Being number 1 always has its ups and downs

2017-04-20 06:00
on the runlunga adam

on the runlunga adam

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I seldom share intimate stuff with the general readership.

As writers, we go through it all in life – from the highest of the highs to the downright lowest of the lows-but mine has always been to entertain, educate and inform.

I digress.

My favourite pastime is taking nostalgic trips to a childhood gone by, back to when we were looking to the future, armed with a desire to achieve this and that, yet now we look back and are often in awe of how distant the past seems to have become.

Some of us spotted shiny perms back then, but are now hairless.

Just the other day, I was thinking about my primary school days; of innocence, when two slices of bread, complete with jam and peanut butter, meant a world of satisfaction.

Some scoff at the idea nowadays! Sitting there, the mind wandering far and wide to those days, I thought about myself for a change and not the collective. What did it mean to be this person? How did I impact my fellow learners and teachers? or was my presence just a blur on their screens.

I hope not, if my interactions with most of them during and after those days are anything to go by. And I must admit, fortunately, that I also did not receive as many lashes at school as much as my peers would have at school.

Like this one classmate whose “I-don’t-care” attitude was at another level.

Every day, he would come to school in unwashed grey pants that seemed to have been pulled right from under a pile of rubble in the wardrobe.

You would have sworn he was wearing umashwabane linen. He did not seem the least bothered. Curiously enough.

And instead of school bag, he carried his book load in a purse with no zip on.

And if anyone dared to taunt him, he would hurl the purse at the offending party, sending the whole contents a-scatter all over the place.

He was a headache for teachers, too, and the last I heard of him, he was in the slammer. Just as well.

I retrace.

Because of the alphabetical order of the class list, having a surname such as mine meant more than just met the eye.

One had to live up to being number one, if you get my drift.

Imagine the embarrassment if the teacher reads out the marks for the test and the first name on the list is a complete failure.

At Vukani Primary School in Lower Crossroads, we sat according to our surnames at exam time. Indeed.

So you would be sitting next to a person you never really bothered about, if only to satisfy bureaucracy.

One year, they put me next to this girl, whose surname started with a B. A cry baby of note.

I would be sitting next to her, a typical picture of quietude, and then suddenly she would turn on the waterworks. Not to mention the times a teacher would be visiting physical harm on us, in the form of “the pipe”, she would bring the class to a standstill.

Being top of the class list pushed me to live each day as if it were my last. That perhaps explains why one Mr Mnqayi, while busy with a lesson at another class, would send someone to my class to call moi.

He would then ask a couple of questions in my presence, most of which the learners would get wrong, thus inviting this retort: “Yini zihlobo zenkosi ukundihlaza phambi kuka Lunga Adam.” At which point, I would be asked to give the correct answer.

Another bothersome episode during my stay there was the misguided assumption that I was a child of one of the educators.

Why? Because on my first day, I arrival in class with a teacher in tow.

Having relocated from Philippi mid-year, I found it taxing walking to school, and so sought a transfer. So an uncle spoke to one teacher and the deal was done.

However, it left a bitter taste in the mouth of one of the teachers at my previous school – who had adored me so much – because I did not let slip to anyone that I was leaving.

An arrangement was made that my new teacher would pick me up at the uncle’s house one morning and we’d proceed to school.

So it is that some have clung to that notion of ‘father-son’ narrative to this day.

One day, this story was given credence when a teacher ordered that the whole class- except yours truly- would not be going out on lunch. I had answered all the question correctly!

It was awkward being out and about enjoying lunch, knowing my classmates were “locked up,”. More next week!

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