The wind brushed against the hills as if teasing the hills to leap in to the wind and join the wind. The tall grass swayed outside. Here I’m inside! Listening to the teacher, but I already know all of this already. If the others really wanted to get an education then they should study like I did. I gazed outside dreaming about playing outside in the grass. Maybe if we’re lucky enough we could finish the grass rope, today.
No… Not today. TOO much to do, I thought as I turned my head back to the front of the classroom. There wasn’t much hear to admire or even look at. The walls were a rugged brown; every now and then it would creak especially when there was a lot of wind. Some times I wondered why this building hasn’t fallen down yet.
“Now, class I suggest that you begin to study because the exams are next class day,” the teacher informed us. She twisted around and walked around the classroom glaring into the eyes of the other students. Many of the other students looked up from their papers, books, or popped back into reality, all except Kehmuile, as usual. Most of the other kids here were Christian, including me. Which meant that our parents wanted us to have a good education. Sadly most people here can’t afford to go past primary school. And I will (hopefully) be one of those few people that will make it! But that is if I can be able to make enough money to go before I’m over whelmed with other work.
The teacher’s frown increased as she walked closer to Kehmuile. The unsuspecting Kehmuile continued to foolishly goof around quietly.
“Kehmuile!” growled the teacher. Everyone in the class could tell that Kehmuile enraged the teacher… again.
“What is this?” the teacher growled again holding the piece of grass and other scraps up for the entire class to see.
“It’s an…um,” Kehmuile stuttered fumbling over the English words showing she hasn’t practiced her English at ALL! To admit it wasn’t a surprise.
I sighed as I turned my head back to the gap in the wall. I wish that we didn’t always have to speak English during class. The wind was low, but even though I could still hear the sounds of animals being herded. My mind raced what if she squealed on us, and said it was our idea and we were going to blackmail her if she didn’t do it. She always lies; I don’t think the teacher will believe her though… But, her dad has money and that may do something.
“Class dismissed,” the teacher snarled not moving her eyes from the grumbling Kehmuile. Wow! The teacher is mad. My mind kind of repeated thoughts as I scuttled in behind everyone else as we all walked out of the classroom, except Kehmuile, that is.
As I walked out of the small little school, I heard a patter of feet behind me. I turned around and saw a girl that was around my age running towards me. She was really thin; she probably was thinner than all of the trees here. That may sound as if she was really big, but since there was little water the trees were really, REALLY small.
“What should we do today?” the girl asked as she caught up with me.
“Not, sure Afryea,” I respond practicing my English.
“Maybe… we should… finish the… um… um,” she stuttered trying to respond back in English.
“The grass rope?” I suggest.
“Yes! That’s it! How in the world did you know what I was going to say?” Afryea shouted in our hometown dialect out waving her arms around.
“Because you’ve been talking about it all month long!” I pointed out.
“True,” Chipo answered in English walking by.
“Besides I need to study for the exam. …Sorry, … Afryea,” I said sadly as I walked in the direction of my house. Afryea stood there for a while; I could easily see that she was super disappointed.
“Hey! Boahimaa! C-Can you help …me …study? For the uh…um… Exam?” Chipo asks stumbling over the words. The weird part was that she wasn’t sure. Also she was asking me, and I saying ME, her opponent, to help her. WEIRD, AND VERY suspicious…
“Sure!” I respond still a little shocked. I waited for her to catch up.
“Do you want to study here? So… you… know…um… can go home easier?” I ask in English. I don’t know about you but learning another language is like super hard especially when you’re talking to your rival. We studied the rest of the evening till the sun was a little bit off of the horizon.
“WOW! That was intense! No wonder your top in the class! But be aware! Only the top five get in. For your information everyone is taking the test, … and … the ones with the highest scores will have a chance to go on!” she said smirking as she walked away in a very arrogant way.
“Okay?” I whispered to myself as I turn away and begin to make my way home.
“Oh! And by the way! Thanks for helping me. …And don’t think that my …English is bad. It’s very …good. …Kehmuile has… a ‘tutor’ that her parents know …that …um…speaks perfect English. And that um…‘tutor’ helps me,” she added as she walked away still smirking.
