Ruth had been raised by a two mothers, her biological mother had been thrown out of the house by her father over some unidentified misunderstanding. He married another woman who raised Ruth and her two siblings and she later gave birth to her own children. The two main women in her life became her mother and her stepmother who didn’t like each other one bit. Unfortunately her mother made sure to instill the same feelings in her children. Ruth and her siblings seemed to loath everything that their stepmother did including taking them to boarding school. The stepmother tried her best to bring these kids closer but their hatred of her was more powerful. Eventually she accepted to be the witch she was labelled to be by ignoring her husband’s kids. Unfortunately, Ruth’s mother didn’t feel the same way as she took off time often to visit her children using the same opportunity to insult their stepmother. The actions of her biological mother greatly affected Ruth and she unknowingly exhibited strange mannerisms that her ignorant friends knew nothing about. She would talk poorly about Beth and Tolbert’s relationship to whoever was willing to listen. Carol noticed this but in her pursuit to keep the three girls together, she ignored it. It wasn’t long before Beth noticed this two sided nature in Ruth and remembered what her mother always said,
“Be careful the kind of friends you keep. Remember friends will either build or destroy you”
Beth withdrew from Ruth and started telling her less about her friend Tolbert. She felt terrible that she had hurt her friend and pushed her away but she didn’t want to have anymore problems with her.
Ruth was no fool, she noticed that her friend was more closer to Tolbert and Carol than she was too her. She blamed Tolbert for interfering in the girls’ friendship. She hated him for coming between them and wanted to get him out of their lives as soon as possible. As Ruth sat in the Chapel one evening examining her feelings regarding the entire fiasco; she came to a discovery, she was in love with Tolbert.
“I want him for me but he wants that pencil thin girl.” Ruth thought to herself as tears ran down her face. Telling Beth how bad Tolbert was didn’t seem good enough but telling a tough Matron Sarah some untruths seemed like a good enough solution to the jealous teen.
No adult hated teenage romance like the matron. She was unmarried over worked and absolutely hated teenagers.
“They are having a relationship and as such, Elizabeth is not concentrating in class. She’s always talking about that boy everyday in class. You have to talk to her so they end it now.”
Ruth said as she ended her story to Matron Sarah who was baffled at the atrocity happening just under her nose without her knowledge. She was angry and was sure she could end their relationship in a split second just as she had done to the many couples who had ended up out of the school.
“Don’t worry about that, I’ll find a way to sort this issue soon. Next time, make sure to talk about such matters sooner.” She said disgusted by the teenagers’ views about romance at such an early age. She knew the only reason Ruth had come to her was because she was jealous judging from how she narrated the story.
Lakeside College was a traditional school where religion and morals were promoted. Relationships were frowned upon and discouraged
In most cases, the couple in question would be counseled by the some teachers or by the Pastors before they would be expelled should they persist. But of recent the system had been abandoned as the students dating were Simply expelled. Beth and Tolbert were not worried about experiencing such a fate for they were not doing anything wrong. They were Simply good friends and they were proud of that. Unfortunately matron Sarah could not be convinced easily for a week after having knowledge of their friendship she put her plan in full gear. Tolbert’s elder brother was called and so was Beth’s mother. The guardians were given letters informing them about the teenagers’ expulsion. The evidence the matron had was a love letter Tolbert had sent Beth via Ruth
“You can’t expel my daughter, she’s a good girl. If she says nothing happened between her and that shameless boy then it’s the gospel truth.” Beth’s mother said as she looked at matron Sarah with the kind of anger That she had never felt before. Ruth stood cowering under the intensity of the woman’s anger. Ruth hadn’t expected that kind of reaction from Beth’s usually calm mother.
“You summon me to school and slander my daughter acting as though you’re the most saintly people in the universe.” She held the letter up, tore it in tiny pieces
“I am going to back to my home, attend to my businesses and should you call me again with issues regarding this nonsense, I’ll come back with my Lawyer and sue this school.” She scoffed at the matron and deputy principal who had summoned her.
“You young lady stay away from my daughter.” Beth’s mother said turning to point at Ruth. She looked at them, grabbed her daughter and stormed out of the office. Beth cried as she followed her mother to the car. She had never seen her mother this angry. Unlike the other adults, Elizabeth knew the extent of her mother’s wrath. Her mother slapped her across the face,
“If I ever be summoned to your school for such nonsense, you’ll curse the day you were born.” Her mother said, she got in her car and drove off leaving Beth sniffing.
