Oct 7th 2018
Life in the Selfish Big City
Life in the city is something we all dreamt of. As a young girl, Esther always talked about
studying hard in school so as she can be admitted in one of the colleges in New York City. We
were a family of three, my adopted sister Joan and Esther who was the firstborn. I never knew my
father but I heard of his traces of gang membership in New York City. Joan’s mother had died
which resulted in her joining a missionary school for the vulnerable children in Detroit. As the
last born and the only boy among the siblings, our bond was inseparable. ‘Esther wake up! You
will sleep when you finish your final grade in high school’ my mother yelled every morning as a
way of waking us up. It was my sister’s final year in high school so all I wanted was to spend as
much time as possible with her. She was four feet tall, brown light-skinned, with a round beautiful
face which resembled my mother when she was young. She looked thicker in her uniform than her
normal self. We could not pass our neighborhood without young boys trying to talk and get her
attention. She always ignored them. At some point, I thought that she disliked the boys’ behavior
but on the contrary, she was interested but her timing was not yet ripe. I thought to myself she was
too young to be in a relationship. Every time she got booed because of ignoring the young boys
in the neighborhood, she had a habit of whispering to my ear, ‘the best men are found in the city’.
This did not make sense to me until she left for college.
I rushed headed to the train station after talking for about 30 minutes on phone with my
sister. ‘I have missed my family, I cannot wait to see you even if it’s after a week, those were
Esther’s words lingered in my head. ‘Where have you been?’ My mum asked. ‘Talking to Esther
about how much am excited to go visit her, I also promised to bring along with me the
‘sandsweetness’ that I made for her last night, am sure she will definitely love them’ I replied
enthusiastically. We had a nickname for the sandwiches we made for each other. My mother kept
cautioning me, ‘You know this is a 20 hour journey right? so did you pack more of those for
yourself in this backpack am carrying for you?, “Yes Mum even for you” , I smiled back. The
journey had already started. I sunk into my imagination as I watched the Saturday morning sunrise,
wondering how New York City looks like.
The city looked amazing with tall buildings skyscrapers, fast and expensive cars. I envied
the life here even if it was my sister’s turn. As we walked along the pedestrian’s lane, I could not
get enough of how the city was filled with beautiful people. After a short while, we were standing
at the entrance of New York University. My sister was standing right next to the entrance pillar so
eager to see us but I could notice she had not seen us yet. You could notice the thrill on her face
from afar. She was losing her patience every minute. ‘Hey! I missed you’ my breath was rapid
after reaching up to her. Our mother could notice the glamour on our faces.
Esther took us on a small tour in the campus as the other students minded their own
business, they seemed to be always occupied. The campus life also seemed great because there
were no strict rules as there were in high school. Every room in the hostel was occupied by two
students. Her roommate had an Asian ethnicity which did not matter much because they had a
Time flied. Our trips to see my sister with my mother became less of a priority. Some
weekends she would be occupied with her studies and other times with her friends. I got to see my
sister fewer times than I was used to. On the same, she would not visit home as frequent as she
used to do. At first, my mother was fond of her absence until when she would go for six months
without coming home to visit. This was a drastic change in her behavior as compared to how she
was in her first and second year.
‘Bachelor of commerce might be a little bit more demanding than I thought’ I could always
convince myself when she kept telling me her studies took most of her time. Phone calls that used
to be an everyday ritual turned into a non-responded text. I was in my final year in high school. As
I figured out of how I would love to join my sister in the university, my thoughts ran wild. The
idea of living in the city gave me a mixed feeling at that point.
Even though we never discussed my father’s absence, his life in the city left me worried
about his safety. My sister joined the life in the city too but this time it was on a positive motive.
My father and my sister were in the same city but had no idea about each other’s whereabouts. As
my mother would say,’ God will make a way’. Our pastor emphasized the same on every Sunday
service we attended. Attending Sunday services was also in the tenth commandment as a law by
God on obeying the Sabbath day and keeping it holy. These godly beliefs instilled in us by our
mother made me have a different perspective on believing in better days to come.
One Monday morning it was a nightmare which I thought I should definitely wake up from.
My mother stormed into the house holding a letter from the mailbox. At this point, I hoped that I
am not the prey of her anger. ‘Your sister has not been attending lecturers for the last two semesters
because she was caught drunk during a lecture class and consequently she was suspended for a
thousand days……’ my mother was dumbfounded for a minute. Our house was silent. Everything
stood still. The clock on the wall kept ticking which reminded me life is still going on. My sister
is out there somewhere. She gave me the letter to see it for myself. The letter had a long
explanation from the vice chancellor.