Oops! I can’t believe that I helped her! She is the enemy! Wait! … What does she mean by Kehmuile has a friend that speaks English? Will that help her pass me? Is this her strategy? Make me worry… then… she thinks that I’ll study super hard, and wouldn’t go to bed. Get bad sleep the day before the day of the test, and do horrible. I mustn’t fall into her evil plans! Besides how stupid can I be? Wait! Doesn’t it mean that when Chipo stutters that she is telling a lie? Can’t be! The test is coming soon, why would she lie? Anyways! I need to make a plan!
Now to make a plan to avoid it! First I’ll study really hard. Even if it is bad for my sleep! I must study hard! Especially the day before the test! Wait… is… that… her plan? Can’t be… if it was I would of already figured it out! Besides I have to pass the test. I think quietly as I walk down the beaten road.
Soon I came across a path that was a little smoother, but it still was pretty rugged. I stopped, observing the world around me. Even though I’ve seen this place millions of times (well probably) it’s still beautiful. I imagined, there was only going to be one sunset like this…ever! I think that it’s best for us to be content with where we are in life, but we also we have to work hard to be in a better place in the future.
A small house came into view. Its walls were made of sticks connected by mud. The roof was made of grass. Small holes in the wall were meant to be windows. Just by looking at it could probably make some people think these people are super poor. They have nothing valuable/Others would think that the small building was abandoned or a shed. But to me it meant warmth, happiness, kindness, safety, respect, and most importantly it meant family. A smile lit up on my face as I came to the door of the familiar building.
“I’m home!” I said as I walked inside, hoping that everyone was here. Oh, yeah. I forgot… Mom is working this month. Hey! But it’s near the end of the month so they should be home soon, and by soon I mean in a few days! As usual I made a little bit for dinner, studied, then I went to bed late that night.
“Hi Boahimaa!” Chipo said smirking, as I walked along the road in the morning.
“Did you get any sleep?” she continued laughing.
“Yah! Did you?” Kehmuile asked laughing along with Chipo.
“Hey! Leave my sister alone!” Tumelo shouted at Chipo and Kehmuile.
“Tumelo please be quiet, your giving me head ache,” I told my little brother, holding his little hand, small and soft.
“Sorry Boahimaa,” Tumelo responds, lowering his voice and his head in embarrassment.
“Ha-ha! Sorry Boahimaa!” Chipo’s older brother mimicked Tumelo.
“Very funny! But if I must remind you Shona, that you were too stupid to pass the exam!” I responded, defending my younger brother. “Besides please leave me alone… my ability to withstand stupid is running low, especially when there is so much standing around me.”
“Really? …Must I remind you that my parents are here for work, and that my brother actually had a chance to take the exam… While your brother had to herd animals! Besides we are better off than you!” Chipo says in a very stuck up way.
“Besides Chipo and I will pass the test because we have the correct answers for every-!” Kehmuile boasted.
“Shut up!” Chipo hissed, jutting her elbow into Kehmuile’s side.
“You know what? Shona, at least my sister and my family didn’t cheat on the tests. And besides we a least worked our way up, instead of lying to get where we are,” interjected my older brother, Uuka, ignoring Kehmeuile’s and Chipo’s argument.
“Oh! You’re SUPER scary!” Kehmuile said laughing at Uuka.
“We have a place to go though,” I replied.
“What?” Chipo and Kehmuile said together.
“Heaven… when we die we will go to heaven… we believe you don’t,” I continued.
“Yeah! So what? We believe too! We’re Christian,” they answered.
“No you don’t. You’re only because of the name…you don’t really believe.
“Boahimaa we should go… don’t we have to earn some money, so when you do good on the exam we can afford for you to go to the next stage in your education?” Uuka asked me, “Besides we can’t waist our time on stupid people.”
“Boahimaa, … I have a question about the exam…” Tumelo asked me as we walked away. I nodded answering ok.
“So you have to pass the one they are give you into school. Then afterwards you have to pass the one they give you afterwards, with is the actual exam. But only the highest score takes the actual test … right?” Tumelo continued.
The day’s work was hard, but it was worth it. Tomorrow would be the same and so one with every free day we have till next class day. Most of the work we do is normal nothing super complicated or really hard. Other than that the day goes as normal. In the end I studied really hard again. I went to bed a little late.
Today is the day of the exam. I’m super nervous and all. My head begins to get a little fuzzy as I walk along the dirt path. I wonder if I got any good sleep last night. Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t. I think I got good sleep because I remember going to bed early yesterday.