In a distance watching was Tolbert. His brother was not as angry as Elizabeth’s mother. He walked back to find his brother who had taken his turn in the deputy Principal’s office.
“Beth didn’t do anything wrong, am the one that sent her a letter she didn’t know anything.” He said taking responsibility, at the same time getting himself expelled at the same time.
For one whole month, the young people were always looking out for each other and the school system that discouraged dating between students didn’t make their life any easier. Eventually, Tolbert found the courage to talk to the elusive girl that seemed to preoccupy his dreams and thoughts. So on Friday as the students prepared for movie night, he went to the canteen; bought a cold Fanta soda which he poured in an empty mineral water bottle since the shopkeeper wanted the bottle after use; he also got cheap chocolates and a small cake and placed them in the beautiful polythene bag he had picked and washed for this purpose. He waited for her to come knowing she was going to use the same entrance where she could see him easily. His fingers sweated profusely and his heart beat louder than the school bell. He wondered what she was going to say about his gesture. His friends had discouraged him against the act for they found Beth to be intimidating. But he assured them saying jokingly
“I will marry that girl in future. She’s gonna be my wife and mother of my children.” They would find this hilarious. On several occasions he stood up to fix his pants, by making them more saggy and checked chewed on mint flavored chewing gum to make sure that his breath was fresh. As always his friends offered their support from a distance. Beth finally arrived, wearing her glitter filled lip gloss, a white shine on her face from the Eldena she had applied
and a dark eyeliner on her lids. She wore her tight fitting skirt and tucked in her blue colored shirt. She actually looked like any other teenager struggling to look older as did the rest at school but to Tolbert she was an angel.
“Elizabeth, may I talk to you.” It wasn’t a question but a simple statement for he knew what her response would be. She had stood at the entrance with her friends stalling, hoping that he would say something to her. She didn’t respond but he took her smile to be an agreement. Carol and Ruth excused themselves not wanting to ruin the moment Beth had been waiting for and dreading at the same time.
“I bought these for you….. I would like to be your friend.” He said his voice cracking like a teenage boy’s would. Beth noticed and smiled.
“Thanks, but as my friend please call me Beth. Elizabeth is too long and traditional.” She said thanking God inwardly for his quick response to her prayer that evening.
“Is it fine with you if we sit together during our club meeting next week?” He asked as though his life depended on it. She smiled and looked in the direction of her girlfriends wondering what they would say once she told them about the new development.
“Yes, you may.” She said and introduced her two friends that stood like the loyal minions they were. After the brief conversation they had, they decided to go in the Chapel before the teacher on duty poured out his wrath on them.
Tolbert was a sixteen year old from Kabale who had studied in Kampala away from home all his academic life. His family was wealthy and as such found it proper that their children study from the great city. Some said it was because of his tribe that he seemed aggressive and assertive but around those that knew him well, he was an absolute angel and a romantic at heart. He was gentle and that was only known by his closest of friends but to the rest of the world he was a no nonsense chap This enabled him achieve leadership among his peers mainly because they envisioned the person they wanted to be in him. He was the fourth in a family of six children. Tolbert visited the village only towards Christmas as he spent most of his time with his elder brother and young siblings who like him studied from different schools in Kampala. The children were happy about this arrangement with their parents though sometimes they missed them.
After that initial talk between them, Beth and Tolbert became close friends that when visitation day came, he introduced her to his siblings as his friend. Their friendship was pure, the kind that everyone longs for and hopes to achieve one day.The youngsters’ relationship flourished to a point that Resentment was brewed within Ruth’s bosom. She felt that she had lost her friend to a boy she didn’t like that much. She waited on the day that Tolbert would get bored of Beth’s company and she would have a best friend back. Tolbert sat with Beth during Interact club meetings a position that was formerly occupied by Ruth. Beth and Tolbert spent the entire time talking about one thing or the other and making fun of those students that thought they were cooler than the rest. They whispered and all Ruth could hear was ‘kuuspuus’ not coherent words which angered her as she tried to eavesdrop. He wrote and sent letters dedicating the trending love songs to Beth, spraying the envelope with his perfume and sometimes in including five thousand shillings or sweets. Beth enjoyed how he described her smile and it’s effect on his emotions, he compared her eyes to the glow of the moonlight and her voice to the song of the sparrow. To Beth none was as artistic as Tolbert in his use of language. Beth and Tolbert didn’t know that Ruth felt that way as they were engrossed in their attention to each other. He bought her small trinkets whenever he got a chance to go out of the suffocating school. These she treasured with all her might especially the small gold chain he got her on her birthday. It was simple but she wore it on the daily as she told her friends of how her other friend Toly as she referred to him, gave it to her seemed to undermine her friendship with Ruth. A triangle was created and things would never be the same between them.
