Tears sting Mrs Munyaimukalanga’s eyes. She hasn’t listened to the part where Malume told them about how brave Lutendo was and how he should be in school. She only hears that he went to the dam. She has warned him about the dangers of playing far from home.
“Those boys know you are not like them, and that you can’t do what they do. They made you do it just to cause you pain. And then one of you got into the dam even though he knew he couldn’t swim well. What about the crocodiles? Everybody here in the village knows that there are crocodiles in the Mayayada and …”
His father interjects: “Malume is right. The boy needs to be in school with other children. You can’t protect him forever. He needs to have a life of his own and learn to be independent. It’s what he has always wanted. You just have to look at him to know that. You have been over-protective and it hasn’t helped him. It has hindered him. He should have started school three years ago. I’m going to talk to the Principal of the school the doctor told us about, for children with special needs …”
“But it’s a boarding school …” his mother implores.
“And we will see him at weekends,” says Mr Munyaimukalanga. “Is that what you truly want, son?”
“Yes,” says Lutendo. “More than anything. I want to learn.”
* * * * *
Lutendo is accepted at Tshidzini Special School which is situated in the Mauluma Mountains in the Nzhelele area. His mother and father drive him there and help him unpack his bags in his dormitory.
“We welcome you to Tshidzini Special School. We are a centre of artistic exploration and academic excellence,” says the Principal, Dr Bardwell Mathambo. “You are going to have a fruitful, enriching, stay here, Lutendo.”
Dr Mathambo assures the two parents that they have brought their son to the right place and that he will soon flourish.
“We thank you, Dr Mathambo,” says Mrs Munyaimukalanga. “Every parent wishes the best for their child, hence we do the same for Lutendo.”
It is hard for her to let go of her son but, after a big hug and making him promise to call her every day, Mrs Munyaimukalanga eventually is persuaded by her husband to get back in the car, and they drive away.
* * * * *
Soon, Lutendo’s best friend at the school is Michael, an eleven-year-old boy who was born totally blind. He is in Grade Five. He can read Braille and loves stories and poetry.
“You know what, Lutendo?” Michael says one afternoon when they are sitting under the shade of a mufula tree. “Mrs Muvhango, the counsellor, told us that we must not fear to dream big. I want to be a writer and I so believe that I will write good stories which people will enjoy reading.”
“I will be your first reader once I have properly learned reading and writing,” Lutendo answers. “I want to learn how to read Braille too. I want to know what it feels like. Will you teach me?”
“Why not?” says Michael.
When the term ends, Lutendo goes home to spend the long holidays with his parents. They are amazed to see where Lutendo’s passion has led him. He draws and paints all the time, using his toes like fingers. He sits on the floor and holds the brush between his toes and dips it into the paint and water. His paintings amaze them with their vivid colours. He paints the dam and the trees and rocks and the children playing in the street.
One afternoon Precious comes to visit and she too is amazed when he paints a picture of her. She loves it. They sit and talk for hours. He tells her about the activities which he is involved in at the school: he plays volleyball, he illustrates, he reads.
“I passed my Grade,” he tells her proudly.
“I also passed,” she says, hugging him.
Tell us: What do you think about a blind person wanting to be a writer? Is it an impossible, or a realistic, goal? Why or why not?