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Hannah Lee

There is red dust everywhere. My family has lived on the land for

generations. There are always cycles of floods and droughts, but

this is the worst drought that anyone can remember. For four years

we have woken up every day, praying that the sky will cloud over and

send us some kind of hope. But there is no point now. No point to

hope. No point to planting crops that are destined to die.

We all know that our fate is challenged and that one day our

family will have to move off the land. Every day the sun comes up,

bringing scorching heat and more fear to my family and me. It

dries up the little moisture that is left and brings my family closer

and closer to having to move to the city.

I search the cupboard, my eyes hungrily looking for something

other than dried bread and canned beans, but there is nothing else.

I turn and reach for my bag as I hear the groaning and wheezing of

the bus that takes me to school. The metal door knob, hot from the

morning sun, burns my hand as I turn it. That would’ve hurt me

two years ago, but now I am accustomed to the pain. The worn

down seats in the bus retain the scorching heat and they burn my

thighs as I sit down. I look around trying to find some familiar

faces, but cannot seem to. I don’t know where they’ve gone.

I daydream on the long drive to school of the times when my

friends and I would ride our bikes to our favourite waterhole and

swim in the cool water until the sun started to go down and we

would have to hurry home to our waiting families. Our fathers

would talk about their work, how the crops were growing fast and

how the markets were rising. Talks like that are history now. I think

of the times my friends and I would laugh and enjoy ourselves,

unlike the hardship we are experiencing now. My mother always

says that there is no point to living in the past so she doesn’t

tolerate any talk about previous years.

I am woken from my dreams by the sound of screeching tyres

on the dried up ground outside the school. It is almost deserted.

The two other students and I climb off the old bus and make our

way, one step at a time, to the school’s courtyard. Memories of the

days when our ears were deafened by the sound of children playing

flood my mind. Now it is the exact opposite.

There is no joy.

The children that are left are from families that are either

determined to battle the drought, or ignore the obvious future.