Elizabeth V Roach Blog

Hello and Welcome. My name is Elizabeth. I have served children in Bolivia, Peru, Panama and the United States. A graduate of Universidad Santa Maria in Arequipa, Peru, I taught on many levels: pre-school to adult Ed; ESL and Biology/Chemistry, but my favorite is still First Grade. Today, I write for children, and do author visits to schools by SKYPE. Thank you for visiting.
© 2013 Elizabeth V Roach All rights reserved. photos and stories

Friday, August 15, 2014

Running Friends



Running Friends

 
       Kamau wanted to be a long distance runner. He lived in the Kenyan Desert near the city of Bura and he practiced running every day.His friend, Abiria, often ran with him. 

      One day, as they were on their way to school, Kamau said, “I saw the new teacher. He looks mean, and he is missing one leg.”

Abiria’s eyes opened wide. His mouth was wide open too. “How will he teach us Physical Education without a leg,” he asked.

Kamau shrugged. “I don’t know, but we are scheduled for his first class.” The bell rang as the two boys stepped into the school yard. They hurried to get in line where the new teacher stood.

“Straighten your line,” the new teacher barked in a loud voice. “March,” he bellowed.

Kamau marched tall and confident. He was the best marcher in the school. Abiria trembled, but tried to keep in step with Kamau.

When they got to the field for exercise, the new teacher, said, “I am your new teacher. You will call me Mr.Johnson. Yes, I have a prosthesis for my right leg. I have learned to use it for many things.  So, don’t try anything.”

After class, Abiria said, “Wow, Kamau! How did he get us to do all those stunts with one leg!”

Kamau made a face. "He scowls at us. Why can’t he be jolly and laugh once in a while.”

“I don’t know,” Abiria said.  “Maybe the leg hurts.”

Next day, Kamau asked the teacher a question about the exercises? “Sir,” he asked. “Why are we doing this exercise first?  The other teacher did this one after we practiced running.”

“I am not the other teacher. We will do it this way,” Mr. Johnson said. Kamau saw the teacher was staring at him and waiting for something. Kamau stood still. The whole class was quiet. Mr Johnson stared at Kamau.

Then, Mr. Johnson barked, “Yes, Sir!”

Kamau mumbled, “Yes, Sir.”

“Speak up,”  Mr. Johnson barked at Kamau.

Kamau shouted, “Yes, Sir.” Mr. Johnson continued the class.

On the way home from school, Kamau complained to his friend. “Abiria, I don’t like that teacher.”

When he reached home, Kamau announced, “Papa, I am not going to Physical Education class.”

“Yes, you are, Kamau,” his father said.

“But I don’t want to go while that new teacher is here. He only has one leg and he’s mean.”  Kamau pouted.

His father said, “Kamau, that is not an intelligent decision. You need to learn the skills of Physical Education.  You don’t hurt the teacher by skipping class. You hurt yourself.”

Kamau said, “I don’t like him!”

“Kamau, everyone likes to be liked.  Like him and you will see he will like you.   Do you know how he lost his leg?”

‘No, and I don’t care,” Kamau said. But next day, Kamau decided to see if what his father said was true.

During recess Kamau walked over to Mr. Johnson who stood alone near the school door. Kamau swallowed and tried to keep his voice steady as he asked, “Sir, How did you lose your leg?”

“It is a long story, young man. I wanted to be a runner. I did not have a teacher and I ran on a highway.  I got hit by a car. Thank you for asking. You are brave to ask,” the teacher said. He smiled at Kamau.

Kamau got all flustered. He said, “Yes, Sir.” And ran back to where Abiria waited for him.

“What happened?” Abiria asked.

“He was nice. He didn’t yell,” Kamau said.

“But what did he SAY?” Abiria asked.

“He got it running. He was running like I do, on the highway,” Kamau said.

Next day, the teacher asked, “Who wants to be a runner?”

Kamau and four other boys raised their hands.  Mr. Johnson said, “Meet me after school.”

After school, Mr. Johnson gave the boys tips on what would help them to run faster. He taught them how to breathe effectively, when to stop, and how much water to drink.

Each day after school, Kamau and his friends ran. They practiced hard. Mr. Johnson selected Kamau and Abiria to run in the District Competition.

They practiced everyday. They could not wait for the day to arrive. “Tomorrow we run,” Abiria said to Kamau on the eve of the District Competition.”

Kamau said, “Yes, and my father is going to take us there.”  Kamau could hardly sleep that night with excitement. In the morning, he jumped up, ready to go to the competition, but his father was very sick. He seemed to have some acute pain in his right side.

Kamau's mother said, "I am sorry, but you must stay here to care for your little brothers. I must take your father to the hospital. “

When Abiria arrived to travel to the District Competition, Kamau told him to go to the school. He could travel to the competition with Mr. Johnson and the other boys.  Abiria was very sad. He did not want to go without Kamau.

Kamau insisted and Abiria went off to school.

Kamau held back his tears until his parents had gone to the hospital. He sent his little brothers out to play. Then, he sat in the doorway watching them. Tears flowed down his cheeks. He did not weep about not going to the competition.  His fear was much deeper.  How could he go on without his father?

When his mother returned, she said his father would stay in the hospital for a while, but he was going to recover.  “Kamau,” his mother said. “Your father has pain, but he seems even sadder that you had to miss the competition because of him.”

Kamau swallowed hard. He said, “Mama,”, “There will be other competitions. Papa is more important that a race.”

Kamau’s mother patted him on the head. “Your father will be happy to hear that you said that.”

Next day, Kamau went to class. Mr. Johnson announced to the whole school that Abiria had done very well in the competition.  “We must practice now for the National Competition,” he said.

Abiria whispered to Kamau, “I would not have won, if you had been there. Practice, you can win the  National." 




Kamau slapped Abiria on the back. "You are a good runner, Abiria, and YOU won, but thank you for being such a good friend, too."

The boys continued to run after school. Mr. Johnson coached them. They won many competitions, and their friendship endured.  When they finished school, Kamau went on to join and win many races. Abiria became a doctor, specializing in Sports Medicine. When Kamau competed in a race, Abiria was always there to cheer for him. Abiria married first. He named his first child Kamau. When Kamau married he named his first child Abiria. Mr Johnson was godfather for both children.
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