Author: Jeffrey Keya
‘I don’t want to see or hear a repeat of this again in my house. Let this be the first and the last time am hearing about this. Otherwise, you will have yourself to blame. Do not say I didn’t warn you.’ My father reckoned as my mother looked at me helplessly. She appeared to be feeling the pain that I had in my heart.
I walked out of the living room and went to my bedroom. I locked the door and assured myself that I wasn’t going to let anyone in until I felt like doing so. I could hear my mother’s footsteps approaching as I went ahead to sit on my bed. Within no time, she was there. Knocking at the door desperately and pleading with me to open up.
‘Ivy, please open this door. I need to talk to you.’ She said.
I had vowed not to open the door and therefore told her not to bother herself knocking at it.
‘Go away mum, I don’t want to see you or anyone else. You are the cause of all these. You people don’t care about me in this house. All you think of is you and you alone.’ I said angrily.
‘Ivy, it is me your mother, you don’t shout at me like that.’ She replied
‘I will shout at you or anyone else who will come knocking at my door. Just go away!’ I shouted back
She knocked again but the knock did not persist for long after which I heard her footsteps walking away. I know what I was doing was not right but the pain I had in my heart demanded more than that. My father had shouted at me simply because he was told that I had started getting involved with boys instead of concentrating in my studies. I disliked my mother for a moment for ever telling him that. I initially thought she was the only one I could confide in in such issues. I felt betrayed more especially when I remembered her promising not t tell my dad. Ok, she was not of the opinion but at least she knew how my dad was and her telling him that meant hell for me.
‘Was I going to marry myself? I thought to myself. ‘Someone should tell these people I am now a grown up.’ I said, appearinglike I was talking to myself.
The following morning, my mother was at it again. She came knocking at my door yet again. This time, she seemed to be so desperate. Her knocks lasted for about ten minutes before she walked away. This time, I did not say a word to her.
Before long, she came back with my father, both of them apologizing and asking me to forget what happened.
‘You keep saying that whenever I do something in this house. You hurt my feelings and go ahead begging me to forget what happened. It is not as easy as you may think. What you do to me in this house is not fair dad.’ I reckoned.
‘I understand you my dear, I have realized that I was wrong all along and that’s why am asking for your forgiveness. Please open up the door.’ He pleaded.
‘Ivy please listen to your dad. He is sorry for what he did.’ My mother said
I was somehow convinced that they had experienced enough. I therefore opened the door and let them in. My dad did not stay long because he was already late for work. My mother stayed back trying to console me. She promised never to betray me again.
Though my parents pretended to be on my side at that very moment, I knew they would never condone me having a boyfriend in their house especially now that I was still in secondary school for my A levels. According to them, I was still too young to start having boyfriends.
I felt I should obey them since they were still my parents and I was to obey them as their last born daughter. I subjected myself to them knowing that one day I will regain my freedom. My elder brother was my inspiration at the moment. He kept encouraging me to concentrate on my studies then afterwards other things might follow. He assured me that after my A Levels I would go to the university and I’ll have a boyfriend when I wanted to.
I decided to play cool and be the doll in the house who anyone could tease at any time. Surprisingly, everyone seemed to be fascinated with the idea. That is all they cared about. Their peace and nothing else. They did not want to bother about how I felt. For my brother, his case was different. Maybe because he was a man and men’s thoughts needed to be considered. I dreamt of a day when my life would be independent and I would be left to make my own decisions.
‘My child, congratulations for making it to the university. I hope you will continue to work hard and make us proud just as you did. Remember what your father promised you when you graduate from there?’
‘Yeah mum, I will do my best to achieve that. But there is one thing I still don’t like in this life. Why are you and dad always on my neck whenever I talk about having a boyfriend? Is it a crime to have one?’
‘Absolutely not my dear, we just want to be nice parents and take good care of you. All these boyfriend things you are talking about are just hindrances towards you achieving success in school. Is that what you want?’
‘No mum, but its high time you people realize that am a grown up now. I can take good care of myself. I am no longer that small baby you used to tease every now and then.’
‘Grown as you may imagine, you are still my child. That’s how it will always remain. You better get that into your head.’
‘You can say that for all I care, what am trying to say here is that you people should let me enjoy my life. Is it a crime?’
‘Well I have nothing to tell you with regards to that. Just be careful with your life. Remember your father would not stand any misbehavior in his house. You know him very well. It’s up to you to decide.’
‘Whatever mum, life is too short to bargain for. Nevertheless, I will be careful and yes, I will take care of myself.
For once in a long time, I had managed to convince my mother and she was on my side now. Normally, she would find a way to not be part of the discussion whenever I brought up such topics with her. In some way, she was being overprotective and she feared of how my father would react to her if she found out that she supported such ideas from me. Probably, everyone was just scared of that man, my father. Maybe because of the nature of his job, or his position at work, or maybe, of how he was brought up.
‘Strict or not strict, I was going to enjoy life. I will fight for my freedom no matter what,’ I thought, ‘after all, life was all about adventure.’
That evening, I spent some time with my brother because I wanted him to tell me how life in campus was. I was very anxious to be there. He had been there for the past three years and was now in his final year training as a medical doctor.
