“Blah, blah, blah…”this is all I heard from the teacher. To be honest I used to hear and pay a good amount of attention when we learned different stuff in math, science, or English. Lately I haven’t paid attention at all since I now have no hope of getting an education. Right now I’m looking at a piece of paper with my schedule for he day. After school, I have work, more work, and work. Then go visit my brother who is now in a hospital in Maseru, because Tumelo, my younger brother, wants to see him. The problem is that he isn’t really aware of how dangerous it is for me to take him there, since Lesotho has the highest rate of rape by the UN people. It’s even more dangerous for me to go there since I’m a little girl, I don’t have a father, and my older brother can’t help me since he is very ill. Course I can’t Tumelo this because he’ll freak out and worry a lot more. And that’s the last thing I need right now.
“Boahimaa. Boahimaa! BOAHIMAA! B-O-A-H-I-M-A-A!” screeches my teacher feebly trying to get my attention, with both hands on my desk.
“Uh?” I try to figure out what’s going on then I notice that I fell asleep. Uh, Oh! I heard a few snickers from Kehmuile and Chipo. Everyone else was looking at me as if I was some sort of alien. But of course they don’t know what happened and the Boahimaa they know is always paying attention in class and always has the best answer to a question. But still. Embarrassing.
“Sorry ma’am!” I respond frantically.
“Boahimaa, … meet me after class,” the teacher sighs walking past.
The rest of class was a bore not much happened. We learned about all kinds of other stuff. I paid little attention. Thinking about a plan to avoid the mean people in the city. I though I may be able to have a friend’s brother come with me, since there are very few adults. The problem is that there aren’t that many people who have free time. If I have money I could pay them, since they need jobs, ‘cause the adults are mostly dead because of AIDs. … But … I don’t have any money because I used all my saved money on my brother who is very ill. So I can’t do that. What will I tell Tumelo? Ummm… I could ask the doctor… she helped me last time… but… there are lots of other people who need her help… so no…
As the teacher said, after class I went to the front. Normally I’m one of the better students and I don’t need to be there at the front. It’s kind of embarrassing.
“Boahimaa… What’s going on? Last week you were the top of the class, getting the best grades and aiming to get the best education possible! You even worked extra hard to gain enough money to go on to secondary school! … Yesterday I let you go because you could have just had a bad day. But for you to be like this for several… or even two days just isn’t like you.”
I didn’t really hear anything, but I heard best grades, secondary school. The only reasons I even heard those words because she emphasized them. Besides what good is this going to do me? I can’t achieve my goal any more… Wait! ! Looks like she is wrapping things up. Better nod my head. … Good! Now apologize. … Looks like she is buying my apology. … Wait for it … Wait for it … almost there. …. Waii-Yes! I’m of the hook!
After the teacher nods and says I can leave I scuttle out of the classroom. I used to like it there but now it just doesn’t feel right, since I can’t do anything. Now I need to pick up Tumelo from his bosses. … Hum. Weird even though child labor is bad we still have a lot of it in Lesotho… well… can’t blame the kids, there is like… what? SO very few adults here since most died of AIDs.
Weird… Boahimaa has been acting weird lately… I even heard a few rumors around, about her last week her brother didn’t show up for work and before that he wasn’t feeling well. Also I also heard that her younger brother Tumelo wants her to walk her home… but that doesn’t fit her description of him… and that also doesn’t fit the description of what others think of him. They say he has been trying to act grown up by going home by him-self when Uuka, his older brother, had to go to other jobs, and that he thinks family is really important. Something had to of happened. I think as I lean back on my chair with my feet propped up on my desk.
KNOCK, KNOCK! THUMP! What the heck? Who in the world knocks that hard? I look up from where I am on the ground. Crud biscuits… I was SO shocked I feel over… What a disgrace! I’m a foreigner in another country, I learned self defense when I was little, because I wanted to come here and help the people. I think quietly as I stand up, setting my chair back where it was and making my-self presentable.
Once I’m done I stroll over. I cautiously open the door, hoping it isn’t another one of those rapists. But to my surprise I see a short thin man dressed in a little dirty white cloth, a necklace with the cross on it dangling around his neck.
“I’M HERE! MA’AM! JUST AS YOU SAID! NOW WHAT DO YA’ WANT TO TALK ABOUT?” he shouts throwing his arms out above his head.
