After a week in Soma, Petrina was beginning to wonder if God had actually brought her there for a reason. Life in Soma fit perfectly with her personality. She was naturally someone who loved to lend a helping hand and really, the people in Soma really needed a lot of helping hands. There was something to offer everyone, right from the youngest to the eldest.
She was living in the only teachers’ apartments in the town which had been abandoned for a very long time. When Jacob had told her that there was limited power supply in the town, he had clearly made the situation sound far better than it actually was. In truth, there was absolutely no power in the town save that which came from a single generator owned by one Mr. Tingida. He charged 50p for every single thing a person desired to do that required power; from charging one’s phone to watching news on the television. Petrina found this very interesting and she admired the man for the business opportunity he had grabbed. The absence of power was actually what had driven all the teachers from the apartments – they stayed in Tuna, a larger, more developed town and rode their motorbikes each morning to the school. This obviously discouraged many of them from being committed to their job and she now understood why national service persons refused to come there. She was very certain they heard about the situation and advised themselves.
There were two main sources of water in the town, a river which was pretty close to the various houses and a borehole which was about twenty kilometers away. The townspeople obviously chose to use the river water but they encouraged her and Jacob to use that of the borehole. There were a few occasions where they had had to take the long walk all the way to the borehole to get themselves some water but most of the time, students were punished to fill their barrels. The fact was Jacob and she were treated like heroes of the town simply because they were the only teachers who stayed there. They actually had some young ladies assigned to them to cook for them constantly and indeed, they ate really good meals!
Petrina had just closed from school that day and she was sitting outside her apartment reading a novel she had bought in town. She was reading, but at a point, she realised that she was just reading words without having any understanding of the subject. For some reason she could not explain, she found herself thinking so much about home that day, particularly Gerald. She really wondered how they felt about her absence.
Are they still worried? Or have they gotten over it?
Somehow, Petrina had made herself believe no one would really bother about her absence; not her friends, not her family. Deep down in her heart however, she knew they would be worried. The only solution was to go back home but she was so unwilling to that. There was no way she was going to go back on her word to herself.
Maybe I should let someone know I’m okay.
She nodded to herself at the end of the thought. That was a perfect solution. It would be great for them to know she was very healthy and fine and absolutely out of danger. Without allowing herself to have second thoughts about it, she picked up her cell-phone and switched it on. She was very glad Jacob had not asked any question about her cell-phone again since that first day they met because she had not yet formed any story about Susan Van-Lare. In fact, she was still having a hard time responding to the name in real time. She ignored the notifications that showed she had several unread messages and proceeded to dial Gerald’s number. Although his number was saved on the phone, she was in the habit of dialing it all the time. He picked up on the first ring.
“Hello, Pet! Is that you?” his voice was filled with so much excitement and relief.
She took a while to answer. “Hi, Gerald,” she finally said.
“Pet, talk to me. Where are you? Are you okay? What has happened to you? Everyone is so worried about you. Is anyone responsible for all this?” he hardly breathed in between all that he said.
Petrina took a deep breath. She wondered what she should tell him. She decided she would be as brief as possible.
“Gerald, look, calm down okay. I’m okay. I’m very fine. Tell everyone not to worry.”
“Not to worry?” he cried. “Petrina, the only way we can stop worrying is if we see you again. Is it possible to come back home on your own? Or do we need to report to the police to help out?”
“Police?!” Petrina had absolutely forgotten that there was a probability that the issue would get to the police. “Please do not get the police involved. I’m fine. I’m very fine.”
“They are already involved, Pet. They just want more information and we are unable to give that out. Tell me some…”
She could not bear it any longer. She cut the line.
Police? The police are involved in this? Am I going to be in trouble? Can I truly be hidden forever?
Are things getting more complicated than Petrina thought they would?
*50 Ghana pesewas is approximately equal to 25 cents.