Along the path is a light green grass. I hear the sound of the animals, and people calling to each other as they herd the animals. Sometimes if I listened really hard I could hear Uuka’s voice. Right now is the best time to study instead of goofing around. The rest of the time I practice my English, math, and science since those were the most pressured subjects.
“Hi! Boahimaa!” chirps Afryea, swinging her arms around acting as if there wasn’t a big exam at all. The way she acts also made her look a little silly, but everyone knew not to make a remark on how silly and immature she is, because everyone know Afryea is in the top five in the class.
“Morning Boahimaa and Afryea,” the teacher says greeting us as we get in view of the school. The teacher walks along side of us as we go to the school.
“Morning class,” the teacher says with a small smile as we enter the ragged building. The walls where still the same mud brown color and the “windows” were still no more than holes in the wall in different shapes. There is only one difference. There are sticks tied together to make a big folder thingy that had only three sides like a triangle of that shape with only three sides. Instead of all three sides being closed off two of the sides aren’t connected.
“What are these thingies?” Afryea asks with a goofy smile on her face, as she uses her fingers to carefully pick one of the things as if it had a disease. Her arm is straight. She holds the thingy away from her body.
“Those you can call a trifold,” the teacher says in English.
“Dr-i-e- fol…s?” Afryea stumbles trying to copy the new word that teacher told us.
“No, Afryea it’s tri like in triangle with folder added on. Trifold,” the teacher repeats sighing.
“Try-fo-gle? Wait! …No! Uh…um…it’s…um…uh… Try-fold?” Afryea repeats.
“Try-fold?” I say, “I don’t think that’s it.”
“The correct way to say it is trifold, but I guess that ‘try-fold’ is the closest I can get you guys to say it,” the teacher sighs again.
“Morning,” Chipo says from behind me as she strolls in to the building, “Did you get any sleep Boahimaa?”
“Actually I did. And I must congratulate you for caring so much,” I say in English turning around to look at her. When she sees my face and notices that there aren’t any circles under my eyes to show that I haven’t gotten any sleep, she seems scared. Good! I thought. Now you have a real competition.
We take our seats as the rest of the rest of the class slowly comes in. Chipo and Kehmuile both sat in the front row, but not next to each other. Afryea sat far away from me. I wasn’t shocked or anything.
“No looking at other classmate’s paper,” the teacher begins after all the students are in the building. She continued to talk and all, but I didn’t pay any attention. No one else did ether and she knew that, but that was what she had to do. After that she walked around that rows passing out the test. When she came to my row I was freaking out, but I accepted the paper politely and began. Before I began though I heard the teacher say, “good luck Boahimaa.” Impossible! Or is that supposed to be WEIRD? Did I just hear that right?
Around half way though the test I lifted my head, observing the room. There wasn’t a peep at all. Everyone was focusing, but I noticed that Chipo and Kehmuile were both looking at something. Especially Kehmuile. Weird… are they cheating? I shouldn’t think anything of it, I should focus on my test like everyone else; so then I went on to continue my test.
What I didn’t know was that the thing that they were looking at was something important. As I looked at my finished test, I was sweating, though not seeable sweat. I heave a sigh as I look back though it. Ok… today is the day I need to do the last job to have enough money for incase I pass the tests. Wait! Isn’t to day also the day Mom and Dad come home? …No I don’t think so, I think that it’s to early, but still I hope that they come home today.
“You are dismissed class, but first you need to turn in your test,” the teacher says at the end of the day, “you have one day off of school. Next time we meet, which will be in two days, I’ll give you the grades.
“I’m SO glad that that’s over. It was SO scary. I hope that we both make it into the top three,” Afryea says quickly.
“Hey! If we do make it and get good jobs then we wouldn’t have to rely on anyone to support us!” she whispers into my ear as we walk out of the building.
“Anyways, Bye Boahimaa see you tomorrow!” Afryea shouts as she turns around and walks in the direction of her bigger house, clean and tidy.
