Determination – Part 4
By Thiyam Ningol Dr. Nalini
After 2 months, Grace had managed to rent a room for herself, 5 thousand shillings a month. Mary lent her the money to pay the advance payment sum for 3 months, the agreement with the land lord. The room was so small and the roof so low that if she stretched her arms fully sideways, she could touch both the sides of the wall and if stretched upwards, she touched the roofing tin sheets. She thought for a start, that’s something more than enough.
One day, a usual customer of hers told her to supply 100 doughnuts every day, early morning for her newly opened kiosk. She agreed. After supplying the doughnuts, she was left with a lot of free time. She started looking for ways of utilizing the free time. Presence of Arnold was always a negative reason for not getting a job. But she felt there had to be a way.
She met another lady with a similar situation like her. She had a 5 year old daughter. Two of them combined force together and decided to open a thatched small stall near the local market place where they could sell breakfast and lunch snakes. The market area was dirty but crowded. A lot of bad mouthed people around but Grace needed them to start her life. Later if luck agreed with her plans, she would move to a better place. Mary arranged for them to take a loan from an organization.
The busines grew. Only two of them could no more manage to run the business. They needed more helping hands. More helping hands meant less profit and more conflict among themselves.
Grace quit her partnership, took a bigger loan. Now she was over18yrs old and eligible for an independent loan. She opened a food kiosk, her own, employed helpers. Within the permitted period, she cleared her debts; allowed bigger loan again. The kiosk turned into a small restaurant.
Arnold was already 7 years old. Grace enrolled him in a nearby local school. With Arnold going to school, Grace had more time to dedicate on her business. Now she needed a better place to run her business.
With her good records, she did not find it difficult to get a long-term loan. She got a small space in the city center, lease for 2 years, renewable.
One day while looking for materials for her restaurant, she saw the “captain of the night” from far. He did not recognize her but Grace recognized his wooden leg. His hugeness had reduced, looked frailer. His sight suddenly reminded grace of her long forgotten life. She felt nauseated. Took out some money from her purse, gave him and left the place as quickly as she could. The whole day she could not concentrate. From that day onwards, she started sending the leftover food of the day from her restaurant to the captain.
As her business grew, Grace started feeling the effects of her illiteracy. She had picked up good vocabulary English. Whenever possible she tried to add few appropriate English words while talking to the customers. But that was not enough.
She joined English course and side by side preliminary classes of book keeping. She enjoyed the learning. She improved her accounting skill and could detect easily cheatings from her employees.
Arnold started talking about computers. They were taught computer at the school. She did not like her son to feel that his mother didn’t know how to use computer. She also started computer classes. Arnold became her driving force to learn more and more.
Time passed quickly Arnold was in the secondary school already, form III student. Once in a while, he used to enquire from his mother about his father. Grace told him the truth, she did not know about his whereabouts. Most probably he did not even know he had a son. If he knew, he would have come back for him.
Grace had a customer turned friend, Suzy, an elderly European lady. She provided her breakfast and dinner daily. She stayed in the same building where Grace’s restaurant was. Sometimes Grace used to send Arnold to deliver her dinner Tiffin. Arnold loved it. They had become good friends. Once in a while, Arnold helped her to do some paper works with her computer. He was a gifted boy. He was doing well in his studies and he had a good technical hand. Grace silently praised God for making Arnold inherit his father’s good genes.
One evening when they were watching news in the TV, Grace was stunned to see Alex as the newly appointed CEO of the most prestigious company. The announcer was talking, praising Alex. Grace felt numb; she could not hear anything more. Arnold woke her up from her wilderness- “That is a real man. I want to be like him when I grow up. You hear me, mom? He is my idol.”
- You saw that fellow, in the TV? I really admire people like him.
- Good! Work hard! You excuse me, I feel a bit tired and sleepy. I am going to my room.
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