob you of your great destiny. Life goes on. You should thank God that you didn’t fall pregnant for him or worse still contract an incurable disease. You have your life ahead of you Esther
    Esther: I know, but it’s really hard and the only place I can find comfort is in David’s arms.
    The two ladies finished their breakfast and were on their way to class. They found a group of students talking about Naomi. When they saw her, one of them shouted “That’s one of the ladies that took her to the hospital. They rushed to her “Tell us what happened? How did she die?” they asked. Esther was disturbed “I have no right to talk about someone that has passed on. If you want to hear anything, please ask her parents, not me” she said quickly moving away from the crowd. ‘People are mad. What will the information of her death bring to them?” Angela said, sneering.
    In the afternoon, when they had finished their exams, Esther asked Angela to escort her to see how Janet was coping. As they arrived at the door of her room, they heard her shouting “You killed my best friend you bloody idiot. Naomi never wanted to abort that pregnancy. I will inform the police of what you did!” Esther and Angela looked at each other. Janet then became quiet and they could hear her crying. Esther knocked on the door. “Janet how are you doing? You need to stop crying now and be strong” Esther said. Janet continued crying “Naomi was my best friend. I can’t believe she is gone” she said. Esther and Angela both sat down, trying to comfort her. After a while, Janet asked “I will be going to the funeral house now. Will you come with me?” Esther and Angela agreed to accompany her. Esther thought they would take a taxi, but Janet took them to Naomi’s car. Esther was rather surprised. They entered the car and Janet drove off. Esther then asked “So, what is going to be done to this car? I guess you are giving it to her family right?” Janet gave Esther a strange look “No. I am keeping it. Naomi and I bought this car together. Although it is in her name, I also added some money for its purchase. In fact I added more than her” she said. Esther was not convinced.
    When they arrived at the funeral house, they found quite a number of people gathered. One woman lay on the floor weeping her heart out “My daughter, why did you do this to me? Why? You called me just a few hours before your death promising to buy me a car soon after your trip to London, not knowing that you had an appointment with death. Why didn’t you tell me that you were up? I was going to take care of my grandchild with all love and care. Naomi, Naomi, Naomi!” she cried. Esther, Janet and Angela cried. Some women went to comfort her. After a while, Naomi’s mother calmed down and came to meet the ladies. “Janet my daughter how are you” she said. Janet wiped her tears “I am fine ma” she said
    “Please I want to find out from you what my daughter left at the university. Things like her clothes and all that” Naomi’s mother said. Janet answered “Yes ma. All her clothes, shoes and books are in our room. I can bring them whenever you want.”
    “Ok my daughter. I also heard that she had bought a car, even though she has never told me about it. I just heard it from one of her friends. Is it true?” the mother said. Janet looked at her and said “No ma, it’s not true. You know people thought it was her car, but it is mine. Naomi used to drive it a lot because I was usually busy at school.”
    “Ok my daughter. You were truly a good friend to my Naomi. As for the clothes, please, you can take anything that you like from there and bring the rest here anytime you are free. It will be distributed among her younger sisters and cousins” the mother said. Janet nodded her head and said “Ok ma, but I don’t think I will take any of her clothes, because my heart is bleeding. I miss my friend already” she said and started crying. Esther was shocked to hear what Janet had said about the car. After a while, they all left. Janet dropped them at the university and continued to town, saying she had some business to settle.
    “Janet is wicked! I don’t believe her story about the car. That car belonged to Naomi” Esther said as they entered the Campus. “I know. She is a gold-digger. I wouldn’t be surprised to know that she poisoned her friend” Angela said. Esther clapped her hands in wonder. “Hmm. Angela let’s pass through David’s shop so that we can say hi. I have an appointment with him this evening at 7pm. But let’s just pass by and say hi before then” Esther said. When they arrived at the shop, they were surprised to see Betty sitting inside the shop. Immediately she saw them, she put her hands around David’s waist and said “Baby we have customers.” When David turned to see who it was, he was totally shocked to see Esther and Angela. “Hey Esther, Angela, you are welcome” he said looking quite confused. Esther was shaking. “You idiot! You useless idiot!” she shouted at David. She pulled Angela’s hand and they left. David shouted “Esther, please it’s not what you think. Let me explain.” However, Esther and Angela had already gone far. David looked at Betty and shouted “What is wrong with you? Get out of my shop please! Get out!”
    “That’s it! I am fed up with men! I make a vow to never involve myself with any man! Never again in my life!” Esther shouted, hitting her hand on the study table as they arrived in their room. “Calm down Esther, calm down” Angela said. “I won’t calm down Angela. I have been used and dumped like a rag. All men are dogs!” she shouted

    Part 27

    Esther was hurt by what she had seen. She cried that night, cursing herself and all men. “I will never, never fall in love with any man again” she cried. Angela stood by her side and encouraged her to take heart. David called her number several times but she refused to respond. She had made up her mind not to have anything to do with any man.
    The following afternoon as Esther and Angela returned from the exam room, David was waiting for them outside. “Esther, look who is here” Angela whispered, pointing to David. When Esther saw that it was David, she quickly moved and tried to avoid him. David held her hand. Esther felt ashamed because of the crowd of students. “Please leave me alone” she said quietly, trying to pretend that there was nothing wrong. “Please, I need to talk to you just for a minute. Can we just stand under that empty canteen over there?” David said. Esther sneered at David and went to the canteen. Angela waited for Esther a few meters away from the canteen. “Please, you have exactly one minute to say what you want to say” Esther said with her hand on her waist. David was looking very serious.
    David: Listen Esther, I don’t even know what to say to you. You and I both know that I love you very much
    Esther: You liar!
    David: Please allow me to finish my sentence….. We have been friends for at least 3 years now and you should know that I have no intentions of hurting you. I am not that kind of a person. I am really sorry if you feel that I have hurt your feelings. But you have to understand that I am not a fool. You literally forced me to take you to my room last night
    Esther: Oh really! I know exactly what you want to say. You think I am a prostitute, don’t you? You want to brag that I forced you
    David: Will you just be patient and allow me to finish please? It’s amazing how you’ve turned out to be a very violent and harsh person. You are no longer the person I used to know or maybe I was just wrong about who you are altogether
    Esther: Go ahead and insult me. If I have changed, it’s because of wicked people like you. Men who are only seeking to use innocent ladies
    David: Oh mehn! I just don’t know what to say to you again…Listen, I can never use you Esther. You are not only a friend but you are like a sister to me and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you. But you have to understand that you are now engaged and I can’t be hanging around a lady that has someone in her life
    Esther” Oh please don’t use this as an excuse to dump me! I guess you are busy having fun with that home breaker called Betty. If only you knew who she was, you wouldn’t even have the guts to talk to me like this
    David: It has nothing to do with Betty and my relationship with her does not concern you Esther. Just leave her out of this. This is between you and I and we need to sort this out in a more mature manner.
    Esther: Oh so you are now defending her hun! Well then listen to me Mr. Smart guy. I don’t want to have anything to do with you from today. Don’t you ever come near me again! Even when you see me dying on the streets, don’t you dare come to my help! I hate you and every other man that thinks they can use women and dump them like garbage
    David: Esther! Esther
    Esther: Get your hands off me. Leave me alone and never try to contact me again. Our friendship is over and I mean over!
    Esther left in fury as Angela followed her. David stood there, shaking his head “I never knew you were this kind of a person” he said to himself. Esther cursed David as she went. Angela was quiet all along. When they arrived at the hostel, Angela looked at Esther and, with a very serious look on her face, said “Esther, I think you are really exaggerating. You knew very well that David has a girlfriend but you went ahead and forced yourself in his arms. I don’t think David used you. You threw yourself to him; in fact I think you are the one that used him…..Yes! You used him and his kindness towards you and now you want to play the victim. It’s not fair. First of all, you are engaged. Secondly, you played a silly game with that so called Prince to make David jealous and now you want him to just accept you back as if nothing happened. You forget that he is also a human being. And another thing is that you have no right to accuse Betty of things you don’t know about. How sure are you that what Naomi told you about Betty is true? Those girls are liars. And even if it true, you have no right to enter her private life….Listen sweetheart, don’t think I hate you. I truly love and care about you. You are my best friend so far and I just need to be frank with you. You have really changed. Do you know that when we just first met, I used to admire you a lot? I always admired your courage, your way of living. But now, I don’t recognize you anymore Esther”
    Esther sat on her bed and started crying “I don’t recognize myself either Angela. I no longer know who I am. I feel I am a stranger to myself. I feel I have nothing to live for. What should I do?” she said. Angela felt bad and gave her a hug “The only thing to do right now is to concentrate on your studies. You need to secure your future. Stop all this issue of men and relationships. When the right time for you to be in a relationship comes, it will all fall in place, no need to force things. David is not your source of hope. He is busy working hard to become someone in life and you need to do the same. What if he ends up marrying Betty? Are you going to kill yourself because of that?” she said. Esther shook her head “No. I have understood your point. I will concentrate on my studies and make sure I pass my exams to get a job.” She said. Angela smiled “That’s it! Let time tell, remember!” she said.
    And so it was from that day that Esther decided to concentrate on her studies. It had been almost a month since her last discussion with David. Although not an easy thing to do, Esther tried her best to get David out of her mind. David was nowhere to be seen either. He also seemed to have moved on with his life. The mock exams were over and it was time for the students to take a 2 weeks break before taking up their final exams. Jacob had been sending messages to Esther telling her how eager he was to see her. Esther was terrified. She wished she could stay back at school and have some rest, but she also missed her mother.
    She arrived home late in the evening. Jacob was waiting for her at the car park. He walked boastfully as he came to meet her ‘Welcome baby girl. We missed you” he said giving her a hug. Esther gave a fake smile “Thank you” she said. Esther’s mother came running immediately she heard the car honk. She flaunted her hands as she ran towards her beloved daughter “My princess! My princess! Come into my arms!” she said. Esther ran into her mother’s arms. Elder Barnabas came out from the house smiling “Welcome back City woman” he said giving her a handshake. “Thank you sir” Esther said, stooping down a bit. Elder Barnabas turned to Jacob and put his hand on his shoulder ‘Thank you my son. God bless you” he said. “You are welcome sir. I need to be going now as I have some work to do. I will pass by tomorrow” Jacob answered. He waved at Esther and left. Esther’s mother helped her to carry her luggage to her room. Esther looked at her mother and said “So father is no longer checking my bags to see what is inside?”
    Her mother laughed “No my princess. He knows that you are no longer a kid” she said. “Oh really? I am no longer a kid to have my bags checked but I am still a kid to be forced to get married?” Esther answered. Her mother was surprised to hear such a response “Esther, you have just arrived. It’s not time to stress yourself with such things. You need to rest” she said. Esther kept quiet and continued unpacking her bags. Her mother rushed to the kitchen to serve dinner for the family. However, Esther refused to eat as she said that she was tired from the journey and just needed to rest.
    The following day, Esther spent time with her mother: they both went to the market and cooked lunch together. Her mother laughed as Esther narrated her stories of the big city. “I would like to go there one day. The church will be organizing a come together conference with the church headquarters in the city in a few weeks’ time. Your father will be attending and I hope he gives me the liberty to attend too” her mother said. “Oh really? Oh mom, I will personally beg father to allow you to go. By that time I will be at school. I will show you around town, well at least the little I know about it” Esther laughed. Jacob arrived with a plastic bag full of groceries. He gave it to Esther’s mother. Esther was upset within her. She wondered why her parents would easily accept gifts from him. “Esther, can we drive around town for a few minutes just to have some time alone?” Jacob asked. His mother, who was quite shy, went to find refuge in the kitchen. Esther agreed to go with him. They both entered the car and Jacob drove off. Both of them were silent in the car. Jacob seemed to be rather disturbed. It was not in his nature to be that quiet. ‘Can I ask you a question?” Esther said to break the silence. “Sure, let me just try to park my car at that corner so that we can talk because I also have things to tell you” Jacob answered.
    He parked his car and with a proud smile on his face said “So, what questions do you have for me my lovely wife?” Esther felt disgusted by that name. She held her peace and said “I would like you to be honest with me. Did you ever have an affair with Naomi my ex roommate?”
    Jacob opened his eyes wide “What! Are you out of your mind? How can you even accuse me of doing such a thing? Who put such an idea in your mind?” he said. “Nobody did. The day I came your hotel, I found a feminine bracelet on the floor. And when Naomi was being taken to the hospital, I saw it on her wrist” Esther said. “What happened to Naomi? Why was she taken to the hospital?” Jacob asked looking surprised.
    Esther: hmm. I guess you are pretending to be innocent. Anyway Naomi passed away a few weeks ago because of failed abortion
    Jacob: What! Oh my God! Why didn’t you inform me?
    Esther: Well I thought you should have been aware
    Jacob: Listen Esther, I don’t want to quarrel with you anymore. The only time I saw that girl was when I visited you. You warned me to stay away from them and I did just that. I am not the only person that stayed in that room. It’s a hotel for heaven’s sake and different people come in. Listen, I understand that you are trying to find a way to accuse me of evil so that you can run away from me, but it is impossible. I am a good guy and I love you. I actually asked you to come here because I wanted to apologize for what I did to you last time. Esther I admit that I was very wrong please forgive me. I have made up my mind to behave like a matured man. I want things to work out between us. I have realized my mistakes and I want to do anything possible to make you happy.
    Jacob looked so sincere in his apology. He went to the point of opening his car and kneeling before Esther to show the sincerity of his words. In all this, Esther was quiet. She had made up her mind to allow time to judge the outcome of her forced relationship with Jacob. Throughout that evening, Jacob behaved quite normal and different. He did not boast about anything and seemed to be remorseful of what he had done. As Esther was about to enter the house, he held her hand and said “I love you Esther. Please believe me.” He did not wait for Esther’s answer before he left. Esther shook her head “What plan does he have this time around?” she thought to herself.
    Days passed by and Jacob seemed to have changed. His behavior towards Esther was now so full of respect. However, in all this, Esther was still not convinced. She was persuaded that Jacob had a plan.
    Early one afternoon, Esther was in the kitchen with her mother, preparing lunch. It was a very hot afternoon. Esther stood in front of the stove as she prepared stew. Suddenly, she put her hand on her forehead. She slowly moved a step away from the stove. Her mother looked at her “Esther, what is it?” she asked. Esther was feeling dizzy. She dropped the spoon from her hand and knelt down. Her mother shouted “Elder! Help!” Elder Barnabas heard the noise and came rushing to the kitchen. “What is going on?” he asked. Esther was still on her knees, her head facing down “I am feeling dizzy” she said. Her mother tried to help her get on her feet, but all of a sudden, she started vomiting. Her mother hurried to get a bucket and placed it on the ground as Esther threw up. Elder Barnabas stood there looking at Esther. He took a container of water from the fridge and put some water in a glass “Try to drink this water. I am sure it’s fatigue and the heat. The journey was long. And I also don’t trust the food in the city. They just cook rubbish.” he said. Esther continued vomiting. When she had finished, she looked so weak. “Let’s put her in the car and take her to the clinic” Elder said. Esther shook her head “I am alright sir. I’ll be alright” he said. Elder Barnabas did not take no for an answer. He held her hand and took her to the car. Esther’s mother looked troubled. She looked at Esther as she tied her wrapper and sat at the back of the car with her.
    They arrived at the hospital and rushed to the Doctor’s hospital. Elder Barnabas was the first to enter the room. The mother gently explained to the doctor what had happened. The nurse took some blood samples, did some checkups and asked them to wait. After about thirty minutes, she came back holding a piece of paper in her hand. “Are you the parents?” she asked. Elder Barnabas answered loudly “Yes. I am Elder Barnabas and this is my wife. This is our daughter Esther. She is actually studying to be a Doctor in the capital city….Esther I hope you are observing how your fellow colleagues are working because you will be doing the same job soon” he said, smiling. Esther kept looking at the nurse. “Well Elder, your daughter is 6 weeks pregnant” the nurse said.
    Elder Barnabas stood up from his chair. He removed his hat from his head and screamed “What! What did you just say? Pre-what?” Esther’s mother was shaking. Esther didn’t know what to do. The nurse repeated the same thing. Elder Barnabas looked at Esther and said ‘What have you done?” He took Esther by the collar of her dress and pushed her out of the office. The nurse shouted “Elder, please take it easy before you hurt her” He pushed her to the car and opened the door. Esther’s mother was confused. They all entered the car and Elder Barnabas drove as fast as he could. There was total silence in the car, except for Esther’s sobs. When they arrived home, Esther ran inside the house. Elder Barnabas ran after her with all his strength. He grabbed her from behind and kicked her legs. Esther fell down at the entrance of the living room. She cried and her mother shouted “Esther! Please sir, have mercy.” She tried to hold Elder Barnabas’ hand, but he pushed her. Elder locked the door that gave way to the bedrooms and sat down on a chair, breathing deeply “This wedding needs to be carried out now. How could Jacob do this? Why couldn’t he wait? I should have listened to him when he asked for permission to marry her last year. I need to call him now” he said. Esther shouted “Jacob is not responsible for this pregnancy!”
    Elder Barnabas and the wife stood up. “What did you say?” he said. Esther cried “I said he is not responsible for this pregnancy. It’s another man from school.” Esther’s mother sat down on the floor with her hands on her head. Elder Barnabas moved to and fro, trying to calm himself down. He pulled Esther’s hair and pushed her to the wall. Esther fell down again. Esther’s mother held her husband from his back, but he turned to her and gave her a slap. Esther screamed “Mummy!” She stood up and shouted as loud as she could “Leave my mother alone you old man! I hate you with all my strength! I hate you! You forced me to marry a man that I do not love!” Elder Barnabas could not believe his ears. He went towards Esther and pushed her against the wall again. Esther stood there and shouted “Beat me all you want! In fact if you want, you can kill me. I am not worthy to live. I am a worthless human being. Please kill me so that I can rest!”
    Elder Barnabas went to her bedroom and came back with two of her suitcases. He threw them before Esther and shouted “Get out of my house! Don’t ever come back here again! Get out!” Esther wiped her tears and took the suitcases. Her mother cried and knelt on her knees “Please sir, do not do this I beg you.” Elder Barnabas pushed her and said “If you want to go with her, please go ahead. Just know that by stepping your foot out of this house, you are putting an end to our marriage”
    Esther looked at her mom and said “Mom, please stay. I am old enough to take care of myself.” Upon hearing this, Elder Barnabas threw a plastic cup on Esther. She swerved her head and took the suitcases and left. Her younger brother watched all this in astonishment. Esther carried the suitcases, with her dress torn by her father when he pushed her. She wiped her tears and started walking to nowhere. She could hear her mother weeping and crying.

