(Continued from Prophetess Hannah I)
It is almost two years since Rhoda was dramatically kicked out of her matrimonial home. She is yet to recover from the trauma of that moment, even though she is better now than she was then. On the day when she was kicked out, she got into a matatu and went to her parents’ home, about one hundred kilometers away. She managed to tell them what had happened before she broke down and started crying. She locked herself in her bedroom and cried her heart out. Rhoda still has a bedroom in her parent’s house. She stayed in that bedroom for almost two days without eating, drinking or showering. She didn’t even leave the bed, even to visit the loo. It was almost as if her body had shut down.
For two days Catherine and her husband Stephen had been begging to leave her bedroom but she blatantly refused. On the third day, which was a Saturday, Catherine threatened to get a carpenter to break the door.
“Is that what you want to do to us? Do you want us to break our own door when you can open it yourself and save us the cost?”
“Mum, I am just resting…”
“No, you are not. You are harming yourself by not eating. And why? Because of some useless fool doesn’t appreciate the value of a good woman like you? Don’t give him the power to ruin you, child. Come out and let’s talk.”
“How could he do that to me mum? I gave him everything. It is not my fault that the Lord has not blessed me with the ability to conceive.”
“Just open the door my child and let’s talk.”
Finally, Rhoda got up and opened the door. Her mother did not allow her to go back to bed, but rather insisted that she should go and take a shower, to which she reluctantly did. She took a long warm shower, brushed her teeth and changed her clothes. Catherine brought their breakfast in her bedroom so that they could eat together.
“I should have known, mother. Right from that time when we were in college. I should have known he was a lazy fool. But I loved him too much that I ignored all the red flags. I don’t know why I was such a fool, mother.”
“Eat first my child, and let’s talk later.”
Catherine had prepared tea, fried eggs, bread with margarine and ripe bananas and she encouraged her daughter, who had hardly eaten any food for a couple of days, to eat. Rhoda ate slowly, starting with the eggs, then the two slices of bread and finally one banana. She is the middle child of Catherine and Stephen.
Rhoda’s older brother Levi is a doctor. He is married and has two children. He is employed by the government but he also has his own clinic on the side. In other words, he has his act together. Her younger sister Fiona is a finance girl, currently rising through the ranks of a large corporation. She is unmarried, but she has one daughter. She also has life figured out. Then there is her, Rhoda. She likes her job, but that is where it ends. Her life is in tatters. She finances are broken. Her marriage has gone to the dogs. She is childless. And God allowed his favorite prophetess to betray her. She feels worthless.
“Everything happens for a reason, Rhoda,” her mother told her. “There must be a reason for this too.”
“I don’t think so, mom. I think sometimes God just let’s us suffer for his own amusement.”
“Don’t say that child. It is blasphemous.”
“But it is true. It is even recorded in the Bible.”
“Where in the Bible? I am sure there is no such thing. You are just angry”
“It is written in the Book of Job. God and Satan were just playing games then boom! Job has lost his children. He has lost his wealth and his body is full of painful sores. Tell me mother, what good did that do?”
“Job proved his loyalty to God.”
“But did he have to? I mean, God already knew that Job was faithful and would never betray Him. He said so himself. So why did He have to punish him just to impress Satan, when it was in fact Satan who betrayed Him? Mom have you ever sat and thought about Job’s children? Those poor souls were human beings who had their own lives. I know Job got other children, but you cannot replace someone who has died. Why did they have to die?”
“You cannot question God, my daughter.”
“Yeah, I know. But the point is, maybe there is nothing into my suffering. Maybe God is just playing games with his old enemy, but this time I might disappoint him because I don’t have faith as strong as Job’s.”
They talked for over an hour and Catherine expertly steered her daughter away from the blasphemous conversation about God. After an hour and a half, they went to the porch where they found Rhoda’s father taking tea, and joined him.
Rhoda’s parents have built a beautiful existence for themselves in the village. Catherine and Stephen are both primary school head teachers, and they still working, although they are now approaching retirement. They have a house that is larger than most in the village. The house has four bedrooms: an en-suite master bedroom, the two daughters’ bedrooms and the son’s bedroom. The son’s bedroom became a spare bedroom after he was circumcised. As per the local customs, Stephen built a separate two roomed house for Levi when he completed class eight, and after he was circumcised. That house is used as a store now, because Levi has already built his own three-bedroom house nearby. Stephen and Catherine’s house has a spacious sitting room and a smaller dining room. The kitchen is spacious; Catherine ensured it was when they were building. Stephen has a study where he likes to sit and read. The porch is the same size as many living rooms in the village. A laundry area was added later as an extension when they bought a washing machine. And they have a wonderful lady called Peninah who has been their housekeeper ever since the children were teenagers.