That day, a line was drawn between the young people. Beth spent the entire week crying and grew to despise Ruth and the matron. She invested her time in her studies for the friendship between Ruth and her was totally over. Carol on the other hand was as angry as Beth. A letter was delivered to Elizabeth two weeks after the meeting,
My dearest Beth,
I am sorry for the predicament my affections have brought to you. I was blind not to notice how my feelings for you would create a war between you and those that cared for you. The memories I have of you will always keep me warm inside. I still remember the color of your eyes, the perfect and genuine smile you always wore and the smell of your perfume. To me you were an angel and a great friend.
Again, I am truly sorry for the situation you’re in. I’ll love even in my next life
It was precise, true and beautiful. Beth kept the letter and read it every chance she got. She missed, Tolbert but also understood that whatever he had done, had made her stay in school. Time seemed to drag and the pain she felt in her heart made her realize that she was actually in love with him. Her heart was broken and it wasn’t about to heal anytime soon. She blamed Ruth for all her pain.
Ruth was hurt, she hadn’t wanted to make things bad for Tolbert and Beth but she had underestimated the matron. She wanted to ask for forgiveness but her pride had gotten the best of her.
Time could heal all wounds was all, Beth could think about as the years passed on.
Ruth left Lakeside College two years later leaving Beth who had eventually pulled herself out of the depression she was in. She joined Naalya Senior Secondary school. She found the environment refreshing from tough atmosphere that was Lakeside. She was happy and eager to make new friends that would understand her. It was on a cold day as she walked to the canteen that she saw a familiar figure. He was watching her, a sign that he knew her. She stopped and looked at him carefully as recognition sank in.
“Jesus Christ! It’s Tolbert.” She said out loud as she moved towards him. They hugged and talked never addressing the major issue of his expulsion or did Ruth tell the truth about being the reason behind it. They didn’t discuss Beth either. A friendship was born between them and sooner the friendship turned into a romance. A romance that started off one sided by Ruth. Tolbert found it dishonourable to date Beth’s friend but she managed to convince him otherwise.
“Beth is dating another boy in A’level. I hope you didn’t expect her to wait for you after you left the school.” She said jealous taking the best of her once again. She couldn’t understand why he still thought about Beth after this long. She was in love with him and willing to go an extra mile to get him.
“She stopped thinking about you the moment you left. How many times has she written to you or visited you over the holidays?” She knew what would sting most to Tolbert and she said it making sure that he gets hurt. After such statements he decided to move on and Ruth had a willing shoulder to lean on. Ruth was ecstatic and glowed in Tolbert’s affections. Unfortunately, no matter how much he tried, he couldn’t feel as connected to Ruth as he had once felt about Beth. He always felt like something was missing that he couldn’t identify. Ruth was a good girlfriend, she washed his clothes, pressed them and gave them to him every weekend. She ate lunch with him and visited over the weekend during holidays. She was two classes below but everyone in school knew her as Tolbert’s girl. Sometimes she felt a slight tinge of guilt especially when she found him talking to other girls but she would explain to herself how much she needed him and the jealous would be put under control.
She was sure, that Beth, Tolbert and her would never be in the same environment again and prayed that it would stay that way forever. Tolbert was not as crazy about Ruth as she was over him. He actually liked her As a friend and appreciated how much she had done in opening his eyes about Beth and often wondered if their relationship was necessary. He enjoyed how she acted jealous and would find himself smiling as she complained about one girl or the other but in the end she would calm down. He didn’t really feel up to the loving part because of his experience with Beth.
He left school after senior six and went to Makerere University leaving Ruth in high school. He visited her once in a while and Ruth wanting to have the same attention that her relationship with Tolbert had offered her, she decided not to date anyone till she left high school. Everyone knew her as Toly’s girl and they were not about to date her for all the attention she sought. She knew this and decided to back off.