    Part 28

    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.

    Part 29

    “Where am I?” Esther suddenly said. She looked around and all she could see was darkness. She started running, hoping to find help but she tripped on a stone and fell down “Ouch, my leg! Somebody help me please” she cried. She could hear the echo of her voice. The place was empty and looked like a wilderness. She struggled to stand up and when she was on her feet, she decided to look back. She could see a bright light from a very long distance. Under the light, she saw beautiful houses and plantations. “I need to go back to my father’s house” she thought to herself. Suddenly, she felt unusual strength. She ran towards the light with determination shouting “I need to return to my father’s house. I can’t continue suffering in this manner when my father has all that I need.” When she got a bit closer to the light, she saw people gathered, celebrating. The first person she saw was Brian. He looked at her from a distance and smiled. He shouted “Father is waiting for you. Come Esther, come!” Esther ran with even more determination. Suddenly, she woke up. It was just a dream. She rubbed her eyes as she looked around. She realized that she had been dreaming. The sun had already risen and her room was filed with a beautiful bright light from the sun. She looked at the clock on the wall and saw that it was already 7am. She got up from the bed and pulled the store curtain. The view was even more beautiful that morning. She stretched her arms and sat down, starring at the room. She thought about the dream she had just had “I don’t understand this dream. Why was I telling myself to go back to my father? Does this mean that I need to go back home? But I don’t think my father wants to see me again after what I have done.” She thought to herself.
    She went into the bathroom and took a bath. She had slept like a baby and felt refreshed. Someone knocked on the door. It was aunty Mercy. She was holding a tray of food. “Hello my dear Esther. I brought you some breakfast. Mr. Brian called and said he will be here around 9am to pick you up. Please also feel free to move around the motel. We have a nice garden near the pool area” she said. She entered the room and placed the food on the table. “Thank you very much ma. I appreciate” Esther answered. “Oh just call me Mercy” aunty Mercy said. Esther smiled. When the woman had left, Esther ran to the food. She couldn’t wait to eat again. It was a full English breakfast. She ate the bacon and fried sausages like there was no tomorrow. She finished up the baked beans and drank the glass of orange juice. “Wow! What a treat! I feel like I am in paradise” she said. She looked at her stomach and shook her head “What will I do with you? How will I handle you? I don’t have a job to take care of you. I can’t abort you because when I think of what happened to Naomi, it scares the hell out of me. So what will I do with you?” she said to herself. She sat down feeling very sad and insecure. She imagined what would happen next. She imagined Angela’s reaction “I am sure she will blame me for throwing myself into David’s arms. As for David, he can go to hell. I don’t even want him to know about this pregnancy. I will do everything possible to get a job in town, even if I have to become a maid just to raise money to take care of this child” she said. With anger, she rose up, took her phone and bag and went downstairs. Her phone was still off and she wasn’t thinking of switching it on yet.
    As she got downstairs, she met Brian on the way to his office. He gave her a warm hug “Esther, mama twins, how are you?” he said. Esther laughed “Twins? Brian don’t be funny” she said. “I am not joking. You will have twins. I dreamt about it last night and my dreams always come true” Brian said, pulling Esther by the hand to his office. “Hmm, talking about dreams, I had one last night that is making me wonder” she said. “Oh really? Tell me all about it” Brian said as he sat down in the office. Esther narrated the entire dream to him.
    Esther: Do you think the dream is telling me to go back to my father’s house?
    Brian was quiet for a while, then he said “Well, I am not really sure what that dream means but in most cases, dreams also have a spiritual meaning. This evening, I am inviting you to church for our weekly service. I can take you to the Pastor so that he prays for you and maybe help you to interpret your dream”
    Esther: Brian, I really don’t want to seem rude. I really appreciate everything you have done for me, but to tell you the truth, I no longer have the interest to go to church or even believe that God knows me. Where was God when all these terrible things were happening to me?
    Brian: Let me also ask you a question: Where was God when you were committing fornication? Where was God when you were cursing Him?
    Esther: Are you trying to judge me?
    Brian: No I am not judging you sweetheart. All I am saying is that we are always trying to blame God for everything that happens to us. But we also forget how filthy we are before Him. We forget that sometimes we do things that don’t please Him, but He never condemns us. He is always giving us a second chance. Can you imagine what could have happened if God decided that for every sin that a human being commits, he should die? The world would be empty by now. I am sorry if I came out quite harsh, but I just want you to get a point. I know you to be a very good person. I noticed you from the very first day we were introducing each other in class. I know you don’t deserve to be treated in that way, but one thing I am sure of is that God has a good plan for you no matter what you have gone through. I believe everything that happened to you, happened for a reason. Do you remember the day I was asking you about your fiancé? You actually seemed to be irritated by my curiosity that day
    Esther: Yes I do
    Brian: I know that guy very well. He is a regular customer of the motel, even though he doesn’t know me quite well, because it is only recently that I started managing the motel. My father was the one in charge before, but now he wants to concentrate on other things. I used to see Jacob here so many times with different ladies. I know at least two ladies he used to bring here, one is called Clara and the other is Sharon, although Clara was more frequent with him
    Esther: What! Clara? Is she short and fair, with a dark blackhead under her eye?
    Brian: Yes. Do you know her?
    Esther: Of course. She is a member of our church back in Gemba. And to think that he lied about her saying she just liked following him! That guy is a dog!
    Brian: Hmm. He usually spent the weekends here with her. But wait until you hear what I am about to tell you. The receptionist, who knows him very well told me a couple of weeks ago that he was now coming with a certain tall lady. He was spending the weekends with her. I had to ask her to get the person’s name and guess who it was! It was Naomi.
    Esther: Oh my God I knew it! That traitor!
    Brian: Yea. I am really sorry, but the guy is a crook. That is why I had tried to enter into a conversation with you about him so that I could eventually tell you, but you seemed so irritated that I just had to keep it to myself. But you have been in my prayers ever since I saw you with him, asking God to protect you from being hurt
    Esther: Well, your prayers were not answered
    Brian: Don’t say that. My prayers were answered because God has exposed him before you made the mistake of tying the knot.
    Esther: You think so? And now I am pregnant for another man and you think it’s better that way?
    Brian: Yes Esther, it is much better than getting married to that guy because you would have lived a terrible life. As for David, I know that you are trying as much as possible to forget him, which I clearly understand. But the only thing I can tell you is that he is a good guy
    Esther: Oh please. So you think you know everyone at the university?
    Brian: Well, not really, but I know quite a number of people because I am involved in a lot of Christian charity associations both at school and even around here. Anyway, I will not enter into details. I pray that God’s will be done in your life. So my dear, you cannot say no to my request this evening concerning church. You don’t need to do anything, just come
    Esther: O-o-K. But please it’s only for today.
    Brian: Your wish is my command dear beloved. Now, let’s go home. I would like to introduce you to my parents and even my fiancé. I’ve already told them about you. Am sorry I had to narrate a bit of your story to my mother as she is quite curious. You know how women are. She was just trying to make sure that I have not brought a girlfriend in. hahaha. But you don’t need to worry about her. She is a godly and wonderful woman.
    Esther: I can imagine.
    The two left the office. Brian led the way to the car which was parked at the entrance. They both entered and drove off. Esther watched the beautiful trees as they drove through a scanty bush. Brian switched on the music player and played the song “God will make a way”. He moved his head up and down as he sang the song. “So, how did you meet your fiancée?” Esther asked. Brian smiled “Jennifer and I have known each other for as long as I can remember. We have been childhood friends since primary school. Our parents are good friends and we are like family. We were only friends until three years ago when I strongly fell in love with her. At that time, she was seeing a certain guy from secondary school, although he was not a serious guy. But you girls like men who are not serious. Hahaha. Anyway to cut the story short, the guy ended up disappointing her and that is when I tried my luck. At first, she found it hard to accept because we had been like brother and sister, but with time, she also fell in love with me and we started seeing each other. She got admission at a university in London while I got admission at the university in the capital. We’ve been seeing each other for 3 years now. Last year, I finally proposed to her and she said yes. We are planning to do our wedding next year, by God’s grace” Brian said.
    “Wow lucky you! Both of you look so happy together. I am sure you have had a smooth relationship because you are such a wonderful person” Esther said. Brian smiled again and shook his head “Not really my dear. I was not as wonderful as this before I met Christ. I was a party boy, I used to drink and smoke a lot. My parents were actually tired of me because I caused them so much trouble. I used to steal my father’s money and use it on beer and games. Jennifer and I went through a lot of difficulties, all caused by me. But she was very patient with me. She used to pray for me so that God could change me and never put pressure on me. Until the day that I met Jesus. My whole life changed. I became a new creature. I lost taste for the things of the world and embraced a new life of purity and sanctification. My parents and even Jennifer could not believe how I had changed at first, but with time they realized that God had finally answered their prayers. Today, I live for Christ and Him alone. ” Brian said.
    Esther was amazed. She looked at Brian and said “Wow. Your story sounds interesting. I am happy for both of you. They finally arrived at Brian’s place: it was a big blue house surrounded with a huge wall fence and black gate. The guard ran to open the gate as Brian drove in. They found Brian’s mother outside with Jennifer picking up some flowers. Jennifer looked so beautiful and vibrant. Esther disembarked shyly from the car. Brian gave Jennifer a warm hug “Hello Princess. You look beautiful this morning. Thank you for coming early this morning” Brian said. He turned to his mom and said “Mom, baby please meet my friend and school mate Esther…..Esther this is my mom and this is my fiancée Jenny.” Esther was very shy. She looked down as she greeted Brian’s mother. Brian’s mom gave her a hug and said “You are welcome my daughter.” Jennifer also gave her a hug and they all went inside the house. Esther admired the house as they went to the living room. The interior was even more beautiful than she could have imagined. Jennifer rushed to the kitchen and brought some fresh orange juice and pancakes to the living room. “Please help yourselves with this. I made these pancakes specially for you Esther last evening when Brian informed me about your arrival. You are welcome” Jennifer said. Esther thanked her and even though she was quite full, she ate the pancakes out of respect. Jennifer excused herself and left Esther with Brian’s mother.
    Brian’s mother: So my dear Esther. Please feel at home. My son told me everything that has happened to you. I am so sorry to hear about it, but I want you to know that all hope is not lost. Firstly, I would like to know if you have called your mother to inform her about your well being
    Esther: N-n-n-n-o Ma
    Brian’s mother: Well, that’s not a good thing at all. I am sure that right now she is worried sick about you. I would advise you to call her and let her know that you are in safety. I am a mother and I know exactly how it feels to be far from your child. She can even enter a state of depression because of it. You can call her using my phone.
    Esther was reluctant but agreed to call her mother. She dialed her brother’s line “Hello Daniel. It’s me Esther…Yes I am fine thank you….Please put mom on the line…….Hello mom…Yes I am fine mom…..No I am fine believe me……I am at a friend’s place not very far from the capital……Mom, I am fine…..I will be going back to school in a couple of days…..I am being taken care of by my friend’s family so well mom, you don’t need to worry about anything…..Please stop crying, you are making me feel bad….I will definitely come back after our final exams when everything has calmed down a bit….Don’t worry about that mom, I will find a way to survive…Yes mom, no problem. Please don’t worry about me. I am even better that I thought I could be. Ok mom. I have to go now I am using the phone of my friend’s mom…Yes you’ll talk to her soon. I have to go now…. Bye mom…Amen mom. Bye” Esther gave the phone back to Brian’s mom with tears flowing from her eyes. Brian’s mom hugged her “Don’t worry my dear. Everything is going to be alright” she said.
    Esther and Brian’s mother discussed for a long time before Jennifer and Brian came to take her out to drive around town. They spent almost the whole day downtown moving from one place to the other. Jennifer was a very funny and friendly girl. She gave Esther her best laugh. They had lunch at a local restaurant and finally headed to church around 6pm. It was a medium sized church. The place was almost getting filled up. Worshippers entered the church with so much passion and enthusiasm. Esther’s mind was far away. Going to church was the last thing she had expected to do. Jenifer and Brian led her to the fourth row. Jennifer knelt down as she worshipped God while Brian stood up and lifted his hands as the choir sang songs of worship. Esther was not used to such things. In her church, people never worshipped passionately. They all just sat quietly listening to the choir while others preferred sitting outside. She looked to her right and saw people laying even on the floor while others cried in deep worship. She had never seen such a thing before. She sat down, looking at the people who were worshiping.
    When the Pastor climbed the altar, he preached on a message titled “Come back to the Father”. He talked about the prodigal son and how he had decided to leave his father’s house in order to live the life he wanted. Esther listened carefully as the message seemed to touch so many points of her life “Did Brian tell this Pastor about my story? This man is preaching like someone who knows my situation” she thought to herself. Just before he could end his sermon, the Pastor lifted up his voice and shouted “There are many of you here that are like the prodigal son. You left the security that your heavenly Father provided for you and you decided to live your own life. You abandoned your heavenly Father and thought you knew better than Him. But now, you have found yourself in so many difficulties. Just like the prodigal son, you are now eating with pigs and living in the cold. But if only you can turn back and be like the prodigal son who decided to go back to his father. If only you can return to your Father, the Great King. If you only you can come running to Him, He is able and willing to receive you back. In His house, are many mansions. In his arms are many blessings. It doesn’t matter what you have gone through. It doesn’t matter what you have done. Your heavenly Father is ready to throw a party for you and give you the best of his kingdom. But this is a decision you will have to make alone. The Father is waiting for you. Run back to him. True security, prosperity and salvation come from the Father alone. You don’t need to be perfect in order to be accepted by Him. He will purify you and mend your broken heart. I know that you have been broken. I know that you have been disappointed by those you trusted, but the Heavenly Father says Come unto me all that are heavy laden and I will give you rest. So wherever you are, I am inviting you to take this decision to come back to the Father. Please if you want to dedicate your life back to Jesus, I kindly ask you to come to the front and make your bold declaration. Jesus is waiting for you now. He will never condemn you. He loves you”
    Esther felt like a cold and gentle breeze blew across her entire body. Suddenly, she remembered her dream “I need to go back to my father” she shouted. Some people looked at her when she shouted. Jennifer gently held her hand, rubbing her hand on her palm and praying. Esther shouted again “I need to go back to my Father, my heavenly Father!” this time around she ran to the front and fell on her knees before the altar. Some members of the ushers gently held her to comfort her. Brian lifted up his hands and thanked God. Esther lay down on the floor as the choir sang songs of worship. She cried out “Father, I am here. I have come back to you. Please receive me Father. I went astray because I didn’t know you. Now I want to know you more.” The Pastor left the altar and prayed with her. Some other people had also come to the front to give their lives to Christ. Esther cried and was led to dedicate her life to Jesus. She prayed the prayer with so much sincerity and went back to her seat. Brian hugged her and she wept on his shoulder “It is over my dear. Welcome to a new world. A world of peace everlasting” he said.
    “I feel like a heavy load has just been lifted from off me. I feel light and free and while the Pastor was praying, I saw a great light that was shining before me. Now I understand the meaning of my dream. God wanted me back” Esther said as they left the church. Brian and Jennifer lifted up their hands and worshipped God “Oh God you are great. I thank you for this miracle that only you can do” Brian said