As I walk home I begin to think of the test. Um… Weird I wonder what that paper was that Kehmuile and Chipo where both looking at during the test. …Maybe they were looking at the answers. That’s possible. I know Kehmuile and Chipo will do anything to beat me in the scores, and knowing the history of Kehmuile, it’s possible that she bargained or stole the answers. Also Chipo will go to any extent to beat me in the scores, and then brag about it the rest of her life. But… if they cheated then that means that they will get in… Okay! Now I’m worried. Right now I need to forget that. It’s over now. Besides I need to earn enough money in case I passed. Now, I need to look at… the positive side for a little bit.
The next day there wasn’t any school so I just did chores. After I finished all of those I did some other minor jobs to get enough money. During lunch I began to make a doll. Straw was the hair. Wire was that base of the body. I wasn’t too sure of what to have for the skin so I just left it like that for a while. As it got closer to nightfall I became more anxious about the test scores.
That night I made dinner. Soon after dinner was done cooking, Tumelo and Uuka came in from herding the animals. As we ate there wasn’t much to talk about, except the fact about that one of the animals had a baby.
“I think that there will be a drought so save up on the water, Boahimaa!” Uuka declares leaning against the wall of our house, “This time it may be big and dangerous.”
After we eat we cleaned up. Even though Mom is family and knows how inelegant we are, it seems that we still remember that they like for the house to be clean. There wasn’t really anything to clean because the house is so small that with three people was super easy to clean.
I can’t wait for the test results tomorrow. Before I went to bed that night I prayed to God. Even though I do this almost every night I must do it extra hard this time. I have to pass that exam or my dream will not come true. I hope I can sleep well tonight. Wow! I slept splendid tonight! I thought quietly as I go up and began to get dressed.
A yawn escaped from my mouth as I walked along the road to the building. Hum… thinking about it we never called it school? Ha! That’s interesting we only call it the building, as if it wasn’t really important or anything. Oh! I hope I did well! I think dreamily looking at the colors of the sunrise. The orange color streaked across the sky. The midnight blue seemed to be retreating. In between was purple. It was beautiful since there will only be one sunrise like this in the world. As I turned back to the road my shadow shortened in front of me.
“Morning class!” the teacher said waving her hand in greeting after shaking everyone’s hand. I observe everyone as I was sitting in the back row. Chipo and Kehmuile were both snickering with a huge grin on both of their faces. It seemed as if something bad was about to happen or did happen. Wait! A flash back to the test reminds me that they were both looking at something. I wonder…
“The five highest scoring people are Boahimaa, Afryea, Zweleka, Matseliso, and Teboho,” the teacher declared at the end of class. At the sound of this Chipo and Kehmuile both turned paler than a ghost.
“WHAT?” Chipo and Kehmuile both scream at the top of their lungs. Jumping up from where they sat.
“Impossible! We had the answers! There is absolutely no way we could have not made it!” Kehmuile continues.
“Aren’t I right?” Kehmuile shouted looking at Chipo for support.
“Um…a…what in the…um…the world are you… um… talking about?” Chipo stutters glaring at Kehmuile from where she sat. Chipo may have good grades. Everyone knows that she is horrible at acting. It’s easy to know because she stutters, and this habit of hers got her in trouble.
“Oh. So you did have the answers,” the teacher says smiling while her eyes glinting in the dim light, “you two stay after class.”
“Uh oh…” Kehmuile signed, looking down at the ground, depressed and scared.
“Do what ever you want! Just please don’t tell my father,” Kehmuile whimpered.
“You idiot!” Chipo whispers, glaring at Kehmuile. Chipo’s glare could have paralyzed a demon! It was so deadly. Everyone stood up and began to walk out of the building, except the scared Kehmuile and the enraged Chipo.
“HA! I guess they got caught this time! Eh?” whispers Afryea with a smile as we began to leave.
“Huh? Did you hate them that much?” I ask, turning my head with a big question mark probably written all over it.
“Don’t you remember what they did to me when I first came?” Afryea responded looking at me like she was just slapped super hard.
“Uh? … … Oh! … Yeah sorry about that,” I say, trying to act as if my memory was normal. I remember when Afryea just came to the village after her dad died she was bullied. Everyone wasn’t surprised when she came here because of that. It’s traditional for when the father dies that his brother will inherit his family and his stuff, if he doesn’t have a son who is old enough. Kehmuile and Chipo picked on Afryea because she was so minuscule.
