My Hustle

Chapter 6

Alexis knew that dinner wouldn be as fancy as it was at her house where they would have at least five dishes served plus some soups in one meal but here was worse than she thought. She remembered that her parents had bought some groceries for Humba just days ago but before they brought them like they did every week, they died. Alas, everything went down the drain.

The girl was starting to realize that everything in Humbas house was eaten with peanuts or peanut butter. At lunch they had eaten rice in peanut butter and with a strange tea that also had peanut butter. It almost made her puke and now for dinner Katy had prepared sadza with green vegetables in peanut butter. Without any complaints Alexis ate as much as she could and hoped that maybe the next day the meals will be a bit different plus she had no energy to complain as she did not have much of an appetite anyway.

As everyone sat in the living room with the TV on Humba turned to Kudzai and asked, ”What did the headmaster say? Will he take my children at the school? ”

”Yes, Humba. Their results are so good he was impressed. He even suggested that Alexis get into a form two class because their syllabus was far ahead. ” He said, ”Group A school advantage, baba. Uncle loved that the children were in an A school and were doing so well in it too. ”

”So its guaranteed? ” for the first time in days Humba genuinely looked happy.

”As soon as the fees are paid on Monday, they will have to go to see him and then they will be appointed to their classes. ” He spoke as he nodded, ”The children are intelligent, they will do well. ”

He smiled tears shining in eyes, ”Thank you so much, my child. ”

”No need for thanks. Their results alone helped them. We only did a small part. ”

Katy nodded, ”Yes, Humba. But one thing, Alexis has to shave her head. ” She looked worried as she spoke and seeing he girls reaction she knew immediately she was right in worrying.

Alexis head jerked up to look at her, ”What? What kind of school is that? ” although she never spoke much she felt the words rushing in her mouth.

Katy got up from where she was sitting and went to sit next to the thirteen year old, ”My dear. Its a school rule. Everyone has to keep short hair. ” She said softly hoping shed understand.

”No way! I won go to that school! ” She screamed trying to break free from Katys hold but her hold on her was firm enough to not let her escape.

Tinaye worriedly looked at the girl who was on the verge of breaking down in tears. In a pampering voice he said, ”Aly, calm down. Let aunt explain. ”

In a motherly soft voice Katy asked, ”So what will you do then, my child? ”

”Ill go back to my school without weird rules. ” She spoke stubbornly, trying to break free but Katy did not let her go. After dealing with her stubborn son she now knew how to deal with most children, though with Alexis she understood she felt a lot of pain rather than stubbornness in this situation. Changing too many things was difficult for any child her age.

”Its too expensive, dear. Your sekuru can afford that. ” She said, ”And, my child, listen to me, your sekuru is old and can not work well anymore except go to the pieces of land he farms. Your school is too expensive for him to continue paying for it. ”

”Why do I have to shave my hair though? ” she cried looking at all the elders in the room when she added, ”Is it a crime that my parents are dead? ” She asked innocently feeling like everything was being slowly taken away from her, ”Why are they punishing me? ”

Everyone in the house just felt heartbroken with the girls innocent questioning and the confusion that was clear on her face.

”It is not a punishment. Its a rule that everyone at school follows. ” Katy said softly, ”Please, my child. Help us help you with this. Hair will grow again. ”

She shook her head. This was the same hair her mother combed and braided so nicely before she left days ago when she didn return. ”What kind of rule is that? Why do I have to lose so much all at once, aunt? ” with teary eyes the hung girl looked up at the woman, ”Why me of all the people? Why do I have to be the one chosen to lose it all? ”

”You will be fine. Your uncle has a shaving machine and he will leave your hair a bit longer. He is the one who shaves Tadiwa and your grandfather also. ”

”But… ” she broke off feeling breathless because of the hiccups she had while crying.

”Come on, dear. Please comply. ” Said Katy, ”Come… ” she gently pulled her closer, ”Hair will how again but whats most important is your education. Your parents would surely want you to go to school even though they
e no longer around. Please don let them worry. Where ever they are, they must be seeing and worrying about you. ”

”But why do I have to change schools? Its not fair. ” her voice sounded thinner and even more sad, ”Its really not fair aunt. ”

”I know, my dear. You believe in God, don you? ” Katy asked and she nodded, ”Good, now dear, listen, do you know that everything that the Almighty does is for a reason? And everything He allows to happen is what has to happen. Your life may change and you may feel youve lost to much in just a short time but there is one thing you can never lose, its Him. He will always be with you and youll always have his love no matter what. ”

”But why me? ”

Katy gently patted her head, ”Only God knows the answer to that. Just keep trusting him, my child. Im here, Tinaye is here, your uncle, Tadiwa and Humba are also here. Are we all too few for you? ” she asked and the child shook her head, ”Good, now be a good girl and have your hair shaven so that youll be representable to the headmaster. Humba will also stop worrying. Is that ok? ”

Alexis nodded tears flowing down her cheeks. The whole process of her hair being shaven, she was crying so hard that her ribs hurt. She just wanted her parents who never would have let her cry even of drop of tear. She was after all their pampered only child.

