|A Short Story for Young Readers - Our Escape from School Discovered (Evangeline Ledi Barongo, 1996, 28 p.)|
1. Every morning my brother Olum and I walk to our school - The Bat Valley Primary School. We always pass by a big old building which has a sign-post reading, "Kampala Children's Library ." Our teacher told us that this is one of the public libraries under the Uganda Public Libraries Board. On our way back in the evenings, we see the same things like cars, people, houses and the same big library buildings. One day at lunch time, Olum and I were with our two friends, Mutyaba and Kiiza talking about the things we see every- day. This is because our Class Teacher had asked every child to tell her the things we remember seeing every day when going from home to school and back.
2. told my friends that I wanted to tell the teacher about the big old building which had a sign-post in front of it. But because I was not quite sure, I just simply said that everyday we see people, roads, cars, houses and buildings, many of these are big and old.
3. One girl said. "We see Libraries and books." I asked Mutyaba and Kiiza, "What are Libraries?" They did not know too. But Kiiza promised to ask his father when he returns from his office.
Mutyaba asked Kiiza where his Daddy's office is. But without waiting for an answer from Kiiza, Mutyaba informed us that his mother works in the Bank of Uganda and that is where her office is.
He has been in his mother's office many times, especially when he used to come to school for half-day classes - only in the mornings. In the afternoons he had to stay with his mother in the office until evening when she would return home.
4. Me, I told them that our mother works in the market in Katimba and father works at night as a watchman. We do not know where his office is. Only mummy knows it.
Kiiza told us that his daddy works at the Uganda Revenue Authority at Nakawa, but he has never gone there. His big sister has just finished her secondary school. She knows where daddy's office is. She went there once with daddy to return books that she had borrowed from a friend.
He told us how the sister was able to read two books within a day and how she now knows a lot of things. So, we requested him to ask his sister the meaning of the word library.
Kiiza told us that he was going to ask his father rather than his sister because the sister did not like to answer his questions.
5. "Hey! Look! Those girls are playing Netball!" Kiiza shouted.
"They are falling down so many times!"
We laughed a lot but soon the bell for going back to classrooms rang.
All of us rushed to our lines to enter into our classes.
6. After lessons I went to Olum as usual so that we could go back home. We had to pass through market because our mother had to assist us to cross Namirembe Road which was very busy with cars and people. Our father has always warned us not to cross Namirembe Road without either mummy or him.
After we had just passed the old building, we met Uncle Koruhenda. He bought a sweet for each of us from a vendor seated on the street pavement and he sent greetings to mummy.
As soon as we reached the market I told mummy about Uncle Koruhenda and how he had given us sweets and sent her greetings.
Mother was not happy about uncle buying sweets for us from the street. She had warned us not to accept anything for eating from anybody we meet.
But she had not told us the reason. I thought may be it is because if we kept on eating sweets we could lose our teeth.
I remember the nurse telling us in class when she was teaching us Hygiene about the danger sweets can cause to our teeth.
7. Mother closed for the day and we all went home. At home we had to finish our home-work before taking a birth.
I had a problem with my brother almost every evening because he did not like to do his school homework quickly. I had to show him how to do it.
After supper we prayed with mummy then we went to bed.
8. As soon as we woke up we got ready to go to school. As we walked to school we passed the old building again. I stopped to read the signpost. I could read the word "Children" but I could not read the rest. From all the words on the sign post, my brother Olum could only read the letters P and O which he said indicated a Post Office address.
We left in a hurry because the last warning school-bell had just rang. I did not have a chance to see Mutyaba and Kiiza; they had already gone to their classes.
At break time we played a little outside in the school compound. But being so many children and with break time being always short, I did not have a chance to meet Mutyaba and Kiiza again.
Then at lunch time, I saw Mutyaba with his friend Gyagenda looking for Kiiza and I.
Unfortunately, Kiiza had not come to school. We kept looking for him until the bell calling us to begin afternoon classes rang.
9. NEXT DAY: Kiiza came to school today. He told us he had not come to school yesterday because he was sick. His mother took him to the Doctor and the Nurse treated him. He was given an injection.
Even this morning he was given one before coming to school. He told us about the tricks which the nurse played on him before giving him the injection.
Because he had not been well, he forgot to ask his father about the meaning of the word "Library" as he had promised. He said he was going to do it over the weekend and let us know on Monday.
10. MONDAY: A new week and the End of Term Examination Week.
We now talk about the coming tests. No one knew the subject we were going to start with.
We were told on Friday that we should come with good pens and rulers to do our tests.
During lunch time everybody read their lesson notes. We asked each other questions before going back to classrooms for the afternoon tests.
11. The tests took two days only. When we reported to school on Wednesday, the headmaster told us to go back home and return to school the following week for collecting our reports.
On my way home I saw three children walking to the big old building but they were from a different school
As I stood there, I saw a man coming out of the building with a boy. The boy was holding some books. He was wearing the same uniform as mine. Still I did not ask. I went away.
