Rooster sirens pierced the dawn silence. The sky was cloudless blue.
Thrilled, I sprinted to ma screaming, ‘School today!’. The dry season
was continuing, the arid land gave us permission to go to school. Our
school closes on rainy days, as it is new. ‘Dear, please get some water
on the way back, here’s a bucket,’ requested ma. I put on a smoothed
white shirt and trousers and took off outside. I would find breakfast
on the way.
I trudged along the red dirt that was sailing with the wind. The
journey was to be a long one, but at least I’d go to school. I saw the
large green tree acting almost like an umbrella, shading the dirt
below. The leaves were rich and healthy despite the rainless spell.
The roots of the tree must go deep down below retrieving a sip of
water when needed. I rushed towards the tree seeing fresh figs
scattered around below. This was my snack before school; two figs
kept me going till lunch. We don’t go to school when it rains because
the track gets slippery and dangerous. As I continued towards school,
I could not help but think of the last time it had rained. I crossed a
stream that was dry from the extended drought. This was where I
usually got my water but today I would have to go further past the
school. Everything around here seemed to be parched. Dry and
shrivelled up into tiny little balls. Usually the trip to school was safe
but wild animals are always on the prowl. The boundaries of the
school, the four trees, stood proudly. The trees were old yet encased
in the trunks held the spirits of our people.
I saw my friends; they were chasing each other and I decided to
join in. Rudo seemed to be forcing a smile so I asked, ‘Hey, you ok?’.
‘No my brother is sick, real sick,’ Rudo answered. He seemed worried,
but why wouldn’t he be. That is how most people die isn’t it? Being
sick. I reassured him that I would pray for his brother’s health.
‘C’mon’ I said, ‘let’s sing.’ Singing always brought up the mood a few
notches and helped us feel enthusiastic about learning. A teacher
picked up a small copper bell and shook it, hinting that our play was
over. We raced to class and sat on the floor.
The class was buzzing with energy and life. We all scrambled like
chickens in a pen to find a place on the white cloth. The teacher
strolled around all of us, catching the eyes of every student. With a
large smile she beamed, ‘Class, today we will learn times tables.’ She
wrote the words on the board and started her lesson. Nobody in this
class had ever heard of times tables before, and we all stared up with