I sat down and thought of my primary school days and friends recently. They were brought to mind by the fact that a Whatsapp group was created and we were all bundled in there. Nostalgia. Many I have lost touch with, have not spoken to in years!!! Yet, as I sat there, silently observing as individuals were added and they identified themselves, I found that truck-loads of memories came gushing, flooding my thoughts.
I penned this letter as a release for my nostalgia.
Dear Old Friend,
I know it has been quite sometime.
Know, however, that I still remember…
I still remember our summons to the head of section’s office on trip days. Trip days because that is when we would come to school in “home clothes”(Can you imagine that once upon a time they made us wear the same clothes day in and day out? Ha ha!). We, of the thick hips, were always scrutinized under the highest of magnification, asked to spin, the tightness of our clothes examined, before we were possibly punished, by being left in school, for wearing indecent clothing.
I still remember that time were were marking English homework. Every day we would do two exercises from OBJ, ha ha, OBJ(Job!). Then the next morning our English teacher would come with the answer book and you would read out the answers, because she liked your voice. I remember how we jokingly asked you to give us the answers to the next two exercises one day, when the teacher had stepped out, and you did. She walked in right in the middle of it. We quivered in our seats, wondering if she would be suspicious that after all that time, we were still not done doing the corrections. For once we were not caught. A crime with 40 witnesses and we got away. Who would have thought.
I still remember that time we were whistling, to taunt the person left in charge, the “Girl of the Day”, the person writing noise makers. Taunting them in the nicest of most playful ways. Oh how naughty we were! One person at one corner of the classroom would whistle, then when the Girl of the Day looked up and in that direction, someone else in the opposite direction would pick up the whistling. Soon enough, we were all whistling, all 40 of us! Of course, of all people, the head of section walked in. We got away with very few things that year, her office was adjacent to our classroom. She punished us severely for daring to do something so manly as to whistle. How dare we, the young ladies that we were, indulge in so masculine an activity! Oh the women we were being groomed to be! *sigh*
I still remember that same year, she walked into class for our English lesson, the head of section that is, and found you still at your locker long after the bell signaling that everyone should be seated and ready for lessons had been rung. I must admit, she had the most hilarious punishments ever! She ordered you to get into your locker since you could not seem to get yourself away from it. Naturally, none of us expected her to actually be serious, but she stood there, scolded you for wasting even more of her lesson and asked that you get into that locker immediately! Lord knows you made a concerted effort to. I giggled the whole time!
I still remember that camp to Mombasa. We were so excited! We got there and despite having had a long journey, we were determined not to go straight to sleep like the mentors on the trip suggested(dictated). We wanted to make the most of our trip, squeeze it for every ounce of fun we could. We stayed up for most of the night, chatting and playing games, the three of us who shared a room and the other three from the room next to ours. I remember at about 4am, we made a mad dash from one room to the next. I was the last one in and as I turned to shut the door, noticed a figure watching us from some distance, in the shadows. I tried to warn you guys, but you all thought I was just being paranoid and after some time I thought I was. Until, there was a knock at the door and one of the mentors walked in. What an earful she gave us. She asked us to pack our bags and report to the reception with them immediately after breakfast. After she left, none of us said a word to each other. I barely slept for the next 3 hours.
After breakfast, all of us were still so gloomy. I was thinking of how disappointed my mother would be, being called to pick me up from school only a day after I left when I was supposed to be away for a week. Sent home for disobedience. Then a lady, a member of staff at the hotel, happened to pass by and ask about our packed bags. She literally got on her knees and begged that we be given a second chance. We got to stay. Her name was Judy. After that incident, I named my guardian angel after her.
I still remember that time we got in trouble for “bullying” a teacher, okay, really, you got in trouble, no one seemed to think I was capable of being involved in such shenanigans even though I had inadvertently master-minded the whole plot(I didn’t think you’d actually do it!). I will never forget how you dramatically crawled under your desk and started wailing when they threatened to call your mum. We laughed about how surprising it was that you had fit under the desk.
I still remember that time you brought a quarter bottle of vodka to school, or was it whiskey? I was too young to care. It was the last day of the school year. I remember you “expertly” hiding in the back while taking shots in full view of everyone. How did you even imagine you could get away with that? Of course someone went and told. That evening, as the annual Christmas Cantata was going on in the hall, we were all being interrogated individually in various classrooms till late into the evening. Had we known you had brought alcohol to school? Why had we not been the ones to come forward? Who had partaken? When the interrogations were over, your mum was called in and you were advised to start looking for a new school. You did not return the next year. Then there was that one girl who was completely forgotten in her interrogation room till late in the night. Ha ha!
I remember us teasing that one girl for her uncharacteristically skinny legs given the rest of her body proportions. We laughed and laughed. Not too long after, a rumour went round that her grandmother, whom she lived with, often beat her on the legs with a stick. I felt so guilty for making fun of her then, wondering if that was why her legs were so skinny.
I remember that time your sister, who was two years younger than us, fell head first from two flights up. Who knows how she found herself tumbling down that little space in the centre of a winding flight of steps. Eye-witnesses claimed they had seen her brains splattered everywhere. I remember getting into class after lunch break, after we had heard the news, tearing the center page of one of my exercise books and writing in big letters, letters so big they filled the whole paper, the word ‘SORRY!’. I did not know what else to say. Thankfully, she got better.
I remember that girl in our class who let us throw water balloons at her, so that we would like her maybe? *sigh* We must have worked a number on her self-esteem. We could be so cruel sometimes.
I remember that time that embarrassing red stain appeared up on your skirt at mass and having no spares, you hid in the toilet as I tried to scrub off the blood at the sink while also trying not to get much of the skirt soaked in water. We managed okay I think, once the water dried up, no one could have guessed.
I still remember the time we were playing “Stuck in the Mud” and I scratched myself smack dab, right in the center of my forehead! I mostly remember because you will not let me forget. *sigh* Like you won’t let me forget that fib I told about all the girls in my family having heart-shaped birthmarks and all the boys boat-shaped ones.
I remember Monday morning assemblies where deportment badges and that ‘Bingwa wa Lugha’ badge were handed out. An attempt at making us foster our Kiswahili prowess. Heh heh! I won it once but I cannot say that it did much for my Kiswahili. Still struggling.
I remember how Prize Giving Day at our “brother school” was an event! Possibly the highlight of each year! Everyone wanted to attend, whether or not they had brothers at the school. Everyone showed up looking their absolute best! Girls will be girls. We would spend most of it dodging our teachers who also happened to be parents at the school, being spotted speaking to a boy would likely be punishable back in school.
Old friend, we do not talk often, if at all, and I doubt that will change. No one is to blame. Maybe Akon? Really, life just happens. We cannot stop it, we cannot change it, we quite possibly do not even want things to be as they once were. I know I don’t. I’m happy with how things have panned out, but…the memories will always remain. These and many more.
I remember them. I dare say I always will.