12. While returning to school the following week to collect Olum's report and mine. I saw many children in the compound of the old building playing around. I thought they were there for coaching. I went there to find out and I discovered that the place was a library with many children books.
The children who were playing in the compound went there to read the books and not for coaching.
I looked around and saw many interesting books. I wanted to sit down and read at least a book which had a story about different animals found in Africa but I remembered that I was on my way to school to collect the reports.
I had to leave the library but I said to myself that I had to find a way of coming back to this place.
13. After collecting the reports, I went straight to my mother. Mother was happy to see that I had done well (because the report was good). Then I asked her to allow me and Olum to go to the library everyday during the holidays instead of staying at home.
She refused because she thought I had done well in class and there was no need to go to the library. She told me to stay at home and read the text books I had.
14. I did not forget the Animal Books and others I saw. The · next day when mother went to her work in the market, I escaped from home with my brother Olum to the library.
Olum found many children of his age playing with different toys. He got excited and joined them.
I went straight to read and look at pictures which were of interest. Some of the books I looked at were on the subjects we read at school, such as English, History, Mathematics and Health.
Even books of Olum's standard like those on the Alphabet and Numbers were there.
The game between Olum and his new friends became very interesting. So he did not want to go back home but I forced him.
The holiday took three weeks and within these three weeks we escaped many times more but our father was always at home during the day.
15. The third term started. Olum and I began straight away on the first day. Mutyaba, too. At lunch time Mutyaba and I escaped from school to go to the library.
I had earlier on told Mutyaba about how I had found out the meaning of the word Library. I had explained to him that the big building we always passed by on our way to school, was a Library For Children.
There were also very many interesting books and games to play.
16. The next day: Kiiza also started today. We told him about the library. We planned to escape at lunch time, and we did. When we were there three of us, we could read this and that without finishing a particular book.
This is because all of us wanted to tell each another what we had read and had to stop reading to listen to each other. Secondly, we had to run back to school before the afternoon classes began. We escaped from school to the library during lunch time three times.
17. On Thursday we planned to escape to the Library again as soon as we reached school. We had to leave Olum behind. I did not want to go with him anymore because I had got my right age children with whom I could discuss together about what we had read.
After reading, we also had a chance to play games like Snakes and Ladders, Ludo and even Scrabble.
My best game was Snakes and Ladders. Mutyaba and Kiiza taught me how to play Scrabble.
18. When the Librarian saw us in the library so early in the morning, he asked us why we were not in school? My friends said that we had not paid school fees and had been sent home. This was a lie. The Librarian allowed us in. This time we were careful not to disturb the Librarian in case he sent us away. We stayed a whole day until nearly the school closing time.
We went back to school, because I had to collect Olum. And Mutyaba had to be collected by his father from school, too. Mutyaba lived nearly four kilometers away.
19. On the last day of the school, we again escaped to the Library as we had planned. Around ten o'clock in the morning, Kiiza's class teacher came to the Library.
We wanted to run away from the library so that the teacher could not see us. But he had already seen us. He asked the Librarian why we were there but not in school at that time?
The Librarian repeated what we told him earlier: "We were not in school because we had not paid the fees."
The teacher called us and asked us when we were sent away. This is because he had not heard of it.
No one could answer him. He then ordered us to go back to school with him.
20. When we reached school the Teacher took us straight to the Headmaster's office.
He was a huge, tall, strong man always wearing a jacket and glasses. We all feared to be sent to his office especially when one had made a mistake.
The Headmaster asked us to tell him ourselves what we had done. I wanted to talk first but knowing the mistake I had done I started shaking.
Then Kiiza told him that Mutyaba and I were the ones who took him to the library. The Headmaster asked me how I went to the Library instead of being in class? I told him the whole story from the beginning he asked Mutyaba, "Why did you agree to go with him to the library at the wrong time?"
He did not answer but only asked to be forgiven.
21. The Teacher then explained to the Headmaster how he was surprised to find us in the library. He had marked the Attendance Register the previous day and that morning and Kiiza was absent.
With a smile the headmaster asked the teacher what punishment should be given to us. The Teacher said we should be warned.
He also said that a letter should be sent to all parents to inform them that there was in town a children's library which had good books, games and toys.
The letter should encourage parents to take their children to the children's library every Saturday during school time and any day during the holidays.
He said, "This will stop children escaping from the school on their own to go to the library."
22. The Headmaster warned us seriously and sent us back to our different classes. When I went to my classroom, my Teacher asked me to tell the whole class where I had been for the past two days. I repeated the whole story and asked them to forgive me.
Before I finished my story my classmates started laughing at me, but the Teacher stopped them.
He asked them to listen to me carefully so that they would not make the same mistake I had made.
A few days later we were all given letters to give to our parents asking them to allow their children to visit the library.
It was I who had first found out that the big old building was a library which was keeping very useful books for children.
From that time, many more children started using the Kampala Children's Library.
When the Librarian found out that I had made her library to be well known and liked by the children of my school, she thanked me very much and gave me a present.