She walked back home with a leap in her step. Her toes, hard, crusted and baked under the heat, kicked and tossed up small clouds of dust along the way, for she had no shoes.
She held three exercise books in her right hand. Her left hand, holding a red lead pencil, was busy, caught up in the complex task of holding her blue hole-riddled skirt from slipping down from her waist, for the skirt had no buttons.
She finally made it home, a journey which included jumping across the one-metre-wide trench of waste and filth, and jumping over saucepans and basins and babies crawling towards inflamed cooking stoves.
She sat in the one-roomed house that was a living room during the day but a bedroom during the night for both her three siblings, and, their parents. She’d been dismissed from school. Again. And this time round, signs were that it would probably be the last time.
She was 12 years old now, soon making 13. Her breasts had started tearing straight through her chest the way shoots germinate from the soil. She would never go back to school again because there was simply no money to pay for the tuition. In fact, her elder brother, now 16, was already out of school. He was now at a video shack watching movies. Later in the day, he would go to town to meet a friend who had promised to enlist him in a gang where he would learn how to make money very quickly.
Three years later, she would be pregnant with her first child after becoming a regular in the slum’s prostitution circuit. She would have followed straight into her mother’s steps. Her brother would be a bullet-scar boasting burglar, furnishing his skills in lock-disabling. He would have followed straight into his father’s footsteps.
Ten years later, she will have three children. Twenty years later, she will have six children, maybe more. But she will still be too poor to take them all to school. And at 12 years old, her first born child would drop out of school. By 16, she would be a mother. And by 32, she too would have six children.
The bullet-scar boasting burglar would graduate into a hard-core criminal, with a CV boasting of high profile murders and kidnappings, in 10 years’ time. He too would have six children in 20 years’ time, or more, but from five mothers, or more. And at 16, his first born son, already dropped out of school, would also join his first gang, and start a life-long career in thievery.
And the cycle of poverty and crime and destitution would continue, unhindered, for this section of the urban poor. While the country's thought process bothered itself on how it would provide the next generation of scientists and innovators, there would absolutely be no need to worry about where the next generation of thieves would come from; because with every pregnancy conceived, a steady supply of robbers and thieves, for generations to come, would be maintained.
And maybe, just maybe, you think poor people should not be allowed to give birth.