Looking in the mirror afterward was strange. She never looked like this. She was used to her long hair that fell on her back and shoulders. This look was different and she felt like crying just looking at it.

Afterward Humba took her to a house where they sold second hand clothes. When the sack was bought out for them, the old man took time trying to find the shirts he was looking for.

”We need a few sky blue shirts, do you have some? ” He finally asked after having exhausted the sack and found nothing, ”Ones suitable for school. ”

”Oh yes, but we only have one shirt left. ” Said the sales woman before she went inside and took the shirt.

When handed to him, Humba looked at it for a long time, ”But its too big. Don you have another? ”

”No, Humba, Im sorry thats the only one left. ”

”I have three blue shirts, Sekuru. I can give Aly two of them. ” said Tinaye, generous as always.

”Thank you, child. I will get this one for you so that each of you have two shirts. ” The old man smiled then turned back to the woman and negotiated the price and the means of payment on credit. Later he said, ”Lets go, Jenas daughter used to go to the same school years ago and his wife said she had the skirts ready. The girl had a bigger body than yours but itll fit. ” He could see Alexis was trying her best to look happy though that was all it was, trying.

*

The first day at a new school was quite like a new experience for Alexis. She wore an oversized uniform that had large hips and almost touched her ankles. She had never worn anything oversized before. Tinayes shirts were large. The sleeves were too long that they covered her hands so she had to fold them upward nicely so that she would not look as messy as she felt.

The school was smaller and obviously not as nice as their previous school. Everything was just different. The only thing that was familiar to them was being able to easily impress the headmaster because even at their old school they had managed to do that in more ways than one. He gave them both the best classes of their grades which he hadn taken him much time to decide on.

Tinaye was put in the same class as Tadiwa and Alexis was given a form two class although she was in form one previously because she had excelled in her entry exam. Although Tinaye had excelled he couldn write his finals this year because the examination registration had long been closed in the first term and now it was three weeks after the beginning of the third term. A bit disappointing for the headmaster since he had so much faith in his potential.

No doubt Alexis hated everything about her new life though. From her new short hair look that she kept staring at in her fancy gold coated mirror when she was alone. Her new school that she kept looking around at with those judgmental eyes of hers. The old school furniture that she seemed disgusted to sit on because it looked dirty and all the new rules that she was slowly being familiarized with Tadiwa bit by bit. Most of all was the break time snack that her grandfather had packed for her in a plastic, the roasted nuts in spices that he had prepared last night after leaving Jenas place.

Alexis sat with the boys at break time and as they ate, she refused to even taste her own despite Tinayes impressed comments on the unique taste. She wanted something better- something to make her feel like she could get used to her new life but it was almost impossible. All the time she was finding herself wishing that her parents who understood her were here and wondering why they are gone making her heart cry even as she sat with others.

At lunchtime she was so weak and hungry after having eaten just about three tablespoons of porridge since morning. She was craving her favourite minced beef sandwich that only her mother could make the way she liked. But since she was no more she didn feel like eating anything. She blinked away the tears that formed in her eyes as she walked to Tadiwa and Tinayes classroom with her eyes cast downward.

As she got there the boys were already walking out of their classroom with their books in hand.

”Aly, you
e ready to go home? ” Tinaye asked smiling at her.

That was the only familiar thing to her, seeing Tinaye at the same school, ”Yea I guess. ” She sighed, ”I will just have to choose my extra curricular activity after lunch. ”

”But we have to go to the farm with sekuru. The three of us won be doing after school activities. ” It was Tadiwa who told her, repeating almost word for word exactly what he had told Tinaye.

”No? But Tinaye and I were in music club. Tinaye was a lead singer and I was writing the song for the competition. ” She said, ”Why do we have to go to the farm in time for school? ” she complained looking a bit irritated and she was not even trying to hide her feelings from them.

”Alex, listen, sekuru is old and he needs all our help. And besides that we need food to eat and we heavily depend on our small portions of land because joined together they can make us have enough food for more than two to three years. ” Said Tadiwa.

