Things were more formal at secondary school. You needed all the parts of your uniform, and you had to keep pens and pencils ready, and not lost along the way. At my new school, I met all sorts of new people. Many were from rich homes in the middle of the village where all of the big houses are. Only a few of the students came from the edge of the village where I live, from houses with no electricity and with long drop toilets in the backyard.

Most of the kids from my side of the village dropped out of school once they could read, so that they could go and help at the cattle post. Most parents from my side of the village didn’t care much about school. They cared more about everybody getting working so that there would be enough food to eat.

The biggest difference at secondary school was they had Parents’ Day. The headmaster, Mr Nareetsile, warned us about it on the first day of school. He wanted to let us know that if we did something bad at school, our teachers would tell our parents about it on Parents’ Day.

My friend Boitumelo told me more about what happened on this day.

“Your parents must come and sit down and your teachers are going to tell them all about you. Then when they’re through, the teacher gives your parents your grade report. It’s not a big deal.”

Boitumelo was a tall, handsome boy from a family of tall, handsome people. His mother worked at the bank and his father owned a stationery shop in the village. For him, Parents’ Day was not a problem. But for me things were not the same.

I couldn’t see my father in the tidiness of my secondary school. I couldn’t see him greeting my class teacher, Mma Boago, with her salon-fixed hair and tidy pink nails. I couldn’t imagine those two shaking hands – my father’s hands being rough and grease-stained. And what would the Headmaster, the polite and formal Mr Nareetsile, think of my father in his old blue overalls?

The school year progressed and so did I. I joined the softball team and became the star pitcher even though I was only in Grade 8. I had never played the game before. I had only just arrived there, but it seemed like softball was waiting just for me. I hit the ball the first time I came up to bat. I could throw strikes so near the ball zone that even experienced players like Joko, the Grade 10 shortstop, would let them pass.

Most Saturdays we had games, but when we didn’t I would be at the back in the shade of the camelthorn, helping my father. And so it was on that day.


Tell us what you think: Is Kago correct that the teachers at the secondary school would be uncomfortable with his father?