For the Love of Her Father

By Apio Irene

Elena lived with her father in a town called Pabo. It is one of the smallest towns in the Gulu district in Uganda. She was just seven years old and an only child. Her mother passed away soon after she was born. Her father was a carpenter in a small workshop in town called Piwan. He was the only person she had, and she loved him more than anything in the world, and he loved her just as much. Her only wish was to be successful in her studies so that she could find a good job and take care of her father. He was a hard-working man who took care of his daughter. Since he did not remarry, he had to work long hours to provide her with food and pay her school fees.

One day, during family time at home, Elena saw a hole in her father’s shoes. The poor little girl felt so bad for her hard-working father. In order to find out his shoe size, Elena intentionally acted unruly, and sneakily compared the size of their feet. Her father scolded her for being mischievous, not knowing that his daughter was actually planning to buy him a new pair of shoes.

Later that week, Elena took her savings jar, which contained the money she had been saving for half a year, and went into town after school instead of going home. She looked around until she found one of the best shoe stores in town. She stood in front of the store window and stared at the shoes inside until her eyes landed on a pair that glittered. She immediately fell in love with that pair just from looking at them. Her face lit up with a pure and innocent smile, and her eyes were filled with enchantment. She entered the store and opened the savings jar, which was filled with so many coins.

The shopkeeper counted the coins, but the money was not enough to buy the shoes. The price difference was too large, so the shopkeeper sent Elena out of the store. But the girl did not give up. She went back inside and negotiated with the shopkeeper, determined to buy the shoes she had set her heart on. But the shopkeeper felt he would lose too much money on the sale, and he sent the girl out again. The girl wanted to try again. But as soon as she entered the store, the impatient shopkeeper pushed her to the ground. She picked up the coins that had fallen and was about to leave when she thought of her father wearing his shoes with the hole in them to work on such a hot day. So she walked back into the shoe store again.

This time, Elena didn’t even enter the store, as the shopkeeper blocked her at the entrance. He was very annoyed and chided Elena for being so foolish. He threatened to give her a good beating if she dared to enter the store again. But Elena didn’t give up. She thought of a clever trick. The shopkeeper heard some commotion outside, and then he saw Elena with a sponge, cleaning the dirty windows. While the shopkeeper had been helping a customer, she had snuck into the shop and grabbed the bucket and the sponge. The shopkeeper couldn’t believe the girl’s persistence and angrily walked out of the store, took the sponge from her, and told her to leave. But Elena coolly ignored him and carried the bucket of water and the sponge into the store. With an innocent face, she told the shopkeeper that she would clean the floor just like she had cleaned the window. And then she would clean whatever else he needed cleaned. But she also insisted on buying the shoes from him.

The shopkeeper was moved by her unwavering spirit. He sold the shoes to Elena. That evening, Elena happily took the shoes home to her father. Her father was worried because his daughter was nowhere to be found and it was late. Then he saw her appear. Elena hugged her father and gave him the pair of shoes. He was overjoyed that he had a daughter who loved him unconditionally.

15 September, 2023