“Saheb, while you are waiting for your child, I could be wiping your car, it’s a bit dusty, not for free though.”
“You are very daring for a beggar boy. Why you are not in the class like the other children? Leave my car alone.
“I have a note book in my pocket. Some of my friends teach me to write when they come
out from their classes and waiting for their parents.
John became a bit fascinated by the way the beggar boy talked.
‘OK. Wipe my car. I will pay you. Let me see your note book while you are working”.
John flipped through the pages. The word “Peter” was written, rather drawn, on every corner of the pages. He assumed it as the name of the boy. Every part of the pages was utilized including the cover pages. Simple words like baba, mama, mimi, wewe were repeatedly written. John believed him- he was really trying to learn.
“Your note book does not have any more space to write. Why you are still carrying
it? Throw it away.”
“I will rub with the rubber and space will be created.”
“If you are so much interested in learning, why don’t you go to school?”
“Who will send me to school? Mother does not have money. Father does not like me.”
School bell rang and Chris, John’s son came out.
John asked the beggar boy “You want money or a new note book.”
“Note book” came the reply.
That was the first time John ever heard a beggar not going for money but learning material. He was moved.
The next day when he came to drop his son, he saw the beggar boy surrounded by three four students, he was trying to write something which amused the school boys. When all the children had gone inside, John continued observing the beggar boy.
He was playing football all alone. It was a paperball, torn newspapers rolled together and tied with plastic strings. He was doing the warm up exercises as if a coach was supervising him. His playing tactics, his vigour and his ability impressed John.
“Hey you, Peter! Come here.”
He recognized John. He rushed towards the tree in the corner of the field and came back smiling, with a note book in his hand.
“How did you know my name? Yesterday you called me ma boy. I liked it.”
“No I called you beggar boy. It’s not a good name. You wrote your name in the note book. So I will call you also Peter.”
“No, please call me Bega boy. I still like it. Ma-boy, Bega-boy all are the same. I heard you calling your son ma-boy. I will ask my father also to call me bega-boy. You want to see my book?”
“But why you like the name so much? I told you it’s not a good word.”
He patted several times on his shoulder, showed his biceps to John –“You see? These shoulders can carry the world. I am the Bega boy. (Bega =Shoulder in Swahili)
John realized. “Now that you have told me, I agree with you. You are Bega boy.” They shook hands.
“Suppose I help you to study, are you ready for that?”
“You won’t regret, sir.”
For a 10 years old boy, the answers were too daring. John wanted to know more about him. They went to see his mother, with whom he was staying.
He introduced John to his mother, who was seating under a mango tree. Three children were seated near her; the two younger children had thick, yellowish green mucus filling up the whole nostrils, like high-beam headlights. The cloths they were wearing hardly covered any part of their bodies. Only the mother had clean, beautiful khangas wrapped around her bare chest. She was trying to tie knots on her hair. She smiled at John, adjusted her cloths, and looked at him with an inviting, squint eye with raised eyebrows.
“No mama no, he is not here for you. He wants to send me to school. He only wants to talk to you.” Bega boy was pleading the mother.
She stood up, slapped Peter hard on his face, and pulled his ears. “You hear me? No word of school in this house. Your younger siblings have not put anything in their mouth since yesterday. What have you brought for us today?”
Her actions had told John the family history. He had to do something for Bega boy.
“Listen lady. I am a lawyer. I have come to know that you do not send your children to school. The Government is trying to educate every child. Any parent who opposes or stops the children from going to school, the Govt. sends them to jail. I want to write your name and you wait here till the police come. If you do not like to go to jail, allow Peter to go to school.”
Bega boy started schooling. Four months had passed by. One day the class teacher sent a note to John informing about the absence of Peter from classes for the past one month.
John went to visit his mother, found the room empty. The neighbours told him that they had gone to another village. John lost hope of tracing them.
It was raining with cats and dogs. John was bringing his son to school. Suddenly he saw a figure banging on his car window. John recognized him. he pulled the Bega boy inside his car with his body dripping inside his car. He told John how he escaped from his mother: Went to his father, the step mother drove him out; his two other siblings been taken away by their respective fathers, only one child left with the mother, he had no place to live. He still wanted to study and needed John’s help.
John knew it would be wasting of time if Bega boy continued staying in that town. He arranged for him to go to Dar es Salaam through one of his contacts. For two years he followed up Peter’s progress. When he was satisfied that Peter was well settled in the new environment, he stopped following up and eventually lost contacts.
Nearly 12 years had passed by. John and his family were watching Bongo star search audition. A hefty, muscular young man introduced himself as “Bega Boy”, patted his shoulder, exposed his biceps and charmed the judges with his sweet melodies; The judges were mesmerized ;they forgot to close their mouths, could not wink, one judge was nodding his head with the tune of Bega boy till his hat dropped; the famous singer who was invited by the judges to witness the audition failed to hide his boyish smile and
John ??? ……….He cried with joy.
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