    Part 30

    Brian took Esther and Jennifer to his house for dinner. Brian’s mother had prepared a special dinner for all of them. Brian’s father had travelled out of the country for business. “Please enjoy your food.” Brian’s mother said that night as they had dinner. Brian told his mother how Esther had given her life to Christ that evening at church. Brian’s mother was more than happy to hear the news. She praised God and gave Esther a hug “My daughter, you will never regret the decision you have taken today” she said.
    After dinner, Brian drove Jennifer home. Esther stayed with his mother as she waited for Brian to take her to the motel.
    Brian’s mother made some tea for Esther and they both sat down in the living room.
    Brian’s mother: My dear Esther. I knew that God had a plan for you. He brought you here for a reason. Our God is so good
    Esther: Yes ma. Honestly, I cannot explain how I am feeling right now. I feel as if a new chapter has been opened in my life. I feel brand new
    Brian’s mother: Of course you have become new. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5: 17 that whoever is in Christ Jesus is a new creature, old things have passed away and everything has become new. When you give your life to Christ, you become a new person totally. Forget your past mistakes and pains. God is offering you an opportunity to live a new life.
    Esther: Amen. What amazes me is that I thought I knew God. I thought being a Christian is simply just attending service on Sunday and that’s it. I have been brought up in the church ever since I was born, but I have never experienced anything like this. I used to go to church every Sunday, but I never thought we could actually feel God’s presence the way I felt it this evening
    Brian’s mother: Hallelujah! You know my dear daughter, the problem we have with many Christians today is that they have become so religious. They think Christianity is just going to church, wearing suits and ties and singing and dancing. But there is more to it than that my dear. True Christianity is having a personal relationship with the Father. When you have a personal relationship with Him, you will be able to live the life that He commands us to live. That is why there are many people called Christians today who are so cold, have no love and cannot live the life that is biblical. It is simply because they don’t know the Father face to face. They have no relationship with Him, so they just do everything religiously like the Pharisees and Sadducees during the time of Jesus. They do things because they want to please men. But when you have a relationship with Father, you will learn to love because Father is love. You will learn to show compassion because you have been infused with His divine nature.
    Esther: But how can I know more about Him?
    Brian’s mother: Through His word. Find time to study His word, the Bible. Develop the habit of closing the door behind you in your closet and just learn about Him. When two people are in love, they always want to be together. It is the same thing with our Father. He longs to be with us at all times. The Bible represents who the Father is. Another important thing is fellowshipping with the brethren. Many people like saying going to church is not important, but believe me, it is. The Bible admonishes us not to despise fellowshipping with the brethren. When brethren gather together to listen to the Word of God or even to worship, God’s presence is made manifest. Even at school, make sure you go to church. Brian can take you with him every Sunday. I believe he also told me that they have a Christian students’ fellowship there. And please don’t forget to pray. Pray the way you wish. Talk to God just like you talk to your Father. Tell Him everything you desire or feel. With that, I can assure you that you are in for a good ride with the Driver of our lives: God Himself. Enjoy your ride
    Esther: Thank you Ma. I have taken note of that. I know it won’t be easy for me, but I will try. I have gone through so much, but now I am ready to move on
    Brian’s mother: That is why the Holy Spirit is there to help our infirmities and weaknesses. Let Him lead the way. Our Savior Jesus went through so much, but He held on to the hope of the crown that was laid before Him. Keep pressing, don’t live by sight but live by faith. Even when things seem hard, continue moving because one with God can never lose. Eventually, everything will work out for your good. What are you planning to do now? Are you going to inform the father of the precious baby you are carrying?
    Esther: Never! I don’t think he would even like to know. He has moved on with his life. I will take care of this baby alone
    Brian’s mother: Hmm. I understand how you feel right now, but I want you to understand that this is not just about you and the father of your baby. It is also about the child itself. Don’t let your anger towards the father rob your child of its relationship with its father. He also has the right to know about the existence of this child. If he decides to take care of the child, then fine! And if he decides not to, it is fine too. At least you would have informed him anyway.
    Esther: I will think about it Ma.
    Brian’s mother: Sure and don’t forget to pray about it too. I am sure the good Lord will show you the right way.
    Esther: Thank you ma.
    After some minutes, Brian came back and was ready to take Esther back to the motel. Esther thanked Brian’s mother. “Oh you are welcome. I am happy for you. And one more thing: please forgive anyone that has hurt you. Forgiveness releases you and sets you free. Take care and see you tomorrow” Brian’s mother said, giving her a warm hug. Esther felt so good. She jumped into Brian’s car excitedly and they left. Esther told Brian how relieved she felt. She also thanked him for his kindness. Throughout the short journey to the motel, Esther told him about her plans to get a good job in the capital and settle down alone. Brian listened to it all and smiled “Esther Esther! You are a wonderful being” he said, shaking his head with a smile. When they arrived at the motel, Brian held her hand and said “Esther. You cannot imagine just how happy I am right now. I knew God had a wonderful plan for you. I am sure my mother has told you more than enough. The only thing I want you to know is that you can always count on me as not just a friend, but as a brother. God has brought you in my life for a reason and I will try my best to be there for you. Jennifer and my entire family will also be there whenever you need them. I would have asked you to stay with us in the house, but I want you to take some time alone, to enjoy your freedom and relax your mind. Here, take this Bible and read it in your spare time. Jennifer and I will come to pick you up tomorrow around 10am so that we can go to the game reserve. Have a good night and sleep under the covering of our God”
    Tears were already flooding Esther’s eyes. She took the Bible and said “I don’t know what to tell you Brian. You are so amazing. Thank you for everything.” Brian smiled and gently pushed her ‘Go to bed now. You need to rest. Aunty mercy will bring some fruits for you. Good night mother of twins.” Esther laughed so hard and went to her room. That night, she sat on the well covered floor and meditated on what Brian’s mother had told her. She lifted her head up and, with tears in her eyes, said “Father. I know you can hear me now. I know I erred when I doubted your existence. Thank you for accepting me back. Father, I want to know you more. I want to feel your presence. I want to hear your gentle voice. Father right now, I am at crossroads. I do not know how to go about with my life. I terribly need your help. My unborn baby also needs your help. We both need your help. I feel like a new chapter has been opened in my life, but to tell you the truth, I don’t know how to start it. I need your help in everything.” She bowed her head and cried for some time. She then looked at the Bible which lay on the table, and picked it up slowly. She opened it and fell on a scripture in Matthew 11: 28 which read “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Esther looked at it carefully and read over five times. She closed her eyes and smiled “I have come Father. I have come. Give me rest.” Suddenly, she got on her knees with so much strength and prayed all manner of prayers with tears from her eyes. She worshipped, praised and just poured out her heart to God. She was in prayer for almost 1 hour 30 minutes. She didn’t even know when she slept off. When she woke up in the middle of the night, she realized that she was lying on the floor. She stood up and fell on her bed and slept like a baby.
    Esther stayed at the motel until the end of the holidays. She had become so joyful and spent most of her time studying the Bible and praying. Jennifer helped her to understand some scriptures as they had become good friends over the days. Jennifer had left a day before Esther and Brian left for the capital. Brian’s mother gave Esther a good sum of money to use while at the university. Esther had stayed in touch with her mother who informed her how violent her father had become. She explained that Jacob was becoming suspicious as he kept asking why she could not switch on her phone. He had threatened to go to her aunt’s place to see Esther, but Elder Barnabas had asked him to exercise a little patience, stating that she was in intensive adulthood teaching.
    The family driver took Brian and Esther to the university. They arrived in the early hours of the day as they had left in the night. Esther got out of the car reluctantly. She had enjoyed her stay at the motel and wished that it could continue forever. Brian first of all helped her to take her luggage to her room. Angela, who had already arrived, jumped on Esther when she saw her. ”I missed you so much my friend” Angela said. She looked at Brian and when he had left, she turned to Esther and said “Hmm. Are you hiding something from me again? This time around, I will just kill you if you dare try to keep secrets from me.” Esther laughed and put her hand on Angela’s shoulder “Don’t worry, I have a long story for you. Let me just get some rest and once I wake up, I will tell you everything’ she said. “Hmm. I think I love the sound of this” Angela said. Esther thanked Brian and went straight to bed. She was feeling quite tired.
    When she woke up, she found Angela reading through a magazine. It was almost noon. Esther woke up, stretching her arms like a baby. Angela went to lie on her chest “Wake up, wake up. I need to hear the story” she said. Esther laughed and woke up. She went to take a bath and came to meet Angela. “Can we go to the public garden? This place is very hot and I want some fresh air. The fan can wait” Esther said. ‘Hmm, I can’t feel the heat that much my dear. Are you alright?” Angela said innocently. Esther pulled her hand and they left the room. They sat under a huge tree at the public garden. Esther narrated her whole story to Angela
    Angela: Oh my God! I don’t know what to say to you Esther. I warned you not to throw yourself on David. But anyway, it has already happened and the only thing to do is to move forward. Life goes on. That child is now part of your life and you have to do everything possible to protect it. You need to inform David as soon as possible
    Esther: I am not going to do that. David has moved on with his life and the last thing I want to do now is to beg for his love
    Angela: You are not begging for his love. You are simply informing him of this situation. He deserves to know and your child needs to know the father too. Don’t be selfish Esther
    Esther: Listen Angela. I understand what you are trying to say, but I am not ready to tell him. I don’t want him to come to me just because of this child. I will tell him when the right time comes
    Angela: Ok. I won’t force you. I understand how you feel. But I am just glad that you have let go of the depression that took over you
    Esther: Jesus has taken away all my pain Angela. I don’t know how to explain this to you, but I am a changed being. I know the change is gradual but I can feel that something about me has changed
    Angela: I am happy for you. Brian has always seemed to be a nice guy. May God bless him and his family.
    Esther: Amen my dear. I can’t pay him and his family, only God can do it.
    Angela: I am just so shocked to hear that Jacob was sleeping with Naomi. May her soul rest in peace, but to be honest she was a real witch! And you know what? Yesterday when I arrived, I found some girls talking about Janet and Naomi in the dinning hall when Janet passed. One lady was saying that Janet was now taking over everything that Naomi had including her boyfriends. I couldn’t believe my ears
    Esther: What a shame! And she called herself Naomi’s best friend. Anyway Naomi got what she sowed. She betrayed me big time, telling me to leave Jacob so that she could take over. I thank God I am wiser now
    Angela: I wonder what Jacob will do when he finds out that you are pregnant
    Esther: I don’t care. Let him do what pleases him.
    Jacob arrived at Esther’s house. Elder Barnabas was the first one to welcome him “welcome my son. Please come in” he said. Jacob did not answer. Elder Barnabas knew that he had come to ask for Esther again. He didn’t know what to tell him again. Jacob entered the living room and sat down with a straight face. He did not allow Elder to talk before he opened his mouth and said “Elder. I am very disappointed with you. I can’t believe you could lie to me” Elder Barnabas was already getting nervous. “W-h-a-t d-o y-o-u mean my son?” He said stammering. Jacob sighed “You have been lying to me that Esther is at her aunt’s place and yet she is not. I was told by one of your neighbours that you chased her out of the house because she is pregnant. I know that what Esther and I did by committing fornication is wrong but please sir I am asking you to forgive us. I am ready to marry Esther even before the pregnancy begins to show. I am sure she is only about 3months down the line so we can get married before everyone knows. I actually gave a huge sum of money to the girl who told me. I asked her to keep her mouth shut” Jacob said
    Elder Barnabas and his wife were speechless. Elder couldn’t imagine that Esther had been having multiple sex partners. He knew that Esther couldn’tlie about who the father of the child was. But Elder was not ready to face the shame. “If this young man thinks he’s the one responsible for this pregnancy, then I will just lie to him that it is indeed his child. Then I can inform Esther and ask her to come back immediately after her exams for her wedding. They can get married without this man ever finding out the truth” he thought to himself so that the imageof our family can be preserved.” Esther’s mother was in shock as she imagined what could have gotten into her daughter for her to do such a thing. Finally Elder Barnabas spoke “My son. I must say I was very disappointed when I found out that my daughter is pregnant. Esther has never done such a thing in her life. I brought her up in a godly way. However, I do admit that we all aren’t perfect and sometimes we do make mistakes. I guess I am the one to blame because I gave both of you too much freedom to be seeing each other in private”…. Esther’s mother got surprised. She couldn’t understand where Elder was heading to. Elder continued ” Well the irreparable has been done and the only thing we can do is to move forward with the marriage preparations bec…” before Elder could finish his sentence, Esther’s mother shouted “Enough of these lies! Enough! You and I both know that Esther said Jacob is not the father of the child but another guy from school. Someone she loves”
    Elder Barnabas and Jacob looked at her in amazement. Elder Barnabas shouted “shut up woman! What do you know? What disrespect is this?” Esther’s mother also shouted back “I will not shut up. All my life I have respected and reveranced you, but today I cannot leave you to spoil the life of my child. She’s not a toy that we can toss about. She’s a human being just like you and I. Esther said she is pregnant for another man and I believe her because her pregnancy is not even up to 2 months. I don’t care what anyone says but my daughter deserves to live her life.” Jacob stood up and when Elder Barnabas tried to hold his hand to make him sit down, he pushed his hand and shouted “Leave me alone you old liar. You are nothing but a useless liar.” Elder Barnabas shouted “How dare you talk to me like this!” Jacob answered “I talk to you the way I want . I cannot respect an old fool whose only desire is to use me for my money. You poor family. If it was not because of me, you would have died in poverty. Useless pigs!” Elder Barnabas could not believe his ears. No one had ever insulted him in such a manner. Jacob left the house in fury. Elder Barnabas looked at his wife and said firmly “You are leaving this house. Esther’s mother screamed “Let me leave. I’d rather leave than stay with a guilty conscious of such a pathetic lie. Pack my bags and throw me out of this house please!!” Elder did not know what to do anymore. He hurried to the bedroom while his wife waited for her luggage in the living room.