‘There are actually a lot of things that happen there,’ he begun, ‘some good and some very bad. That is where you will get to meet every kind of person you have ever imagined of in this world. Different people go to campus with different motives. Some go there to study, some to seek for fame, some to waste their time in engaging in shameful behaviors such as prostitution while some actually are there to do drugs. So, it’s up to you to decide what you want. My advice to you is that you take the first option.’
‘Yeah, that is the main reason you struggled through your secondary school. Isn’t it? And one more thing, the choice of friends you make are actually capable of making or destroying your future. You’ve got to be careful on that too.’
‘Well, I will. And I will also take my studies seriously. About those other things you’ve mentioned, I will see when I get there. Or maybe, where I will go, might be very different from your own school. Don’t you think?’
‘Apparently, all campuses are just the same. Their names is what differs, so don’t expect anything less than what I have told you.’
We were not done talking before my father appeared. ‘This discussion is not over.’ I whispered to my brother.
‘What are you guys talking about? Everyone seems to be happy. Do you mind if I joined you?’ He asked.
‘Absolutely no father, go ahead.’ Mike said. ‘I was just trying to tell my sister here what she should expect in campus. Life is not that easy there you know. It can be a bit challenging.’
‘Talking of campus, I have already made the necessary payments needed for you at the University of Pretoria. So prepare yourself for that. Here are your papers.’ He said pushing the papers towards me.
‘Father!!?’ I reckoned. ‘I thought my studies were going to be here in Kenya. What’s up again with all this Pretoria surprise? I won’t be going to South Africa for all I care.’ I concluded.
‘Ooh yes you will go. You will go and come back from there a person that I want you to become.’ He said.
‘Wait, so you even went ahead and have me admitted in the school of law? I have always said here times without number that I wanted to train and become an accountant.’
‘Take it easy my daughter. You are capable of doing law and law it is that you do.’
‘I do no such thing. Try me.’ I said as I walked away furiously.
‘Ooh yes my daughter. I dare you on that.’ He shouted at me
It is now over a month since I joined the University of Pretoria. I was not of the idea to be there but I had no other choice. I got to get used to it and that is why, I enjoy being there. I was a student at the law school. That did not just give me good time to enjoy life in campus because of the nature of the course.
‘Are going out today? It’s going to be fun out there today, you can’t miss this one.’
‘No, am going nowhere because I have an exam tomorrow and I need to be prepared for it. You girls go, have fun and maybe next time I will be in a position to go out with you.’
‘Come on girl, look, you are too much attached to this course you’re taking. It doesn’t work out like that. You need to have some fun along with it. Remember you will only be in campus for a while. This is the time and opportunity.’
‘Yeah, I’ve heard you. I will have that in mind. But for now, I’ve got to read for the exam tomorrow.’
‘Ok, success all the same.’ She said
Daisy was my roommate and she was a kind of girl that liked partying a lot. Surprisingly, she even had affairs with married men not to mention taking alcoholic drinks. The only fascinating thing about her was that she knew how to mind her own business.
After she had left together with her friend, I was reading my books before I heard a knock at the door.
‘Who is it?’ I asked.
‘It’s me James.’
He was a Kenyan guy who has been following me around the school ever since I arrived. He wanted us to be friends but I was not of the idea because of what my brother had told me before I became a campus student. I did not want to disappoint him by not taking my studies seriously.
‘Hey, are you there?’ He asked
I walked to the door, opened it but did not let him in.
‘How may I help you?’ I asked.
‘I just want us to talk. Won’t you at least let me in?’ he replied
I stepped out of the way and followed him in. I was not sure whether or not I was doing the right thing.
‘Listen Ivy, I don’t mean any harm to you. I swear, all I need is a chance to be your friend. Is it a crime for someone to be close to you?’
‘I never said that, all am saying her is that am not ready to be in a relationship with you right now. What is it you don’t understand there? Besides, I won’t even be having time for you if at all we become friends. My course is so demanding and am not ready to become a failure in life.’
‘You will not become a failure because of me. I won’t be taking much of your time. I just want to love you that’s all. Hey, I promise, I will not disappoint you if that’s what you’re scared of. Please??’
‘Okay, let me see what happens overnight then I’ll get back to you before the end of tomorrow. Is that okay now?’
‘Okay, I will wait. I guess it’s my time to leave now. Ooh, and success in your paper tomorrow. Remember to think about it.’ He said as he made his way out.
Being with James had marked the beginning of many things in my life. I got to feel loved when with him, I had someone who always looked up on me and above all, someone whom I loved so much. I enjoyed being with him.
Three years down the line, my stay in South Africa had been nice and I enjoyed being there. My friends always made me feel nice all the time. James and I were now engaged and she had promised to marry me once we were done with school. I just needed to be patient for one more year.
One evening, my dad called to say that he would be coming down to South Africa for a business meeting. He wanted to come and see how I was faring on in my studies too. I was happy to receive the news and promised to see him after he was done with the meeting.
