Elementary school teacher who loves God and enjoys writing.

Johannesburg , South Africa

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The Search - An African Escapade

Oct 27, 2019 4 years ago

Squinting, she shielded her eyes in the mid-morning heat. The African landscape did not change, which was the case for every other day. Today, a group of 5 and 6-year-olds from the valley trudged wearily uphill as she sat under the canopy of the majestic ancient Oak tree. The 7-year-old teacher blinked at the fissures in the sun-baked earth. This year the drought was especially severe and the sugar-cane stalks stood withered and depleted from the long dry spell. Her students were tired, but their eyes shone bright with enthusiasm as they approached her. “Good day, Madam,” they chimed in unison and burst out in little-girl giggles. Sam, the brat of the pack, and the only boy in the group, leaned against the trunk, and rubbed the salty perspiration filling his eyes. They appeared a little bloodshot and he blinked hard. The girly chatter was not a point of interest to him. Momentarily, the group sat down for a lesson on counting and writing. Today the weather lashed out mercilessly in a different way. The wind howled through the copper pipes and the spooky whistling sounds of a haunted house movie permeated the public school building. Dove studied the group of kindergärtners sitting at their polished wooden desks. It was a far cry from thirty odd years ago under the old Oak tree. Her dream to be a teacher had finally been realized. Madam Dove was going to change the world. Just as she turned to write the sight word for the day on the chalkboard, Dove saw quick movement in her peripheral vision. Her head snapped sharply just in time to catch Lesedi push a tiny, tightly rolled paper ball into Taylor's ear. “Lesedi!” shouted Dove. The shock of being caught out caused him to abruptly pull back his hand; feigning innocence. “Mam, Mam! My ear!” screamed Taylor as she came rushing to the front of the class. Dove slowly and quietly counted to ten as she calmly took Taylor's hand. The first day of the second term was not going exactly as planned. Deal with removing the paper ball first, and the naughty kid a little later. For now, Lesedi will be on time-out. It was a good thing the paper ball could be removed easily. Lesedi was promptly reprimanded, and counselled on the dangers of putting anything in another child's ear or anyone's ear for that matter. As the day progressed, the mishap of the morning seemed to have faded into the distant past and all appeared to be going smoothly. At 1:06 pm, Vuyo's middle brother, Unathi, came in to fetch him as this was the custom after the last bell rang promptly at 1:00 pm. Shortly after they left, Vuyo's oldest brother, Kani, came to class looking for him. He was accompanied by the driver of their taxi. Dove looked puzzled and explained that their brother, Unathi, had been in earlier to fetch Vuyo which was the standard arrangement. By this time, both Kani and the driver seemed confused and a little agitated. Apparently, the younger boys were nowhere to be seen. Kani and the driver, still looking baffled, left in search of Vuyo. Soon a harried looking administrator came rushing into the classroom. The boys were missing. And so began a chain of events that would forever be stamped in Dove's mind. While still energetic and conscious of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, Dove was not as lithe or supple as when she was in her youth. One look followed by a sharp command from the administrator was enough to set her legs in motion. Cagney, a colleague from the class next door accompanied Dove on the mission for the search of young Vuyo and his brother. In the next forty minutes, Dove and Cagney ran through the brambles and bushes adjoining the school. Frantic calls for the boys could be heard echoed in the wind in the undergrowth. When they reached the neighboring elementary school, they dashed through the closing gates in time, and any hope of finding the boys was short-lived. Realizing the gates were already locked for the day, Dove and Cagney scaled the over 9 foot wall. As they barely made it over, a voice could be heard shouting, “Come! The boys are safe home! They walked home.” When a bedraggled Dove and Cagney finally returned to school, they were met by a relieved administrator wearing a sheepish grin. “Their mom called to say they had walked home.” Dove sat down heavily on the grass and sighed with relief. Thank God the boys were safe. That over 9 foot wall was nothing compared to the joy of knowing the boys were safe home. Every year thousands of children go missing. This is a rampant global problem which affects the lives of people from all sectors of society. As a teacher and mother, I would not wish this on anyone. I can only try to imagine the pain and agony of a parent whose dreams are haunted by that of a missing child.


