Better Only Comes After Letting Go of Bitterness
It is just a matter of exchange…
When my sister started teaching, she was driven by her passion to impact young children’s lives positively. She had just completed a diploma in education when she landed a teaching job in a popular primary school in Nyeri. After two years of hard work and dedication, she rose to the position of deputy headteacher, faster than most of her colleagues who had been in the institution for years. It was a big deal. She had all the reasons to be proud of herself.
A few months into the new position, she had the opportunity to help a close friend fill a teaching assistant position, an internship of sorts. Help others rise as you rise, is that not the right thing to do? Build larger tables instead of higher walls when your life gets better, right?
Fast forward a few months later, my sister was expecting her second born, 10 years after she had had her firstborn. It was a boy! She was halfway through the term in February 2017, expecting to deliver her bouncing baby boy mid – late July. She was entitled to 30 days annual leave and 90 days maternity leave. She had a plan: take leave on 1st July and combine annual- and maternity leave till the end of October, by which time schools would be breaking for the long end-year holiday. That would earn her some extra two months, bringing the total to 5 months away from work, nursing her baby while still receiving her salary, which she was entitled to anyway. Life couldn’t have been going better for her…or so she thought.
The unfortunate thing about life is that it sucks. Cliché, yes, but no statement could ever be truer. Just when you think you have everything figured out; just when you feel that fate is pushing you closer and closer to your dreams, everything comes crashing.
I remember visiting her some time and noticing that she looked distressed. I asked her if she was okay and she assured me that everything was fine. I was left in doubt but then concluded that it could be the pregnancy—it has its way of distorting hormonal balance in expectant mothers. The things they go through…you never get to appreciate the process until a woman goes through it all to bring forth your child. Respect!
In the second week of March, I received a disturbing call from my sister. In-between sobs, she told me that she had decided to resign. I was confused. Why would she quit, when things were finally working out in her favor? How would she service the bank loan that she had recently borrowed to acquire land? What about the baby? In what state would it find her? She could definitely look for another job, but expectant mothers are not exactly the most employable of people.
Long story short, the young lady friend she had helped secure a job had teamed up with the headteacher (in ways I will let your imagination figure) to oust her. The headteacher felt that his position was under threat and the young lady believed him when he told her that he would ensure that she takes over as second in command when they frustrate her to resignation or getting fired. And sure enough, they did frustrate her to resignation. A dozen threatening text messages later; a thousand defamatory messages to the directors later, the campaign worked in their favor. She resigned.
Two months later, one and a half months to term, she had her baby. On a routine check-up visit. It was more of a miscarriage than a delivery. The doctor had just reassured her that everything was okay and the cervix was closed. She still had 4 – 6 weeks left. You can imagine the shock on his face, 10 minutes later, as my sister was shouting at him begging him to admit her, writhing in full-blown labor pains; and 10 minutes later when she delivered her tiny boy. He weighed only 1.8kgs, the threshold for discharge.
When bad luck chooses you as a companion, even a ripe banana can remove your teeth. ~African Proverb
As if the gods had conspired against her, her 10Yo daughter suddenly fell ill the following day. She was in perfect health the evening before but couldn’t get out of bed the morning after. A thyroid infection had paralyzed her from the waist down. She was admitted in the same hospital. They were all discharged a few days later.
With difficulties, life carried on. At some point she got so desperate that she called asking me to lend her 70K. Someone in TSC (Teachers Service Commission) was offering to hook her up with a government job. I reminded her of how far she had come in a span of months, the much she had lost and yet, the strength she realized she had had all along. I reminded her that if she survived all those months; if her faith and patience carried her through it all, that same faith and patience would carry her through to her destiny. Her only New Year’s resolution was to let go of the pain and bitterness she had held against the two colleagues who drove her into misery. To forgive and forget.
As I write this:
- her baby turned 1 last month, healthy and strong as ever;
- the duo who contributed to her downfall were summarily dismissed just a few months after she resigned;
- she still got the TSC job, even after turning down the dirty offer. The appointment letter was her New Year’s gift; and
- she is now two months into her teaching job, permanent and pensionable.
There are many details I left out but the pain and struggles this lovely woman went through in such a short period are nothing I would wish on anyone. Beyond it all, the power of faith, patience and forgiveness was manifested in her eventual triumph. I guess it is a matter of exchange: that better only comes after letting go of bitterness.