“Oh! Mr. …” I try to remember his name before I’m cut off.
“Just call me Mr. Pastor! Ma’am,” He says politely, bowing down with one leg straight out in the front, his arms spread out like a wings curved down.
“I asked you to talk about Boah-“
“BOAHIMAA, UUKA, TOMELO? YA’ WANT TO TALK ABOUT THOSE GREAT KIDS? WHY?” he shouts with a look of surprise written on his face.
“Shush! They don’t know I asked you to come here!”
“Oh! Why do you want to talk about those kids? They are the definition of mannered people!” he whispers using his had a shield, his eyes big as plates eager to hear what I have to say.
“I heard you the first time…” I sigh.
“Anyways, Boahimaa has been acting weird lately and her younger brother Tumelo too. I haven’t seen their older brother (Uuka) lately either. Do you know what’s going on? Bohimaa’s grades have plummeted, and she hasn’t been paying any attention at all.” I desperately ask trying to get information from him.
“No not really but Uuka hasn’t returned to work lately, Boahimaa has been taking a lot more jobs. … Something could of happened to their mother…”
“What happened?” I ask frantically.
“Don’t know… I just heard about it from some people talking.” He says rubbing his chin.
“Who? Maybe I can talk to them!” I say eagerly.
“Don’t think that’s goanna happen, … cause you may look like you’re from Lesotho, but you’re still not from here. And if ya’ ask they will hear your accent and not wanna talk to ya’.” He says, now scratching his chin.
“Mr. … Umm.”
“I ain’t Mr. Umm! I’m Mr. Pastor!” He says dropping his had from his face.
“Sorry! Mr. Pastor! But if I get you… uh… some bananas will you go ask those people whom you heard the rumors form?” I feebly ask.
“Banana? YES! Of course! Only if I get the precious bananas!” he says clapping his hand like a joyful child, “But they need to be fresh! Even though you will need to go to the bigger cities where they sell fresh bananas!”
“Of course Mr. Pastor,” I say politely, while he jumps up and down rushing to the door. But just as he is about to leave he turns around with an unusual serious expression on his face.
“One thing may be that her brother is ill and may die soon,” he says gravely with a frown plastered on him.
“Anyways bye!” he says turning his frown upside down. He jumps out onto the road out-side. As he strolls back home he sings a banana song. I watch in amusement. I’ve never seen an elderly change moods that quickly! Anyways I got to find out what’s going on. I begin to brainstorm as I pack up to go home, then to the big city.
“So then Tathinaia said her name meant high value, in English. But Torkwase maybe thought it was insult then they got fight, big time! Then Titilayo say they have to be happy because Titilayo means ‘eternal happiness’ she says. Which meant they all had to be happy,” Tumelo was saying as I drifted off in to my own world. Grammar that’s one thing he needs to work on. I hope we hear from Mom soon. Before she let she told me that once in a while, when she can, she send us some money. I also need to begin to get working a lot. Someone needs to make sure that Tumelo is working on his education and stays safe. May be Afryea can help, but then she may need some more information… But I think she’ll respect what I don’t want to say. So once we get back to the village I can… wait! It’ll be to late. … Tomorrow I’ll tell Afryea. No! ASK her. We are leaving the big city of Maseru where Uuka is staying. Hopefully we can avoid the bad guy areas as Tumelo ways.
“…But Torkwase then got really angry, they argued a lot! In the end They all were unhappy. Since then they haven’t talked to each other,” Tumelo says talking about the latest news as we walk quickly towards the edge of the city. At the edge of the city we’ll use my bike and quickly go back home. I don’t like this city. Hopefully we can get out of here as quick as possible.
“Hey here is the hospital. You go in and talk to Uuka. I’ll wait out here.”
“Boahimaa… why don’t you go in too?” Tumelo asks looking up at me.
“Well don’t you have some big boy things to talk about with him? Besides after you talk to him I need to come here later and talk about important stuff,” I inform Tumelo.
“Okay…” he sighs, as he opens the door. After he closes the door I hear him talk with Uuka. I lean against the hallway. The building seems to be mostly well run down. The hallway is closed but the guest or lobby place is open to the world.
Soon a nurse comes over and asks me to go to the lobby. I politely agree, once she leaves I open the door to Uuka’s room and tells Tumelo I’ll be out in the lobby.
