Tony’s teacher had died. On a Monday morning, while the community awoke and bustled to do business, the man was asleep, drunk. Even in sleep, he fought to stay under, away from the light. He was running from the nothingness that awaited him in the day. You see, with his teacher’s death, all hope of a career in teaching, his reason for being was gone. He stayed under, reveled in it, grateful for the darkness.
“Tony, open the door.” Someone was trying to beat down the door.
Tony woke up, eyes closed, head pounding. He groaned as he tried to open his eyes, the pain was intense, had he gone blind?
“Anthony, come out here now!”
Tony sat up and opened his eyes, then winced. He crawled out of bed and looked for clothes to cover himself. His mother could not see him in this state. He opened the door slightly, the rays from the sun had decided that their task for the day was to blind him, Tony moved away from the door.
“Enter, mama. Welcome.”
His mother entered with Tandi, Tony wasn’t expecting that. He turned away from them and gritted his teeth.
“Why did you bring her here?” He asked.
“I wanted to come. I forced your mother to let me. I had to see you, husband.” Tandi said, her speech quiet. An oddity for such a lively girl.
Tony didn’t turn around. “Mama, as you can see, I’m not in good shape. Teacher has died and I must look for another way to survive and provide for the family. Let Tandi return to her family, I give her permission to…to marry another.”
His mother walked up to him, turned him to face her, and slapped him. “That was for disrespecting your teacher by the life you are living. For disrespecting me and Tandi, who has been waiting for you for five years. How dare you?” She turned away from him, tears falling from her face and looked around his room. “Get out. Your wife and I will clean this filth and cook your breakfast, then we will talk about our reason for visiting.” She strode to his bed and started removing the sheets.
The slap was still ringing in Tony’s ear, he didn’t spare Tandi a glance and walked out. He went to the foot of the Orange tree in the compound and sat, face down, his spirit beaten. There was no way anyone could go any lower than he had.
An hour later, Tandi stood before him. “Husband, food is ready. Come and eat.” She stood there, waiting for him to speak or move. When he did neither, she turned back to the house, her own tears falling.
“I will only cause you pain, Tandi. I don’t know where to go from here or how to take care of my immediate household. I have failed as a provider, and I care too much to allow you to suffer as well.”
She strode back to him. He could feel the anger with her every step towards him.
“My life was never in your hands to decide my fate. God gave me to you, and only God can cut this relationship off. I choose you as you chose me five years ago, when we exchanged hearts. You have no right to throw me away, no right.” She strode back to the house.
Tony got up from the ground and dusted the back of his shirt. He smiled at her anger and the depths of her love for him, the first smile in a while. Something else, an extinguished light, flickered on in his heart. It was a low flicker, almost imperceptible, but it was there. He walked into his room and breathed in the fresh air and the smell of washing soap. The windows had been opened up, and all the dirty clothes washed, he could see them drying on the line behind his room.
His mother walked in.” Sit down, Tandi is bringing you water.” She said as she laid the tray of rice on the floor by his bed. He sat on his bed, head bent, unwilling to look at her.
“Eat, we have much to discuss.”
Tandi walked in with water, and they sat on the floor by his bed and watched him eat. They were quiet, and Tony wished they could be loud in their anger. He wanted them to curse him out for giving up on himself and on life. Tony only got silence, and it was killing him. He pushed the food aside, unable to make it past half the plate. “Why are you here, mama?”
His mother turned to Tandi, who got up and took the tray of food and the empty cup away. She searched through her purse, then handed him an envelope.
“Read this, and let’s talk.”
Tony hesitated, then collected the envelope. Maybe she didn’t understand that he couldn’t deal with any more bills at the moment. He would read whatever she had brought out of respect, then return to his darkness when they left. He missed it already, his safe haven.
It was a letter written by his teacher. His mind went blank as he read, and later tears dropped from his eyes. He could feel them scald his cheeks as they descended. Tony couldn’t finish reading, the tears wouldn’t let him. So stood up to leave the room, his mother couldn’t see him cry.
“Stay. I know.” She said.
He looked at his mother through his tears, what was she on about? How could she know the contents in the sealed letter?
“Your teacher asked me to come here and deliver this letter a week before he died, he knew you would do this to yourself. He explained his plans for you in detail, in the letter he sent to me and asked me not to delay.” She got up from her position on the floor and walked up to him. With the tenderness she reserved for only him, she rubbed his back. “Didn’t he tell you not to be afraid of the future? Did he not tell you he would not leave you on your own, Tony? Why, why did you lose all hope, were you getting ready to die, to leave us, my only son?” She asked, crying again.
“I didn’t know…” He wept with her. “Mama, I didn’t know the plans he had for me.”
“What does the letter say?” She asked. Tandi had returned to the room at the sound of their crying. Tony cleaned his face as he turned away from her, then looked at the letter again.
“He asked me not to be afraid that he left me a helper, another teacher, to guide me through to become everything we had planned. The person’s name and address are written here, and he is expecting me. Mama, he also got me a job in a friend’s school, to do what I love. How can I thank this man, how?” He asked as he broke down, unable to control himself. All the fear and heartache he had experienced at the death of his teacher was for nothing. There was a way, life to be lived again, a family that still wanted and loved him. Tony’s knees crumpled to the floor in worship.
The teacher had died but yet lived in him. He had left him a helper to guide him through to become all that God had planned for him. He was alive again.
Till next time, be transformed!!