There’s something about Tuesday classes. Monday, we soothe the blues, but Tuesday, we get ready to start the week, plus the classes start at 10:00 am, with zero pressure.
As the class representative, I get to school early, collect the signing sheet, get a venue, and communicate with my classmates about that day’s agenda.
I can’t help but notice the low turnout; we started as a class of 70, and two years later, we are now 55. The number will decrease. It’s bound to.
Everyone in this class is entirely predictable, from when they get to class, how they dress, their seating position, and their class participation. Those who take the front seats are mostly the quiet nerds who attend class early and participate.
You know, the ones who would remind the math teacher they didn’t assign homework? The middle people arrive on time, comment but don’t raise their hands, have a few shy nerds, and have fascinating stories.
Backbenchers are my favourite lot. Their seating arrangements are quite solid. Everyone knows where everyone sits. They also have a lot of comments that are just meant for them, #noisemakers. Backbench has a couple of extroverted nerds who listen to a concept once.
On this day, I’m in the middle people’s last row and the backbenchers’ first row, so I get the best of both worlds.
I’ve been stuck on I am a writer by Stella Nyanzi, the first poem in her collection of poems that Rattled Uganda; Don’t Come in My Mouth. When I started reading these poems, I had no order, I was here for the vibe, but now the first poem makes sense.
… When I write,
I poke the leopard’s anus with my might!
She did poke the leopard’s anus with her might; not only did she call out politicians (poems 37,39,44), but she spoke of Gender Based Violence in Uganda (poem 36). Never Hit a Woman, My sons! Poem 104, Unhinged, reflects on how women cannot ask difficult questions, how women should sit next to the fireplace, breast milk leaking and ‘taking care’ of their families.
When you choose to be pragmatic
And ask for accountabilities of money given to the bag
They say you are unhinged
“poor woman, she has lost her marbles.”
Poem 2 books are bubbling in my belly.
There are books bubbling deep in my belly,
Books waiting to be nurtured during gestation,
Books yearning to be birthed into this dismal world,
Stella Nyanzi is one of the women poets who leave me yearning for more.
Poem 2 gives me hope and keeps me looking forward to what she has in store. Such revolutionising poetry should be taught in every class and every school.
Social media has ruined our concentration span; slight noises and puffs! Our minds are gone.
Keith has just arrived, distracting the entire class. He’s one of the extroverted nerds, the kind to say hi to everyone and charm the ladies.
Today, he has tropical sweets; women are simple creatures. My focus could be better, so I might look for a new hairstyle.
“I’d quit school; this is not what I signed up for,” Edith says, typing so fast, trying to complete an assignment.
Mocking her, “Same, I’d quit school,” Anna goes. “Edith, finish your assignment. You love school. You’d enjoy school if you managed your time better and had enough rest.”
Edith rolls her eyes and continues typing.
“Good morning, ladies. I bet the sun rises in your compound look at those eyes,” goes Keith.
“Go away, you flirt”, Edith replies, “don’t you see we are busy.”
Anna reaches out to Keith, signalling him to sit next to her. “Edith wants to quit school. She hasn’t been organised and thinks that calls for time to quit school.”
“From where I stand, it’s valid; school takes a lot from us. We barely have time to wine and date fine ladies like you,” Keith winked.
Many students use social media to rant about their school experiences and what we all agree on CATs, exams, and projects. Even the ‘I like what I study students’ complain. We complain about the 7 am and 4 pm Friday classes but exams?
Some courses are more demanding than others, but your willingness to give highly depends on how much you like what you do. Discipline and resilience will get you anything.
Jocko Willink said Discipline equals freedom. Create time for play lest you lose your mind. Come on, between never-ending responsibilities and the economy, if you don’t make time for a bit of fun, you will bust.
It’s been a minute since I saw Joseph. I turn to check whether he switches seating positions. Keith, with his dimples, blocks my view. I smile and look the other way.
“Beautiful lady, your prince charming is here! Look no further,” He said, smiling even harder.
I inquire about Joseph, where he is and why he has yet to attend classes late.
“Oh, Joseph differed—fee issues. But I’m here. I’d make a good replacement,” Keith winks once again.
Staying in school requires cash, a stable income, or pocket money. With the current cost of living and all activities one wishes to participate cash is a significant factor.
Depending on the school, one must pay a percentage of the required fees to attend classes. To sit for the exams, you need to complete the payments.
It’s disheartening to have attended classes for three months and then miss your exams over finances.
Something we should talk about is the energy one uses when studying. Developing bodies result in high-calorie intake. Food requires money, and since learning on an empty stomach is quite difficult, some students opt to hustle as they study.
Schools offer the option to defer until you can afford to pay your fees, which means you get to see your classmates flourish.
“Education should be free. I can’t believe I’m this tied over something I must work for,” Edith complains.
We grew up being told to work hard, attend a good high school, and then work even harder to go to a good campus. The goal was money, so when most students get the money, school becomes optional. While on campus, we work so hard to land good jobs. When the one comes, you can now buy everything you want.
Anna joined our class two months late from the School of Finance. Is she more committed because she finally chose a course she loved?
“Anna, do you think you’re more committed since you finally joined a class you wanted? Do you think your passion contributes to your hard work?” I inquired.
“Up to 18 years of age, one is considered a child, then one day you are a fully functioning adult and should know how to navigate life. Six months after completing school, you must know what course to take, which could determine the rest of your life.”
“I felt pressured to choose the correct course. By correct, I meant what my parents approved, what society would applaud me for. When you choose a course to make your family proud or prove a point, you are bound to ignore what is required of you. Allowing students more time to determine who they want to be, know who they are and teach them how to make decisions would significantly reduce the rate of college dropouts. So yes, I am more committed here because I love what I do,”
Anna sighs and reaches for her pink water bottle.
Edith is done typing and is now back to her happy self. She grabs her clear water bottle, takes a sip and reapplies her lip-gloss, material-girl.
“Do you guys think about marriage? Or whatever these school kids are doing?” Edith is always kind to have something to discuss.
“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t mind having you waking up next to me”, Keith winks.
“Come we stay? I don’t mind loving my person but doing wife duties this early is sickening. It does contribute to women dropping out.
There’s nothing wrong with being a mum, but come on. Having a family early may result in more dropouts,” Anna, the pragmatic one, says.
Mr. Ngugi walks in.
“Anyway, ladies, I’m hosting a monthly end party at Club Leo on Friday. See you there, dress to kill and bring your beautiful smiles with you. Oh, first ten ladies get a rose flower and a glass of wine,” Keith says as he walks back to his seat.
I’ll tell you about Club Leo and the nightlife of Machakos later.