I stood at the gate knocking but no one seemed to hear or they simply didn’t care. It had been three hours since Josephine kicked me out of her house. My poor baby had cried until he had had enough. The house was all silent except for a few times when the doors banged. I stood there, pondering about life –thinking about my baby. There was no way I was going to leave Daniel in the hands of a woman who never raised her own children. It made me so angry to think that Ronald would finally win. I was sure that by that time he was already on his way, dying to humiliate me for what my life had turned into. After all I had nothing. I didn’t have an education to secure a good job nor did I know anyone in the big city.
For a moment there, I pondered about swallowing my pride and going back to him. Michael, the man I had given my entire heart to and even risked my marriage for was nowhere to be found. I would have given anything to feel his embrace at the moment. Where was he? Did I even cross his mind? The people who had gathered to witness the morning fiasco had now scattered away. There was nothing they could do. They did not know me and it was evident that none of them wanted to face Josephine’s wrath once she realized that any of them had lifted a finger to help me.
I didn’t need anybody’s help anyway. Having grown up with an ambitious father who never paid attention to me, I had learned to look out for myself. I had never begged anyone for anything, even during that time when I was forced to marry a monster like Ronald. My destiny was mine alone and not even Michael could prevent me from moving on. Michael – I would have wished him the worst but I still loved him. He was the only man I ever loved in my life.
“Miss I don’t mean to meddle but it would seem Mrs. Josephine doesn’t want you around. And who knows what she would do if she found you still seated here. Don’t you have other relatives to you can stay with in the meantime?” The woman was probably in her mid-sixties and looked like the qualms of life had snatched her radiance.
I jerked away without saying a word and moved a few inches away from her. I was angry at her for meddling but in real sense I was only angry because she had a point. I couldn’t continue sitting there for days waiting for Josephine to change her mind.
Everyone knew that she would rather die than see me win this war she had started many years ago. But where would I go anyway? I didn’t have relatives or friends who would help me. In all my life, I had never felt so stupid. How on earth could I commit to a man I had known for just six months?
“Miss…” She was not backing down as it would seem.
I didn’t know what to tell her and it was clear that she was not moving an inch until she knew that I was going to be alright. But there was no way I was going to tell her that I was all alone.
“Ma’am, not to be rude, but I would appreciate if you left me alone.”
She gave me a long hard look, as if I had just accused her of a crime. After a long silence, she shrugged her shoulders, gave me a pat on the back and walked back to the shop.
“I was just trying to help. If you change your mind though, I am just here.”
I sat there cursing the fact that I was so strong and never allowed anybody in. I thought about going to the police, but what would I even tell them? My only other option was climbing up the gate but it was too high. And anyway, the way I knew Josephine, she would send her dogs after me, if she even caught a glimpse of me.
I was still thinking of what to do when the gate suddenly opened. This was my chance. Mildred stood there perplexed as if she had just walked right into a crime scene. It was clear that she had not expected to see me there. I was about to rush in, go inside and grab my baby and dash out as fast as I came when I saw Daniel – right there in Josephine’s arms. She saw me, gave me an angry look and proceeded to scrambling for her car keys in her handbag. Where was she taking my baby?
Like a thunderbolt, I ran pushing poor Mildred who tumbled to the ground. I held on to the car door and stood there transfixed trying to grab Daniel but she shoved me aside with such disgust as if I was some dirty beggar begging for bread crumbs.
“Josephine, you can’t take my baby. As long as I live, I won’t…”
“Won’t what? You won’t allow it? Poor Judith. And what are you going to do about it? She barked.
“Where are you taking him?”
It was clear that I was not going to win with her. She hated me so much and was determined to see me reduced to nothing.
“That’s for me to know and for you to stay away from. I told you that you were free to go anywhere but there is no way I will allow my nephew to grow up in the streets Judith. What kind of a mother are you? You messed up big time and this time I will see to it that you end up where you belong.”
Her words pierced a cord in my heart and I felt tears well up in my eyes. I didn’t want to show her what her words were doing to me but the pain was too much to hold in. I broke down and cried. I remember begging her to allow me keep my baby, while promising that I would go back and submit to Ronald. For Daniel, I could stand the humiliation. What do you do anyway, when your only source of joy is snatched from you so rudely?
She laughed and pushed me back. I fell on the hard floor bruising my arm in the process. Small drops of blood gushed out but the pain of losing Daniel was too much compared to the physical one.