    Part 31

    Elder Barnabas came back to the living room, breathing profusely. His wife looked at him expecting to see her luggage, but it was nowhere to be seen. She understood that he did not have the courage to chase her out of the house. They both sat in the living room each one facing different directions. Elder Barnabas shook his head “Esther you have brought shame to this house after everything that I have done for you. I am not sure if I should hand you over to Satan or just allow the Lord to deal with you. What will be said of me at church and in this community at large? I will be considered a failure, a man that cannot teach his children the right way to follow. A man that cannot even be respected by his wife. I am sure Jacob will tell everyone everything that has happened here today” he said. Esther’s mother wanted to respond but she held her peace. She stood up and went to the bedroom. Elder Barnabas shouted “Where are you going woman? How dare you walk out on me like that without my permission?” His wife looked at him in anger and walked away, not paying attention to him. Elder Barnabas stood up and ran to the bedroom, locked it and put the keys into his pocket. Esther’s mother paid no attention to him. She just turned back and went to the kitchen while Elder sat down in the living room. Daniel arrived and suspected that something had happened. He went to the kitchen and whispered to his mother to ask what was going on. “I will tell you everything later” his mother said. Suddenly Elder Barnabas shouted “Daniel, please come and buy some lunch for me from the restaurant. I don’t ever want to eat anything from this house!” Daniel hurried to where his father was calling from. He collected the money and went to carry out the errand. “Do what pleases you” Esther’s mother said to herself as she put water on the stove.
    In the evening of that very day, Esther decided to switch her phone on. She found more than 50 messages from Jacob. Some of the messages were love messages where he was telling her how much he missed her. Esther sneered as she read. Then she suddenly stumbled upon other messages that seemed quite disrespectful. “You b**tch, sl**t, so all this while you were with me, you were also opening your legs for that idiot of a boy called David…….You are such a whore. You will regret what you have done. I am about to sue your useless dad for collecting money from me and trying to lie to me that I am responsible for your pregnancy……..we will see just how they will manage to pay off what they have taken form me…….I will inform the whole church about your lack of control………Your parents will be the laughing stock of the whole city…….and many more messages. Esther’s heart beat fast when she read them all. She did not know how to react. She wanted to respond by insulting Jacob and asking him to go to hell, but she erased her messages and kept thinking. She thought of her mother. She wondered what had happened. She was alone in the hostel as Angela had gone out. She then put her phone on the bed and knelt down. “Holy Spirit, I have been told that you are the one that knows all things and that you are my Comforter and Director. Right now I don’t know what to do and how to react. Please help me. I feel like just insulting this man for all the bad things he has done to me, but I am also thinking that you wouldn’t think it’s a good idea. What should I do?” she prayed. She continued on her knees and thought about what to do. Someone knocked at the door and when she opened the door she found that it was Brian. “Hello my dear Esther, how are you doing?” he said. Esther was happy to see him “I am doing fine Brian and you? I hope you had some rest” she said. “Yes I did, thank you. I came to ask if you don’t mind going with me to the Christian students’ fellowship Bible study and prayer meeting. It starts in the next 30 minutes. I am sorry I had to come straight to your room. That’s because I couldn’t get hold of you on the phone” Brian answered. Esther looked excited “Of course Brian, with all pleasure. I just switched on my phone a couple of minutes ago. Let me call my friend Angela to go with us…..Oh there she is…Angela sweetheart, let’s go for Bible study. I think you and I both need it” she said as Angela walked in. Angela happily accepted and they all left at once.
    The meeting was being held in one of the classrooms. A good number of students were all inside the hall as others also came in. Brian went round greeting the students. He seemed to be quite popular as everyone greeted him back with so much respect. He asked Esther and Angela to sit down, gave them two note books and pens and went to the front. He looked at his watch and said “Ok dear brethren, I think it is now time for us to start. It is indeed good to see you all after our short break. Shall we all be on our feet as we give thanks to our God for yet another privilege to be in his presence this evening?” All the students stood up and with hands lifted up, gave thanks to God. Esther and Angela prayed along and after about five minutes, Brian invited a young lady to lead them in worship. The lady had such a beautiful voice. Esther went down on her knees as they sang songs of worship. She felt so good and relaxed. She didn’t want it to stop, but finally the worship was over and it was now time for the Bible study to commence. One of the male students rose up and introduced the theme of the study “Today we shall be looking at how to overcome evil with good. Let us all open the book of Romans chapter 12 and verse 21 which says Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good . Can someone please tell me what they think this means? ” he said. Some students raised up their hands and gave their own explanation of what they thought could be the meaning. The student then asked them to form groups of 4 people in order to discuss the scripture. Esther and Angela belonged to the same group with two other fellows. They listened carefully as they spoke. Esther and Angela also gave their views on the subject. When it was time to consolidate their answers, Brian stood up and gave a small teaching on the subject “Brethren we all know that one of the hardest things to do is to be good to those who have wronged us. But we have to understand that Christ commanded us to do so. Can you imagine that even when he had been crucified, He still asked the Father to forgive them? It’s simply because He was filled with the love of the Father in Him. We all need to learn to forgive those that have hurt us. I know it’s not an easy thing to do, but it brings healing to you. Lack of forgives is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. When we forgive, we manifest divine nature and we free our hearts from bitterness. I know someone might have hurt you. I know maybe someone even sent you a disrespectful message or even insulted you, but I advise you to forgive and forget. Leave all things in the hands of the Lord who is the rewarder of all men, whether good or bad. Your role is to forgive and God’s role is to reward. That is why I am asking each and every one of you to bow your heads down and think about anyone that has hurt you and you have been finding it hard to forgive. Imagine Jesus on the cross asking the Father to forgive those that pierced his body with swords, cursed him, spat on him and hanged him on the cross. Then liberate yourself from the bitterness and free your life from captivity. None of you here deserves to be held in captivity. No one has the right to be master over you. You can free yourself now” Brian said.
    All of a sudden, some students began to cry. Esther was trying to retain her tears but when she saw Angela on her knees crying, she burst out into tears and also cried. Brian shouted “Forgive them, liberate your life, tell the Father that you have forgiven them. Free yourself. You have the key to open the door to freedom now. Go ahead and just free your mind right now.” He also knelt down and prayed. Esther prayed “Oh my Father. I forgive everyone that has hurt me. I forgive my father, my mother. Yes I forgive David and Jacob and I ask you to forgive me also for keeping malice in my heart. Father liberate me today and let me live in total freedom.” Angela was also on her knees pouring her heart out to God. When they had finished praying, they all held hands and prayed together. After prayers, they greeted each other: handshakes and hugs, encouraging each other in the Lord. Esther and Angela were excited. Brian hugged both of them with a smile on his face “God bless you both for coming” he said. One lady came to meet him and asked him to pray for her concerning a certain issue. He held her by the hand and went to sit down with her a few meters away. Angela and Esther looked at him as he held her hands and prayed with her. “This man is heaven sent” Esther said. ‘You can say that again. He is so full of love and compassion” Angela answered. When Brian had finished, they left the classroom and headed to their rooms. Brian cracked some jokes and the two ladies laughed so hard. As they were walking, they met David coming from the opposite direction. He looked at them in surprise. Esther’s heart was beating so fast. David did not expect any greeting from Esther, but he got the shock of his life when Esther ran to give him a hug “David. It’s so good to see you after such a while. How are you my dear?” she said. Before David could try to figure out what was happening, Angela also gave him a hug “Hello Mr. David, what’s up?” she said. “Er-er-er-er I am fine thank you ladies. What a surprise! You both look very good” he said. He looked at Brian who was smiling and gave him a handshake “Hi bro. How are you? I have not forgotten about your invitation to the fellowship. I will come very soon. I have just been busy with work and school” David said. Brian smiled “No problem bro. You are welcome at any time” he said. David longed to talk to Esther, but he did not know just how to go about it. Esther smiled and left with Brian and Angela. David looked back and thought “Wow. What is going on? Why can’t I control my feelings over this girl? She looks so radiant like never before. Something about her has changed.”
    The next couple of days, David was still thinking about Esther. He desired to talk to her, but he was afraid of her reaction. “After what I did to her, I don’t think she could ever want to be friends with me again. And I hope that she is not seeing that born again guy. I love this girl. I can’t seem to forget about her no matter what happens. Eish!” he thought to himself as he lay on the bed on night. He picked up his phone and sent her a message “Hello Esther”
    Esther: Hi David. Good evening
    David: Good evening my dear. How are you?
    Esther: I am fine thanks by God’s grace and you?
    David: I am a little bit fine
    Esther: Why a little bit? Is everything ok?
    David: Not really, but I’ll be fine I guess
    Esther: Ok. May God give you strength to get over whatever situation you are facing
    David: Amen. Thanks. So what’s up with you?
    Esther: I am fine. I couldn’t be better.
    David: I am happy to hear that. You looked so radiant the other day when we met. Beautiful as ever!
    Esther: Thank you
    David: Are you still with your fiancé?
    Esther: lol. Why the question?
    David: I just want to know. We are friends aren’t we?
    Esther: Sure. Maybe we can talk about it another time. I am feeling sleepy right now. Good night my dear. May God protect you
    David: Oh come on! Let’s just chat for a few more minutes then you can go to sleep.
    Esther: Later my dear. Good night
    David: Please, I am on my knees. Please
    Esther did not respond to the message. David called her but she did not pick up. “What is wrong with me? This girl is engaged for heaven’s sake! Why are my feelings getting even stronger?” he said to himself, throwing the phone on the other side of the bed.
    Early in the morning as Elder Barnabas was pulling some weeds from the garden, he received visitors. It was Jacob, his father and three other elders from the church, including the Chief Elder. Elder Barnabas knew he was in trouble “Oh dear Lord, help me” he said. He went to meet them and asked them to enter the living room. Esther’s mother was in the living room. She respectfully greeted all of them even though Jacob refused to greet both her and Elder.
    When they sat down, Esther’s mother offered them something to drink but they all rejected the offer. “Thank you my dear, but I am alright. God bless you” the Chief Elder said. He also demanded that she sits with them as they had something to discuss with them.
    Chief Elder: My fellow Elders, son and sister I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We apologize to you Elder Barnabas for embarking on this journey to you house without even notifying you in advance. But I believe this is a matter that has to be dealt with much sense of urgency. We received information here from our son Jacob that his supposedly fiancée who happens to be your daughter has committed an abomination both before men and before God by becoming pregnant for another man
    Jacob’s father: Aieeee! Jesus!
    Chief Elder: Before I go any further, I would like to hear from the horse’s mouth if indeed what we have heard is true
    Elder Barnabas: Well, according to my daughter, she is pregnant for another man. However, Jacob here confessed to us some few days back that he also had sexual intercourse with her, so we cannot tell the whole truth here unless maybe we carry out the tests necessary to know who the father is
    Jacob: Which tests? You think I am mad? Your wife here told me that she is not up to 2 months pregnant so I cannot be the father of that bastard
    Esther’s mother: How dare you talk about my daughter like that in our house! Listen to me you disrespectful fool. If you have nothing good to say here, I will personally chase you out of this house! Nonsense!
    Jacob: Not until you have paid back everything you stole from me
    Chief Elder: Jacob! Shut up and sit down here! What kind of a thing is this? Can’t you allow us to finish before you can talk? Have some respect please!…….. Now, Elder Barnabas, your daughter told you that Jacob is not responsible for her pregnancy and even your wife here confirmed it. We all know that this young man Jacob had good intentions towards your family by asking for the hand of your daughter in marriage and also showed goodwill towards you all. However, your daughter paid him with evil by stabbing him on his back. We are all so disappointed and after having some discussions with the church disciplinary committee, we have come up with some decisions that will need to be taken. Please note that all these decisions are biblical and we are doing them for the good of the church which is Christ’s body. The first thing we have decided to do is to call off the planned wedding of our son to your daughter, Esther with immediate effect.
    Jacob’s father: Oh yes!!!!
    Chief Elder: and according to our son here, he wants to take back some of the things that he gave to you as a gift for granting him the hand of your daughter in marriage. I have a list of the things here on this paper. They include: the car, the dowry amount in totality, at least half of the amount he spent on fertilizer for your farm and also the two phones he bought for you and your son Daniel. He also says there are many other things he got for you, but he has decided to forgive you and count them out, out of respect for you. Then the second decision that was taken is your excommunication from the Elders’ board and any other leadership position that you hold in church. This also means that you can longer occupy the Elder’s seat behind the Reverend. You will now be seating in the congregation like ordinary members. It is not a good example to have an Elder who cannot teach his children moral values. But please understand that this does not mean that you are no longer welcome in the church. The church belongs to Jesus and you are free to worship there anytime you want. So please, feel free. We are still brethren in the Lord.
    Elder Barnabas felt like a sharp sword was pierced his heart. He did not know what to say, but he gathered the little courage he had and said “My dear Elders. I have heard everything that you have said and I am ready to comply with it. However, I am asking you to plead with our son Jacob to give me some time to gather the money necessary to pay him back for the things he bought for us. As you know, I am on retirement and I am still waiting for my retirement package to arrive.
    Chief Elder: That is no problem. How long do you think you will need to gather this amount?
    Elder Barnabas: Well at least 12 months
    Jacob: What! 12 months for what? Did it take me 12 months to give it to you? I need my money within two months because I will start preparing for my wedding with another lady who deserves my love and care.
    Chief Elder: Jacob! Please calm down. Our Elder, I mean Barnabas, has explained to us that he does not have enough money. I suggest we give him at least 6 months to pay back the debt. Barnabas, is that ok?
    Elder Barnabas: Yes my Elder. I will try my best
    Chief Elder: Ok, thank you very much for your time. We need to leave now. So since our son is here with us, I think it will be better for you to give him back the car and the two phones.
    Elder Barnabas slowly walked to his room. He went to Daniel’s room also and came back with the car keys and the two phones in his hands. He then handed them over to the Chief Elder who departed from the living room. As they got outside, Jacob said “Chief Elder, please help me drive this car to your house. I will pick it up later in the evening. And here, you can give these phones to your daughter Clara and her sister.” The Chief Elder entered the car with the other visitors and Jacob entered his car with his father. Esther’s’ mother watched them as they left with tears running from her eyes. She felt broken. Daniel was also watching from the window. Elder Barnabas slowly entered the house with so much sadness. He sat down on the chair and put his hand on his chin. He breathed deeply as he thought about everything that had happened.

