Through The Eye of FAITH (6)
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Mama could not sleep. Apart from the constant cough, her mind was not at rest. After what had happened yesterday, she felt like a loser. She had failed herself and, more importantly, her little girl. The thought that she could not take adequate care of Faith like a responsible mother should, made her feel very helpless. Her incompetence had pushed her daughter to street-hawking, something she had vowed she would never allow happen, yet that had happened right before her eyes. She rubbed her belly and sighed. She would be due in the next three weeks. If she could barely take care of her family, how would she be able to cope when the baby arrives? A tear slid down her eye. God just had to do something. She picked up the Bible by her side, flipped through to Matthew 6:25 and read quietly. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
Lord, it is difficult not to be anxious. Everything around me makes me doubt even my own existence. Please help my unbelief. She placed the Bible on her chest and wept inside of her.
“Mama, you have still not slept.” Faith rubbed her eyes and rested her back on the wall beside her mother. “You look worried. What is the problem again?”
Mama managed a smile. “I am fine, my child. You go back to sleep. You have had a challenging day.” She patted her daughter’s back. “And I am very proud of you, but next time, don’t lie to me.”
“I promise I won’t.” Faith placed her head on Mama’s protruding stomach and jerked when she heard a loud sound. “Mama!” She called with excitement. “Daniel is kicking your stomach. Isn’t it painful?”
“Who is Daniel?” Mama laughed hard. “You have given the baby a name? Who told you the baby is a boy? And no, it is not painful.”
Faith answered confidently. “I know he is a boy because I have asked God to give me a brother. You will see. I shall have a brother I will carry on my back to school every day.”
“Ha! I am sure your teacher will not allow you to bring a baby into her class. Speaking of which, that teacher, what is her name again?”
“Miss Patience Okonkwo.”
“God bless her soul. We owe her a lot.”
“She is my best teacher.”
Mama had been shocked at the teacher’s generosity. Patience had stepped in and done what she could not do. Was that what providence was all about? “We should pray for her. God will bless her real good.”
“Amen.” Faith responded quietly.
Mama noticed her daughter’s sad face. “Now you are the one looking worried. What is the problem?”
Faith took a deep breath. “Yesterday, as she took me to school, she received a phone call. I think someone close to her has died. She was sad throughout school and did not even wait to have the closing prayers like she does every day.”
“Oh no! Then we should take some moments to pray for her now. Losing a loved one is not easy to bear.”
“Yes, and we should pray for Papa too. God should protect him wherever he is.”
Her father had not come home that night and while she was happy she and her mother had some peace, Faith was afraid he could be in danger.
“Yes, we shall pray for him too.” As much as she could, Mama had tried to get over her husband’s consistent absence from home. At least, that gave her some breathing space. It hurt when she watched him raise his hands on their daughter every time and she could do nothing about it.
Bouts of coughing caught Mama and Faith quickly stood up to get some water. “Here, drink quickly. Did you use your drugs?”
Mama took some sips and felt relieved. “Yes, I did. Thank God for your teacher. I don’t know how worse this would have gone without the drugs.”
Faith collected the cup. “It was not my teacher who bought the drugs.”
Mama was startled. “Then who?”
“I used my food money I have been saving and added the little I made at the market yesterday.”
Mama was dumbstruck and she struggled to hold back the tears that had gathered in her eyes. Her little girl was taking care of her. She pulled Faith into a tight embrace. “You have been starving yourself because of me. You shouldn’t have done that.”
Faith didn’t know what to say. All she was glad for was that her mother now had drugs she could use to treat the cough and she would be well again. Thanks to her teacher who had taken a bigger burden off her. She only hoped that Miss Patience was alright after she had dashed out of the class.
Hundreds of kilometers away, Patience woke up sweating profusely in her room. She had just had a bad dream which had expanded her fears. Her past had come hunting her and she was not ready. After that phone call, her life had broken to pieces and getting them back again would need a divine intervention.
God, why now? She had thought she had got hold of her life again, had let go of the past and had a promising future, but that had crumbled at the sound of the voice that had been the start of her nightmare.
“You should come home to give your last respect. She was your mother, no matter what she did to you.”
Patience had been shocked to hear the news of her mother’s death. After the long years of pain and shame, of neglect and loneliness, she now had to face what she had been running from.
“I will… I will try.” She had stammered.
But her mother’s rejection was not all she had been angry at. There was a bigger problem and it was the caller. Her mind flew back to that dreadful night when the man she had called a father for many years crept into her room and raped her; and when she had eventually taken the courage to tell her mother, she had been thrown out of the house.
“You want to destroy my home? This one I have finally built for us after your father left me poor and wretched?” Her mother had shouted in the kitchen.
“But mom! I’m telling you the truth.” 16 year old Patience had cried. “Please believe me. He raped me! The man I call a father raped me!”
“Will you shut up? That man is MY HUSBAND and he cannot do such. What a big liar you are!”
“I am not lying!” Patience brought out a paper from her pocket and handed it over. “Here is the result. I went for a test this morning and the doctor said I am three weeks pregnant.”
“WHAT!” Her mother shook her violently. “Are you mad? You accuse my husband he got you pregnant? You are a fool and you and your bastard are no family of mine. After all I did for you, getting married to a rich man who doesn’t love me so you can have a better life I thought you deserved, this is how you pay me? GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! I don’t ever want to see you again!”
“What is happening here?” Patience’s step-father stood at the kitchen’s entrance and he looked at his wife. “And why are you shouting?”
“This girl is a liar.” She pointed at Patience.
“What lie is that?”
“She said she got raped and is now pregnant.” There was an uncomfortable silence before she added. “By her riff-raff boyfriend.”
“Mom, No!” Patience protested.
“SHUT UP!” Her mother screamed at her. “You have brought disgrace to our family and we now disown you.”
“You cannot do that to me”, Patience pleaded with her parents. “This isn’t my fault.”
Her mother pointed an accusing finger. “You are to blame for your actions. Go upstairs and pack your load. You are leaving this house now!”
“You cannot push me out. Where will I go?”
“You can go to hell for all I care.” She walked towards her husband and held his hands. “Right, Sweetheart?”
He looked confused and after what seemed like a battle on his mind, he agreed. “Yes, leave.” Then he released his hand and walked out of the kitchen. That was the last Patience saw of him. Her mother had not even waited for her to get her stuffs together. She had been sent out of the house with nothing but the clothes on her back.
Now after sixteen years of neglect, her family had reached out and asked her to come home and face her shadows. She wiped the sweat off her face. No, she would not go back. She could not face that anymore. She shook violently and felt cold all of a sudden. No, she would not go back. Bygone was bygone. Her table clock chimed loudly through the silence of the night. It was 1 am. She laid back on her bed and recited the words that had been her comfort through the years. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…