by Nnenna Josakweker
The lunch for people like us was served poorly. Sometimes we found dead bugs in them. But what can you do if that’s all you’ve got? Even at home, it’s hard to find enough. Loud, satisfied cracking of spoons on plates could be heard from the other room: The Whites.
“How do you like the food?” asked Martin.
“Ehh…it’s the same; tasteless as always,” I replied.
“Wanna go grab something from the joint? I’ve got some pennies on me,” added Martin.
“Uhm…I don’t think that’s a good idea. Principal Richman won’t let us go.”
“Who said so? If dem’ white folks can have access to the gates, then so should we!”
“Look here Mr King, Principal over there was brave enough or should I say, nice enough to let us into his school. I say we don’t push it or we’ll get torn to shreds.”
“Yeah…but do you just want us to starve?”
“And do u want us to become unimpeded, public punching bags?”
(Sighs) “I guess not.”
“Wait…do you hear that?”
“Quick grab your bag! Come on, follow me!”
The school was in a state of chaos. Children were screaming, “HIT HIM! HIT HIM!” An argument was going on.
“You stupid Negro! What makes you think you can leave your room and come and invade ours?!” screamed the white kid as he pushed Daniel.
“It’s none of your business where I am going to. Now, please excuse me!” Daniel shouted back. He was a year younger than Martin and I and a lot more courageous.
“Check this out,” the white kid said to his friends. “Aye Lad, I heard your mum’s a cleaner and she wipes her nose on her shirt. The same shirt she uses to clean the dishes.”
“What did you say?! I won’t have you insult my mum. She is strong and can take care of me and my siblings. So don’t run your mouth you savage!” shot back Daniel.
The room erupted with laughter in unison with the words, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
“What did he think he was doing?!” exclaimed Martin
“I don’t know!” I shot back. “Be quite for a minute.”
“You know what?! I am going there!”
“What? Are you crazy? Without me?!”
“It doesn’t matter with or without you. Besides you’re my best friend and I don’t want you to get hurt; just stay here and watch out for any sign of a teacher”
“Are you nuts?! This is risky! And you can’t go alone! There are about 4 whites picking on him, and just two of you! No I ain’t gonna let that happen!”
“HIT HIM! HIT HIM!” the lyrics never seemed to fade.
“What’s going on here?!” bellowed a teacher.
“This hunger-driven peasant called me a whitey,” accused the white kid.
(Gasped) “I did not! Ma’am, I only wanted to go to the principal’s office but then these guys stopped me,” pleaded Daniel.
“What?! You called him that?! How dare you? Now to the principal’s office with me!” snapped the teacher.
“I didn’t do anything! I swear on my life!” sobbed Daniel. Someone snickered under his breath.
“Aren’t so tough now are you?!” Daniel was taken to the principal’s office and it was sure that he was going to be severely punished.
“I don’t like this one bit!” said Martin.
“Well neither do I,” I said as I bit hard into my nail, a habit I learnt when I was in third grade.
“This racial discrimination is not going to continue much longer!”
“Wait what? In case you haven’t noticed, things will always remain like this; with them ‘superior’ and us ‘inferior.’ Unless somebody opens their eyes and shows them that there ain’t much difference between us.”
“Yeah Pete, and you know what? That person is going to be Me,” said Martin confidently.
“Yeah right! What difference would you make? You are just another ‘low class Negro,’ like the rest of us,” I commented sarcastically.
“Well, I am fed up with all of this. You cannot just give up hope or assume what you want. Dreaming is believing. You know, I have a dream, that one day, I am going to prove you wrong. I’ll stand before all our black brothers, sisters, mothers, uncles and so on and beat on my chest, saying these same words, ‘Our freedom is close. Not long now my people!’ said Martin as he stood on a rock with an amused look. “I really want to be hopeful and on that day, I’ll learn all the hymns in the hymn book and I’ll join the choir for Sunday mass!”
“I’m being serious. You know, that’s the thing….You can’t even sing! Now that’ll be fun to watch! Oh snap! We are two minutes late for the lesson.”
“What? Oh no! Let’s go! I hope there’ll be enough chairs for the both of us.”