After a week, he called again to tell me where to meet him. I thought it was wise if I went along with James for him to get the opportunity to meet my father. He also loved the idea though we all did not know what my father’s reaction would be.
‘Look at who we have here. My daughter, you have grown so big.’
‘Thank you dad, ooh, and meet my friend James. He and I are very close friends and I thought it was wise if both of you met.’
‘Okay, where is he from?’ he asked
‘He is from Kenya, yeah.’ I said
‘Well I have no problem with that. It is a pleasure to meet you James. Can I talk to my daughter privately, if you don’t mind please?’
James walked aside and sat at another table in the hotel. I was curious of why my father sent him away. I just hoped he wouldn’t object the fact that he and I were close friends.
‘Who is the owner of that ring you’re wearing on your finger?’
‘James gave it to me dad. He promised to marry me after school. Any problem?’ I asked anxiously
‘Ooh yes there is a problem. Now you listen, if you know what is best for you, return that ring to him and stay away from him. Your mum and I have already made arrangements for you to marry someone else.’ He reckoned
‘Father, there is no way that will happen. I am a grown up now and I have a right to decide who I will settle down with.’ I said
‘You are my daughter and I know what is best for you. So, you will return that ring and stay away from that boy.’
‘I will do no such thing father. As a matter of fact, this meeting is over. I’m sorry but I have to leave.’ I reckoned as I walked away from him.
‘Ivy! Ivy!’ James called ‘What happened back there? That is not the right way to treat your father.’
‘James, you don’t know that man one bit. He called me there to dictate my life. Look at me now, am I not a big girl? Can’t I make my own decisions?’
‘Calm down, tell me what he said.’
‘Hey James, I know this might hurt you but it’s not what I want, okay, my dad asked me to call off our engagement…But am not going to do that. Okay?’
‘Yeah! Yeah! But why? Am I not good enough for you?’ he asked, this time, appearing worried.
‘Don’t mind what he said. I will be by your side till the end of this. I will fight for our love. Will you do the same?’
‘Of course I will. I’m just scared of what he might do. You know he is a big man back in your country.’
‘Don’t worry about that. He won’t do anything to you.’
My experience with my dad that evening is something I found hard to forget especially when I was with James. It gave me a feeling of inferiority, something that I hated so much. I was surprised to learn that even in this modern age, parents still had the guts to determine who marries their daughters or who their son marries whatsoever. ‘I am not going to be a victim of that.’ I thought to myself.
I had not stepped home ever since that ugly experience. Not even a single phone call from my parents had I received. I wanted to prove to them that I am capable of taking care of myself as a young woman. It was time they realize that they cannot dictate what I do anymore. I knew what I was doing was kind of weird but all the same, something had to be done.
I had one year left in campus after which I would get employed and live an independent life. Just me and James. Additionally, James was already out of school and into the corporate world as a pilot. Everything was going on well with him. That was a plus on my side since I would have someone to look up to once am out of school.
My friends spent most of their time wondering why I behaved so differently from other campus girls. All I ever wanted was to prove a point in this life. I did not want everyone to think that they can control me in any way as was the case back home. That is why I was very careful while making decisions in life and that has just helped me to remain focused towards what I want to achieve.
‘Ivy, you know, it puzzles me how you manage to overcome all the temptations that come along with campus life. Look at you, someone looking at you can judge and say you are still new in this school. You still look very innocent and focused. Sometimes I wish I was like you.’ Daisy said
‘My dear, it’s all about knowing your goals in life and remaining focused towards achieving them. All these other things you people call adventure and fun are just there for a while. Look at what happened to Becky, she dropped out of school to go and be a mistress to an old man simply because of money. What happened there after? She got pregnant, got infected with HIV and thereafter got dumped.’
‘I really feel sorry for her. Sometimes I don’t know what is wrong with men.’
‘If you asked me I would say men are just okay, rather, it is we young girls that go around looking for ways we can reap where we did not saw. In exchange of that, you get all kinds stress after realizing that nothing comes for free in this world. Then you end up paying the price afterwards.’
‘Anyway, I have already learnt my lessons after what happened to Becky. Having the so called sponsors can be traumatic at times. I mean despite the fact that they pay your bills, you’ve got to trade something in exchange of that.’
‘I’m glad you learnt that.’ I remarked
‘My Lord, judging from what the accuser has mentioned to this honorable court concerning my client, I would like to say that his words are based on propaganda that people talk about out there and cannot therefore claim my client played a role in executing the murder of Mr. Thompsons. Here is the video footage of how the murder was executed.’
‘After considering the evidences from both sides, my ruling is that the accused be set free. I plead him not guilty of the offense against him.’
That was my first case in court and the fact that I had successfully handled it, gave me more passion to practice my skills as a lawyer. It was just the beginning of success in my life. James and I had gotten married just after I graduated from the university and we had decided to reside in South Africa.
My mother had called occasionally to find out how I was doing. She said she was sorry for what they did and asked me to return back home. I had just begun working and could therefore not have enough time to travel to Ghana and back. I however promised to visit when I was free. The only person I got to meet time and again was my brother since he used to travel a lot for business meetings to South Africa. He was also married to a white foreign girl from overseas.