Finally, it is the 21st! The first of the fairy sisters of the spoken word has spun her magic wand…
And a story is birthed.
And one more thing, this is her first story… officially ‘Jules Writes’ has been launched…and to think I have the singular honor of featuring her debut story!
So sit back and enjoy “A Christmas to remember”
A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER
Merrie walked into the kitchen to get a glass of chilled juice. She walked past the mahogany dining table, picking scattered plates and cutlery as she went. She sighed deeply then smiled. Thinking about her younger siblings always brings a smile to her face.
She knew she should be firmer on them about their habits of leaving trails of strewn clothes, plates, even their school things all over the living room like toddlers but she couldn’t bring herself to do it, considering what they had been through together and so she indulges them.
It was that period again. That time of the season that makes her reflect on her past. The Christmas season has always been a time of mixed feelings for her ever since that Christmas fifteen years ago. In a cruel twist of fate, things had changed and their lives had taken a downward spiral. They had been sucked into life’s vortex and it had threatened to drown them in its depth. Just when they were about to give up, the wheels of fortune had smiled on them again.
Sometimes when she ruminates on those events, she always get the feeling that it had all happened in a dream, a very vivid one. She was in this mood as she poured herself a cup of orange juice and returned to the living room and sat on her favourite sofa, that gave her a view of the garden. She closed her eyes and allowed the events play out in her mind.
Life had been all happy and cheerful for her and her two brothers, Dan and Ben, up until that fateful Christmas day fifteen years ago. Their parents had died in a car accident when a petrol tanker had overturned on the highway and caused a fire that killed several people. She had been nine then, and Dan and Ben were six and three years old respectively. It had come as a blow, one whose effects was in ripples.
The first ripple was a sudden change of status. Her father’s family had sold their parents’ house and all their belongings and distributed it amongst themselves. They had then been carted away to live with their father’s immediate younger brother.
Things had been fine until their uncle began to have problems at work and then his business had begun to dwindle. Suddenly, he had become hostile and accused them of bringing ill luck and a curse to his household. Within three months, he thrust them out.
After much persuasion, the youngest of their father’s brother agreed to take them in. it was like going from frying pan to fire. Their uncle and his wife had been hostile from day one. They were saddled with all the chores in the house and seeing as Dan and Ben were still too small to be of much help, Merrie had been the only one saddling the responsibilities. Aside the chores, they were ill-treated- starved of food and taken to the worst of schools and even then, their fees were not paid on time and many a time, they were chased out of school for non-payment.
They were beaten severely and for even the slightest of offences. Dan had his fingers cut with the shard of a glass cup that accidentally dropped from his hands while he was washing the dishes. Things came to a head one Saturday afternoon when her younger ones had accompanied her uncle’s wife to the market, and she had been saddled with cooking lunch for her uncle. Her uncle had called her into his room and tried to sleep with her. She was no match for her uncle and he had pinned her down and was about to have his way with her when her uncle’s wife burst in and caught him hands down.
The uncle’s wife accused her of witchcraft and seducing her husband and insisted that she and her brothers be expelled from the house. It was the lowest point of her life. Having nowhere to go to, she had taken refuge in an uncompleted building.
For a year, she and her siblings had eked out a living from begging for alms and doing any menial jobs they could find. Sometimes, they helped buyers carry their goods and at other times, they washed the plates and fetched water for roadside food vendors. Merrie had had to grow up to provide for and protect her brothers. So many times, she had escaped being molested by a hair’s breath.
On a Christmas day, two years after their parents’ death, something terrible happened, that changed their lives forever.
She had been hawking ice cold sachet water and had been about to cross the road to sell to a potential customer when she heard screams from behind her. She turned and saw a black Pajero SUV barrelling towards her at top speed, and froze. The air was silent and everything ground to a halt. She looked on, as in a slow motion as the car made for her.
Then the moment was gone and she heard a screeching sound as the driver applied the brakes accompanied with the smell of burning rubber. The car stopped a fraction of an inch from where she stood. The driver rushed out of the car and to her side. She could not answer any of the questions and her skirt was wet with urine.
The man had taken her to a private hospital and the doctor said she was in shock. She was to be admitted for observation overnight. She was discharged the next day and the man had asked about her parents. She had narrated her predicament to the man who was touched and had offered her and her brothers a place to stay in his house.
That was the beginning of the good times. After efforts had been made to contact her people and had proved abortive, their benefactor, an Engineer, who had been married for seventeen years and with no children had decided then to adopt all three of them.
Their new parents, Engineer Donald and his wife Sharon had been God-sent. They were wonderful people and kind hearted. They had enrolled them into the best schools and had private tutors for them at home. Merrier had just finished her Master’s degree in Economics, Dan was presently in his final year studying Computer science and Ben was in his first year studying Accounting. Life had been good in the last thirteen years and they had almost forgotten that darkness in their past.
Except that every once in a while, she caught sight of that darkness in her brother, Dan’s eyes. He had been old enough to understand the hardship and had been hit hard. She could only pray that he would have the strength to keep that darkness at bay.
Her reverie was interrupted as the boys sauntered in. They had gone to visit with friends earlier. They had been arguing about football as usual and stopped when they saw her.
“Hey big sis” Dan greeted and winked at her. Her heart soared as she replied the smile with a wide one herself. She was so proud of them.
“I know you are thinking again” Dan said as he came over to hug her. He was the touchy feely type and was overly sensitive. “You should stop brooding” he added in a gruff voice
Merrie closed her eyes and sighed contentedly. “No, I am not thinking she said as she squeezed him harder, I am just grateful” she reached out to Ben who had been watching and smiling. “Come over here and give me a hug” she cooed “or you are too old for hugs?”
Ben laughed heartily throwing his head back and then moved closer. “Never too old for a hug from you big sis”.
Merrie was happy. In a cruel twist of fate, their parents had been taken from them on Christmas day but fate was determined to right the wrong she had done and had given them new parents on another Christmas day. So, rather than Christmas being a gloomy time, it was filled with happy memories.