Six years pass and Lutendo turns fifteen. He has passed every Grade and his parents couldn’t be prouder. Beating the odds, he has excelled, drawing with his right foot – holding the pen or pencil or brush between his toes. For his written work, he is allocated a scribe, who is a person who writes what he dictates.
Lutendo has created a name for himself in the Department of Education’s local circuit, winning prize after a prize for his drawings and paintings.
In the dormitory Michael reads his poems to him.
“Your poems are good,” Lutendo tells him. “I love the way you express your feelings.”
Michael smiles and nods. “I am happy to hear that,” he responds. “I also love the work you are doing. You draw very excellent pictures.”
“But, friend, how do you know that?” Lutendo asks.
Michael laughs. “You’ve won so many prizes, which just goes to prove …” he says.
“Thanks, Michael. You always motivate me,” Lutendo laughs too and gives him a hug.
At the end of the first term in Grade 9 the Principal announces a provincial art competition which will take place immediately after school starts again. It is open to all schools in the province, not just special schools.
* * * * *
During the holiday Lutendo and Precious spend time together. One afternoon he asks her to go walking with him, and soon they are standing on the edge of the Mayayada Dam. Lutendo is staring at the water, in silence.
“What are you thinking,” Precious asks. “You just brought me along here so I can watch you watch the still, muddy water?”
He doesn’t answer. He is staring at the branches of the dead tree that still stands in the dam.
He finally speaks. “Now we can go home. I’ve decided something.”
Precious shakes her head. “So you bring me here, stare at the water and take me home,” she says, then they both laugh. They walk home, talking about other things, which only good friends will talk about.
When the school holidays finally come to an end, Lutendo has finished his huge painting for the competition. Precious watches him make the final brush strokes.
The painting is amazing: A boy is clinging to the branch of the dry tree in Mayayada Dam. He is screaming, and his face is contorted in fear and pain. A man is swimming towards the boy, coming to rescue him.
Mr Munyaimukalanga, Mrs Munyaimukalanga and Precious have sung their praises for the painting.
“I am so proud of you, son,” his father says. “You are our pride here in the home. Go out there and represent the Munyaimukalanga family well.”
Two weeks after Lutendo submits his painting to the competition the Principal brings him good news.
“The District chose your painting,” he says. “It is among the five which will be sent to the Education Department Head Offices for the provincial selection.”
“Really?!” Lutendo shouts in joy.
“But they will only choose one as a finalist,” says the Principal cautiously. “So, it’s only advisable that for now you do not get overexcited – because anything can happen.”
Tell us what you think: Why did Lutendo re-visit the dam? Is the rescue a good topic for a dramatic painting? Why/why not?