    Part 32

    “Mom. I know that what I did was wrong by engaging myself in immoral activities, but I want you to know that Jacob is not the person you think he is. He is a monster” Esther said when her mother called her on the phone in the evening. “I know my daughter. I do not condemn you in any way. Whatever has happened has happened and we need to trust in God for the way forward. Your father is still in shock and I believe that with time, he shall get over it” her mother answered. “I will try my best to find something to do here so that I can help him to gather money to pay off the debt that he owes Jacob. I know God will make a way for us” Esther answered. It was a long discussion. Her mother didn’t want to cut the line. She had gone to one of her trusted neighbors to make the call as Elder and her son didn’t have phones again. Tears filled her eyes as she talked to her daughter. Esther was also filled with pity. She imagined what the family was going through. “Anyway, God is in control” she said to herself. Jacob kept sending her warning messages with abusive language, but Esther did not respond. “Angela, do you know how I can block this man? I am honestly tired of seeing his messages all the time” she said. Angela took her phone and with a simple click, blocked Jacob’s calls and messages. Esther was happy and felt relieved. She received another message ‘Oh no, I hope he is not using another number now!” Esther shouted. She opened the message and sighed “Oh thank heavens! It’s not him. It’s David. I wonder what he wants this time around” she said. Angela looked at her with curiosity. The message read “Hi Esther. Can we meet this evening at 7. I have something important to discuss with you. Please.” Esther shook her head “Men! When they want something, they can be very deceiving” she said.
    Angela: But Esther. I thought you had always loved David. Don’t you think this is your opportunity to make things right with him?
    Esther: Which things? Yes I did love David, but I am no longer desperate for love. I found the love and peace I was looking for in Christ.
    Angela: I understand and you are perfectly right. No one loves us more than Christ, but David is the father of your child and he needs to know. Do you want to have a child that will not know its father?
    Esther: Angie, with time, I will inform him about it. I just don’t want him to think that I am using my pregnancy to have him in my life. You know I am no longer the person I used to be. I no longer look down on myself. I have read from the Bible that I have so much value in the eyes of Father and that is why He even sent His only Son to die for me. I cannot be chasing after love from men. Love should find me where I am. David is seeing Betty and I definitely don’t want to be the cause of their separation. If he truly loves me, he will put everything in order and come after me.
    Angela: But don’t you think that is what he is trying to do?
    Esther: No I don’t think so. I think he is trying to be selfish. It’s not even more than two months since I saw both of them together. He cannot be jumping from one lady to another and at the moment, I don’t even want to get involved with any man. I want to concentrate on my studies and see the way forward. God will bring the right man to me when the time is right. You have always told me to do so. So I don’t understand why you are now pushing me to David
    Angela: Because I care about you and your child
    Esther: Don’t worry dear. Everything is under control. As for David, he can continue in his state of confusion. May God help him and show him the way
    Angela laughed “Wow! You have really changed and I guess you have changed for the good. I am happy” she said. Esther smiled and continued revising, completely ignoring David’s message.
    The final exams were coming up in the next three weeks and students were preparing adequately. Esther and Angela were also in deep preparations for the exams. They were constantly revising and studying hard. They continued attending the Christian students’ fellowship and were becoming even more excited about knowing more about God. Brian was ever kind and friendly. The three: Angela, Esther and Brian had now become best of friends within a short period of time. They were usually found together after classes and did revisions together as they all studied the same course. David was becoming more paranoid. He had tried his best to get in touch with Esther but it was all to no avail as she also tried her best to avoid him. At times, he went to see her in her room, but she would ask Angela to tell him that she was not around. He still hoped to see her soon.
    One afternoon during lunch break, David found Esther, Angela and Brian having lunch together. His heart was filled with jealousy. He sat behind them constantly looking at them. He could see Esther laughing loudly as Brian talked. “She looks more beautiful every single day I see her” he said to himself. He ate his lunch with anger and left. In the evening, as he was going to his shop, he met Brian on the way to their Bible study. David told himself that it was his chance to talk to Brian. Brian was the first to greet him with a merry heart “Hello bro . How are you doing?” he said.
    David: I am doing fine thank you and you?
    Brian: Very well, by God’ grace. I am still waiting for you hahaha
    David: Hahaha. No problem my bro. I will come very soon.
    Brian: Ok. Remember that we only have a few weeks left before the end of the term
    David: Sure. I will be there soon. Actually I am glad that I met you today. I wanted to find out something from you. I hope you can spare a few minutes
    Brian: Definitely. Our prayer meeting starts in the next 20 minutes or so. So you can go ahead. I am all ears
    David: Thanks man. I don’t you know if you are aware that Esther and Angela have been my very good friends for over three years now
    Brian: Oh yes, I am aware of it.
    David: Great. Well, I just wanted to find out something from you. Please forgive my curiosity. I am not trying to poke my nose in your business but I just want to clarify certain things. Are you seeing any of those ladies?
    Brian: Hahaha. What a question! Anyway I do understand why you ask such a question. I know that of late, we have been quite close. No, I am not seeing any of them bro. They are just my friends. I actually have a fiancée but she is not in this school. Esther and Angela are very good ladies. We fellowship together.
    David: Oh ok. Thank you for the information. Sorry again for my curiosity, but do you know if Esther is still engaged?
    Brian: Hmm. That can only be answered by Esther herself because I don’t think she would be happy to hear that I am talking about her private life. But why all these questions, if I may ask?
    David: phew! It’s a long story bro. you definitely seem to be like someone that is trustworthy, but I don’t think it is of use to tell you about it. Maybe I am just being paranoid for nothing.
    Brian: You don’t have to be. Maybe I can help. Are you in love with her?
    David: hmm. I don’ t know what to say. We have known each other for a long time now and so many things have happened between the two of us. We went from best of friends to enemies, even though she pretends as if she has nothing against me. The truth is that I have fallen deeply in love with her and I don’t know what to do. I know she has a fiancé but I feel she is not meant for him
    Brian: How do you know that she is meant for you?
    David: I can feel it in my bones bro. I have met different girls in my life, but none of them has stolen my heart like Esther. I have tried so many times to forget about her, but the feeling won’t go away. And the strange part is that ever since we came back from the short break, the day I saw her, I felt like there is something connecting both of us. I can’t explain it, but the feeling was so strong
    Brian: What do you mean?
    David: I don’t know mehn! I felt like she was having a part of me. I don’t know how to explain it anyway. Maybe I am just being too obsessed with this girl.
    Brian kept quiet for a while. He knew exactly why David was feeling that way, but he dared not tell him the truth.
    Brian: Well bro. I understand perfectly how you are feeling. I have been and I am still in love with my fiancée and I know how I felt when our relationship was almost being torn apart
    David: Really? And how did you manage to solve the issue
    Brian: Well, our story might be a little different from yours, but I just made up my mind to conquer her love for me. I put childish things aside and did my very best to win her heart again. You know, I learnt that women love strong willed men; they want to be conquered at all times. So if you truly think that both of you are meant to be together, then go for it. You might start by following me to the fellowship now because Esther will be there. Hahaha
    David: Oh really? Then I won’t take any chances. I am coming with you
    Brian: Hahaha. So now that you have heard that Esther is there, you finally decide to come? May God arrest you
    David: Hahaha. Yes indeed!
    Brian and David hurried to the classroom where the prayer meeting and Bible study were being held. David was excited as he hoped to see Esther. As usual, a good number of students were already gathered inside. David sat right at the back and the meeting started. He kept looking back and forth to see if Esther was there. He was not even praying when the opening prayer was announced. Five minutes after the start of the meeting, Esther and Angela walked in. David’s heart beat fast as he looked at Esther. However, Esther and Angela had not seen him. They went straight to some seats in front and joined in the prayers. The Bible study for that day was centered on “living to please God”
    Brian was the one taking the teaching for the day. He talked about how one can live a life that pleases God. He explained with so much enthusiasm and conviction. David, who had not been paying much attention, was drawn to the teaching when Brian gave his personal testimony “I am a living testimony of what I am saying right now. I used to live a worldly life, a life that had no meaning. My parents gave me everything that I needed. I had money and could go anywhere I wanted, but deep within me, I felt an empty space that needed to be filled. I thought I could find fulfilment in drinking, womanizing and even stealing, but all these things led me into more frustration. I was trying to find my purpose of living, but it was to no avail. I hurt the people that loved me: my parents and even my fiancé. I thank God for their love. They kept praying for me. But a day came when I had to take a decision that changed my life. I was driving one night after a long drinking spree with my friends at a night club. On the way, I lost control of the car and it went straight into the forest. The car turned at least twice before hitting a huge tree. I hang upside down with blood dripping from my nose, ears and mouth. I could not feel my legs anymore because they were stuck. I was hoping to see passersby to rescue me but there was none because it was in the middle of the night. At that particular time, I remembered my mother’s words “God is a present help in times of need.” I was afraid to call on God because I knew He knew that I had been a bad person. I felt I was not qualified to even mention His name. I feared that He would just kill me brutally. But somehow, as the pain on my head became intense, I had no option but to give it a try. So with pain and shame all over my face, I cried <God. If truly you can hear me, please come to my rescue. I know I haven’t been a good person but I promise that if you bring me out of this situation, I will change and serve you all the days of my life. I will tell people about you and I will not be ashamed of you> I could see, because of the lights of the car, blood that was dripping on the ground from my nose. I was losing hope. I told myself that God couldn’t possibly hear a sinner like me. But suddenly, I heard a noise. My car made a crack and within a few seconds, it fell on one side, allowing me to go through the other door. I crawled out of the car with the little strength I had. I dragged one of my legs because I was badly hurt. Then I started moving, dragging my feet towards one direction. I knew the area very well so I knew where I was: there was a small village just on the east side of the road. I took the journey towards the village. It was painful, but I knew God had given me a second chance to live. After a couple of minutes, I could see some lights. I rushed in desperation. I had arrived in the village. Everyone seemed to be sleeping and with a loud voice I cried out “Help me! Somebody help me!” Some men form the village came out with hunting guns to see what was going on. I was already on the ground lying in a pool of blood. I lifted up my hand and cried again “Please help me.” And that was the last thing I remembered. When I woke up, I found myself in a small hospital. I was later told that the village men had taken me to their local clinic. My body was full of bandages, but I was glad that God had given me another chance to live. My parents were informed and they transferred me to a private clinic. My brethren, within a few weeks, I had totally recovered: no broken bone, no fracture. I was bouncing in sound health. I came out not only good physically, but spiritually also because I had been renewed. I had been forgiven and given a second chance. Today, I can proudly say that I am a living testimony of God’s mercies and grace. Maybe you are here and you are wondering what life holds for you. You are not sure of the reason of your existence. I have good news for you: Jesus is here waiting for you. He is ready to take you back if only you make the decision to follow Him like I did and just like me, He will change your life and make you a whole new person” Brian said. Everyone clapped their hands. David was touched. He had never heard such a profound message. He fought in his heart whether to respond to the call that was being made or not. Some few students stood up and went to the front. He also stood up and joined them, with his hand on his chest.
    Esther and Angela looked at each other in astonishment. Esther couldn’t believe that David had been there all along. Brian smiled with joy in his heart as he saw David giving his life to Christ. The whole group stood up and sang songs of praise. When the meeting was over, Esther walked up to David and said “Hi David. It’s good to see you here. What brought you here?” David smiled “Hi Esther. The same thing that brought you here” he said. Brian came to meet them and shook hands with David, congratulating him for the decision he had just taken “You’ll never regret it my bro” he said. David looked so touched and humbled. He was quiet and kept looking at Esther. Esther, who seemed to be suspicious of him, said “It was nice seeing you. I need to go now. I have some things to do urgently.” David wanted to talk to her, but Brian made a sign to him to hold his peace. Esther and Angela left. Angela clapped her hands “Wow. I am so happy to know that David has joined us” she said. Esther was quiet. She then answered “I don’t think his salvation is genuine. I believe he only came there to show me that he is now interested in church things. Men can be very subtle and I am not ready to fall for his gimmicks. I am not a small girl anymore. It’s just sad that people can even use God to get have their targets met.” Angela could not continue the discussion as she could see that Esther was not considering it a laughing matter.
    That evening Esther was taking a walk near the hostels when she met Betty. Betty gave her a hug ‘Hello Esther. It’s been a long time. How are you doing?” she said. Esther was not very happy to see her, but she gave a fake smile “Hi betty. I am doing fine thanks and you?” she said. “Oh I am alright. Just running a little late. I have a date with David tonight and I am sure he has been waiting for me for a long time. Hahaha. I’ll see you later. Take care” Betty said. Esther smiled “Oh great. Please pass my regards to him” she said. Betty went running to prove her point. Esther shook her head “Hmm. David you are a wolf in sheep’s clothing” she said to herself. Surprisingly, a few minutes after that, David sent a message to Esther which read “Hi Esther. I was happy to see you this evening. I had a wonderful time. I feel so relieved and I believe this is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I hope we can meet one of these days. I miss you my friend.” Esther read the message with so much frustration. She took her phone and blocked David’s number. She was determined not to hear from him again.

