The heat beat their sweat-drenched backs as if as a punishment from the sun. Used to the scorching rays, they continued weeding in their father-in-law’s farm. In unity, the women worked together, understanding the starting point and when to end work for the day. To watch them work, one would believe they were of one mind, but the painting their bodies depicted was different from their thought processes.
Ada worked on the farm, and weeded out problems from her mind, casting them down like strongholds. Ure planned on weeding her problems out with the help of Ugo, the local truck driver. On closer inspection, one would notice that though occupied, Ada worked with a system in mind, and the weeded out grassland showed her result. Not so for Ure, who could taste and feel her freedom, disregarding the task before her.
Ure stood and looked around, breathing in the fresh air. She longed for the day to come when she would never have to smell the soil. She looked at the land she worked on with Ada, and smiled on all the fruit and crops they worked hard to harvest over time, and how it helped their husbands’ family survive. She frowned, remembering culture laid the family’s survival on their backs. Two young, naive girls, married into a family of generational drunks, taught from birth to seek the easy life. Well, no more. She had reached the end of the line.
She looked over at Ada, who still worked on her side and shook her head. Did the girl have no plans, no ambitions? She bent down and continued working, an idea forming in her mind.
“What was Nne saying about looking up, during bible study today?” Ure asked.
Ada didn’t stop working. “We should look up to God for everything. We need His help.”
“I wonder why she doesn’t drum that into her sons’ ears. They need Him more than most.”
Ada remained silent.
“Don’t you ever get tired of it all? From morning till night, the endless work, even to the bedroom’s demands, when one is tired out? We make the family prosper while they grow fat on the crops we harvest, cook, and pass before them to eat. Doesn’t it seem unfair to you?”
Ada stopped working, and grabbed the water bottle she hitched to the side of her torn jeans, with the cloth tied around her. She closed her eyes as the freshwater sated her dry tongue and prayed for wisdom. Finished, she closed the bottle, and tied it to her jeans again.
“Ure, look around you. Stop and look around this farm.” Ada said, looking at her sister-in-law. The request, a demand.
Ure stood, looked around, and back at Ada.
“We did this together. When we started working on this farm, it seemed barren, and you know how long it took before it yielded fruit. God made it happen for us by His grace. Some families don’t have this testimony. Some don’t have food on the table, not to talk of what to sell in the market. Why don’t you look at life like that and praise God? He has sustained our family, does it matter how He did it, or through whom?” Ada asked.
They stood looking at each other for a while, the rhythmic pacing of their drawn breaths different, one faster than the other. The quick breather looked around again; the truth of the words spoken was evident; however, the distance from her present to freedom was too small to consider such inconsequential facts. Ure dulled her mind just before they heard someone calling her name.
They turned, not answering, looking out to the tarred road, broken in places due to erosion. Ugo huffed and puffed as he walked up the road, muttering to himself. They watched him stop, shout Ure’s name, hiss, and continue on his way up.
Ada looked at Ure. “Why are you not answering?”
Ure’s hoe fell from her hand. Freedom had come for her. She didn’t know how to feel or what to do. She rushed to her clothes, picked them up, stuffed them into the bag she brought her farm clothes in, and did not bother to change. She wore her sandals and raced back to Ada.
“Come with me. Ugo has come to take me away from here. We will look after you till you find a man who will love and care for you the way Ugo loves me. Please, come now.” Ure said, pleading as she held Ada’s hand, almost tugging her.
Ada disengaged her hand, her mouth widening. “You mean you are leaving the village? With Ugo? This one?”
The disdain apparent in Ada’s estimation of Ugo angered Ure.
“Yes, he loves me and buys me things. He tells me I am beautiful and that he will take care of me if we live together in the city, far away.”
Ada held Ure’s hand tight and looked into her eyes. “What about your husband, your ailing mother? You can’t just leave.”
“I have been shouting your name from Akporo junction to this place,” Ugo said, stopping to catch his breath. “Why are you not answering, my wife?”
Ure snatched her hand away from Ada and moved to stand in front of Ugo, touching his chest.
“Forgive me, my husband. I was saying goodbye to my sister.”
Ugo looked at Ada, a smile forming on his wide face. His appreciation of her visible in the way his eyes slid over her.
“Well done, sister. How are you?” He asked his eyes on her chest.
“I am fine, but how is it that another man’s wife has become yours without any dowry returned to her husband or paid to her family? Is that how to marry?” Ada said, her hands on her hips.
Ure hissed at her and turned to Ugo, whose face darkened like clouds before a rainstorm.
“Don’t mind her, my husband. I am ready.” She said, taking his hand and walking away, pulling him as she went.
“Ure,” Ada said, following them. “To look up is to understand that though life can happen, the way we interpret and live shows the difference between those who thrive and those who survive. Life is not greener anywhere, my sister; rather, it is God’s grace that enriches our lives and nourishes our daily existence. Without Him, I would have been like you, looking for an escape from one life, only to jump into a worse one. Remember, to look up, when the going gets hard because it will.” She said to Ure, who neither seemed to hear nor care.
Tears fell on Ada’s cheeks, splashing on her top, as she realized her sister and friend was leaving. She bent her head and wept for Ure as the two lovers continued on their way.
Till next time, be transformed!!