Oh well. I had to get home to tell Mom, Dad, Uuka, and Tumelo the good news! Well…I’m not TOO sure about Mom and Dad, but they may be home! I thought as I raced home, leaving the shocked Afryea behind. To admit I feel a little rude, because I should of said, ‘Good bye Afryea’. That reminded me…
“Bye Afryea! I have to spread the good news!” I shout over my shoulder as I rushed off down the road. As I raced down the dirt road, I thought of all kinds of places that I could go to now that I have the money to go since I passed the first exam. Wait! That means, that I need to be able to pass the next one. I skidded to a stop. Eh! So what? I passed which means that I still have a chance! I should give up hope just yet! I took off again. The sun was half visible on the horizon. Wow! And if I can pass the test I can go see the world! … Hey! Maybe if I’m lucky enough I can see what the thing called ‘snow’ is. They say it’s white and cold. … I wonder what really cold weather is. The teacher talks about is a lot!
“GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!” I shouted as I skid to a halt a few paces away from my house. Where is everyone?
“Boahimaa!” Tumelo shouts, rushing out of the house.
“Uh?” I say a little startle.
“It’s Uuka, something’s wrong! He isn’t getting up!” Tumelo shouts tears running down his face.
“SHOW ME!” I respond. I let Tumelo grab my hand and lead me. Please God let it be nothing bad at all! Nothing horrible at all! I silently pray as my eyes get watery and my vision blurs.
As I entered the house I saw that Mom wasn’t here. The little table that we eat on was cleared except for some bottles. On it was a ragged cloth that Mom made several years ago. Uuka was lying down on the dirt floor in the corner breathing hard.
“Get the doctor. Why didn’t you do this before?” I shouted at Tumelo, while tears streamed down my face, blurring my vision.
“Okay. I didn’t before; I didn’t want to leave him alo-“ Tumelo began
“GO!” I screech at him.
“Okay!” he said turning around and running. I hope they get here quick! … I begin to look at how he is acting. Weird what is that? I look at a lump like thing that appears to be moving. What in the world is that? It seems to be alive, but it’s under his skin. Is it an animal inside of him? I gaze at him, but I don’t get closer no matter how bad I want to. Why can’t I hold my brother? … I begin to question my self. Because! You have no idea what it is! And it common sense to not go near it… but he’s my bro-… Oh! Shut up! What will happen if you do hold him or get close and the ‘thing’ goes into you, huh? You would get sick. And your family wouldn’t be able to buy help for both of you! Sometimes I feel as if there are two sides to me: on negative and the other positive or which can be considered the nice side. I hear feet, but I don’t pay attention.
“We’re here!” Tumelo panted as he lifted his arm pointing at Uuka. A woman wearing a tunic, old and beaten down, walked in caring a bag slung over her shoulder. Her clothes were ragged and dull. She didn’t seem to be well off, but she looked like she was educated.
“You take your brother out, I’ll see what happening,” she demanded pointing her finger at me and making a shooing motion with it. In an instant I leaped up and lifted Tumelo off the ground and escaped. I didn’t go far, but I carried the crying Tumelo over to the edge of the plateau. I sat down trying to stop the flow of tears. But they seemed to never stop.
“UUKA! I HAVE TO SEE HIM. I HAVE TO MAKE SURE HE IS OK!” Tumelo screeches wriggling vigorously in my arms, but I only held tighter.
“Ow! You’re hurting me!” Tumelo squealed as he went slack from exhaustion in my arms. At the sound of his words a new wave of tears run down. I buried my face into his back.
“Just look at the pretty sunset,” I said sniffling, “you can’t see him.”
“Why he’s my brother, … and he’s your brother,” Tumelo wailed looking at me.
“Because he’s,” I paused, should I lie?
“Because he’s going to be fine… … he …um… he just needs to rest,” I whispered.
“Bu-“ Tumelo started.
“No! There are no buts,” I said, a little harsher that I meant to.
“Okay…” Tumelo mumbled looking away from me. I feel horrible! How could I be so mean, especially to my brother… in this situation? We sat in silence waiting for the doctor to come out, hopefully with good news. Cough! Who is that? Tumelo and I both turn around to see the doctor walk outside. Her head was hung she didn’t look us in the eyes, but tells me that she would like to see me in private. Okay something bad happened…please let it not be big!
“Okay,” I responded lifting Tumelo off my lap.