    Part 33

    Elder Barnabas had become hysterical. He tried to figure out how he could get the money to pay off the debt. He had tried to go to the department of pensions to request for his benefits but he was told they could only be ready after about six months. He was getting devastated. “Please bring my black coat over here. It’s almost 8 am and we are late for church service. Mtcheww!” Elder Barnabas shouted at his son Daniel. He had refrained from talking to his wife the way he used to. Only on rare occasions did he speak a few words to her. His wife was not bothered at all. She knew that it was just a phase and that it would soon pass and things would go back to normal. They all hurried and walked to the church, as it was not very far.
    As they entered the church auditorium, they all sat in the congregation. Elder was feeling terrible and ashamed because of the situation. He looked at his fellow elders seated behind the Reverend. The Chief Elder looked at him and quickly turned his face to the altar. Jacob was also seated behind the elders. After a few minutes, he climbed the altar and led the congregation in the reading of the call to worship. Esther’s mother looked at him in anger. Seated a few pews from them was Clara, the Chief Elder’s daughter and her friends. As the service was going on, Esther’s mother noticed that Clara was pointing at them. She seemed to be whispering something to her friend and they both laughed to scorn. Esther’s mother did not mind. She listened carefully to the teachings. At the end of the service, Elder Barnabas went to greet the other elders, but most of them seemed to be ignoring him. One of them said to him “Elder, you know that you are not supposed to come near these seats. If you truly wanted to greet us, you should have waited until we come to the congregation seats. This is an abomination.” Elder was shocked. “Has it gotten to this?” he said, with his hands on his waist. The elder did not respond. He just looked at Elder Barnabas and turned back. Elder Barnabas left the elders’ pews and went to meet his wife and son who were waiting for him outside. Meanwhile, Clara and her friend passed near Esther’s mother. Clara clapped her hands and laughed “That’s what happens when you think you are holier than anyone in church. Haha. Nothing is hidden under the sun. Eventually the truth always comes out. Some girls pretend as if they are holy and yet they are opening their legs for any man that passes by” she said. Esther’s mother was hurt by these words. She pulled Clara by her dress and warned her “If you ever try to talk nonsense about my daughter, I will personally beat you and throw you on the road. Silly girl!” she said. Some worshippers who were watching came to separate them. “What is going on here Mama Esther?” the man said. Esther’s mother refused to respond. Elder Barnabas and Daniel pulled her by the hand and drew her out of the church premises. Clara shouted, shedding fake tears “I don’t know what I have done to her. I was just discussing with my friend here. Instead of disciplining her daughter, she thinks she can pounce on me. Remove the log in your own eye before you can remove the speck in another man’s eye” she cried.
    Elder Barnabas was furious “What is wrong with you? How can you be fighting with such a small girl? Now people will think that we are a useless family!” he said to her. Esther’s mother kept quiet. She wanted to answer him back, back because of the respect she had for him, she decided to keep quiet. Daniel was shocked by everything that was happening in his family. Elder Barnabas arrived home and went straight to lie on his bed.
    “Esther I wish to speak to you for a minute please” Brian said to Esther as they left the class in the evening. “Sure, let’s sit over there” Esther said pointing to some benches outside. Angela went back to the hostel.
    Brian: Esther I know that we have discussed this issue before but I just want to encourage you to think about it again. It’s about David.
    Esther: Oh Brian please leave this matter. I have told you several times that I don’t want to have anything to do with that guy.
    Brian: He’s not just a guy; he is the father of your unborn child. You can’t leave him in the open air just like that. He deserves to know what is going on. For the past five days now, ever since he gave his life to Christ, he has been coming to my room every evening to have a Bible study with me. I cannot say that he is perfect, but my spirit tells me that he is a good man. He is a few years older than me but I have never seen such humility in a man like the one he has. He literally listens to everything I tell him and is always ready to take up any task I ask him to do.
    Esther: People can pretend. I know that he only came to the fellowship simply because he wanted to see me and since he knows that you and I are friends, he wants to use you to get to me. His salvation is not genuine
    Brian: God forbid! Esther how can you even say such a thing? Who are you to judge another man’s salvation? Instead of thanking God for the salvation of a soul, you are busy condemning this guy. That’s not what the Lord asks us to do. Can you imagine if we all had to be judged based on things we have done in the past?
    Esther was quiet for a moment. She regretted her words and felt bad.
    Esther: You are right. I have no right to say such a thing. But Brian, you need to put yourself in my shoes. How do you expect me to just bring him back in my life after everything that has happened?
    Brian: I am not asking you to bring him back into your life. I am only asking you to inform him about the pregnancy. And anyway, what wrong did David commit? You had a fiancé and you were even seen with another man. David only moved on with his life. Did you expect him to put his life on hold simply because he was in love with you? And anyway, all those things are in the past now. He is a new creature. Old things have passed away and everything has become new.
    Esther: Nothing has become new. Do you know that the same day he came to the fellowship, I met Betty who was boasting of a date she had with him that night?
    Brian: What? Are you serious?
    Esther: Of course! And you expect me to believe him! I am not a fool
    Brian: Hmm. Anyway, only God knows the truth. I cannot say that the lady was lying but one thing I know is that David is ready for change. I have seen it in his eyes. I can only ask you to continue praying for him to be established in the faith because God has great plans for him
    Esther: Ok!
    Esther walked to her hostel convinced that David was just trying to play games with her. She was determined to hide the information from him. Meanwhile, David attended the next fellowship meeting with them. Esther was trying to ignore him and thought he would try to talk to her. However, David seemed so carried away by the prayers that he hardly even looked at Esther. Immediately after the meeting, he came rushing to where Esther and Angela were standing and greeted them with a smile “Ok, great. I will see you guys later. I need to rush to my shop. God bless” he said and quickly left the class, waving to Brian. “Hmm. Someone is trying to play hard to get again” Angela said. Esther smiled “Maybe it’s his new strategy, but I won’t fall for it” she said. Much to Esther’s surprise, this situation continued even during the next meeting days. David was always focused on prayers and the Bible study and rarely had time to even talk to Esther and Angela. Esther was becoming restless because of this situation. She wondered what was going on. “I am sure he has decided to focus on his relationship with Betty. May God grant them favor. As for you my baby, don’t worry about anything. God is here for us and will definitely take good care of us” she said to herself, placing her hands on her tummy. It was Friday afternoon and she was revising as exams were to start the following Monday. She was also scheduled to lead the Bible study that evening. Suddenly, she started feeling some sharp pains in her stomach. They were quite painful that she shouted “Ouch! Ouch! That hurts!” She took her phone and called Angela who came running. She found Esther lying on the bed with hands on her stomach. ‘Esther, what is it?” she asked in fear as she sat next to her. “I am having some sharp pains in my tummy. I think I need to go to the hospital” Esther said. Angela helped her to get up and helped her to put on her shoes. “Let’s go to the dispensary now” Angela said. Esther said firmly “No, I don’t want to go to the dispensary. Let’s go to the general hospital. I don’t want anyone at the dispensary to know that I am pregnant” she said. They both walked out of the hostel slowly. Esther tried to be strong.
    “Oh there is nothing to worry about. These are just normal physical changes your body goes through as it gears up for carrying your baby. They will eventually disappear with time. Just make sure you don’t involve yourself in heavy physical exercise, have enough rest and drink a lot of fluids especially water. You can try to take a walk from time to time and also ask your husband to give your lower back a gentle rub” the Doctor said to Esther after the tests. Esther looked at Angela and smiled ‘Husband indeed” she said. She stood up, thanked the doctor and they left. Throughout the day, she was not feeling very well, so she decided to send a message to Brian to inform him about it and excuse herself from not being able to attend the prayer meeting that evening. Brian called her and prayed with her on the phone. In the evening after the meeting, Brian who was rushing to come and pay Esther a visit was called by David. ‘Hey bro. Where are you rushing to?” he asked. “I am going to see Esther. I was told that she is not feeling very well today. That is why she couldn’t make it this evening and Angela said she also had to be absent in order to keep an eye on her” Brian answered. “Do you know what is wrong?” David asked. Brian hesitated for a while and then said “Hmm. I am not very sure yet”
    David insisted that he would go with Brian. When they arrived, they found Esther lying on her bed, covering herself with a blanket. She was surprised to see David. She trembled in fear as she thought that Brian had told him the truth. David greeted her and gave her a warm hug “Hello Esther. What are you doing on the bed and who told you that you are sick? Come on get up and show the world that you are strong!” he said jokingly. Esther and everyone in the room laughed. “I am feeling much better thanks David” she answered. “So madam, have you taken any medication?” Brian asked. He was trying to avoid so many questions as he did not want David to suspect anything. “Yes I have. The doctor prescribed some medicine for me. I am actually feeling much better now” she said. David kept starring at her with admiration. The feeling was stronger than him. They discussed and David made them laugh so hard with his jokes. Esther remembered how she used to laugh with him. Her heart felt the pain of losing him. She wished that things could work out again between them, but she was not ready to force him especially with Betty on the scene.
    ONE WEEK LATER
    Esther had made the decision to stay a while before going back home. She was thinking of getting a job as Angela who had already spoken to her dad, was ready to host her in their house.
    David: Bro. I am planning to talk to Esther after the exams
    Brian: Really? About what?
    David: I want to tell her how much I love her and how willing I am to make things right between us. I heard that she will not be going back to her hometown after the results. I want to use that opportunity to spend quality time with her. I am even ready to rent a room for her here in town.
    Brian: Wow, that sounds great. You go for it bro!
    David: Sure. I am not ready to lose this girl. I love her so much and she is the only person that has ever made me happy.
    Exams were over. The students awaited their results with impatience. Angela received a message from one of their fellow students to announce to them that the results had come out. Esther and Angela rushed out to check them out. A crowd had gathered outside their department, reading the results. Esther and Angela pushed their way through. Brian shouted “We have all made it my ladies!” Angela screamed “Are you serious or you are joking?” Esther had already made it halfway through the crowd. She came out screaming “Yes Angie we made it. Our names are there!” Angela was quite short so she had to go to the front in order to see clearly. When she saw her name she screamed with joy “Yes! Yes! We did it!” she hugged Esther and Brian. They were filled with excitement. Angela took her phone and called her father to inform him. Esther also decided to call her mother on Daniel’s phone but it was not going through “Oh I forgot that he no longer has a phone. I’ll need to call dad’s line then because mom said he has started using his old phone” she said to herself. She was hesitant to call her father’s line as she was not sure if he would answer. But she gathered her courage and called him. It rang for a few seconds without an answer. Just when Esther was about to cut the line thinking that he had refused to pick it up, her mother answered in a low tone “Hi Esther. Good day my dear.” She said. “Mom I made it. I passed my exams with flying colors!” she shouted. “Praise to our God who is the giver of wisdom and knowledge” her mother said gently. Esther wondered why she spoke in such a low voice “Mom, are you alright? Why are you speaking so low? Is everything okay there?” she asked. Her mother started crying. “It’s your father…” she said. Esther screamed “Mother, what is it? What is happening to my father?” Esther shouted. “He just had a stroke and is in a coma right now” her mother answered. Esther sat on a nearby bench. She could feel her stomach rumbling already.
    Esther” Mummy, what happened?
    Esther’s mother: He has been so depressed of late. He keeps thinking about how he will pay off the debt. He doesn’t eat much no matter how much I force him. This morning, he woke up complaining of a severe headache. I made breakfast for him and even gave him some painkillers, but around 10:30am, he just collapsed. We took him to the hospital and I was told he had a stroke. One part of his body is paralyzed and his mouth is crooked.
    Esther: Oh my God! Oh my God! Father, no!
    Esther’s mother: God is in control. The doctor said he is out of danger, but he is still in a coma. Your brother and I are at the hospital right now, waiting for him to wake up. God is in control
    Esther: I need to leave this evening. I need to be there
    Esther’s mother: No my daughter. Finish what you have to do there. Your brother and I are here and God is on our side too. He will be fine
    Esther: No mom. I have already finished my exams. I can always ask them to send me the statement of results by post. I can’t stay here knowing that my father’s life is in danger. I am going to pack my things now. Please keep the phone by your side. I will be calling you from time to time.
    Brian and Angela had come to hear what was happening. Esther narrated to them what her mother had said. They held her hands to comfort her as Brian prayed for Elder Barnabas’ healing. They both agreed to the fact that Esther needed to travel back to her hometown to be with her family. Brian rushed to the nearest restaurant and bought her a lot of food to carry on her journey. He also gave her a fair amount of money to use. “I will send you more money to help foot the hospital bills by tomorrow” he said to Esther as they helped her to pack her luggage that evening. Angela was in tears “I am so sad. I was looking forward to spending time with you at home as planned. May God bring healing to your dad” she said. Esther shed tears too. “Amen. I will definitely come back after a month or so. I am sure by that time, my father would have recovered” she said. Brian kept singing songs of worship and praying. “Aren’t you going to inform David about your trip?” Brian asked. “No. I do not think it is necessary” Esther said. “Ok. I understand. I will let him know once you have gone because I know that he will ask me about you” Brian said. Esther nodded her head. They took her to the car park and when the bus was full, they hugged her goodbye and left. Esther cried as they left. She would miss them. She also thought of her father and sorrow filled her heart “Dear God, please save my father. Heal him and make him whole” she said to herself. The bus started off and another long journey began

    Part 34

    David went to meet Brian that evening looking so excited. “Hello bro. What’s up?” Brian said as he opened the door for him. “I am doing just fine man thanks and you?” David responded. Brian opened the door wide as David went to sit down on one of the chairs.
    Brian: Hey man, you look so excited. What’s the news?
    David: Hahaha. I have two reasons. Firstly, I am so grateful to God because I have passed my exams
    Brian: Hallelujah! Congratulations David. That makes the two of us
    David: Really? Oh praise God. Congratulations to you too. God gave me enough strength and wisdom to actually be the first student to pass with distinction
    Brian: Glory to God! Glory to God! I am very happy for you. I know you will go so far in life
    David: Amen. Thank you
    Brian: So, give me the second reason that is making you look like you just saw an angel
    David: You see this? It’s an engagement ring I bought for Esther. I want to propose to her this evening. I know she is no longer with that Jacob guy and I know she loves me too but she has been playing hard to get. I think she has just been waiting for me to give her a little push. I have booked some seats at the “Top Ten” restaurant. I would also like you and Angela to be present. My plan is to have dinner with her until around 10pm. Then I will send both of you a message so that you can come in when I am about to propose. What do you think?
    Brian: Aww! What a wonderful plan mehn! Hmm, this life!
    David: Why do you look so sad? Is there anything wrong?
    Brian: There is a little challenge. Esther received a call from her mother to inform her that her father had a stroke and is in a coma
    David: What? Dear Jesus! Is she in her room? I need to go and see her
    Brian: No. She had to leave early this evening. She took the bus that leaves at 5pm
    David: And nobody cared to even inform me?
    Brian: I asked her to inform you, but she was reluctant so I could not force her. However, I told her that I would eventually inform you once she is gone, to which she replied by the affirmative.
    David looked down. He looked so disappointment. He shook his head.
    Brian: I am sorry man. I wish things would work out the way you planned. But you know, the Bible says all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord. So maybe there is a reason why it has happened this way.
    David: I just don’t understand why Esther won’t see the truth that I love her so much. I also know that she loves me too, but I just don’t seem to understand this barrier between us
    Brian: Can you be honest with me? I want to ask you a question
    David: Sure
    Brian: Are you still seeing the lady called Betty?
    David: Of course not! Why do you ask?
    Brian: Well, Esther explained to me that the first day you came for the fellowship she met Betty who was trying to brag of a date that she was having with you that night
    David: What? I have not been with that girl for over a month now. I caught her red handed kissing one guy in town. It is from then that someone told me that she is a bad girl. In fact, I have never had any true feelings for her. She fell in love with me and pushed me into going out with her. I know that is a lame excuse, but I was so hurt when I learned about Esther’s engagement that I just had to occupy myself with something else. I was also trying to keep the promise I made to Esther’s father. And that is when Betty came in
    Brian: Which promise? Have you ever met Esther’s dad?
    David: Bro, it’s a long story. The man came all the way from Gemba to beg me not to continue with Esther, stating the fact that he could fall sick because of it. Now my heart is even troubled. I hope I am not the cause of the stroke he had.
    Brian: No. I don’t think so. Let me just explain to you what has been going on in Esther’s family. May God forgive me for speaking behind her back. I will definitely inform her of the fact that I have narrated everything to you.
    Brian narrated everything Esther had told her about Jacob and what was going on in her family. David listened carefully, wondering in amazed at every bit of the story.
    David: Wow! I can’t imagine what this girl has gone through. I feel so bad. I wish she could open up to me. We would have fought it together. But I just believe that she is no longer interested in me and I am not going to force her. I will allow her to live her life. Is she coming back?
    Brian: She said she would come back once her father is in good shape
    David: I don’t think she will come back. Jeez! And I thought we were about to make up. Gosh!
    Brian: Don’t give up David. There is still hope
    David: Well, I don’t know about that. I think I can no longer go ahead in this adventure. In as much as I love her, I wouldn’t want to force her to accept me back. But if she can leave suddenly without even thinking of informing me, then it is clear that she no longer has feelings for me.
    Brian did not know what to advise David again. He kept asking him to be patient but David was convinced that it was no longer necessary for him to keep trying. He left the room with so much disappointment. Brian prayed for him that night asking for God’s will to prevail in his life.
    The bus made a stopover at the motel. Passengers got off the bus and went to refresh themselves. Esther got off and went straight to the reception to greet the receptionist who looked so happy to see her. She also went to the kitchen and greeted aunt Mercy. Aunt Mercy gave her a huge sandwich and a bottle of orange juice which she hungrily ate. As she was about to go back to the bus, she accidentally met Jacob and Clara, holding each other tightly. Esther was shocked. Jacob also looked surprised to see her. He tried to let go of Clara slowly, but somehow managed to stay tight.
    “Hi Jacob. Hi Clara. How are you doing?” Esther said with a smile on her face. Jacob frowned his face and, trying to be so proud, said “Oh very fine as usual. I couldn’t be better and you? You look so worn out. I hope the father of that thing is taking care of you using the little money from his small shop.” Clara laughed. Esther smiled and answered “I am doing very well thank you. God is taking care of me. I am actually better than I have ever been, especially that you are no longer part of my life. It feels like I just came out of prison. You can’t imagine the freedom and liberty I feel. And as for my baby, well it will surprise you to know that it is such a pleasure to have a child born out of pure love between two people. At least he won’t have a father who is a rapist”
    Clara opened her eyes wide. Jacob felt like hitting Esther, but he feared the crowd around them. Esther walked out and went to the bus. “What did she mean when she talked about a rapist?” Clara asked Jacob as they climbed the staircases. “How can I know? That girl is a mad girl, no one needs to pay attention to her” he said. Clara was curious “I hope she is not insinuating that you raped her” she continued. Jacob pushed her and shouted “What are you trying to say? Are you out of your mind? How can you even have the guts to talk such rubbish? You idiot! If you are not careful, I will leave you in this place and you’ll go to your house barefoot. Stupid girl!” Clara tried to console him by begging him ‘Sorry baby. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I am sorry….Come on…..Ok let me cheer you up by giving you the sex you always like” she said. Jacob smiled and put his hands around her waist as they entered the room.
    Esther arrived in the early hours of day, as early as 4:30am. The car park was not very crowded. She got down, stretching her legs. She got her luggage from the bus and looked around to see if she could get a taxi. One taxi came around and after negotiating the price, she entered and he drove off. When she arrived home, she could see that the light in the living room was on. She pushed the wooden gate open and knocked on the house door. No one came to open, but she insisted. After close to five minutes, she finally heard some footsteps. She saw someone peeping through the window next to the door. Daniel jumped on her in excitement. Esther laughed “Hello young brother. How are you?” she said. “I am fine” Daniel said, taking the luggage inside the house. Esther entered the house and looked around. “Mom informed me about dad’s illness. Where is mom?” she asked. “Mom is still at the hospital. She said she would spend the night there. That is why the light in the living room is on. I am alone” Daniel said. Esther asked Daniel to go back to sleep as she took a bath. She cried as she entered her parents’ room. She took one of her father’s shirts and knelt down in prayer “Oh Lord please heal my father wherever he is and give strength to my mother too. I promise I will serve you all the days of my life” she said. She wiped her tears and went to freshen up. She was not feeling sleepy. She went to the living room and read through the Bible, praying at intervals. When it was 6am, she went to Daniel’s room and informed him that she was going to the hospital. She rushed to the main road and waited for a bus to pass by. Buses started moving as early as 5:30am because of people that went to their farms and those who worked in the nearby town. Esther entered the bus. She was impatient to arrive at the hospital. When she arrived, she gave the name of her father to the nurse on duty who showed her where he was admitted. Esther walked quickly, breathing profusely. She arrived in front of the door and stopped for a while. She took a deep breath and entered. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw her father lying on the bed, looking so helpless. Her mother was lying down on a small mat on the floor. She walked towards the bed and looked at her father. Tears fell from her eyes as she looked at her father, his mouth bent on one side. Her sobbing woke her mother up. She got up from her mat and said “Esther. Is that you? Is that you my daughter?” Esther stooped down to where she was lying and hugged her “Mother. It is I. I am here. God will heal my dad. God is in control. The Bible says by Jesus’ striped we are healed. Dad is healed already in Jesus’ name” she said. Her mother cried too. “Amen” she answered. They both discussed for almost an hour. Her mother put her hand on Esther’s tummy and said “How is my granddaughter doing? I can’t wait to hold her in my arms?” Esther laughed “Granddaughter? How do you know it’s a girl?” she said. “I want a girl. I want to be plaiting her hair and I also want someone to go to the market with me” she said. They both laughed. Elder Barnabas made some moves. He tried to stretch his hands and move his back.
    “Dorothy are you here?” he said calling his wife. Esther and the mother rose up. Her mother answered “I am here sir. I am here.” Elder Barnabas looked at Esther in astonishment. He struggled to move his back. His wife helped him while Esther stood there wondering what to say. She knew that her father was still upset with her. However, elder said gently “Esther is this you? When did you arrive?” Esther found it hard to believe. She moved closely to the bed and said “Yes sir. It’s me Esther. I came as soon as I heard what happened. I am sorry sir. It is all my fault, I am sor…” Elder interrupted “You are not to blame my daughter. You are not to blame. I am the one that needs to apologize to you. I am sorry for all the trouble I cased you, I..” he could not speak any further because of the state of his mouth. Saliva dropped from his mouth. Esther’s mother took a piece of cloth and wiped his mouth “That’s enough. You have talked enough. Have some rest. Let me get you some food” she said. Esther turned to her mother and said “Mom, you look so tired. Go home and get some rest and freshen up. Allow me to stay with dad. I will get breakfast for him. Once you return, I can go back home and make him some nice soup.” Esther’s mother tried to refuse, but Esther insisted and she went home.
    Esther went to the nearby shops and bought some fruits and cereals. She took it to the hospital canteen and asked them to boil the cereals in hot water. She then rushed to the room. “It’s time to eat sir. You need to eat in order to gain strength. I have also bought you some chewing gums. You can chew in the direction contrary to where your mouth is bent. It will help you to bring your mouth to its normal position by God’s grace” she said. She adjusted the pillow under his head and helped him to sit up straight. She held his hands and prayed for him, asking God to grant him strength, vitality and quick recovery. She reminded God of His promises of long life and good health through the blood of Jesus. She took a spoonful of cereals and gave him to eat. Elder Barnabas looked at her in amazement. He seemed to be enjoying his food. The Doctor walked in and looked at Esther. “Hmm, elder you seem to be enjoying your food. Yesterday, you didn’t eat anything your wife gave you. Is this your daughter?” he said. Elder answered “yes she is. Her name is Esther. I couldn’t eat the food my wife gave me because it was so heavy. She brought rice and fish knowing very well that my mouth is not strong enough to chew” Elder said. The doctor laughed. Esther said “Warm cereals and fruits are good for him. I will cut the fruits into tiny pieces to make them easy for him to chew and swallow. For many stroke survivors, loss of appetite is a common problem. Even when appetite isn’t affected, other challenges can make getting the proper nutrition seem like a chore. But a healthy diet is an important part of recovery, and it helps reduce the risk of another stroke”
    The Doctor looked at her “I am impressed. Where did you learn all these things?” he said. Esther smiled “I am studying medicine at the university. I just completed my third year and I am now thinking of doing some training before I can continue my studies next year” she said. “Wow. We are actually looking for some medical students to help us out as we are short of medical personnel. Many of them have left the city to look for greener pastures. Are you ready to start next week? We are really in need and you seem to be quite intelligent.” The Doctor said. Esther looked excited. “Yes sure. I am ready to start any time” she said joyfully. The Doctor told her to pass by his office around 4pm that evening. He did some checkups on elder’s sate of health and nodded his head “You are making improvements. I believe you will be out in a few days’ time” he said.

