“If I was a carpenter and you were a lady would you marry anyways, would you have my baby!!!” screaming from the top of one’s lungs does not make for keeping a tune but I did it the same. Squatting astride the Y of a fat beefy mango tree idling minutes away until my distended mango filled stomach flatten enough for me to slide down to the ground. I am not much of a climber but since its every man for himself, if I want mangoes I have to go pick them. Beefy was the least desired variety which normally meant there will be some within reach or my climbing capabilities.
I always feel like a hunter-gatherer when I climb mango and guinep trees or smash open dry coconuts to eat its meat. Hunger is my constant companion from those peckish feelings to dizzying low blood sugar feels. For a surety school in September is always welcome. Summer is hard; first there is no school which is the only social activity other than going to church, no lunch money or lunch, the days are long, hot and deary. I have already read the bookcase of literature books once and Julie Garwood’s The Gift three times and it is only July.
The biggest shopping in my house was back-to-school not Christmas. Most everyone got new shoes, backpacks, socks (five pairs if things were good), undies etc. which have to last for the year. I have tiny feet, I am tiny- small frame but with a big head- so I can never wear out a pair of shoes within a year I will have to resort to soaking it in water or beating it against a stone to qualify for a new pair. I have no qualms about doing this, every child is fresh in September- hair recently permed, JanSport bags, cute girly school supplies like spacemakers, gel ink pens, purses with cool key rings and boy band binder books. I have to at least have the necessities, no need to be anymore peculiar than I already am.
My school is not the bad sort, it is a regular all girl school for students who performed well enough on their primary school exit exams. I really liked that I passed for this school, the fees were not too high, the students were not very uptight and I kinda fit in- in the nerd gang. My class, a microcosm of the school community has several tiers, topmost being the social jet setters- monied uptown girls of all shades, below were the girls of respectable working class parents like teachers and police officers, then there were the children of blue collar job parents like carpenters. There were of course a few poor students that were placed on various aid programmes like cost- sharing in grade seven. Normally these ‘bright’ students would opt to not attend the prestigious schools they matriculated to because of the associated fees and would transfer to nearer and cheaper junior or technical highs. Nerds came from any social class but enjoyed the lower ranks in the school’s social standing along with the queers- goths, lesbians and all others.
So summer has end which is all good and well, the charm of hunter gathering had worn off and I am quite skinny and dark from being outdoors and eating mostly fruits. School meant food. I had thankfully gotten new uniforms because I have grown (I read somewhere that girls attained their full height three years after hitting puberty) I was beginning to think I will be a midget like my father. New bag, shoes and the usual school supplies and a few prescribed text books not on the government’s book rental scheme. Not too bad.
I arrive at school the first day around 7 am, thirty minutes before the bell, which has become my habit and a coping strategy. For one being amongst the earlier girls arriving in the form class meant I get to pick the best seat and position in class. I like being seated along the wall facing the door not too far from the front. I would also save seats for my school friends because cliques have to stick together. Secondly late girls were scrutinized from head to toe by the entire class and got crummy seats; unless you were a diva of course and that was your intended effect. I was late once in primary school an experience I barely survived, the collective scrutiny weighed heavily on last year’s backpack (JoySport, like why not just buy a no name bag) and shoes. I have no desire to repeat that ordeal.
Being in grade nine meant everyone had settled nicely into high school and the order of things. Girls no longer picked on nerds, poor or weird students simply because the fun had worn off. As I sit down watching the ladies arrive I noticed that something has changed. Quite a few of them seem womanish and have a smirk that intimated ‘I know something you did not’. Like myself they were taller but fuller. What happened over the summer? I am starting to fret because I can feel that the order of things will change and I worry how I will fare. I am surprised and relieved that no face off occurred over the two seats I have reserved for my cronies. A few ladies eyed the advantageous seating positions but moved off, they all knew my crew, however, being very low in the pecking order meant I am easy pickings. I cannot even defend those seats should someone contest it and my classmates will not back me either.
Finally my friend arrives just in time for the bell and I am mad, what is she late for? Is she trying to be a diva? I hissed my teeth and retrieved my bag. The other girl was yet to arrive but I have given up guard duty, for all I know she might have transferred schools. That is the other thing I am fifteen years old and I do not own a cellphone, if that does not turn you into a social outcast I do not know what will and my family does not own a computer. I have no way of keeping in touch. The form teacher arrives and takes the register, this year we will be doing fifteen subjects exposing us to the cadre of C.S.E.C offerings. We were big girls the form teacher was letting that soak in. I was not worried I have been ready since grade seven, since I stepped into high school. The whole reason I was here was to do C.S.E.C exams and get on with life. Everything in between was a waste of time.
Readers everywhere are keen editors, they see all our mistakes & with their vibrant imagination add zest to any story. Readers indeed bring the magic!
I have been wanting to write a book forever, so why not blog-a-book? You the readers will proofread and of course drop comments below with suggestions on how the story should unfold- so we will be writing together. This could be fun!