By Mugisha
Mugisha's stories

“Run Melinda!” screamed the voices. Melinda’s heart was pounding like a mad baboon trying to break out of its cage. A dark, tall and faceless figure was catching up on her. Dark clouds covered the sky and not even the moon was visible. Melinda had no idea what she was chased by, all she knew was to run as fast as she could. She was scared her feet might give up on her. “Could this be the end?” she laid there thinking.

Melinda was beautiful. She had a smooth chocolate skin and nice medium hips. She was nicknamed Chikondi village’s goddess. Men stared at her whenever she walked by, girls wanted to know what her secret was. She lived with her mother, Nana and her two younger siblings named James and Ruth. She had been dealt a difficult hand in life. She grew up in a poor, rural area with little opportunities or hopes for a better future. Despite these hardships, she was determined to make something of herself, inspired by Nana’s stories of heroic women overcoming great odds. Melinda wanted to be like them, and she knew that the only way to do this was through strength and determination.

Melinda turned twenty in June. It was an unusually cold month. She had just finished high school exams and she was waiting for the results. She prayed her grades were good, because she wanted a scholarship to a nice school to rescue her mom, her nana and her two siblings. They all looked up to her. Since her birthday, she had strange dreams at night, in which she was chased by dark figures in the forest, or falling down endlessly without ever hitting the ground. She would wake up sweating and her heart racing.

One afternoon, the sky was very clear and there was no sign of clouds or storms in sight, Melinda decided to go out in the woods and gather some wood to prepare a warm dinner for her mom who spent the entire day selling vegetables at the market.

After walking for half an hour, Melinda stumbled upon a mysterious cave she had never seen before. When she ventured inside, she soon found herself in a dark, damp chamber. Just as she was about to turn back, she heard a faint sound coming from deep within. Curious, she followed the sound to an ancient door. When she reached out to touch the door, it swung open suddenly, and she was pulled inside violently. She was shocked see a group surrounding her. They told her they wanted to use her for ransom, or to sell her as a sex worker to rich men in the capital.

Melinda screamed for her mom and Nana as loud as she could, but one of the bandits pinned to the cave wall by her neck and told her to be quiet. She hit him hard, he fell in agony, and she made her escape. She ran so fast she barely heard the voice calling for her.

It was her mom trying to wake her up. She was dreaming again. When she was fully awake, she took a deep breath of relief, and then her mom told her she got selected for a scholarship to study in the UK. Melinda couldn’t belief it, and jumped with joy. She was happy that the shadows of worry and stress would not bother her no more.

When the day came for Melinda to travel she felt so nervous. The whole family had joined her to the airport, to say goodbye and wish her the best of luck.

When Melinda reached in UK, she met her sponsor, who brought her to the house where she would be staying. She was happy and surprised at everything she saw there. It was such a different environment; the houses were tall and beautiful and the people were friendly.

Melinda started studying medicine at Grace University in UK. She picked medicine because her home village was far away from the hospital, and the people didn’t receive proper care. She planned to help built a hospital nearby when she returned.

Melinda worked hard, and everybody was proud of her. When finished her studies, she decided to return home to help built a hospital in the village. When she arrived, the people from the village were so surprised to see her. She looked different and more beautiful. Her family was very happy to see her after all these years. Melinda told her mom that she has come to stay and that she will build a hospital in their village. Her mom was super happy and felt proud of her daughter.

After building the hospital, Melinda developed a medicine class for some youths who had already finished high school so they could work in the hospital. Melinda would be there teaching and guiding them until they were able to work independently. Melinda also decided to gather all the youth in the village to help them believe in themselves, and to tell them that everything is possible with hard work.

And for the rest of her days, Melinda used her strength to inspire others and show them that anything is possible if you just believe in yourself. She became a symbol of hope and courage and proved that strength comes from within and that distractions are like shadows: they are cast all around you, but they don’t define who you are.

25 February, 2023