    Part 35

    “I will miss you guys” David said as he saw Brian and Angela off. He helped them load their luggage in Brian’s family car. It had been a week since the results were out and most students had already left the Campus. Brian and Angela were leaving the same day after clearing all the paperwork. Brian had proposed to drop Angela home on his way to his hometown. David, on the other hand, was still going to be around. Thanks to his small business, he had managed to raise enough money to rent a room and take care of his sister. Brian gave him a hug “I’ll miss you too bro. But hey, I am waiting for your visit as promised. I will show you around our town. You’ll love it. It’s very quiet and cool” he said. “Definitely! I’ll visit you soon once I get some free time. I am praying to God to get a job soon while I continue with my business” David said. He turned to Angela and gave her a warm hug “As for you Madam, your house is not far from here. Please visit me whenever you are free. Thank you for being such a good friend.” He said. Angela shed some tears. “It has been a pleasure knowing you Dave. May God give you a good job. I’ll definitely stay in touch” she said. They both entered the car and left. David went to the printing shops at the Campus and printed out his CV in several copies and went back to his room and cleared his stuff. He carried his two suitcases and left the room. He boarded a taxi that took him to his rented room. It was only 1pm, so he decided to go to some offices in town to look for a job. He went from office to office leaving his CV. Some promised to get in touch with him while others simply didn’t give any response. He then went to his shop and stayed there until around 8pm.
    That evening after returning from his shop, he lay down on his bed thinking about his life. He thought of how to expand his business. “Now that most schools are on holidays, I don’t think I will get many customers for my goods. I need to think of something else that I can sell. I will go to my Chinese supplier and see if I can get other goods apart from stationery” he thought to himself. He scrolled through his phone. He glanced through the pictures in his phone. He came across Esther’s pictures. He smiled as he looked at her. He remembered that he had taken a video of her and Angela when they went to Magic land. He played the video. Esther was shouting at Angela for pushing her onto one of the moving Mary go rounds. She almost cried as it was her first time. Angela was busy laughing at her. Esther also joined in the laughter. As David watched the video, he laughed. “Oh God! I love this girl. Why didn’t things work out between us?” he said.
    THREE MONTHS LATER
    Esther was trying to adapt and accept her situation as she strived hard to make it. She had been accepted at the hospital where she was now working. She was excited to start her new job. She went early in the morning and returned in the evening. She stayed in touch with Brian and Angela and purposely decided to forget about David. “If he truly loved me, he would at least give me a call to know how my father is doing” she said to herself. She was now in good terms with Elder Barnabas. With the help of Esther’s salary and the sale of his crops, Elder was able to pay off a part of his debt in monthly instalments. Jacob had been putting pressure on them to pay him back calling them all manner of names whenever he collected his money at the end of the month. Esther was working hard to earn a living. Her pregnancy was almost 5 months. People in the community and even at their local church thought she would be ashamed of her situation. However, Esther and her family kept their dignity and continued going to church, despising the mockery. Rumors were circulating that Jacob and Clara were planning for their wedding. That did not bother Esther at all. She had moved on with her life.
    Elder was back home and had recovered quite quickly from his stroke. He had become unusually quiet. One day, as he sat outside the house, feeding his chickens, Esther walked in from her work. She had left the hospital quite early that afternoon. She came to him and greeted him. “Sir, I brought some milk for you. One of our colleagues came from Moti and brought a lot of milk straight from the farm. I am sure you’ll enjoy yourself because you love milk” she said. Elder Barnabas laughed “Thank you my daughter. May God bless you. Please boil some of the milk for me and come here. I want to discuss something with you. Call your mother and Daniel also” he said. Esther went inside and boiled some milk for him. She informed her mother and Daniel and they all went to meet Elder Barnabas.
    Elder Barnabas: My dear wife and children I have called you here today to speak to you from the depth of my heart. I know that I have been very strict and rigid towards all of you. I thought I was bringing you up in the ways of the Lord, but I realized that I was trying to make you to be who I wanted you to be when in the actual fact it is God we should strive to resemble. I know in so doing I have hurt all of you but today I realize my shortcomings and I want to apologize to you all. To you my wife, I apologize for being so tough. Deep within me, I love you so much and I appreciate how you stood by me all these years, especially before we even got married. When everyone was against me, including your family, you believed in me and showed me true love. You have also given me wonderful children. To you Daniel, I know you are like my best friend in this house. Hahaha. You are never involved in any disputes but I have also been too harsh on you. I am sorry. And to you Esther, I wish I had the right words to use for you. I remember the day you were born was one of the happiest days of my life. I held you in my arms and promised to be your defender. You have grown into a beautiful lady. However, I used to think I was the best Christian on earth. But you proved me wrong. You showed me what true Christianity is. After everything I made you to go through by forcing you into the arms of a man you did not love, you still found it in your heart to forgive me. You have such a pure heart that I wonder why someone would even think of hurting you. Thank you for showing me what true Christianity is. I sincerely apologize for every pain that I have made you to go through.
    Esther was already crying. Her mother cried too and held her hand. “No sir, you have not wronged me. I strongly believe that all these things happened for a reason. The Bible says all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord. I also made a lot of mistakes from which I have learnt great lessons. You are my father and I respect you totally” she said.
    Elder Barnabas: Thank you my daughter. I praise God for giving me a second chance to start a new life with my family. I don’t care what other people say about us now, but what is more important to me is that we are a united family. Satan hates to see unity in families that is why he is always fighting against it, but I thank God that he has not been able to prevail. And now my daughter, what are your plans for this child that you are carrying? Is the father aware? What has been his reaction? If he has refused to take responsibility of the child, you will not have to worry about it. Your mother and I are here to give this child the love that it deserves even with our little means of survival
    Esther: Er-er-er. Actually I have not informed him about the baby
    Elder Barnabas: But why? He deserves to know. Is it because you are afraid of his reaction?
    Esther: Not really. Certain things happened that have made me to just forget about him
    Esther’s mother: Which things? Please explain to us
    Esther: It’s a complicated story mom. He was already seeing someone else when I discovered that I am pregnant
    Elder Barnabas: What is the name of the young man?
    Esther: David……Why do you seem worried? Do you know him?…..Ah ok I remember Jacob told me that he had reported him to you once
    Elder Barnabas: Yes Jacob told me about him. So he was actually right wasn’t he? You loved that young man more than him?
    Esther: He was the only person who accepted me for who I am. He was a good friend.
    Esther ran into the house crying. She went into her bedroom and cried as she thought about David. She remembered his smile, jokes and how warm hearted he was “I don’t know why things could not work out between us David, but I truly loved you. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. But now, you do not even know that you will soon be having a child. I am sure you are busy having fun with Betty. All the best David, all the best!” she cried. Her mother entered her room and locked the door. She put her hand around Esther’s shoulders and shook her gently “It’s going to be alright. Everything will be alright my princess. Wipe your tears” she said. Esther looked at her mother and cried “But mom, will I ever find any man that I will love the way I loved David? He made me feel so good about myself when everyone around me thought I was bizarre. He helped me to have confidence in myself.”
    Her mother looked at her and asked “Then what separated both of you if you truly loved each other?”
    Esther: Mom, as soon as David found out that I was engaged to Jacob, he changed completely. He stopped talking to me and eventually started seeing another lady.
    Esther’s mother: But do you think he was wrong to do that? You were engaged and any normal man would stay away from you. And I actually think he is a decent man otherwise he would have just used you and dumped you knowing very well that you were engaged to another man
    Esther: I guess you are right, but anyway there is nothing more I can do
    Esther’s mother: Well maybe you should have been a little patient with him. When you love someone, you will fight to get the person. I don’t mean physically fighting people, but being patient and believing in the person.
    Esther: How?
    Esther’s mother: hmm. You know there is a day you asked me if I got married to your father by force. I purposely refused to answer you because I was afraid of what the response would do to you. I was thinking that you would end up falling in love with Jacob as he seemed to be a good person. But now that we have a whole new story, I would like to tell you how I got married to your father. I am actually feeling that history has repeated itself. I met your father when I was 15 years old. We were very good friends because your father’s father worked with my father on the same plantation. However, we were from different tribes and in those days it was a taboo to marry from a different tribe. Your father and I used to play together innocently until when I was about 18 years old. We both fell in love with each other. When I was 19, your father decided that we would get married, but he faced shameful resistance from my family. They threatened to even throw him in the river and leave him to drown. But your father was determined to marry me. I remember how we used to sneak out in the late evenings to go and hide in the bush. We’d spend the whole evening there. One day, my father’s brother found us there and he reported it to my father. I was given the beating of my life. My aunts came to the house, locked me up inside a hut and pinched my whole body. I came out with wounds. They thought they had succeeded in putting a barrier between Elder and I, but my love for him grew even stronger. When he found a job at the local government offices as a guard here in Gemba, we made a plan to run away together. That night as I was about to sneak out of the house with a plastic bag full of my clothes, my mother came out of their hut and looked at me. I thought my end had come but with tears in her heart, she looked at me and went back to sleep. I couldn’t understand what had just happened but I took the bold step of leaving the house. To cut the long story short, your father and I stayed here in Gemba for at least three months before he finally decided to go back to the village to apologize for what we had done. We had gotten married at the main town hall before of the mayor. When we arrived at my house, I was already two months pregnant with you. Surprisingly, my parents accepted your father and we did our traditional wedding preceded by a purification ceremony because I was told that an evil spirit could enter inside of me because of what we had done. We then left to come and settle in Gemba finally. We embraced Christianity when you were about two years old.
    Esther was in total dismay. She couldn’t imagine that as strict as her father could be, he could decide to run away with a woman.
    Esther: Wow! I am amazed at you story. I am glad that your story ended on a positive note. I wish I could have a happy ending to mine too but I guess that’s not God’s plan for my life
    Esther’s mother smiled “God’s will shall prevail. It is well. Just make sure you cherish the child in your womb no matter what happened between you and its father and I advise you as a mother to please inform him regardless of his reaction. You cannot hide a child from its father. It’s not godly and it’s not just right” she said. Esther nodded her head “Ok. I will think about it. Maybe when the baby is born, I will inform him then” she said. Her mother did not say a word. She rubbed her hand on her back and left the room. Esther thought about the story that her mother had just narrated to her. She looked at her big tummy and said “I love you baby and I know your father loves you too. You will get to know him one day, maybe by that time he will be with his own wife. It is well with you” After a while, her mother came back into her rom and, looking perplexed, asked “My princess I forgot to ask you something: why did you agree to sleep with Jacob if you don’t love him?”
    Esther ran out of words. She didn’t know what to say to her. If she told her the truth, her mother would blow up a scandal and she was really tired of scandals. But if she didn’t tell her the truth, her mother would think she is too weak and it would also be a sin to lie to her own mother. “Esther, you have not answered my question. Why did you sleep with Jacob?” her mother asked. Esther broke down and cried. She was trembling as she remembered the horrible scene. “He raped me mom, he raped me. I tried to stop him, but he ruthlessly raped me like an animal” she cried. Her mother stood up and shouted “What did you just say? He did what?” Esther was still crying. Her mother tried to calm down and gave her a hug asking her to explain everything that had happened. Esther gave an account of the whole story. Esther’s mother was shedding tears in anger. She ran out of the room and went to meet Elder Barnabas. Esther could hear elder shouting as he entered the house “I will kill him. I will kill him!” Esther sighed “Oh God not again! I don’t want trouble again. I need rest” she said. Elder pushed the door of her room open and shouted “What did that boy do to you?” Esther trembled “he raped me” she answered. “Why didn’t you report him to the police? Why didn’t you inform us?” he shouted. “He told me that no one would believe me. He said you were blinded by his money so you wouldn’t believe me” Esther answered. Elder went to his bedroom and put on his boots. He went to the pantry and got out his cutlass. “I will kill him today!” he shouted as he left the house. Esther and her mother decided to follow him. They ran behind him. Esther held on to her big tummy as she ran hoping for the best “Sir, don’t do anything you will regret” she said. People starred at them while others followed them to see what was going on.
    Jacob’s house was quite far, but Elder dared not take a bus. He ran like a mad man, his wife, daughter, son and other community members running after him. They walked for about 45 minutes before they arrived. Esther put her hands on her knees and stopped for a while to catch her breathe. She put her hand on her stomach and continued. When they arrived inside the compound, they found a police car parked right inside. Two policemen stood near the car. As Elder and the rest tried to go to the main door, the policemen stopped them “Hey where are you going?” he said. Before they could explain, they saw Jacob coming out of the house with handcuffs on his hands, two policemen holding his arms. His mother, father and Clara were also coming out. His mother cried “Please don’t take my son.” Everyone watched in amazement. Jacob and his family were shocked to see Elder and his family. He looked down as the policemen put him inside the car. Elder went to the policemen and spoke to them “Please I want to know what this young man has done because I have come to report him for a crime he committed against my daughter” he said. Jacob’s father shouted “Don’t tell this old fool anything! He is just here out of gossip. My son has not done anything to the prostitute called his daughter”
    Elder held his peace and one of the policemen said “Sir. What has this guy done again?” Elder answered “He raped my daughter and went scot free!” Everyone looked astonished including the police officers. “This is the biggest criminal I have ever seen in this town. Firstly, he is being charged for embezzling funds from his bank worth at least 150,000 Dollars. Then he is accused of poisoning a young lady in town because she fell pregnant for him. The lady ended up losing her life and that of her child and now this! What kind of a human being are you?” the police officer said. Esther cried “So Jacob, you are the one who killed Naomi? You are an animal. I pray that you rot in hell” Jacob looked so afraid. The Police officers asked Elder and his family to enter their car so that they could file a complaint against him at the police station.
    They entered the car and it drove off leaving Jacob’s family and the neighbors in total shock. Clara sneered and left the house in fury.