I could not speak because I did not know what to tell the angered woman in front of me. I
had seen my mother with pay slips four months ago for Esther ’s tuition fee for the university
studies which I knew the financial problem was not the reason behind. My mother worked two
jobs to make sure we get enough even if it was not a lot. It was an emergency to act accordingly
and put my sister on the phone to make her explain what was the problem. Over a month ago she
was never available on her line every time I missed getting in touch like the old days. That day it
was not different either.
On the news and magazines, I always read about how life in the city lured young naïve
girls. According to the way we were brought up in a spiritual background, never at any given
chance could I ever thought my sister would be a victim. Life in the city had a motto, you only live
once, live fast die young. All these ideas could relate with the drinking and partying that was the
norm in the city. ‘But why Esther? why?’ I could not contemplate as I wiped the tears running
down my cheeks with a tiny cotton cloth that was always used to wipe the window panes in
Esther’s room. Her journals on how she will study her degree in commerce and later on pursue
master’s in business administration were on her bed. She always aspired to be one of the most
successful women in Forbes magazine, which was written in all her journals, but this this time all
her dreams seemed like a fairy tale to me. The dust on her journals discouraged me to go through
them and see more of what she always aspired to do.
The following day we had to go and visit my sister. The journey felt different this time. I
had a feeling of resentment and anger to the city and how it turned my sister against me. The
skyscrapers and the busy people never excited me anymore. I felt empty and hollow inside. I
realized I have been feeling so for a while since my sister stopped communicating and coming
home to visit as she used to. The freedom I saw in the campus student’s faces the first time I
visited, turned into faces of slaves of peer pressure. ‘Your daughter was suspended for a thousand
days due to alcohol and drug abuse misconduct, nevertheless, it was observed that she had a group
of friends who lured her into this form of behavior’. The dean continued, ‘Also, we noticed that
she has been missing classes because of partying and having rich men driving her around in their
lavish cars’. My mother was impatient to hear those words because they sliced her heart like a
sharp sword. All she wanted and cared for at that moment was to know her daughter’s whereabouts.
Immediately, the dean called in a young lady who reminded me of my sister Esther naivety
on the last time I saw her. The dean ordered her to show us where Esther was rumored to be staying
with a Hollywood movie star as his girlfriend. My sister was a beautiful, young intelligent girl but
naïve. This was a weakness that every rich man in New York wanted to take advantage of.
In a thirty minutes’ drive, we arrived in a rich neighborhood. The houses were worth
millions. Superstars and movie stars seemed to be residing there. The long-awaited home was a
stone throw. Chills ran down my spine. ‘Will Esther come home with us?’ no one answered me on
‘Excuse me sir we are here to see Esther, could you please let us in? am her mother?’ my
mother defeated voice came out. The anonymous young rich handsome man pointed across the
swimming pool. Esther looked half dead, dumbfounded and astonished in a tiny bikini. She had
lost too much weight which made her look very unhealthy.
How you Say it
What you Say
Complex, highly developed
Provides considerable insight
Connects to audience
Strong sense of purpose
Affects audience, profound impact
Point of View
Stylistic tools – repetition, figurative language, etc
Level of error
TOTAL ON 4.0 SCALE
3.5 A- 90/100
COMMENTS: Hang – Okay, what you just did to me as a reader was terrible. There is your sister,
thin and half dead…and you end. What happened? Did she come home with you? Did she stay?
Was she mad that you came to get her? Did she cry? Was she happy to see you? You had me
completely sucked in to your story. But the ending—well you can’t just leave it like that! Well, I
suppose you can, but if you do, you have to know that it leaves readers feeling very unfulfilled. If
you’re trying to create intrigue and leave it open-ended, you definitely succeeded. But I personally
didn’t like it. How did your peers react to the ending?
As for the rest of your story, it’s very good. I tried to correct your errors, but there weren’t many.
I’m guessing English is not your first language, yes? There are little clues here and there! It’s
important for your voice to come through, so I only marked changes that are grammatically
The first part of the rubric, “What you Say”, is only marked down because of the ending.
Everything up to the end was very good. You also could add more details, more sights and sounds
and smells, especially comparing the city to the country.
Overall, though, this is a very strong essay. Because I am returning this to you so late, you have
extra time to revise if you need it. Your due date for revision is Tuesday, Oct. 23, 11:59 pm. I
apologize for getting this back to you so late! Wonderful essay, and I look forward to reading
more of your work. ~ Dr. Wendt
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