“Mildred, can you go upstairs and bring this woman her belonging. I don’t want her to say that we chased her away with only the tattered fabrics on her body.”
Mildred stood there for a while, stealing glances at me then back at Josephine as if waiting for her to reconsider her decision but the woman was as ruthless as a demon.
“Mildred, you know I don’t like repeating something. Go and do what I have said.”
As if awakening from a long dream, Mildred walked away, half pacing and half running.
A few minutes later she came back with my suitcase and put it near Josephine’s feet.
“There you go Judith; I don’t ever want to see you around my house anymore. Next time just so you know, I won’t be so considerate.”
“Josephine my baby…,”
All the words I could speak clogged in my throat and all I could make was a clucking sound. The car was already winding its way from the compound and I stood there as confused as I had been those many years ago when I moved into Ronald’s house. Mildred tried helping me up, but her efforts bore no fruit. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my head as if somebody had drilled a hole right at the center. It was as if I had lost my mother once again.
“Ma’am I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to…but you know the Mrs.”
I could not blame her. In so many ways we were the same, both of us drinking from the same bitter cup that was Josephine.
I reached into my bag and pulled out the piece of paper I had been given by Elizabeth. She was a stranger I had met on the bus that day but then, what choice did I have? I had to find the strength to move on to one day be able to fight for my own blood. My poor Daniel.
“Can I have a phone Mildred?”
Without saying anything, she rushed into the house and brought her own mobile phone and handed it to me.
“Where is she taking my baby?”
“I really don’t know Ms. Judith. She didn’t say anything. I am so sorry for what is happening.” It was clear that this was affecting her just as much as it was affecting me. I pitied her and the life she was subjected to live.
I dialed the number and a man’s voice came over the phone which I assumed belonged to Elizabeth’s husband.
“Can I please speak to Madam Elizabeth?” I requested.
“Okay…but who do I tell her you are?” So rude, I couldn’t help but think but it didn’t matter.
“Tell her it’s a friend. I’m not sure if she even remembers me. We met a while back and…”
“Here she is,”
I had assumed that by now she had already forgotten me but it was the opposite. When I explained who I was, she was so excited for finally hear from me. I told her all I had gone through after leaving her and how my baby was taken from me. She was a mother like me and it was comforting to know that she understood exactly what I was going through. We agreed that I would go to her place and we would work on a plan of getting my baby back. I said goodbye to Mildred and made my way to the bus terminus.
It was a thirty minute drive to Elizabeth’s house.
The house was just as I had assumed. Standing on a quarter acre field was a bungalow that seemed had seen so many seasons already. The house was old but you could tell the person who owned it was someone important in the society. Pots of African daisies lined the stair case leading to the house and the corridors. It was such a beautiful site and I couldn’t help but stare. The door opened and out came Elizabeth, wiping her hands on a kitchen towel.
“Hello love, sorry I wasn’t able to receive you. I was in the kitchen making lunch,” she said hugging me. In her arms I experienced that feeling of a motherly love. I wanted to burst out crying and she realized it and hugged me even tighter.
“I am so sorry for what you have been through child. No mother deserves to watch her child taken away like that.” I could no longer hold it in and stream of tears flowed freely falling on her shoulders wetting the t-shirt on her but she didn’t mind.
“Come in love. Let me get you something to calm you down.” She took my hand and led me to the neatly kept sitting room. Just like the corridor, small pots of daisies lined the walls of the sitting room but I was too upset to pay any attention. She disappeared into the kitchen and came back with a hot cup of coffee and some aspirin. She was right, the coffee did relax me a bit and soon I fell asleep. Having not slept well for days, it didn’t take long for the sleep to drown me. In my dreams my baby was till with me, looking at me with those tiny eyes that had the power to melt your heart.
In my dream Michael was still around. In my dream I saw a whole different future. I saw a marriage so perfect that it was hard to tear us apart. I saw my baby grow up like a flower blossoming right in front of my eyes. In my dream, Josephine respected me. But that’s exactly what it was, a dream!
My life was still crappy and my baby was probably crying his eyes out from missing me so much. Michael was still not around and for a moment there I wished that he was dead somewhere in a ditch. That would have given me closure.
The future was still blank but at that moment I just had to worry about getting my baby back. Daniel would come back to me whether Josephine liked it or not. Ronald would have to kill me but there was no way Daniel was growing up in the cruel little world they had created for themselves.
Catch up on a Time to Love Chronicles through A Time To Love (Chapter 4)
Written by Lillyanne Gathoni