I arrived in my high school, a focused and clean-shaven student. You could see every contour on my head and my shiny bald head shore with nothing but brains and a bright future. My skirt was maxi and had “ears”. An ear of a skirt is the part around hips that hangs loosely if you don’t have hips. I was very excited. People here would know me. People would know that I hailed from the great Elijah Wanameme. That I was the heiress to my father’s property. That I was the brightest in my village. People would know my 3 names.
We entered a large hall, called a common room. It was basically part of our dorms, down stairs. This was where registration and everything took place. As I scanned around the room, I noticed my bald head was too pronounced. I had made a mistake! Girls here appeared like girls while Gladwell appeared like some native homo pithecus. Big head, big eyes, big forehead, big nose. Those girls looked fine! Their hair was long, black and silky. Others had short hair with blow out, permed. Their faces glowed with dollars. Their skirts didn’t have ears. They had hips. They were confident and bright. Even in their walking style. Their English had a twang. Their suitcases were those ones bought in reknown stores. I sat my village self in one of the couches in the common room, dejected. I was right to feel that way. I felt intimidated. I wanted to run to Namang’ofulo Mixed, a neighboring school at home. Namang’ofulo is friendlier, basic and has people I can compete with. We are of the same class.
First encounter. We were taken to the dining hall, during lunch time. This is the hour the entire school had been waiting for. This was the hour of introduction. As we entered the dining hall, the entire school of bright girls yelled their lungs out, screaming, cheering, clattering forks and knives, banging the tables. They did all they could to produce sound. From anywhere. Aiii! That day… I have never been that shocked.
Second encounter. We were shown where to sit. We were given food and cutlery. We had to use forks and knives to eat rice! I remembered Namang’ofulo and wept inside. What’s wrong with people complicating my life? I looked at the food. Then the other meek 10 form ones. The rich girls. Then I looked at the next table of older students. They were holding the forks with their left hands. I didn’t eat.
Third encounter. We were later taken by our school mothers. I painfully observed how mine was this pretty lady. Light skin. Slim. Short skirt. And basically had a smaller body than mine. It appeared I was the mother here. Her voice was so whispery, smooth. Mine was booming. Things seemed not to favor me. Then her English, you still wanna know? She gave me a mountain of instructions:
“So, you’ll take the trolley from the counter, pull it to table 12 and offload.” “When you hear the first gong, you’ll line up on the left side of the corridor and go to the chapel” “After grace, is when you can sit” “Dessert is taken after loaf. Don’t start with banos.” “Leave up school by 5.30 and be at the ticking area at 6”.
I was looking at her hair, her smooth face. That information was too much, too new. I just wanted Namang’ofulo. Basically I didn’t understand what gong is, what up school is, banos, ticking… everything!
Last encounter. The next day, we went to class. Aiih! This school! Finding your class was not easy. 1k1, 1k2,1h1, 1h2, 1s1… I suffered and wandered off to a forbidden corridor. Senior corridor. But I can be stupid sometimes. I had been told “the left side”. In class, I felt every girl was looking at my shiny bright head literally. Then we had to introduce ourselves. People were talking fine and polished English. I can tell you for free, am an expert at verbalizing and code-switching with an accidental drop of my mother-tongue here and there. Something like, my skuli was nzoya. The girls were the ones I saw on tv being interviewed.
My name is Angela… I was in Makini School. I wanna be a doctor.
My name is Christabel, I was in Koma Rock. I will be a neuro-surgeon.
My name is Tasha from Newlight. I want to be an aerospace engineer.
Am Wacuka from Aga Khan. I want to be a Pediatrician. Another one mentioned something about marine. I looked lost.
I am Nafula and I want to study in Namang’ofulo Mixed Secondary School. I was telling myself sadly, silently.