Morris was six years old when his grandfather died of food poisoning at his work, at a village called Poporolo in Mpumalanga. Two years later he had to move from the village to the township to stay with his parents. Moving from the village to the township was a dream come true for him.

A chance to stay with his parents for the first time and going to a new school was like a blessing to this young boy. But there was something that he didn’t know about his father.

His father was a mine worker and his mom was a domestic worker who earned R400 monthly. She had to pay the school fees and buy the school uniform for him because his father did not care about that for even a single second. All he cared about was alcohol and his friends.

Morris didn’t notice that his father didn’t care about him. His mother pretended as if Torus, the father, gave her the money to buy everything for Morris. She never wanted Morris to see his father’s other side of the brain. Whenever Torus was drunk he would shout at his wife for no reason and when she hit back at him he threatened to beat her up. Seeing all of that scared Morris a lot.

Monday morning Morris had to go to his new school, Hendrina Primary School.

“Morris come and eat your breakfast. I don’t want you to be late,” said his mother with a cute voice. Morris was confused because he was wearing tracksuits and not a school uniform, so he thought he wasn’t going to school.

“Mama, where is my uniform?” he asked sounding very worried.

Morris was too mature for his age. His grandma always said he had a mind of an owl. His mother didn’t have enough money and his father did nothing about it.

“You will wear it tomorrow my boy don’t worry, now come and eat,” said his mom going straight to her bedroom.

She was hurting because she didn’t know where was she going get the money to buy Morris the full school uniform. She cried until Morris knocked at her door.

“Mama let’s go. Didn’t you say you don’t want me to be la…” he saw her on the bed with her face in her hands. “Are you ok mama?” he asked concerned.

“Yes big boy,” she faked a smile. “Let’s go,” She locked the house and they went.

At the school gate she pulled him and hugged him.

“Good luck my son. I’m proud of you,” said his mom with a real smile this time. Morris wasn’t happy when he saw all of the children wearing the uniform. He was the only one who wasn’t wearing it.

“Mom, why am I not wearing my uniform?” Morris asked.

“I did not iron it boy, I woke up late. But today when I come back from work I promise that I will iron it my boy. Now go inside, you know your class right?” she asked.

“I think so, goodbye mama,” said Morris sounding disappointed.

On his way to his new classroom he was approached by his new principal, Mr Magaela.

“Young man which grade are you doing?” Mr Magaela asked.

“Morning Sir. My name is Morris Mashiloane and it’s my first day here in this school. I’m so excited to be part of this school and I’m looking forward to making my mark here… Oh sorry for being talkative, Sir, I’m doing Grade 3,” Morris spoke with confidence.

The principal was impressed and amazed because he did not expect such words from an eight year old boy. He insisted to take him to his classroom, just so he could talk more to him.

In the classroom there was no teacher and the learners were making a lot of noise. The principal ordered them to sit down and listen, they all sat down quietly.

“Right… Boys and girls this is Morris Mashiloane, your new classmate. He’s a newcomer so I urge you all to treat him with respect. Do not tease or bully him. If anyone tries to do the don’ts please report him or her to your class teacher. Go and sit down young man,” said the principal.

The class teacher entered and greeted the principal and the learners. Mr Magaela greeted back and went out to his office.

Mrs Shabangu, the teacher, noticed that Morris was not wearing the uniform.

“What is your name?” Mrs Shabangu asked.

“Morri… Mo… Morris Mashiloane,” said Morris.

“Why are you not wearing your uniform?” Mrs Shabangu asked.

“I don’t have it yet Ma’am. My mother said I will wear it tomorrow,” said Morris. “But I’m not sure that’s true because she does not have enough money right now,” he added. The teacher looked shocked, so Morris explained further, “She is a domestic worker and doesn’t earn as much,”

Mrs Shabangu looked at this small boy in amazement. He would make a good motivational speaker when he’s grown, she thought to herself.

“And where is your father?” she asked sounding serious.

“I don’t have a father, he passed away two years ago,” Morris always had something to say, he never ran out of answers.

Mrs Shabangu put her hand on his shoulder and apologised for asking him such a question. She told him to go sit down and she went on with the day’s lessons.

As Morris looked around for a place to sit, a boy sitting alone waved to him. His name was Wonder, and was not sharing a desk with anyone. Morris shared the desk with him and they had a chat until Mrs Shabangu gave them classwork.

When the end of school bell rang, Morris didn’t rush home like the other kids. They were given homework and so he decided to do it in the classroom before going home.

***

Tell us: Why do you think Morris lied about his father being dead?