Back to School…
Story of a girl who loves to study more and earn more to keep her brother hunger-free.
That night, I wake up clutching my stomach tight… I wonder what is going to happen to me. I am starving.
I’ve not eaten anything. I’ve been hungry. Been hungry for days. It has been two days since I eat anything to satiate my hunger. Weekends are never my favorites.
My friends love it when Saturday arrives. I, however, detest it. For me, weekends mean foodless days. For me, Saturday and Sunday mean hunger-day.
Mommy says, little brother needs more food to grow up. I understand. My tummy, though, is fighting in protest. Its growl is so loud that I fear my little brother will wake up in the noise.
I drink water to fill the space, but it is not doing a fine job. Rubbing cool water on my stomach, I go back to sleep, hoping the next day I can have something to fill the empty stomach.
Monday come. Cheerful smile is back on my face. School means food. Food means, I don’t have to be starved anymore.
Egg. Rice. Sambar. It is enough for me. I don’t need costly foods. I just need something so that I won’t faint as I study.
My English teacher always says that I have a bright future. I trust her. I want to study hard and become wealthy. I want to feed my mom and dad and my little brother. I don’t want him to feel hungry like me.
My Math teacher gives my exam paper. I scored a perfect hundred. She claps for me and gives me a chocolate. I will save it for my brother. He will be happy, he likes chocolate.
The school bell rings. It is over. Time to go back home. I put my books inside the bag and walk back to home, already thinking about the next day lunch break.
Night at home, I look after my crying brother. When he falls asleep, I start doing my homework. I want to be a good girl. If I finish all my works, my teachers will praise me.
That night daddy comes late. He smiles at me and calls for my mom. Mom comes with baby brother.
‘Stop going to school. You have to look after your little brother from tomorrow. Mommy is going to work.’ Daddy says. I look at my mother. She nods her head.
‘I want to study. I want to go to school. Become a doctor. Treats sick people and earn to keep my brother happy and hunger-free.’ I cry back.
Dad sternly nods his head. It is made final. I cry myself to sleep. I have nightmares. My books are caught on fire. I wake up with tears.
It has been two months. I am looking after my brother, but when no one notices, I go back to school and always look through the windows.
My Science Teacher found me one day. She said she will help me. I am still waiting for her to help.
I do Math problems by myself at home. I read English and Science. If only I can go back to school. These days, since mom is working, I can eat, but I miss school. I miss the lunch breaks.
One evening, when mommy and papa is in home, my Science teacher came. She brought a packet of sweets as well.
‘She is a good student. You have to send her back to school. When she grows up, she will be whatever she wants to be and she will look after your family.
It takes lots of convincing, but finally, my papa said okay. I am going to school tomorrow. I pick up my uniform and wash it. I rearrange my books in the bag.
After two months, I am going back to school. I can wear my uniform again. I can do Math, learn English.
My friends are happy to see me. The afternoon, at lunchtime, the lunch lady smiles at me, ‘Why didn’t you come for two months?’ She asks.
‘My daddy wants me to help at home, but now he allowed me to come and study.’ I reply with a smile.
‘That is good. Girls like you need to study. You will grow big and help your family. You don’t have to be a lunch lady like me, cooking in the heat.
I don’t understand, but I nod my head. ‘I will study hard and get a great job. I will help you after I grow up.’
She smiles. Pats my head. ‘Good girl. Today I will give you another egg,’
I happily start eating. I am back to school and I am not hungry anymore.