    Part 36 (Final)

    Elder and the entire group arrived at the police station. Jacob, handcuffed was the first to be taken inside while the others got down from the car. Elder and Esther were asked to wait at the front office. Esther looked at Jacob as the police officer made a declaration to the Officer in charge, who took down some notes. Jacob could not look at her. He kept looking down, feeling very ashamed. The police officers asked him to remove his shirt, belt, shoes and other things he had on him. They put the things inside a locker and Jacob was asked to sit down. Esther was somehow filled with pity for him. “What a waste of life!” she said to herself. The Police Officer asked her to make a complaint of what had happened. Esther cried as she narrated the horrible scene. Her mother cried while Elder stood there, breathing heavily out of anger. After a few minutes, they heard some noise outside, noise of people quarreling. Esther and the rest, including one of the police officers stood up to see what was going on. Esther could not believe her eyes: It was Janet quarreling with Jacob’s mother
    Jacob’s mother: You are a useless liar. You prostitute! You wanted to swindle my son’s money and because it did not work, you have now come all the way to this place to create fake stories
    Janet: You are a mad woman. Your son is not only a thief but a murderer. He murdered my friend in cold blood because of his selfishness and now you think he can go scot free
    Jacob’s mother: How dare you talk to me like that! I don’t blame you. I blame your parents for not teaching you the right ways
    Janet: And did you teach your son the right way? I guess you are the one that taught him how to steal, use girls and eventually kill them hun! You should even be ashamed of yourself. Idiot!
    Jacob’s mother gave Janet a slap. Janet wanted to fight back, but the police officers stopped them. She was taken inside while Jacob’s mother was warned not to create any scandal. “I will lock both of you up if you don’t calm down! Do you think this is your compound where you behave anyhow?” the officer shouted. Janet looked at Esther. She was surprised to see her. Esther did not talk. Without even being asked a question, Janet started narrating her own side of the story “Esther. This man is an idiot. He was going out with you and Naomi at the same time. When Naomi fell pregnant for him, he asked her to abort but she refused, threatening to inform his parents. When he saw that Naomi was determined to keep the child, he lied to her by saying that he would marry her. He also said you were the only obstacle and that is why Naomi tried to do all she could just to separate you from him. But she didn’t know that this evil man who was also sleeping with me had evil plans against her. He called her one day and said he had a surprise for her. When she went, he put a harmful substance in her drink and she ended up losing her life and her pregnancy. When I went to meet him the following day at the hotel to inform him of Naomi’s death, I found a bottle containing a certain substance and as he was taking his bath I took a picture of it and pretended as if I was happy that Naomi was gone. We had a drinking spree that night and in the middle of his drinking, he told me how he had only tried to terminate the pregnancy by adding the substance to the drink. I recorded everything. I have been using that recording to blackmail him by asking him to give me money and to marry me. He has been complying until last week when he informed me that he was about to get married to another b**tch. I warned him but he did not want to listen so I had no other option than to report him. And to my biggest surprise, he was also being investigated for embezzling money from the bank. He is such a useless animal. No one plays with me and wins. I am a savage!” she said.
    Everyone, including the police officers were astonished to see how bold she could be to narrate such a story. From the look of things, she seemed to be high on drugs. “Esther say something!” she said. Esther went to stand before her and said “I wish I had the right words to use to tell you how disgusting you are. Not only are you disgusting but you are also very wicked. You, Naomi and Jacob are the most wicked beings I have ever come across in my life. Your selfishness makes you all to behave like heartless human beings. I thank God that I am no longer the same. Jesus’ love is spread abroad in my heart and so there is no room for unforgiveness in my heart. I pray for both of you that you will find time to repent, unlike Naomi who was sent to her early grave in her sins.” She turned to Jacob and said “I have forgiven you for all the wrong things you did to me. I forgive you for robbing me of my dignity because it has now been restored by Christ. I forgive you for making me feel like a useless being because now I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by my God. And I also thank you. Yes I thank you because in all this, you pushed me to learn great lessons. If I had not gone through all this, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to find the true meaning of my life. May God have mercy on you!”
    Esther held her mom’s hand and suggested that they leave. They left as every other person present on the scene looked astonished. Elder held his daughter’s hand as they came out and said “I am really proud of you my daughter. You have made me proud.” Esther stopped a cab and they went home.
    It had been almost two weeks since that incident. Esther and her family felt vindicated. Some people in the church, including the Chief Elder had come to apologize to elder Barnabas for what had happened. They asked him to reintegrate the elder’s board but elder rejected the offer. “I am not here to serve titles, but to serve my God. I would rather stay in the congregation with peace of mind than to seat in special seats with bitterness in my heart” he said to them. As for Jacob’s father, he was no longer seen at church, including his entire family. Jacob’s trial was still on as they tried to gather enough evidence against him. He was still locked up in the cells even though he tried to ask for bail several times.
    One Tuesday evening as Esther sat in the living room watching TV, a certain program came up called “The Economist.” The presenter introduced the theme of the program and called out the names of the guest. Esther was about to change the channel when she suddenly heard David’s name. Her eyes opened wide to see if it was the same David she knew. “Dear viewers, today I have with me as a special guest, a very young and vibrant Economist by the name of David Malani. David is a Junior Economic Specialist working with the World Bank and today we shall be discussing with him on ways to eradicate poverty in rural communities. David is working under a program called “Using culture to bring sustainable development in rural areas” Mr. David Malani, you are welcome” the presenter said. Esther could not believe her eyes. It was the same David she knew. She screamed “David!” and looked at him in admiration. He was looking very handsome as usual except that he had become even more handsome. He was nicely dressed and looked so happy. When elder and Esther’s mother heard the shout, they came running to the living room. “What is it?” Elder said. Esther smiled warmly ‘It’s David the father of my child.” Elder looked at the screen carefully and remembered him. They both sat down and listened to him. He spoke with much eloquence and diplomacy that Elder kept nodding his head silently in agreement with what he was saying. “At the present, culture is one of the most impotent factors of development. The role of culture in development should be treated as multi-layered: on the one hand as an intrinsic value, on secondly as a real factor of regional development leading to increased attractiveness of regions for tourists, residents and investors, thirdly, as an active factor of social development based on knowledge, tolerance and creativity. For instance in Gemba, the communities have a strong culture of working in teams, especially when it comes to farming. They have huge hectares of land, but most of them only use a small portion because they don’t have the necessary machinery and equipment. We can use those teams to pass on knowledge on certain technologies used in farming and then grant them the machinery to grow huge amounts of crops not only for their families but for the entire region” David said. Elder and his wife were impressed. Suddenly, Esther knelt down with tears in her eyes and said “Oh Lord I thank you for making David to succeed. He really deserves it. He has worked so hard to achieve his goals. I am sure that his sister is now at peace. Lord I thank you and I ask that you keep him in your ways and make him to see even greater things in his life In Jesus’ name I have prayed.” Esther’s mother felt so sorry for her daughter. She could feel her pain of not having the possibility to be with the one she loved. Elder Barnabas also felt bad. He remembered how he had warned David to stay away from Esther.
    The following Saturday morning, Esther was in her room sleeping. She was becoming quite tired because of her pregnancy and could sleep long hours. It was already 10am and Esther’s family had already had their breakfast. They sat in the living room watching TV. Esther was enjoying her sleep when suddenly her mother entered her room. “Esther! Esther! Wake up!” she said. Esther mumbled “Hmm mom, I’ll wake up later. I want some more sleep” she said. “Wake up. You have a visitor by the name Brian from your school.” Her mother said. Esther jumped up “Brian! Are you sure about what you are saying?” she said wiping the small sweat on her face with her hand. “Yes he said his name is Brian. He is in the living room. Now dress up and come to meet him” her mother said and left her room. Esther removed her pajamas and quickly put on her dress which was slowly becoming quite small because of the pregnancy. She hurried to the bathroom, washed her face and brushed her teeth then went to the living room. Esther almost fell down out of surprise when she saw that it was not just Brian who had come to visit her: she could see Angela and David. Esther entered the living room, trembling as she looked at David. David became uncomfortable when he saw Esther’s tummy. He couldn’t believe that Esther was pregnant. He breathed deeply and thought of what next to do. “Oh Lord. My plan has failed again. Esther is already pregnant for another man” he said to himself. Angela stood up and hugged Esther “Oh my God! I can’t believe that you came all the way to this place to see me” Esther said with tears in her eyes. She greeted Brian and David. She could see that David was somehow disturbed. After making some formal greetings, Brian turned to Elder Barnabas and said “Good morning sir. Thank you for welcoming us in your house. We really appreciate. As we explained to you before Esther came, we have come to have a serious discussion with you this morning concerning your daughter”
    Before Brian could even continue, David interrupted him “Sorry sir. Actually, we just came to see how she is doing. We also wanted to know how you are doing after your illness because Esther left in a hurry” he said. Brian smiled “David, please I understand why you are doing this, but please allow me to finish what I am saying” he said. David felt uneasy, but Brian made a sign to him to keep calm. “So sir, as I was saying, we have specifically come to have a discussion with your daughter, but we thought it would be respectful for us to first of all see you. I am sure you are already aware of the fact that your daughter and my friend David here were very good friends……..David please allow me to talk……Ok let me now tell you the whole truth. Esther is carrying your child. She was pregnant with this child even before she left the campus. I had tried to convince her to inform you, but she thought you were already seeing another woman and she didn’t want to disturb you” Brian said.
    David’s heart sank. She looked at Esther. Esther looked down. “Esther is it true? Are you carrying my child?” he asked. “Yes David. After our encounter, I learnt that I was two weeks pregnant when I came for the short break. I did not want to disturb your relationship with Betty, so I decided to keep it a secret from you. I was planning to only inform you once I deliver” Esther said. David put his hand on his mouth “My God! My God! But you know that you are the only person I have ever loved” he said. He turned to Angela and said “And both of you knew about it but you didn’t want to inform me?” Angela smiled “Esther asked us not to do it and since we respect her opinion, we complied” she said. Brian continued “So sir, we have come all the way from our various cities to ask for the hand of your daughter in marriage on behalf of my friend David. I know that Esther has gone through a lot of things and we wouldn’t want to add any more trouble to it. However, I would like you to know that my friend David is a responsible man and he has always loved your daughter.”
    Elder cleared his throat. “My dear sons and daughter, I appreciate you all for the respect that you have shown towards me by approaching me first before doing any other thing. I am aware of the relationship between my daughter and David. However, I have no right whatsoever to take a decision on behalf of my daughter. She is old enough to know what she wants in life. Marriage is between two people and they are the ones to make the decision. I stand however, to say that I am ready to support any decision that my daughter will make” he said. Everyone was quiet. David then looked at Esther and went on his knees and said “Esther, will you marry me?” Esther was shaking like a leaf ‘Yes I will marry you David” she said with tears in her eyes. David stood up and held her hands. He couldn’t stop his tears either “Thank you” he said. Esther’s mother was excited. She stood up and made a sound of joy in their traditional way. Everyone laughed. They discussed at length the necessary things that had to be done for the preparation of the marriage ceremony. “I prefer to do it after the delivery of my child” Esther said. Everyone seemed to agree with her and David informed them that he would visit Gemba every weekend because of a project that had just been launched in Gemba by the World Bank of which he was the project Coordinator. Esther was excited. After a while, Elder and his wife left the living room to give the friends some space to discuss. They could hear them laughing hard as they talked about school.
    David had lodged them in a nearby guest house. Esther’s mother asked them to stay for lunch which they did. At around 2pm, they decided to go to the guest house. Elder had gone to the church. Esther followed them. David kept starring at her as they entered Brian’s car. He sat at the back with her while Angela and Brian sat in front. David held Esther’s hand and smiled at her “I have missed you so bad!” he said. Esther smiled. They arrived at the guest house and Angela and Brian decided to go and get some rest as they had to leave the following morning. Esther and David stayed at the pool area. “Esther. I want to apologize for not being there for you when you needed me. I wish I could turn back the hands of time and make things right with. My love for you keeps growing day by day and when I couldn’t take it, I had to ask Brian and Angela to bring me here. Now I understand why I felt like something was drawing me to you. I felt as if you had a part of me that I couldn’t explain. I love you and I promise to do my best to make you the happiest woman on Earth. I also promise to be the best father to our child” David said. “I love you too David and I am also sorry for making you go round circles and for hiding such an important information from you. I have never stopped thinking about you. Even though I thought you had moved on, a part of my heart still longed to see you and spend the rest of my life with you” Esther said. They had a wonderful chat that evening and discussed their plans for the future. ‘I want a boy!” David said. Esther laughed “I want a girl!” she said. “Hmm, are you sure you have not done a scan already to know the sex of the child?” David said. “Hahaha. No, I want it to be a surprise” Esther answered.
    And so it was from that day that Esther and David finally came back together. David came with one of his uncles the following week to pay the bride price. It was a wonderful ceremony. David visited her every weekend. Elder had finally managed to finish up the debt he owed. Jacob had been sentenced to 19 years imprisonment with hard labor for various crimes that he had committed including illegal abortion leading to death. Time went by and Esther’s pregnancy was almost reaching its full term. Two weeks before the due date, David had decided to take leave and stay in Gemba as he did not want to miss the D-day. Esther started feeling contractions one Sunday afternoon upon returning from church. “I don’t understand. I am still remaining with at least two weeks before my due day” she said as she groaned in pain. David and her mother helped her to get up while Elder stopped a taxi. “It will be alright! Shhhh, shhhh” David comforted her inside the cab. Esther was crying of pain. She was taken to the maternity ward immediately she arrived. David, Elder and his wife waited impatiently outside. David moved to and fro praying “Oh Lord, let everything go well. Help dear Lord! Help!” he said. After about an hour, the midwife came out. They all rushed to hear the news. The midwife smiled “Congratulations! Esther just gave birth to two bouncing babies: a boy and a girl” she said. David jumped up and down like a little kid. Esther’s mother danced while elder praised God. They were asked to wait for a few minutes before they could see her. When it was time to see her, David was the first to enter. Tears ran down his cheeks as he saw Esther holding the twins. Her parents praised God for the miracle. David kissed her on the forehead and, looking at the twins, said “God has given both of us the desires of our hearts. The son shall be called Samuel because I asked him of the Lord.” Esther answered “And the daughter shall be called Grace because God’s grace has seen me through the valley” It was a great day in the life of Esther and David and the entire family. They celebrated the arrival of the twins in grand style. Angela and Brian were both present during the naming ceremony, a week after the delivery.
    Two months after delivery, David and Esther finally wedded in grand style. Their wedding was held at a hotel in Gemba which gave view to the beach. Some of David’s family has travelled to attend the wedding: His sister, cousin and uncle. Angela was the Chief bridesmaid while Brian stood as the Best man. Jennifer and Brian’s mother were also present. It was a colorful ceremony with Peach and mint as the main colors. David danced like never before. As a gift, Brian offered the couple a whole week free at their motel as a honeymoon destination. David and Esther left the following day. Because of the babies, they went to the nearest city which had a domestic airport and took a flight to Brian’s city. They spent a wonderful time at the motel, visiting different places. Brian’s mother came every day to help Esther clean the babies. After the honeymoon, David and Esther returned to Gemba. Esther stayed there for a month before they finally left for the Capital city. Esther’s mother shed tears as she waved them goodbye at the airport. She was definitely going to miss her daughter even though she promised to be visiting from time to time. David had been given a beautiful grand standing apartment in the city center. Esther planned to get a job at the General hospital once the child had grown enough to be left with a nanny. Meanwhile, David had expanded his shop: business was booming and he was making huge profits. Brian and Jennifer also got wedded two months later while Angela was in a relationship with one of the former students from the fellowship who worked with Angela at the University Teaching Hospital.
    “I am so glad that God gave me a second chance and transformed my tears into joy. I cannot thank Him enough for the privilege to be married to the most wonderful man on Earth. And words cannot be enough to express my gratitude for these two bundles of joy.” Esther said one night as they sat on their bed. David kissed her “I am the luckiest man on Earth to marry a woman like you. I thank God for your life and that of our children. I love you my baby, my friend, the Elder’s daughter” he said. Esther laughed “The Elder’s daughter indeed!” she said.
    The end

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