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SCHOOL It was late in the afternoon and the sun had sank lower in the sky, as the light of day was starting to become faint. Nailoke was busy gathering all the cattle together. She realized that it was getting late and she still had to walk about five kilometers, before she could reach home and herd all the cattle into the kraal. She started chasing the cattle, pounding her bare feet hard on the ground, and she stepped on a thorn, hurting her feet in the process. “Ouch,” she cried out in agony. She started removing the thorn from her foot, and saw blood dripping from the wound. She started walking and realized that there was no way she could go back home on time, because her walk started turning into a limping. Nailoke was a fifteen year old beautiful girl, with high cheek bones and a sharp chin. She was slim and tall, with big brown eyes. She was the oldest of three children. She had a very strict father, who at times, abused her mother physically and emotionally. Upon arriving home, she stood at the door and then; she heard her father’s voice and came to a halt. ‘’That girl Nailoke will hear from me today, she knows my house rules and yet, she has not come home yet!,’’ he yelled. Nailoke could smell freshly cooked porridge and the aroma of spinach as she was making her way into the house, and the scent was softly blowing from the kitchen. Her heart was beating fast, and she was trembling with fear, knowing that her father was upset with her. Her
father was pacing up and down. “Where do you think you are coming from at this time young lady?,” he asked angrily after seeing her coming back. “I am sorry Papa, but I stepped on a thorn and hurt my foot. That’s the reason why it took me so long to get home, ‘she said in a trembling voice. Before she could even finish talking, he slapped her so hard on the face, and pain set in after the initial astonishment, she started sobbing. ‘’That’s a lousy excuse!,” he shouted. Tate Ngeno was an overweight, aggressive man in his late forties, who was very abusive to his wife and children. He believed only he had a say in his house, and whatever he said went, since he was the head of the house. Meme Martha came over to comfort her child. “You better teach that spoiled child some manners,’’ he said while fuming with anger and moving towards his chair. He sat down and began to smoke his pipe. After dinner, Meme Martha was nursing Nailoke’s wound with warm water and salt. Meme Martha failed to understand why her husband always used force to discipline his children. Meme Martha at times felt like telling her husband that he is terrifying the children, and that there is a better way to show them the right way without using force, but he would never listen to her. She, herself, had had to endure physical assault from him and over the years, she had prayed that one day, her husband will eventually come to realize that what he is doing is actually wrong.
His parents came to Meme Martha’s elders to ask for her hand in marriage. For two years in their marriage, he was a wonderful husband. At that time, he was working at a mine in Oranjemund. The abuse started the third year of their marriage, when Nailoke was two years old. It was then when he got retrenched from his job, and had to stay full time at home, while looking for another job. It started off with emotional abuse and then, one night when Meme Martha cooked supper, he claimed the food was too salty. That was the first time he physically assaulted her. After he got a job with a construction company were they were building and renovating schools and clinics in their village, she thought he would change for the better; but it all deteriorated and became even worse. After her two daughters, Hambeleni and the last born Ndinelao were born, he started drinking and coming home late. “Your foot will be better by tomorrow Nailoke..” She told her daughter comfortingly. She believed that the salt she had sprinkled on the wound will help reduce the pain. __________________________________________________________ The school bell rang as a signal that it was break time. Miss Nakale ushered the learners out of the classroom. All learners rushed out to go for a break. Some of the girls, including Nailoke went to seat under a tree. The learners started opening their lunch boxes. Some children had well prepared lunch boxes, some with slices of bread with butter and jam spread, and others with boiled eggs. While some brought fruits and biscuits along, most of the children at school were from middle income families, and a few others from low income families.
go in one corner of the classroom or grounds, or behind the tree, to eat in hiding, as she did not want to be made fun of by other learners. “Let’s share our meals today, it will be fun,’’ said Selma. ‘’Yes, sure, let us share,’’ shouted Nanguloshi with her eyes beaming in excitement. All the children started opening their lunch boxes one by one, and shared what they brought from home with others. “Nailoke, open your lunch box,” shouted Emily as the other learners looked on and giggled. Emily was a rude child, who was known for bullying other learners and mocking them. Nailoke resisted opening her lunch box. She felt uncomfortable knowing that in her lunch box, there was only soft porridge and milk that her mother had milked from the cows three days before. Emily grabbed Nailoke’s lunch box forcefully and opened it, spilling her food on the floor in the process. The others started laughing uncontrollably. “Who in their right mind brings porridge and milk to school?,’’ Emily asked sarcastically. “Probably someone who has no common sense,” another learner replied, sending the chorus of laughter a notch up. Tears started pouring down Nailoke’s face, as all the other children laughed at her. “How can people be this cruel?,” she thought to herself while reeling in and feeling sad from the humiliation. She could feel anger stirring up inside her and broke down and cried. “If only my father could spend his money wisely and not spend every cent
thought silently to herself, with great sadness. “Leave her alone’’ said one of the learners, who came to the group and chased the rest of the learners away from her. “Don’t mind them Nailoke, they are bullies and they don’t have better things to do than bullying others ‘she said. “Whatever,” said one of the learners from the naughty bunch as she asked the other learners along, and they went laughing as they headed towards their class. “Thank you,’’ Nailoke said to the other young girl, who came to her aid. ________________________________________________________
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