Where is Sally?
Both of them were immigrants to the United Kingdom from two different African countries.
Like almost every economic immigrant who had left their countries to a foreign country, they only had one thing in mind; to come here to the United Kingdom, work, save some money and return home to fulfill their dreams.
But they would soon come to the realization that it would have been much better for them to remain in their countries, go through all the pains they had to suffer, and with their unshaken faith in God and a little amount of patience they would begin to fulfill their dreams.
Sally was the first person to migrate to the United Kingdom from her native country, Ghana. Every day she sits on her bed in her one-room apartment, she would remember exactly what prompted her in the first place to make that journey to this place.
She was working in one of the companies in her country and returned home that day with the same hopelessness that had taken her to work that morning.
For six months she had not been paid her salary and she had gone to work that fateful day in the hope that she would return home with smiles since the accountant of the company had promised her the day previous that all the workers would be paid. But it had been another dashed promise.
How long am I going to continue like this? She had asked herself. The rent had piled up, and with an intolerant landlord who was not ready to forget his own problems to be sympathetic to hers, she knew she had to look good since God had created her beautiful and there were other daily needs to be met. But where was the money to meet them? She would often ask herself whenever she stood in front of the mirror to bless God for thinking it proper to adorn her with a marketable physique.
That day, she had reluctantly gone on her knees, clutched onto the bible on the bed to perform what had become a ritual for her. The words had refused to come out. She had knelt down for almost an hour with great strain to request from God to put an end to her miseries. The only few words she had succeeded in letting out were; ‘God, are you still up there?’
Sally had got up that day and as she made to undress and go and have her bath, a soft sound had come from the door. Somebody was outside knocking on the door.
“Who is it?” She had shouted with a difficult attempt to hide her annoyance. She was in no mood to entertain any visitor.
“It is I, Abigail.” The knocker had replied.
She had gone to open the door for Abigail to come in. Abigail and she were colleagues and were both suffering the same fate.
As soon as Abigail had taken her seat, she started by telling Sally that she came with a piece of good news that would put an end to their problems. And since there was nothing more Sally would want to hear other than somebody coming to tell her that here was a solution to her problem, she had sat down to listen.
Abigail had gone on to tell her that there was somebody working in the Ghanaian High Commission who was getting visas for people to enable them to travel to any country of their choices for a small fee.
Sally had closed her eyes and opened them. She did not know what to say. She was confused, yet it was not an opportunity she wanted to wish away. Not in her present predicament, come to think of it. When she asked Abigail what the ‘small fee’ was, she did not only close and open her eyes, she opened her mouth for several minutes until Abigail had to remind her to close it.
“Where do you think I can get that kind of money from? You of all people should know that we’ve not been paid for months now and even at that!”
“I got mine and I’ve since paid.” Abigail had said as if the amount was a coin one finds on the street every other day.
“Thirteen thousand cedis! Where did you get that kind of money from?”
“I borrowed it.”
“You borrowed thirteen thousand cedis just to travel abroad!” Sally had exclaimed.
“I’ll get it back once I get there.” Abigail had replied with all the confidence in the world.
Sally was quiet for some time before she added; “Have you prayed over it?”
“The reason why people pray is because of poverty; I’m walking out of poverty soon and I’ll pray later.”
“You’ve not walked out of it completely yet.”
“God said we should not be afraid that He will get to our destinations before us.” Abigail had said.
“With that kind of money, one can start something meaningful here.” Sally had said.
“That is if you would be lent that kind money to do something meaningful here in the first place! We can’t continue like this!” Abigail had shouted and Sally had remained quiet and pensive.
“And who is going to lend me the money?” Sally had asked.
“The same person who had lent it to me.” Abigail had replied.
Sally and Abigail had gone to the same man who would lend Sally the money to start processing her visa. The money was to be paid in full and with a fifty percent interest at a given period failure of which her parents’ house she had used as collateral would be forfeited.
While Sally got the visa and traveled to the UK, to date, she did not know what happened to Abigail.
The first thing she did on arrival to the UK was to look for a branch of her local church, she found one and became a devoted member as usual. But soon she was confronted with two realities. The first one was in the church and the second was when she started looking for a job in the hope of landing herself one with the qualifications she had got in Ghana.
In the church, she soon realized that the preachment of ‘love’ and ‘giving’ were just another words that were meaningless in terms of practicability; she felt everybody in the church was just another vulture hanging out there waiting to feast on the misfortune of the other person and make a mockery of one’s devotion. Before she knew it, the church for her became a place she went to for social assembly.
