Thursday, January 05, 2006

High School Hell

On one of my recent blogosphere tours I came across a post of somebody talking about his hellish high school experiences and it got me thinking about my own S1 days all those years back and how nasty they were.

I went to what was then one of the best primary schools in Kampala, and Uganda, (before UPE came in and changed the whole school) and as was the norm for people in schools like that I fancied myself going to Buddo, SMACK and such. Personally I put my first choice in Buddo, which gracefully turned me down (they stopped admissions at 5, I got 6) and I was selected by my 2nd choice (a school somewhere in western Uganda). I hadn't thought much about my 2nd, 3rd and 4th choices because I knew I had to go to Buddo. So, when I got selected for my 2nd choice I threw a hell of a tantrum about how I couldn't go to a school so far and how mum had to do everything she could to ensure I got into Buddo. The old woman wasn't impressed and she emphatically assured me that if I had wanted Buddo that much I should have concetrated more on schoolwork than I did on the Hardy Boys, Famous Five, Tintin, Asterix ...etc.

Soon enough, the 1st day of S1 arrived and I found myself at school. As soon as the car entered the compound I knew I was in for a hard time, because all the faces seemed hostile and at least 3 boys we passed passed their index fingers across their throats in a slitting motion.

Luckily for me (at least that was what I thought at the time) there was a distant relative who was a teacher at the school and he escorted me to my dormitory after the administration issues had been sorted out. When we entered everybody was nice and welcoming, they even laid my bed. I thought maybe I had been worrying for nothing. Soon the teacher and my mum left the room, and there the nightmare begun.

Immediately the 'friendly' guys set upon me and told me to open my case, which I did. They helped the selves to the grab like it was a mad rush for santa's sweets at a kid's christmas party. The grab was saved from complete dessimation for two reasons. It was still classtime so only those with free periods were around and the teacher had told his nephew to go and check on me since we were in the same house.

When this senior relative came over, he didnt have to be told what had happened. He quickly told me to lock up my case and take it to his room. He was in one of the exclusive S6 rooms. He then told me that from then on I was to come to him whenever I needed anything. This sounded very OK with me. I later decided to take a tour of the compound with other newbies.

On arrival from the walk, I entered the dormitory to a welcome of the most hostile faces I had encountered in all 13 years of my life. I was immediately asked, in the local lingua, if I was the Kampala boy who thought he was too good for the rest of the dormitory. I replied, in English, that I didn't think myself too good for anybody. Big mistake. The right side of my face immediately made the brief but intense aquaintance of the back of my inquisitor's right hand. With my cheek still on fire I was told to explain why somebody with a name like mine,which suggested I should be able to understand the language I had been addressed in, would choose to reply in English. To them it only proved that I thought myself above them.

Slight digression. At that time I could not construct more than two consecutive sentences in my mother tongue because I had never really had to use it. I only heard it at home when my parents where talking or when they were really pissed off with any of us kids. They had since conceded that they were fighting a losing battle against English because we spent most of our days in schools that prohibited the use of any language other than English or with friends who didn't speak our language.

Where was I? Oh yes, the slap. By the time I recovered hearing in my right ear, it had been decided that I had no business spending the night in the room since I "didn't feel my roomates were worthy of my company" and I also had no belongings there. Someone was ordered to carry my beddings out and have them thrown in the drainage trench just outside the dormitory. I was in tears by now pleading with the boys not to throw my stuff out. Then mum entered the room.

She had brought me some aerogrammes (I wonder if anyone still uses aerogrammes) to use in case I needed to write home. The room fell immediately silent because right behind her was the teacher. They both asked if I had been crying and I said no. Though it was quite obvious that I had been crying, I wasn't about to do anything that would bring further pain to my person. The teacher then asked the other students what they were doing in the dormitory since it was already prep time. They boys quickly gathered their books and scampered out. My mum asked me again why I was crying and I told her I wasn't crying, just that an eyelash had entered my eye, hence the teary look. She left it at that and bade me fairwell. She said she was going to spend the night in town with relatives relatives before going back to Kampala. She got into the car and drove off. For a splitsecond I conteplated calling her back and asking her to go back home with me and deliver me from this hell. But I just choked on the words and started crying again.

To be continued.........


Iwaya said...

you guys were teased because you didn't practise "the face." what was "the face?"
to be continued when this post is too.

Carlo said...

well, aren't i glad i went to a much more civilised school! by civilised i mean that a bunch of friends and i were punished for being lesbian because we were wearing our swim suits. oh, and we got in trouble a lot cuz we were a "clique" which was a major no-no. oh the memories . . .