Alexis rolled her eyes then let out a sound that showed disapproval, ”And school? Just come to learn for finals? What of socializing? Mom and dad would never have accepted this. ” She complained, ”My parents left me enough money for us and sekuru. ” She argued.

Tadiwa nodded, ”OK then, Lexi. Lets agree to this. Until your money comes we will all help sekuru out. ” He said, ”After the farm we will do our three people club when we will play songs like you want. You two can even teach me. ”

”We left our grand piano at home. Thats what I usually use to compose. ” She said, ”School is so much better there is everything we need. ”

Tadiwa laughed briefly, ”If you are talking about this school then home is better. We don even own the smallest guitar or keyboard here. The music club is choir not your fancy type of music you
e thinking. ”

Alexis stared for a while looking like she was thinking hard. Surely Tadiwa wouldn lie because looking at the school it did look like it was beyond poor. She was even surprised that they had enough furniture though it was old and worn out. ”It won be the same though. ” It came out without her planning it.

She was thinking out loud but it seemed Tadiwa had a come back for it. He said, ”I know because you won be playing music for competition. You will be playing for the love of it. ”

Alexis sighed softly looking defeated. Honestly she did not have much energy to argue in the first place. ”Ok then. Just until my money gets here because as soon as my aunts and uncles leave my house I am taking sekuru and everyone there and we will go back to our school. ” She said confidently and both Tadiwa and Tinaye detected a hint of pride, ”Well take care of mom and dads things there. ”

Tadiwa nodded as he extended his hand, ”Ok, Alex. We have a deal. ”

Alexis took his hand in a handshake, ”Ok then. ”

”Not just going but also doing our best. ” Tinaye reminded her but she rolled her eyes.

”I got that, Tinaye. And whats the point of doing anything if you aren doing your best? ” she said then walked away from them and the three of them walked less than ten minutes home.

At home Humba already had four hoes outside the house. Alexis hated it but she had nothing to stay behind for and though Tinaye seemed to have accepted everything she knew he was just doing it because he had no choice in the matter. He sure felt like he had to thank Humba for taking him in so as long as she was with him she gave herself the duty of taking care of him and make him feel more comfortable.

After changing out of their uniforms Humba served them some food, sadza and vegetables in peanut butter. When she saw it Alexis wanted to scream. Not a single difference from last nights meal and she hated that meal too.

It was getting frustrating.

After noticing the way she was looking at the food, the old man decided to ask, ”Is something wrong, my child? ”

”I don want it. Isn there something else I can eat? ” Alexis complained proudly with bloodshot eyes.

It took him guts to ask, ”Like what? ” because he knew she could say some fancy meal he would never afford.

”Don you think we eat the same food here? Does everything has to have peanuts in them? Porridge with the peanut butter, sadza with vegetables in peanut butter, yesterday afternoon we ate rice in peanut butter! Don you ever get bored with it? ”

Tinaye stopped eating and stared at Alexis and told her patiently, ”Aly, please don talk to grandpa like that. ”

”No its too much, Tinaye. Too, too much. ” She screamed, ”I hate it here. I wish my parents never died. ” She cried, ”How many things have to change? No parents, not my old school, no hair, no good food…no music either! Why are we suffering so much? Why didn you work hard just like my mommy and daddy did? We wouldn be suffering like this if you had. ”

Humbas eyes watered feeling guilty. It was his children that were taking over her wealth and if not she wouldn be suffering like this. But he sure understood where the girl was coming from but just one thing though, he wished she understood the situation. With his eyes cast down he said, ”I am sorry, my dear. Im not as rich as your parents were. ”

”Just tell your children to leave my house so that we can go there, grandpa. Please. ” She covered the food with an empty plate then stomped out of the house. Humba followed and saw her putting some maize in a cup.

”What are you doing? ” he asked.

”Just want to roast these, they are the only thing that tastes better with peanuts. ” She told him and surprisingly her tone had completely changed from minutes ago. It was much more normal but even from a distance he could see tears in her eyes and understood that her outburst was just the pain of loss speaking.

”Ok then. ” The old man secretly smiled. Raymond had been just the same. He loved roasted maize mixed with roasted peanuts when he left his big house years ago too after his parents died and he was sure that the girl would come around sooner or later.

Only problem was that the house she was waiting to go to already had a new owner. The best they could hope for was for his sons to send Alexis a part of her parents money every month otherwise her dreams would be completely shattered and this life she hated so much would become hers. Even worse, her parents had not left a will so they didn have a strong enough weapon in their favour either. Helping her get used to this life was the best he could do.

********

Hi, thanks for reading My Hustle. Please let me know what you think❤❤❤

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