Wounded Dreamer

Jul 11, 2019 5 years ago

“Seven years old and living my life on a sugar-cane plantation. My brothers are the pain of my existence in this beautiful world. Oh, but I have a dream,” were my daily musings. Roaming the dusty, roughly hewn roads on the sugar-cane plantation, my perspective on life was very limited and perhaps a bit twisted. Sure, our siblings can be a bit of a pain, but I had learned that I had it all wrong. They were actually the “bane” of my existence. My older, city-bred and worldly-wise cousins, often used that phrase when referring to their parents, siblings and even teachers. The truth is that I loved my siblings and my family. Dreams were few but as vast as the fields of cane swaying in the gentle breeze as the sun dipped below the horizon in the dusky African skies. The grass felt warm on the hillside as I lay down, hands clasped behind my head, and legs stretched out. The stars would soon come out and I had to be home. My friends, Valerie and Bobbie, jostled each other as they lay beside me. Life was carefree and uncomplicated. In the valley about half a mile away, the first lights twinkled in the early evening. The lamps were being lit and mother was not going to be pleased with my tardiness. She had forewarned me of the consequences of getting home after dark. It was not safe. My younger brother had run home about an hour before the first lights came on. But not before admonishing me on what a brat I was for not listening to my parents. I jumped up and ran home as fast as my legs could carry me with Valerie and Bobbie following hot on my heels. Dreaming was pointless, and wasn't going to help any when the spanking came a bit later. Nonetheless, I had many such days, and many such dreams. My great grandparents were indentured labourers on the British-owned sugar-cane plantations. They were brought to South Africa from India in nineteen hundred and three. That's right, they were brought, or should I say enticed into leaving their homeland under false pretences. One story narrated down through the generations was that my ancestors were led to believe that money grew on trees. It was disgusting and shameless for the British to use such tactics. I reckon it made our people like fools; so gullible. Despite a history entrenched in slavery, I believed there was a greater purpose in all of this. I grew up with the notion that nothing good could come out of abject poverty, and dreaming passively shielded the unattainable. Despite the lamentable circumstances, and the opinion of egotistical society and family, we were taught to love God, respect our elders, have a strong work ethic, be generous and show compassion to the less fortunate. Many of the children living in the village went to work in the fields by the time they turned twelve. I was 7 and dreamed of becoming a teacher one day. A good one if I tried really hard. Peace was a façade in those years. There were times when I would wake up with a jolt to the sound of raised voices in the middle of the night. Accusations of infidelity could be heard being hurled at my mother while she was brutally beaten. It was my father. A few times I stood in horror, watching helplessly, while she moaned in pain on the floor. There was a deep rage as he swore profusely and struck her with a wooden rod. I screamed and tried to defend her, but her shoved me aside and told me to stay out of it. Since the day it became household knowledge of my mother's alleged infidelity, my father became unrelenting in his quest for vengeance. About a month after my twelfth birthday, my father suffered a massive heart attack while taking a bath. Gone at fifty. When I turned thirteen, I learned that my mother had been an unfaithful wife. My father had found her in a compromising position with his seventeen year old nephew after an aunt's funeral. How do I understand that his broken heart was venting the rage that eventually led to his demise? He abused my mother! Did that make it right!? I wanted to scream! It was not fair on me or my siblings. But life isn't always fair. My teenage years were some of the worst of my life. High school was a nightmare. Besides being convinced that my teachers hated me, my mother began an illicit affair that lasted almost 2 decades. The feelings of insecurity and rejection overwhelmed me. The pain made me detest my life. Suicide seemed to offer the redeeming escape from a cruel and useless life. Leave me alone. The overdose of sleeping tablets failed. I was found slumped in the school bathroom. From the hidden recesses of a wounded and weary soul, the light of a dream from long ago began to reignite. It took the stirrings of a wise, compassionate and God-fearing heart to see the potential for greatness in brokenness. She funded my studies to become a teacher. Forty-four years later- I'm in the sixth year of living my childhood dream. Sometimes dreams have to die before they can be resurrected. Restoration follows after great loss.

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