A short but wonderful story of a lonely orphan girl battered and mistreated by her stepmother. In her sea of misery, she pours out her heart filled with fear and hope to the only friend she knows, her diary. She struggles on her journey for a better life with her Aunt and completely has to trust God for everything to work out.
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The thought of waking up this cold morning made my body shiver from resentment. The thin old blanket had barely kept me warm throughout the stormy night. The sudden buzz of a vibrating phone shook me from my sleepy thoughts, I pulled the phone from under a pile of clothes I used as a pillow and intently looked at it. The light hurt my drowsy eyes; it was six thirty am, if I did not wake up, mama would not be happy. I got out of bed, not because I wanted, but because I was afraid of what mama would do to me. I light a candle and dressed up for the day. As I sleepily dragged my self out of the room, I knocked my injured foot, the pain was unbearable. I had injured it when mama slapped me hard and I had slipped, knocking the source pan of porridge from the charcoal stove all over my foot. The burn was serious but she did not take me to the village clinic until the LC chairman had threatened to take the matter to the police.
That had been three weeks ago. You can wonder how your own mother can do that, any how, she is not my real mother. My real mother died three years ago, by then I was in senior two. Her death really shook me. It was sudden and that made my aunt Sylvia suspect the use of witchcraft. My father married mama a year later. She was nice to me at first, bought me sweets and took me and her young son to school in her old
car. Then papa started falling sick. Mama was very angry and bitter with him and I did not know why. Well, papa died last year and mama became very cruel to me. Whenever she is angry mama says papa killed my mother and is trying to kill her too. I had never understood the whole thing until Aunt Sylvia had clearly explained to me that both my mother and father had died of Aids. Mama stopped buying me sweets and taking me to school in her old Toyota car. She only takes her son who is now in primary six. I do all the work but I don’t go to school Toyota
I feel terrible diary, all my friends are excelling and am here, rotting away at the hands of my mama. The only place she lets me go is church. She believes there is no harm in it. I always look forward to it now diary. Church has now become my consolation, my strength, my hope, my reason for living. When the old Reverend says God knows me by name, has counted the hairs on my head and has a plan for me, a twinkle of hope rushes through my heart and that gives me the strength to live another day. It’s now ten pm, I must get some sleep. By nine pm we had already taken supper. Mama says Paul should sleep early in order to wake up early. Am drowsy, so much work! Good night diary.
Dear diary, 17/October/2002
Today has been amazing, that’s why I chose to speak to you. its been long hasn’t it?. Anyway, today is Sunday, and I had to wake up early to attend the first service which is in English. By six am I had to be in the poultry, then to the cows and later to get firewood. Its hard work but my little stiff body is used to it now. Church was marvelous. Reverend spoke of Jesus second coming, I wished He would come a little sooner. After service, Reverend called me aside and gave me the best news of my life. I don’t think I ever told you of my Aunt Melissa, she is the sister to my mother who died. Well, after my parents died, Aunt Melissa had come to take me to live with her. Guess where diary, not in the village town, not even in the big city, but in the “states” as they called it. My aunt was willing to pay for everything, but mama had refused. She had lied to Aunt Melissa that she would take care of me and that I was the only reminder of my father to her, she had made such a big scene! . If only Aunt Melissa had known that she only wanted to keep me as her maid! A few months ago I wrote a letter to Aunt Melissa about my sad life. She had spoken to the LC chairman and begged him to “get me out of that house”. Somehow mama had won the battle as my rightful guardian. Reverend had assured me that they were processing some papers for me and soon, I would be with my Aunt. That was three months back.
Today Reverend told me that the papers were done! He handed them to me and made me promise to hide them far, because if mama saw them she would shred them to pieces. I was so excited diary. For the first time I could see light at the end of the tunnel, God was finally heeding to my cries. The Bible does say that He is the defender of widows and orphans. I had fixed them tight in my waist skirt when I entered the house after church. Mama was sitted with Paul taking breakfast; they never go to church on Sundays. Mama looked very upset, she asked me why I was late.
‘Am sorry am late mama, its just that … Reverend wanted some help with putting the chairs back in order, I … ‘
‘You know I told you that you should come straight home after church ‘. Mama had shouted
‘Yes … it will never happen again’
She did what I had expected without fail, she rushed up and slapped me twice as hard as I had expected. I staggered, holding a chair and then fell back. The papers fell but I hurriedly covered them and looked up at her, she had not seen them. Tears streamed down my face, but I didn’t make a sound. Why had she slapped me so hard? , was it because I had put many tea leaves in the tea, come home late, or was it the light in my eyes that mysteriously annoyed her?
