If you look closely at that picture, you will see that I am not smiling. This is not because not I was hungry or anything. I wasn’t hungry and someone had not just slapped me. I was just not happy. My Ayee, my teacher and I had just had a hard talk.
You see, when you go for occasions like this (Speech and Prize Giving/Graduation Ceremony), you really can’t say how you feel. First you are happy, very happy. And then you are sad. And scared. You are happy because these SS3 guys are finally graduating, after six uneasy years of secondary school education. It is not easy. So you are happy for them. You smile with them, laugh with them and take selfies. And then you are sad. Tears begin to stream down your face as you see the girl with the round black eyes going home. You suddenly begin to realize that you may never see her again, that you both may never cross paths again. You fight the tears, seriously. But they overcome you. You watch as she enters her parent’s car and wave. And you keep watching until, first her round eyes fade away, and then her waving hand and then the car. You are sad. After that comes the fear. You are afraid for her. You are scared because she is going out, out to the world. And the world is cruel. The world does not care. The world will throw stones and she might not know how too duck. You are scared because, actually, she does not know anything (and the sad thing is that she thinks she knows it all). You are scared because you know something she does not know. Because you have been there.
Experience is priceless. You can’t buy it. It is the combination of all your mistakes, your lessons, your successes, and your failures. The person who woke up one day and said, ‘Experience is the best teacher’ knew what he was doing. However, that does not mean you have yo learn from your own experience, your own mistakes. It only means you should learn from other people’s experiences. This, is what most of my pals who were graduating on Saturday did not know.
I was talking to one of my senior brothers on that same Saturday about all I heard about the graduating guys. And he was telling me the same thing: it is all lack of experience.
Secondary school is fun. It is in secondary school that you begin to realize that you are a boy and that she is a girl. It is in secondary school that you begin to see that the girl with round eyes is beautiful and that you have feelings. It is in secondary school that you begin to grow, to mature, to see. It is also in secondary school that you, as they say, grow wings and fly away like Sazu.
But after secondary school, life opens up to you. It gets out of its wool and shows you that it is not a sheep. On that Saturday, everybody was happy. We took pictures, cried, laughed, ate, said goodbyes and left. That is where it begins. At first, you are still calling your friends and classmates for the first three to four weeks. And then after a few months, you realize that you are not just communicating again. You realize that there is just nothing to say. You’ve asked how her night was, if she slept well, what she is doing and then there is nothing to ask again. And then you watch with nonchalant eyes as your secondary love is washed away by the tsunami called life. You watch as your childish lust, fantasy and sheepish attractions are carried away by the wind. And then you begin to remember what that senior said, that all that secondary school love ends at the gate.
Now you think about those days and you hate yourself. You begin to see how many days you wasted on useless things. You begin to recount things that you did that profited you nothing. And then you look at yourself now and ask, why did I break the louvers in my hostels? Why did I write that stupid graffiti on the dining hall wall? Why did I tell that ‘corper’, Fuck you! Why did I scale the fence? Why did I smooch that girl behind the PTA hall? Why did I decide to spend my last night in the girls hostel? Why did I decide to tell those boys to come to our hostels that Friday night?
You think about these things and, if you are wise, you see that you gained nothing. It all was just a waste of time, energy and resources. You realize that you have just succeeded in putting your name down on the list of rascals who walked the streets of Fego city. You have just succeeded in painting a bad image of yourself on the minds of your teachers and principals and other school officials. You have succeeded in turning yourself into that guy who dodges when a teacher sees him on the street in town. You have just succeeded in doing nothing… NOTHING USEFUL.
And then if wisdom has fallen upon you, you wish you can go back. You realize that that handsome guy you thought you couldn’t do without is not really that important. You realize that you can actually do without him. And in fact, you have for some days now. So you wish you can go back. You wish you can go back and clean the nonsense you wrote on the wall, now that you have realized that the only way to make yourself unforgettable in Fego is not by writing on walls that get painted almost every year, but by doing things that matter, by impacting lives. By being a blessing to your juniors. By making your teachers proud. By winning prizes. By representing your school in competitions. By doing the right things. You wish you can go back and fill in the gap but you realize that it’s almost impossible. And then you cry and wish it was all a bad dream. That is if wisdom has fallen upon you…
If not, I pray it does…soon.
But whichever one, I have only one thing to say, welcome HOME. I love you, seriously!