Reply To: Den monthly competition September 2018

John S Alty

A New Dawn

A blood red sun rose through the smoke from a thousand cooking fires, smoke that hung like mist over distant Alexandra township. A typical African morning on the highveld, but this was not a typical day. Daniel and his mother stepped from the bus onto the dusty road and followed the other passengers. Daniel wished his father could be with them and had implored him to leave the hostel at the mine in Witbank so they could all be together for this day of all days but the loss of his attendance bonus would have been intolerable and the journey difficult.
Daniel and his mother joined the end of the line, a line that disappeared off into the distance, returned and then set off again towards the old tin-roofed school house below the kopje. They greeted those ahead of them with warm words. The line shuffled forward, not nervously, not reluctantly but with determination. The impossible was happening.
The sun was high in the cloudless blue sky by the time they reached a copse of thorn trees and Daniel shared with his mother the water he carried with him, then offered it to others who had paused in the shade. The tail of the line was escaping out into the sun and heat again but they knew no-one would jump ahead and they took a few moments respite and then scurried to reunite with the line.
Every now and again singing would break out, spread down the line, and they would join in too, pass the singing along behind them. The line danced and toyi-toyied as it closed on its destination.
Polling Booth, it said in big black letters on a sign hanging over the door to the school house. Daniel and his mother went in and each made a choice and became part of a new beginning. It was April 27, 1994.