“Can I see him?” he asked as I place his feet on the ground.
“No,” the woman sighed somewhat nicer than before, “come on hurry!”
“What is it?” I asked when we were out of ear shoot of Tumelo.
“He has a parasitic condition,” she informed me.
“What is that?” I asked stupidly, wiping my face still trying to hold back the tears.
“What does parasitic mean?” she asked informatively.
“Um… when something is attached, and drains the host?” I answered.
“Um. There for a parasitic condition is when there is something inside of him. I don’t have the specialty to get it out, but there is a bigger city near by that has a surgeon that will do it at a hefty price,” she continued.
“How much?” I asked not really caring what the price was as long as Uuka has a chance of living.
“Well, …you know how much it cost’s to go on from primary school?” she inquired.
“Yeah…” I replied.
“Well. A little more than that,” she says lifting her head, looking me straight into my eyes, “ I can take you to the city. If you want, but I can’t give or loan you money.”
“Boahimaa! Tumelo!” a familiar voice shouts joyfully.
“Mom!” Tumelo cried running up to greet them. I turn around to look at Mom and her boyfriend. They had circles under their eyes. Their clothes were in rags like ours but even more so. Still, though Mom were grinning from ear to ear at us.
“Who is this Boahimaa?” he joyfully asks me, walking up with his arm around Mom’s shoulder trying to act as though we existed.
“Um… well …Uuk-“ I began.
“Hey! Where is he? …Where is Uuka?” Mom interjected, jolting her head around.
“Yeah… where is he?” the guy continued, looking around like Mom trying to act as if he cared too. At the mention of Uuka, Tumelo and I look at each other with worried expressions before looking at the ground. Mom saw our expressions and asked…
“What happened, Boahimaa? What hap-“ she began to ask, her voice that was normally so joyful and happy was now filled with worriedness.
“I’m sorry. But will you please lead let me speak with your parents?” the doctor asked looking at me.
“That guy isn’t my father!” I say through clenched teeth.
“Boahimaa!” Mom says angrily.
“Of course.” I lifted Tumelo up again and walked towards the edge of the plateau again. Tumelo sat down, knowing better than to try and see Uuka. Why is that … guy here? He has No right to be here! Absolutely NO right! But right now I need to forget that and focus on making sure Tumelo doesn’t find out.
“Why can’t I hear about it?” Tumelo asked looking up at me.
“Because it’ll make you worry more. Besides I doubt that you’d understand it,” I responded looking at the sky. This time the darkness was attacking the light it seems and the light is running away, except there are little speaks of light that is holding it’s ground even though the rest is running away. I wish that I could see what the stars see. I wish that in the future I will be able to make a difference in the world. That I’ll be able to help people who’s family or friends who have fallen ill and need help really bad. … I wish that I could become a doctor and help save lives. And guarantee that they would be fine.
The night sky grew bigger. Soon it encased us in this little world, imperfect and cruel. After the sun went all the way down, the last streaks of light held on, grasping with it’s last bit of daytime energy. Mom came walking over.
“Are you two okay? How was the test Boahimaa?” She asks unenthusiastic sitting next to me, as she picks Tumelo up and resting him on her lap. It looks like she’s trying lighten the mood by asking about the day, but everyone I so worried it doesn’t matter. Besides no one want to talk really.
“I passed… and no I’m not ok,” I whimper.
“Congrats,” Tumelo slurs really unenthusiastic.
“Okay, …” she sighs, rocking Tumelo, “ The expense is really high. A little bit more than the school fee, your Dad and I are going to work closer to the village and we’ll take turns watching over you guys. While we try to get enough money.”
“Can’t we use the money Boahimaa saved up for the scho-” Tumelo asks looking up.
“Tumelo! That is the money Boahimaa saved she’ll do as she pleases with it,” Mom hisses at him.
“But it would help,” she whispers under her breath.
“It’s okay,” I say instantly.
“Really? Are you sure? ‘Cause we all know that going on from primary school is your dream,” Mom says with hope creaking in her voice.
“Of course. I’ll use the money I have saved up, to help Uuka. I can have multiple chances to get a good education, but there will only be one Uuka like him in the world. Just like the sunsets. Besides education may be important and hard to achieve, but it’s not more important than family.” I respond gazing at the sun.