This Youth Month, YOU asked primary school pupils to send their stories about their role models or dreams for the future. This is the winning story, written by 10-year-old Hayden from Pretoria.
I watched him play again today.
He moved really slowly, wanting to reach his friends who ran much faster than he did. I still couldn’t understand why he joined those boys.
More especially I couldn’t understand why he’d had to be born the way he was. My mother always said the world would be a much sadder place if we were all the same.
I still wasn’t sure I agreed with that . . . Before I knew it, lunch was over. I moved across the field to my classroom at my own pace, not too quickly nor too slowly.
I didn’t see the use – running off to line up again before anyone else reached the front. Weren’t we all going to the same place?
Mimi, my best friend at school, was insisting I hurry.
She had a funny way of reminding me about something I already knew. But my focus was on the one I heard them call Sammy.
His friends were long gone by now, leaving him to limp to class all on his own.
I’d only ever waved at him. When he’d first started school here he’d seemed unfriendly, but I’d seen him laugh and smile with friends sometimes, even if they’d been laughing at him.
My thoughts quickly stopped when he caught me looking at him. I knew that staring was rude, I’d just wondered how difficult it must be to run and jump having a disability.
“I saw you, you know. ”
I darted back to him, wondering if it really was me he was talking to.
Yep, guilty. “Excuse me?’’ I responded, my voice much lower than I thought it would be.
“I know you were staring at me,” he said in a calm, even voice. “It’s rude to stare, you know.”
A bit embarrassed and unsure what to say, I decided the truth was best. “I was just wondering if you’re in pain at all when you walk really fast.” That response seemed to surprise him.
“Sometimes I am,” he said, suddenly looking shy.
I spent the next five minutes walking with Sammy, talking about everything from the strange and some of the unheard-of.
He insisted he wanted to travel to the moon one day. He had a plan that sounded magical, though he was sure it would happen.
I left the rest for another day as we both approached our classes and separated.
The next three days of school went somewhat more quickly than I’d expected. Maybe it was because they were filled with so many stories and wonders about Sammy’s adventures and where life would take him one day.
His family loved going to all these wonderful places on holiday. Sammy seemed to know a lot about South Africa’s nine provinces.
During his most recent trip he’d hiked up the Drakensberg Mountains. He dared not admit that he’d had help from his parents, though the way he spoke gave me that idea.
Sammy left our school in a month, but I’ll never forget the boy who promised me he’d one day touch the moon despite his disability.
Sammy left me with the dream of one day working with disabled people or even as a physical therapist.
© HAYDEN D GOVENDER 2021
ABOUT THE WRITER
Hayden attends Arcadia Primary School in Pretoria. She loves reading and writing stories. Her favourite author is American writer Sharon Creech and her favourite book so far is Creech’s Granny Torrelli Makes Soup.