That is the truth. No one does; because no one can. The irony in my opening statements is enough to send me to a firing squad, I guess, if you are into that kind of stuff. Its been a little over a year since I left University. That was a big deal, it was one place I was desperate to run out of, school. I really was not the perfect student. I haven’t always loved school; I just showed up because it was the right thing to do at that age. It was something to do. When I was younger, like about nursery school, I sort of liked it. I got to learn these things for myself that my elder sister had been trying to teach me at home, she was 5 when I joined at 3. Nursery school was ok, I couldn’t be disappointed since I had no expectations. The teachers were mini-mummies of sort, and at that age, no one was competing with my mommy for my affection, she was my life!
In comes primary school; with the promise of growing up. I thought I was some kind of special; I skipped a class you see. I was in nursery for only 2 years and from middle class was sent to P.1. It is not something that was discussed with 5 year old me. The new school year came and as was the practice, I went to my old classroom for direction. It is then that I discovered I was to cross the fence over to the other side, where the big kids were. I do not remember how scared I was but I remember crying one day. The teacher had written work on the blackboard and we were supposed to copy it. This work was more than I was used to. We used to have work cards to carry home, here we had to copy it ourselves! I seemed to be the only one finding a problem with it. You were only allowed to leave the class after you had finished. My 7 year old sister was standing at the door impatiently waiting for me. Regardless of how hard I tried, I could not write fast enough,my mind was filled with thoughts of having to walk home alone; the many kidnappers and monsters waiting to eat me! They were silent sobs, tears rolling down my face, a reflection of my helplessness. The teacher laughed at me and allowed me to leave. I was pretty much the last one there.
The next year, I was moved to a new school, a bigger school, with meaner kids and teachers. My sister’s class was way far from mine but atleast my brother was there too, right? My mother dropped me off last, I knew no one. My hand writing was horrible, I was too timid to ask anyone for anything so I often had ridiculously blunt pencils and dirty work. I did not know how to ask for erasers. I soon discovered that weakness was unacceptable here, any kind of weakness. Your work had to be perfect and you had to always be ready with answers. I knew the answers, I always paid close attention in class and I knew most of the answers but something was still wrong. I just could not write well. For that I got a daily knuckle hitting. Our teacher used to leave towards the end of every term to go and study. That was my best time ever. My knuckles celebrated. However, I was rewarded for knowing answers and writing the correct things in exams. I gained recognition, had my name read at assembly and I recieved presents.
I made friends after a while. I am not sure whether it was because I was a nice person or because I knew answers; but my friends were nice to me. They helped me fight through canteen mobs at break,and sharpen my pencils. We did not look forward to much then except holidays. We always prayed and hoped we did not end up in the stream governed by that mean math teacher who just seemed to draw alot of pleasure from inflicting pain on children.
I kept knowing the answers and was in no way anxious for final exams. I was disappointed. In hindsight, I did pretty well but at that moment, it was as if I’d failed. It was my worst performance ever! I got my second option school. Again, I did not suffer, my mother picked the admission and all we had to do was show up.
S.1 was different, every one there was bright and they knew it and they fought to keep their position at the top. I did not always know the answers and I had never had to fight for the top position. It just happened. No one told me it would be like this. They told me I had to work hard, to read hard, to revise? How is that even done? You should discuss with each other; how? I fumbled and somehow fell into the mediocre category. My days as a top student were behind me and I did not any more know who I was. My days of believing I could be the best at anything went with my school performance. I survived; more hits kept coming, hits in the form of failing at literature when I so loved to read, discovering that debate club wasn’t so much about how well you debated but who in authority was your friend, whose sister were you? who was your brother and which school was he? I tried sports but dropped out because it was just another area for me to be not good enough.
Along came A level, with the dream of being able to choose what you want to study. I approached it with renewed hope. Surely, I could do this, it wasn’t so bad..or so I thought, but it was. It wasn’t so good either. This one had an even greater pressure level, my future was at stake here. My future in the form of not being able to afford University, or my career which would determine whether I would be poor for the rest of my life or not. I tried at this, gave it alot of myself. At some point, I sort of gave up and just held onto God’s big merciful cloak for dear life, I just did not see how it would work out. By the time I finished that part, I was the only one who still believed I could make it; probably because I was the only one there in those moments of helplessly laying all at God’s feet and crying my heart and soul out. I was exhausted. That part ended. I made it somehow, got government sponsorship for a course I did not remember applying for. I soldiered on. Again, if I did not go to school, what would I do? It is not what I wanted, for the first time ever, I kind of was working for something beyond exams. I got the government sponsorship, but not the course. How dare I complain? Some people had it worse. “It is just your first degree.” “You can always do something else later on” Really? Then how come eye brows are still raised when I mention what I studied and what I chose to do after which is not in any way related?