I think I should give you an idea of who the new LOCAL lads are who attend our school now. They are new this school year, and I’m sure over the course of the year I (we) will get to know them much better.
Six of the new lads are attending due to the Promise of Hope Scholarship Fund, and the others are not, but if they or their family in any way struggle to meet any of the tuition or have other financial problems, they have the help of the scholarship fund to fall back on.
NEW LOCAL LADS – 2012–13 School Year:
7th Form TRANSIT – Nico and Kees
7th Form BOARDING – Daan
8th Form TRANSIT – Theo, Davy, Bert
8th Form BOARDING – Sander, Vance
9th Form BOARDING – Gerrit
USING SCHOLARSHIP FUND – Theo, Kees, Daan, Sander, Vance, Gerrit
Hopefully this gives you a better idea of who these lads are, so when I mention them, you can basically associate who is who.
“Let’s just get five whistles, Ben.” I said, taking one more from the box at the Sporting Store. “I’d rather be safe than sorry if someone also wants one and I don’t have an extra.”
“It will surely sound like a circus tent if they all blow at the same time, Love.” Ben joked, causing us both to laugh. “But it can only help.”
“My guess is the other 8th Formers, Davy and Bert won’t want one.” I said, walking to the counter to pay the clerk.
“Your guess is probably right, Amar, but I still think it is a brilliant idea!”
“I’m just seeking solutions, Ben, and for now, it’s an inexpensive warning system for the thugs!” I winked at Ben as we left the store.
This was the day Ben and I teamed up to pay a visit to the neighbourhood where Theo and Kees lived. It would be a challenge for us, but I was bound and determined to seek as many solutions as possible and find the one that suited our two new sceptical lads the best.
It was also a grand help having Ben by my side, as it is always heart-warming to me to have my main protector with me.
According to Theo, this was also the same neighbourhood those two thugs lived in, since it was in the same proximity of their school (also Theo and Kees’ old school, as well as Carel’s).
The other benefit was that Ben and I had asked Carel to meet up with us, since he too grew up in this same neighbourhood and well knew his way around – as well as knowing the “ropes” and how to deal with the people who lived here.
To me, it was like Déjà vu all over again since I had visited Carel last year, but I know to Carel, it was both remembering his childhood growing up here, and at the same time, feeling a bit of nostalgia coming back. He was even pleased that some of the tenants and folk mingling and lounging about recognized him! (Actually, Ben and I were well glad also!)
We assumed Kees was visiting, or had even spent the night, since there was a small, rusted bike parked at the lower base of the damp concrete steps leading down to Theo’s home.
It turned out; Theo lived in a basement apartment. A tiny hole in the ground with only one bedroom – a series of nailed-together boards and rough plywood haphazardly put together for a bit of privacy for Theo’s father.
Theo’s “area” was a ragged couch with a rumpled sheet, a blanket, and two stained, dirty pillows in the opposite corner next to the open kitchenette. It was well obvious the couch was a shared bed with Kees stayed the night. A clothesline hanging from two walls was his only privacy when he pulled the blanket closed. He had a small table at the end of the couch where it was obvious he did his studies, and a tiny bookshelf with a handful of books – two Harry Potter books, a Bible, and pleasing to me, a set of four worn books by Charles Dickens!
Kees was indeed there, but we were even MORE pleased that the two lads were quite glad to see the three of us, and welcomed us with hugs and smiles!
Theo and Kees were the only ones in the dark, dingy apartment when we arrived, and the two were busy frying and grilling toast and a slice of smoked fish with one scrambled egg. The pungent smell stung our nostrils as we walked in, but it mellowed a bit as Kees brewed a small metal pot of thick, black coffee on the two burner stove.
“My father works night shifts, and he will be home and expecting his breakfast.” Theo explained. “He’ll eat quickly, sip his bitter coffee and then move on to his bedroom and sleep most of the day.”
Kees smiled and nodded in agreement to the routine of his chum’s father. “But he will give us both a hug and thank us for his breakfast before he does.” Kees shrugged, blushing.
As the breakfast warmed in the small oven below the stovetop, I explained as best I could what I felt would be the outcome of the decision of the Dean Master and the School Board as to the fate of whether Theo and Kees would be boarding lads, or remain transit lads.
They seemed to accept either, although I think Kees was more disappointed that he possibly wouldn’t get the chance to indulge in the life of a boarding lad – with a nice bed, showers, and other fine amenities and all.
“This is not saying things could change in the future, and I promise not to give up hope if you two don’t give up hope, OK?” I told them.
“Trust Amar,” Ben put in. “Between him and Carel and I, and probably others coming on board, things will work out in the end for the better.”
“Carel has agreed to take the tram here to your place on Monday mornings after his weekend staying at his house, so he can ride with you two to school.” I explained. “No more walking for now. That’s why you both have tram passes, and it will help you in avoiding another encounter with those two thugs again.”
I handed them both a whistle with a chain to put around their necks, and I got quite the quizzical look!
“What are these for?” Theo asked, intrigued as Kees blew his and giggled.
“If you see those thugs coming toward you before you can make it to the tram,” Carel explained. “Blow the whistles! That will startle them and also draw attention. Trust me, Robin and Pieter used the whistles Amar got them, and it worked like a charm!”
Both Theo and Kees smirked widely and laughed after blowing their whistles.
“I’m going to talk to some of the other local lads who are attending our school and see if they might have any ideas or suggestions.” I said.
Theo suddenly seemed to be becoming a bit sceptical and his comment proved that. “We DON’T need a babysitter, Amar!” He grunted.
“But I don’t want to get beat up again, Theo.” Kees whispered painfully. “And you could get hurt again.”
Theo sighed in calm defeat just as the door clicked open and there stood a burly, greasy, man with a worn tote that he dropped on the floor. He looked at Ben, Carel, and I before he looked at Kees and then his son for an explanation.
As Theo explained in Dutch, the man washed his hands at the grimy sink while Kees proceeded to take the warm plate from the oven with a towel wrapped around his hand, and set it at the table. Then Kees handed the man the towel as he dried his hands, sat down at the table, and proceeded to gulp down the fish, egg, and toast, sipping cautiously at the steaming black coffee, and belching quietly a few times.
When he finished his plate of food, he almost daintily dabbed at his mouth with the towel before sipping more coffee and looking at the lot of Ben, Carel, and I.
“Dank u voor het kijken uit voor Theo en Kees om ze in ew fijne school.” (Thank you for looking out for Theo and Kees and getting them into your fine school.) The man said, looking directly at me and smiling. “Ze zijn goed jongens. (They are good boys.)
“U bent van harte welkom. Ja, ze zijn goed jongens.” (You are very welcome. Yes, they are good boys.) I nodded.
With that, his smile grew wider as he gulped down the rest of his coffee, pushed his chair out and stood before he reached out and shook Ben and Carel’s hand. Then, to my surprise, he gave me a hug and a clap on the back before he hugged his son and Kees, kissing them twice on each cheek.
Without another word, he disappeared through the makeshift opening in his “plywood bedroom” and even before Ben, Carel, and I left a bit later, he was snoring like a sluggish locomotive rumbling up a steep incline.
The Dean Master gave me the word first thing this morning that the School Board of Directors at this point in time felt it not necessary for Theo and Kees to switch from transit to boarding.
I accepted their decision without debate, knowing I was already seeking other solutions.