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.