“Boahimaa! Stay safe and don’t over work you-self! Don’t talk to strangers. ‘kay?” Uuka warns from where he sits, “Tumelo will be out soon.”
“Kay,” I quietly say as I close the door and walk towards the packed lobby. In the house it’s a lot quieter… it’s nice to hear Uuka’s voice again, and to see he’s doing well. I think as I lean against the wall waiting. But soon it’s so full I have to go outside where it’s more dangerous, because there is like… no one on the street. This feeling is very eerie. After a while…
“Hey pretty!” a random guy says walking up to me as if he knows everything about me. I quickly share a look with Tumelo and we both take a step back.
“Please leave us alone,” I say putting up my other hand in defense. Crud! We are, No more like I’m in huge trouble. In school we learned about these types of people. They have AID and they believe in weird rumors about how to get rid of AIDs! Please help us God! Please!
“I can’t leave a flower like you unattended!” he says grabbing my arm, pulling me to follow him. I struggle as much as possible, using my feet to kick him, teeth to bit. I feel something come over my mouth preventing me to scream. I continue to scratch and whack with all my strength, but pulling a bag over my body and lifting me up he acts as if nothing happend. I feel him carrying me to who knows where! Please someone help!! I try screaming but I can’t. I begin to wiggle and kick hoping that someone will notice!
I hear a familiar voice, but I can’t find out who it belongs to. I’m able to make out a few words. They are both boys, only guys can reach that deep of a voice. Yelling at each other… arguing? Is the one trying to help? I continue to wiggle, but now fill with some hope I begin to use my head to hit the guy and my legs kick as much as possible. WHAM!! Am I falling? I don’t feel the guy holding me anymore! THUD! Ouch!
“Are you okay?” a boy of average height says, as he pulls me out of the bag. He is sitting on his knees; he has a helmet on his head covering his face. … Something about him looks familiar, no just his voice.
“Boahimaa?” the boy says in a shocked expression, “What in the world where you doing in a bag?”
“Abiola! Than you SO much!” I say with tears running down my cheeks as I embrace my savior.
“Ha! What are you doing in Maseru?” Abiola says untangling himself from my grip, standing up.
“Tumelo wanted to talk to Uuka, so yeah,” I say taking his hand and pulling myself up.
“Uuka is in the city?” he asks me looking confused, “Why? You guys are always in the country why would you come here with Tumelo? Is your secondary school here? ‘Cause I remember had a dream of getting a good education. Oh, … did your mom remarry?”
“What? No!” I exclaim, “Uuka became very ill, so I used the money I saved for secondary school to get him the treatment he needs, but he is still needed in the hospital.”
“Oh. I’m sorry about that. If you want I can help you,” he offers.
“No thank you, it would be too much of a burden for you,” I respond feeling guilty for some reason.
“No really! Besides how are you going to watch Tumelo, because knowing you, you’re goanna work really hard,” he informs me crossing his arms.
“I’m thinking about asking one of my friends to look out after him,” I say feeling a little more confident.
“What if she says no?” he responds quickly.
“… I doubt that she’ll say no, cause she thinks he is an angel, ‘cause he is SO nice,” I sigh.
“Tumelo? An angel? I remember him as a cry baby,” Abiola says as if he’s thinking to him-self.
“Of course he cried! He was a baby!” I shout back.
“Yes ma’am, I’m very, very sorry,” he says politely. I think there may be some sarcasm in his voice. Oh well! He apologized.
“Wow! That trick really does work,” he murmurs to himself.
“Huh? Oh, nothing!” he responds.
“Boahimaa! That’s were you are!” Tumelo shouts! Running towards me. At the last moment he jumps on to me hugging my legs, making it hard for me to steady myself.
“Tumelo? Is this him?” Abiola asks bending down to inspect Tumelo. I nod as an answer.
“Boahimaa, who is this guy? Is he your boyfriend?” Tumelo asks looking up at me. Abiola and I both look at each other confused. My face is completely flushed.
“No! Of Course no! First of I have no time to date! Besides if I did what in the world makes you think I would date this loon?” I inquire trying to hide my discomfort on this subject.
“Hey! Who are you calling a loon?” Abiola asks amusingly, probably trying to hide his own awkwardness on this subject. “Anyways I need to go back to my job. But remember my offer? Got it?”
“Remember I can also help,” he says over his should as he walks away.
To be continued…