Celebrating East African Writing!
By Nixon Mateulah
It’s morning, the usual sounds of a new day in the village are in full swing. Bleating of goats, cackling of hens, chirping of bird in the mango trees, mooing of cows, braying of donkeys coupled with clapping, laughing, shrilling of happy go lucky women at the bore-hole pierces the air. The new baby sun has just been delivered in the east; it is bouncy with a prospect of tyranny as the day progresses.
Little Lusagu is still sleeping on a hard reed mat which has been bordered by two pestles underneath it on its edges to avoid him in his sleep tossing himself away to the smouldering fire in the centre of the hut. His mother, Abiti Chipande walks in carrying an earthen vessel of water on her head. She sets the vessel down. Little Lusagu is snoring away like a broken exhaust pipe.
‘Hey! Little boy!’ exclaims Abiti. He stirs; shoots his head out of his blanket, he opens his eyes and sees his mother standing before him.
‘Wake up! You will be late for school!’
He gets up quickly; yawns, stretches his hands and picks up his pair of shorts from the low stool. He rolls up the mat and props it against the wall. He runs out to hang his blanket on a line that runs from the hut’s eaves to a mango tree.
‘I am only six years old, a child; not a young adult, and father wants me to go yet to another school,’ complains Lusagu, eyeing his mother sternly.
‘That’s right, in the afternoon you will be going to madrassah,’ says Abiti.
‘What about my time?’
‘My free time.’
‘What free time!’
‘My free time to play around with my fellow friends; free time as a child to hunt the grasshoppers in the fields, play soccer, chase the monkeys and kill some game,’ says Lusagu tearfully.
‘That’s not important!’ cries Abiti.
‘I think my brain is immature for two opposing schools to accommodate. I must drop one,’ says Lusagu, as he picks up bar of Lifebuoy soap on the stool.
‘You cannot drop one, both are useful!’ cries Abiti.
‘Which one is very important?’
‘You will choose yourself when you grow up.’
‘I think madreassah is not good for me.’
‘It’s too strange, too foreign, and it does not make sense to me. I am certain that our village school teaches something sensible,’ says Lusagu, walking out.
Few minutes later, Lusagu is on the carrier of the bicycle. His father is taking him to school for the first time. Just three hundred metres away, the rear tyre goes flat. He notices it and stops.
‘Why are you stopping dad at the moment I am enjoying the ride?’
‘The tyre is flat.’
‘Why don’t you buy a car?’
‘I cannot afford it, I am very poor.’
‘Why are you poor?’
‘I am an uneducated and I was born into a poor family.’
‘So, I am poor too?’
‘That’s why I am taking you to school.’
‘So that one day you would be able to choose your own destiny, and become enlightened if you would eat the books wisely.’
‘So, school would determine my future?
After pumping the tyre, they resume their journey to school. Arriving at school, the chap is removed from the carrier and asked to join his fellow pupils. He is hesitant.
‘This is the school,’ says his father.
‘This old, dilapidated, thatched structure without windows!’
‘Would pave my destiny?’
‘If you would be genius.’
‘What is jinyasi?’
On that note, the father leaves the premises. Little Lusagu reluctantly walks towards his fellow pupils, time and again turning back, looking at the fading form of his father pedalling away.
©Nixon Mateulah 2010
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