I open my eyes just as the first cock begins to crow. It is still dark outside. Yawning and stretching, I get up and hurry to clean the yard before the sun comes out. Then I go to milk the cows and when I’m done, I make tea for breakfast. By then my brother is ready for school in his uniform and I have to rush around getting ready for school. Where did I put my homework again? Oh! There it is, on the table by the ‘kibatari’. I grab my things and rush out of the door. I cannot be late for school again. The last time, I was caned and I do not want that again.
Five o’clock arrives and I have to head back home quickly to help mother with the cows and the dinner. My brother goes with the other boys to cut grass for the cows. I help mother chop the firewood, and milk the cows and when I am done, I join her in the kitchen. “I would like to go to secondary school…” I begin slowly. Mother gives me one of her looks. We have been through this a thousand times. She sighs, “My daughter, you are in standard seven, that is a lot of education. You need to stay home now and help with the chores. Besides, you know we have already been given your dowry…”
I know she does not have a choice; it is the way it has always been. Father talks about it often, “There is not enough time for a girl to be taken to school, she has all the domestic duties to learn.” “It is a waste of money sending a girl to school, because she will get married and leave her family.” “A woman’s place is in the kitchen, what good would a classroom do for her?” It is the way it has always been. After dinner, I wash the dishes, and then head to my room to do my homework by the lowly burning lamp. ‘It needs more oil,’ I think to myself.
As I put out my lamp an hour later, my eyes raw from the dim light, I utter a silent prayer, the same one I repeat each night, “Dear Lord, I want to become a teacher, please let me go to secondary school.”