She found out also that the secular world was a bigger vulture when she could not get the particular job she was trained for since all the places she applied to and called on phone would ask her before they would start discussing any job prospect with her if she had ‘permission to work’ in the United Kingdom’. In other to survive and continue to pay her debts, she had to settle for a cleaning job.
The was a hot sun everywhere accompanied by a breezy wind that afternoon as she came out from the church after staying there for some time to clear her head. She walked down from the steps to the park in front of her. She sat down on one of the iron chairs and her mind was soon removed from the worries of the moment as she concentrated on the people who were either spread on the beautiful lawn or seated enjoying the gift of summer. Unknown to her somebody had followed her out of the church and had walked behind her.
The person had stopped following her when Sally stopped to sit down. The name of the person was Sam. Sam was a South African immigrant to the United Kingdom.
Like Sally, he too had come to find solace in just being alone in the church when he could not contend with the hypocrisy there. He had stopped soliciting for whatever help he thought he could get the church when every time he tried to present his problems to any of the members, their response was always; ‘Hang on there, God is on your case and in no time your miracles will come forth.’
He had waited long enough for the miracles and when it seemed the miracles would never come, he too decided to follow the path of many immigrants and settled for a cleaning job while he would not stop hoping and praying that the job agency he registered with would give him a call for a temporary job.
For some time now he had been attending the same church with Sally and he did not need anybody to tell him that she was yet another African immigrant who had migrated to this country with high hopes only to find out that the days of manners from heaven was long gone.
He had stood some distance away from her and studied her. He told himself she was beautiful, desirable, but was not sure if she wanted a relationship, especially with somebody like himself. Nevertheless, he plucked some courage from nowhere and walked up to her.
“The sun is shinning, the weather is sweet and I have some Ice-cream for you.” He said with a smile on his face.
Sally looked up at him and said nothing.
“I worship in the same church as you,” Sam said. “I bought the Ice-cream for you.” He said and sat down beside her.
Sally had accepted the Ice-cream from him and for the first time she laughed at every word he said and they were laughing from the depth of her heart.
Having been together for quite some time, Sam succeeded in persuading her to move in with him to his one-room apartment so that that way they could save money, she agreed and moved in.
While both of them lived together, loved each other and tried to survive against the many odds that stood in their way, she called herself to the reality on the ground and told herself the real truth that love might just be everything, but it was not everything enough to pay the bills and offset the thirteen thousand cedis she borrowed to come to the United Kingdom.
While Sam was still at work, she dressed up and went to meet one of the elders in the church who had promised to find her a job.
The elder, John, was in his late thirties, he had been made an elder in the church not because of his age or experience, but for the simple fact that he had money and had donated enough of it to the church.
John was sitting in his garden when Sally’s presence was announced by one of the immigrants working for him; the immigrant ushered Sally to him and left.
“Aah, Sally! I thought I would never see you again, you no longer come to the church.”
“I do come.”
“Then you must be attending in the spirit because I have not seen you in church for three months now. Sit down while they get you something to drink. The Lord is good all the time.”
“I have not come to drink.”
“I am still jobless.”
“I thought you had got a job that is why you stopped coming to the church.”
“It is an off-and-on job.”
“The lord is faithful.”
“I know you can help me with a job.” Sally pleaded.
“You know I want to help, but my hands are tied.
“I know of the many people who work for you without the proper documents, why is my case different?”
“You got it wrong, Sally. You got it wrong; some of them had had to pay some prices.”
“Is this what God is all about?” Sally said almost in tears.
“Sally, dear, it is high time you understood that life is real.”
“What about all the precepts of the holy book?”
“We are talking about reality here, my dear.”
“You have to sleep with me before you can help me with a job, and to think both of us hold dear to one faith!”
“I wish I could help you, Sally.”
“I need a job badly.”
“Be satisfied with the little you have and wait upon the lord, my dear.”
“Please!” Sally pleaded.
“I do not want to offend the government.”
“And see me die?”
“Sorry.” John said.
Sally had returned home and went straight to the bathroom. She came out, looked for a light satin gown and put it on. She went to the mirror and stood in front of it for a long time examining her body. She thought about the past, tried to cast her mind into the future and settled on the present; she walked to the only table in the room, brought out a paper and pen and wrote on it these words; ‘Sally is gone!’