Nyabera gives birth to a baby girl named Obura. The sickly child is later renamed Awiti (meaning, the one who had been thrown away) to confuse evil spirits. When Awiti turns three, Nyabera gets another miscarriage that is followed by the death of her husband – Okumu.
Nyabera is married again to Okumu’s second cousin as the ‘tero’ custom demands. The couple get two children who both die of sickle cell disease. Kwach is not a good husband as he abdicates his duties to her and is unfaithful.
Nyabera is bitter about her marriage and decides to join a Christian mission in Aluor. She leaves her daughter in the hands of Akoko and follows her faith.
Nyabera is accepted in Aluor Mission and she starts her catechism after listening to the story of Christ. She is shown where to build a house which is lonely but as the daughter of Akoko, she is not deterred.
Nyabera continues with her learning until she gets baptized. She decides to go back to Yimbo to get her daughter, nephew and mother to join her in Gem. Although Nyabera is comfortable with the church’s teachings, its law on marriage troubles her. As a widow, she longs for a husband and children which the church does not allow but ‘chik’ does.
Nyabera, who is now known as ‘Maria’ after the baptism, goes back home to get her mother, daughter and nephew. Akoko accepts to follow her daughter back to Gem amidst Oloo’s protests.
With a packed meal of Ugali, sour milk and a pot of ghee, Akoko, Maria, Awiti and Owuor embark on the journey to Aluor mission where they arrive well after dark.
The two women and the children settle well in Aluor Mission. Akoko and the children enroll for catechism and reading classes. Akoko takes advantage of the free land to cultivate food for the family. Oloo sends his twin sons to take two cows and four goats to his sister. While they are there, they put up granaries for her.
After finishing her catechism class, Akoko gets baptized as Veronica. Maria goes back to her husband for without giving any explanation and Akoko stays with the children. The catechist notices Akoko’s industriousness and seeks her advice whenever he can. He also puts up a house, for her, near the church.
Owuor has a calling to priesthood but is afraid of telling his grandmother since he is the Chief-in-waiting. He tells Awiti this and she advices him to wait for Nyabera to come back before he can break the news to Akoko.
Nyabera returns and is well received by the children. She appears frail and weather-beaten. She narrates to Akoko how she had remarried and given birth to a baby boy who died. Akoko comforts her by encouraging her to seek God’s guidance.
Nyabera finds consolation after confessing to the father and listening to Owuor’s readings from the Bible.
Owuor broaches the subject of priesthood to Nyabera who encourages her to tell Akoko. Akoko, on the other hand, understands Owuor’s desires and tells him to follow his dream. She realizes the changing times and hereditary chiefdom as a dying institution. Akoko requests Owuor to take up his grandfather’s name – Kembo. Peter Owuor Kembo joins St. Paul’s Seminary where he hopes to become a Father and, later, a Bishop.
Owuor joins the seminary while Awiti is enrolled in a primary school where she is one of only two girls in a class of thirty-two boys. The other girl drops out in the second year and Awiti is alone in a class of boys. She is determined to do well and her good performance in school makes her the subject of ridicule from people who do not see the value of educating a girl.
Awiti emerges the best out of only five who pass the final exams and is invited to join a teacher training college. Maria is reluctant to let her daughter join college but Akoko admonishes her for refusing to allow her child pursue her dream. Akoko promises Awiti that a decision will soon be made on whether she will join the college.
Awiti turns twenty and she is escorted to her new college by Father Thomas. In college, she is determined to succeed and does not entertain advances from her male college mates. She keeps to herself and even earns nicknames such as, ‘the nun’, ‘virgin Mary’ and ‘church mouse’ because of her strict moral stand.
On one of her exeat days, she comes across an ex-soldier called Mark Anthony Sigu. She tries to ignore him, at first, but his sense of humour and manners prove too much for her.
Elizabeth Awiti and Mark Sigu’s relationship develops into a six-month courtship. Elizabeth graduates from college and she is posted to her former primary school where she is on a fifty-shilling salary.
Elizabeth informs her family about Mark. Maria reprimands her for not knowing his parents but Akoko reminds her that the world is changing.
A meeting is arranged for Mark to visit them for his proposal. Mark comes with his relatives while Elizabeth invites Peter Owour Kembo, Opiyo, Odongo and her uncle from Sakwa.
The two groups agree on a token of appreciation from Mark’s family – which is less than they had expected. Akoko has a long chat with his future son-in-law and feels satisfied that she has found another son from the army that took away her first one.
Akoko dies peacefully in her sleep with the knowledge that her family’s future is in safe hands. Through Elizabeth and Mark, the river will continue to flow with her as the source.
Akoko’s funeral is celebrated by two priests – one being Owuor Kembo – and six deacons. Her death is a big blow to Nyabera and Elizabeth. Nyabera copes with it better since she had buried a husband and six children of her own.
Elizabeth is devastated and she reacts angrily when Mark tries to console her. Owuor Kembo intervenes and apologizes to Mark on her behalf. Maria sees the sorry state of her daughter and realizes that it is her duty to comfort her just as she had been comforted by Akoko after Obura’s death. Awiti, finally, calms down after listening to her mother’s stories about Akoko.
Elizabeth’s wedding is postponed twice to give Owuor Kembo time to graduate and come to conduct the wedding. The two get married and move to Nakuru where Mark has received a job offer.
One day, Elizabeth wakes up feeling unwell. She vomits and feels better. Mark suspects that it might be a case of malaria. In the evening, he comes with malaria tablets which Elizabeth swallows. At night, her condition worsens and she has to be rushed to hospital. The doctor informs them that Elizabeth is pregnant and that the drugs have caused her to haemorrhage. The pregnancy cannot be saved and Mark is too devastated to tell his wife that they have lost a set of twins.
The couple try to conceive again, but this time it’s not easy. Mark’s mother-in-law comes to question his son over the lack of children. Mark stands his ground and defends his wife and warns the mother never to interfere with their lives.
Thankfully, Elizabeth conceives again and this time they are careful not to lose the baby which they await with a lot of joy and excitement.
Part 3: Love and Life
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