Like most of the other people in the village, Catherine and Stephen are small scale farmers. They have an acre of tea bushes and use the rest of the land to grow food crops such as maize, beans, bananas and sweet potatoes. Each of them has a car: Stephen has a silver Toyota Fielder while Catherine has white Mazda Demio. Their children have turned out well: a doctor, a teacher and an accountant. They are respected members of their local PCEA church. They are both church elders. Catherine is the Patron of the Sunday School while Stephen is the Patron of the Boys and Girls Brigade. They are active members of Woman’s Guild and Presbyterian Church Men’s Fellowship respectively. Catherine is the Chairlady of their Sacco, while Stephen is the Secretary of their County Secretary of the Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (KEPSA). As part of their retirement plan, they have founded a primary school that is now going up to Grade Four. The school is doing well both academically and a financially.
Rhoda thought that her failed marriage was blotting their image but they did not share that view. They told her that there was nothing imperfect about her.
“You are not a thief; you did not reject school; you are not a drug dealer or some other kind of criminal. There is nothing to be embarrassed about you, my child,” Stephen has told her over and over again.
“Get yourselves cups and let me tell you, Rhoda, a story as we share this tea,” he told them when they joined him at the porch that day, the third day after she had been kicked out by Richard. On Saturdays, Stephen always takes his mid-morning and mid-afternoon tea on the porch. Rhoda went back into the house and got two cups. She served her mother and herself a cup each.
“You know that Levi is not your mother’s son,” Stephen began.
“He is my son, just not my biological son,” Catherine interjected and they both laughed. Rhoda smiled a little. Part of the reason she was so frustrated was because she had envisioned a marriage like her parents: loving, caring and very adoring.
“Yes, that is true. Very few people actually know that he is not your biological son because you really took him as your own child. But anyway, Rhoda, we already told you that.”
Stephen and Catherine had told their children the truth about Levi when they were teenagers. Levi’s mother had started looking for him and rumors were flying around, so they decided to arrest the situation. They spoke to the kids candidly about it.
“Yes, you already told us that you got him before you married mum.”
“What you don’t know is what exactly happened between me and Levi’s mother. I told the story to your mother and I also told Levi when he became an adult but I didn’t tell you girls because I didn’t think it was necessary. But I think it might help you in your current situation.”
“What was the story?”
“Levi’s mother was my teenage sweetheart. I went to a mixed secondary school, and she was my classmate. We started dating while in form two, although we were very discreet. But we loved each other and we swore that we would get married to each other. After high school we both got jobs as untrained teachers, and then I went to a Teachers’ Training College. She did not have the money even though she had applied and secured a spot. We had both been living in my hut although I hadn’t paid her dowry. But she stayed in my hut as my wife even when I was at Kigari Teachers Training College in Embu. When I completed my course, I was hired by TSC almost immediately. I took a loan and paid her dowry and took her to college. While she was in college, I was helping both my parents and her parents as the perfect son and son-in-law.
She got pregnant when she was on a school break. And gave birth after graduating. When she graduated, she came home and we continued living as a family, together with our son. But things changed when she got a TSC job. She started becoming rude and arrogant. I heard she was having an affair with the head teacher of the school where she had been posted, but when I asked her would always deny and hurl insults at me. Surprisingly, her parents supported her and said I was the one mistreating their daughter. Eventually she moved out of our home leaving me and my son, and moved in with the headteacher, who was a married man with teenage children.
I was crushed. I felt like my world was ending. I had done everything for this woman, but she had betrayed me. But my father, who was illiterate by the way, told me something I have never forgotten. He told me to forget the ungrateful woman, and be thankful that God had removed her from my path. He told me that she did not deserve me, and that her departure had cleared the way for my happiness, because she would have caused me nothing but pain.
He was right. Once I saw it in that light I was liberated. I became happier even at work. And that is how I noticed a beautiful young teacher who had just been posted to our school. Your mother and I got married about two years after Florence dumped me, and I am glad that things turned out this way. I have enjoyed every aspect of my life with her.
My point is, you are still a very young woman. Don’t allow that ungrateful young man to ruin tour life and happiness. Focus on being a better version of yourself every day, and I can guarantee you that you will meet someone who deserves your love.
It is over a year since her father gave her that talk, but she is still hurting. She hasn’t experienced the liberation that her father talked about. Instead, she feels bad every time Richard or Hannah posts something on social media.
She feels like a failure. Her father secured a transfer for her, and she now teaches at a school close to her parents’ home. She lives with them as she goes to work. She is now a member of the Presbyterian Church like them. But the fact that at 34 she is unmarried, childless and living with her parents hurts her, especially when she compares herself with her siblings.
She tries hard to hide her feelings from her parents, but every night she cries her heart out. Her pillow has a sad tale to tell.
(To be continued on Wednesday.)
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