Paul looked at me, almost uncaringly and shook his head. I knew he didn’t like the way mama treated me, but I also knew that he did not bother himself about it. Mama locked me in my bed room, up to now. It’s nine pm , they must be taking supper. Am very hungry diary, but I don’t care, in a week I will be out of here.
Within the papers there was a letter from Aunt Melissa. She put money and instructions on how to get to the city and then to the airport, I was to leave on 27 October very early in the morning and reach the airport before five pm for checking. Diary, am so excited, am so happy, I can’t stop thanking God. I have prayed over all the papers, passports and the money. I must be strong for this one week, and then I will be out of here. Am so happy I don’t think I will be able to get any sleep today. Today is the happiest day of my life. Good night.
Dear diary, 21/October/2002
It’s been four days since I last spoke with you yet so much has happened. Mama searched my room and found out that I had a phone, thank God she didn’t find the papers. She had been so suspicious of my recent bravery and attitude. It seemed like my going away was evident to her. I had gone to the market when she searched my room. I returned very tired. She pulled me by my ears and pointed at the phone on the table.
‘Where did you get this?’ She had hissed.
I was terrified diary, terrified at what she was going to do to me
‘It, it …it’s my fathers’ I had stammered
‘Of course I know it was your fathers’, but how did you get it, didn’t I ask you about it when your father had just died and you said you didn’t know?’
‘…am sorry mama … am so sorry’
I got the worst beating of my life. If the neighbors had not heeded to my frantic cries, mama would have killed me. She left me with a swollen eye, bleeding nose and broken tooth. In all misery diary, I just couldn’t help but thank God that she had not got those papers. I was very afraid. Before I closed up the house for the night I spoke to Stella, she’s my best friend. She whispered that she had seen mama go to the village clinic thrice this week.
‘I think she’s very sick Moxie, she’s dieing and she wants to go down with you’.
My heart shuddered. Mama must be having Aids, poor woman, and she blamed everything on my deceased father and me. I have to be extra careful diary, if mama gets the papers, it will be the end of me going to stay with Aunt Melissa in the
, the end of my hope for happiness. I feel pain all over my body, I must get some sleep. I know tomorrow mama might give me another beating if I don’t wake up early. Now that I don’t have my father’s phone, I must be careful to wake up on time. Good night diary. United States
Dear diary, 23/October/2002
Today was simply … terrible. I passed out early in the morning when I reached the compound after walking two miles with a chunk of firewood on my heard. I awoke on the veranda were mama had pulled me to rest a little. She asked me if I was pregnant. I almost laughed but held back and told her no. It was hunger.
‘Good, because I don’t want you to spoil the arrangements I’ve made for you’
‘Marriage arrangements’ she had replied casually
‘But mama, I don’t want to get married, am too young!’
‘You will see your future husband today in the evening. The introduction ceremony will be very early in the morning on Monday, and then you will leave with him.’
‘You can’t be serious!’ I had gasped in shock.
‘Don’t be silly my dear, you are old enough’
‘Am not marrying anyone’
A hot and sound slap tainted my delicate cheeks, tears streamed down my face and I sobbed silently. Monday was the day I was to leave this miserable wretched home. If I didn’t leave, then I wouldn’t get another chance to escape. If only I would get to Reverend, he would help me out, he would even be able to stop the introduction ceremony. But mama had clearly told me that I was not to leave the house under any circumstances, church had even been cancelled! As she sat there and hurled orders and insults, the little hope I had slowly started slipping away. I could never be able to escape from this house. I did meet my future husband. He was a short chubby man, very dark with a port belly, I felt so disgusted. Mama made me kneel before him and accept him. Paul stood and watched for some time, and then he rode off on his bicycle to go and play with his friends. I felt so hopeless. I don’t know how am going to get out of this mess diary.
It seems like everything is going against me. I wonder if God’s plan has changed, or He’s forgotten. I don’t know diary, I feel so miserable. Let’s just wait and see, may be God will remember me, a poor helpless orphan … He is my defender, isn’t He?
I awoke very early today, I don’t know what time it was but I could not get any sleep the whole night. I packed some few clothes, you, and a couple of photos of my father and mother in a small bag that I had hanging across my shoulder. Then I went and checked the clock in the sitting room, it was five thirty am. When I went to get my papers, I couldn’t find them. I fell into a panic. Had I placed them some were else? I checked everywhere but I couldn’t find them. Then all of a sudden, my bedroom door opened and I heard a familiar voice say,
‘Looking for something … perhaps…this’
I stood and turned, there stood my evil mama, grinning from ear to ear, holding my precious papers, everything I needed to leave. I tried saying something but the words could not come out.
