I took off the empty pot I had been heating up on the brazier and used it to neatly press my
uniform. I was excited way too excited I was going to start school. After pressing my uniform I
rushed to the open air thatched wall bathroom located a few metres away from the house. I barely did a good job cleaning myself and soon I was done.
I took the bottle of Tajili petroleum jelly and applied on my body before pulling on my blue and white collar dress. I then pulled on my very thick stockings cream white in color and later slipped on my black Sofia (plastic)shoes. I grabbed my transparent plastic bag containing my four books and a pencil and bade mum farewell as I dashed out to school. I reached the school and pushed myself through other pupils to get to class in time.
Just then I felt a sudden urge to pee and I rushed off to the toilet and started reliving myself.
” Iwe Kasuba ulesunda ninshi iwe tawishibe ati wansundila .” ( Kasuba don’t you know that you are peeing you’ve even peed on me) My older sister vigorously hit me and I jumped up
immediately. Shame written all over my face.
” Fumya ifyakufimbana ukanike usambe nokusamba niwe uleya na ba tata mu town.” ( Take out the beddings to dry in the sun and then take a bath its your turn to go with father to town) She shouted I tried putting my finger on my mouth to gesture her to keep it down but it was too late.
” Cisusu asunda nalelo asunda.” ( The bed wetter has done it again) Chanted my little brother and
poked fun at me
I shamefully dragged my feet out and spread the beddings outside to dry. I then went back inside
and folded the reed mat off the floor and equally took it outside to dry and later quickly took a bath.
” Kasuba hurry up your father is ready and the sun is coming up. There is no money for transport
today so you just have to walk.” Called mother from the sitting room.
” I’m ready!” I announced later after I washed up my face and brushed my teeth using a twig. On my feet were oversized worn out flip Flops which were shared amongst my siblings. And I was wearing a floral green dress and a brown polo neck sweater.
I helped father with his cane and gently grabbed his hand and led him out of the house and hastily
made our way into town chatting here and there. Soon we were at the heart of Mansa town and
picked up a perfect spot. We then sat down placing the fedora in front for people to drop in alms.
It was our only means of survival then.
A lot of people walked by without even as much as sparing us a look while others called us all
sorts of names when we asked them for help.
I was nine years at the time and there wasn’t much I could do.
We waited for people to knock off from work before we retired home. We had just enough for a small pack of “Pamela” ( Millie meal in a plastic bag equivalent to 1 kg ), Chisense ( dried
sardines), and kerosene for our lamp.
By the time we were arriving back home it was dark and I was dog tired. The only good thing was I had three days of rest before my turn came again.
Mother and my older sister cooked supper the only decent meal we used to have in a typical day
and we ate it cheerfully pleased that we atleast didn’t go to bed on empty stomachs.
After supper we gathered around the fire and listened to stories from our parents about their past or day’s events as well as local the fairytale (utushimi) .it was a family tradition that I appreciate more so now than I ever did back then……