An entry in the 2015 Rivers Award
for Writing on Peace & Harmony
I was so absorbed in counting the dates in my notebook calendar that I had deaf ears when the lecturer calling my name.
Suddenly the lecture room was as quiet as grave. It was the quietness that caught my attention.
When I looked up, Mr Ume was glaring at me furiously. “Miss Rigeret, would you like to repeat my question?” he asked politely but displeased.
“Pardon me, sir!” I apologised. “I lost track half-way through.” I felt my ears go hot.
It was 1993 and I was at Holy Trinity Teachers College, Mt Hagen.
That day I had mixed emotions about attending morning lectures. During the study break I had spent some time with my boyfriend. I knew very well that it was wrong to elope but I did and now I knew I was pregnant but did not want to believe it.
So I was repeatedly counting the dates that morning when Mr Ume singled me out.
Getting pregnant as a college student was bad. Worst still I was in my second year of teacher training in a Catholic college. I had brought disgrace and regret upon myself. I would now have a child out of wedlock. The thought was killing me.
I was the pride of my family. They looked up to me with respect. The situation I had got myself into would be a slap in their face. How would they react to the news? Surely everyone would hate me for my carelessness. I had smashed my life.
After some sleepless nights on a wet pillow, I made up my mind to accept the fact. I told myself not to point fingers at anybody but to be prepared to face all the challenges. I obtained weekend leave and went to see my boyfriend.
To my relief he accepted the situation. We went together to see the college principal to seek withdrawal from my studies. The principal acknowledged my withdrawal and agreed that I could complete my teacher training the following year. I was blessed. My teaching career was secured.
My parents were very hurt when I broke the news of my pregnancy. It brought much shame upon my family. But God had blessed me with very loving and understanding parents. They forgave me and accepted that we must face the situation together. So, after I gave birth, they took care of my baby girl while I completed my teacher training.
My parents handed my daughter back to me after my graduation. I took my child and went to live with her father. Unfortunately, he had a surprise for us. He greeted us with his new wife. I got the shock of my life. He had cheated on me. I felt a spear pierce my heart and a lump in my throat.
What he had just done was something I will never forgive him for. He had put a neat black line across my name with the tag “used and discarded”.
Though educated, I am of no value when it comes to bride price, which is of paramount importance to the status of women in my society. He had just smashed my future. I felt like pushing a knife right into his heart.
But I moved on with my life and met the father of my second child. I told him about my first child, believing that the truth would set me free. He accepted the child and me. However, to my horror, he walked out of my life when I was four months pregnant. I was smashed up again. It was unbelievable.
My conscience kept condemning me. “Can’t you see that you’re not good enough! You are being used and dumped!” I slipped downhill to smoking, drinking and partying. I thought that these would give me peace. But I was wrong. They only confirmed my hopelessness and uselessness.
I hated the two men for the emotional and psychological stress I was going through. The thought of being cheated twice despite my honestly scratched a painful scar across my heart. Worse still, seeing the two men walking around happily with their current families just pissed me off.
I know that forgiveness is the pathway to a peaceful and harmonious life but I found it very hard to forgive and let go.
It took a lot of determination and courage to finally forgive myself and let go the grudges.
After the forgiveness, I received abundant blessings. I now do very well in my profession as a teacher. My two children have adapted to the challenges of being raised by a single parent. They have developed positive attitudes that are admired by all those around us.
My daughter is now in the same college where I did my teacher training and my son is studying in secondary school.
I learnt that only a forgiving heart can bring true happiness and harmony. I learnt that forgiveness unites a family, regardless of its type.
The pathway to harmony can be difficult but I finally found it because I was able to forgive and let go.