‘You traitor, you want to leave now, eeh, you want to leave’ She had shouted.
‘Mama, please, let me go … please’ I had pleaded. She dragged me to the sitting room and pushed me to the ground. I wondered what she was going to do to me. She paced up and down the room.
‘Mama, please …’
‘You just shut up’ She had shouted, ‘thank God I got these earlier’ she had said and continued with her pacing.
‘You can’t force me to marry any one’ I had shouted out loud, all of a sudden in anger and desperation.
She stopped, surprised, and looked at me horridly.
‘So now you have the courage to shout at me girl?’
‘Let me … ‘
‘You are not going anywhere, I will destroy these papers in your face so you know you are going no were’ Mama shouted waving her arms in the air.
She got the papers to rip them apart, I rushed to stop her but I met her strong arm that hit me hard on the heard and I fell back. She got the papers again and I watched helplessly as she emptied them from the envelope to the table and got them in a pile.
Then, there was a sudden loud thud, mama’s large face turned pale and she fell face down at my feet. I looked down at her, shocked, and then up.
Paul stood looking down uncaringly at his mother with an old frying pan in his hand.
‘Well’, he had said ‘what are you waiting for, won’t you be late?’
I stood up dazed, and then fumbled quickly with the papers.
‘Here’ he said handing me a small piece of paper ‘just a list of things you can get me incase you ever come back’
I nodded as I received it.
‘Mama has her issues, but I think you are a good person’ he had said quietly.
That was the most sensible thing I had ever heard him say. Who would think that Paul was so … sensitive? I was about to pat him on the shoulder when mama’s groans of pain shrieked me.
‘Go, hurry’ Paul motioned for me to leave quickly.
I ran diary, as fast as my little feet could carry me, with my papers in my hand and my small bag hanging on my shoulder.
By the time I reached the village town, there was some light that was overriding the dark clouds. I bought some slippers since I had run barefooted. God did come through for me diary. I was over joyed when I entered the bus to the city. I asked the driver how long it would take, he told me four hours before we reached the city. By then it was almost seven am. We have not yet reached the city but I sure pray we make it on time.
Dear diary, 28/octoer/2002
You will not believe how hard everything turned out to be. We reached the city at midday because of the heavy rain and traffic, I had never seen one but it was really long. In the city I bought something to eat and then started to look for a car to take me to
town. I must have spent an hour looking until I had to ask for help. A man directed me and I got a taxi. There was heavy traffic again before I reached Entebbe town and just before that, the taxi was stopped by the police. It was a faulty taxi and they had no insurance. By then it was four pm. By the time I reached Entebbe town, it was fifteen past four. Entebbe
I had to get motorcycle man to take me straight to the air port. Thank God Aunt Melissa had sent me enough money. At the airport every one looked at me like a lost sheep. The woman critically examined my papers, she looked at me from head to toe, I definitely did not look like a first class traveler. I was one anyway and I didn’t care diary. I should have spoken to you in the plane but I was so excited, and there was a shifting to another plane that made it hard too. The journey was long and when the plane finally landed, I was overjoyed. I stood in the bustle of white and black sophiscated people moving so fast. I got a little scared wondering if Aunt Melissa had forgotten about me.
I looked frantically around, and then I saw Aunt Melissa. She looked so much like my mother. When Aunt Melissa saw me, she had that worried expression my mother used to have whenever she saw me tired from school. For a moment I didn’t know what to do, either to run and hug her or to wait for her to come to me. She hurried to me and hugged me. It felt so good, it had been forever since I had received a genuine hug. She looked at me and her eyes were almost darkened with sadness.
‘What has that woman been doing to you?’
I shook my head and opened my mouth to say something but tears swelled up in my eyes.
‘No one will ever hurt you again, ok?’
I nodded and cleared the warm tears that slowly slid down my cheeks. She held my hand and we walked off to her car.
Everyone here is kind to me. I have my own room, my own phone, and soon I will start school. I can’t stop thanking God. I would never have imagined in all my distress that He would bring me this far. Aunt Melissa says tomorrow we shall speak to Reverend on phone, to let him know I reached safely. Well diary, am tired now, Aunt Melissa says I should go to bed early because I need to get some sleep.
I pray for Paul, for God to bless him. I read his list diary and it had a camera, a motorbike and a computer! That boy is crazy. I told Aunt how I managed to escape and she said she would do something for him. His mother is dieing and he will need the help after her death.
You diary have been such a good friend, you are really special to me, next to God of course. Good night my good friend.