Bad Attention…Better Me.

I am a Virgo…*waiting for rebuff smiles* none. Ok. I sort of expected a peculiar reaction. My other half once came home excited like Pesh does when in search for sweets from my handbag. ‘Hun, are you a Virgo?’ he quipped. As usual I didn’t answer immediately. I have this malevolent tendency of answering questions with questions. He was all over the place with apprehension.


‘Well are you?’

‘Yes, but why?’ I insisted. ‘These info says that Virgos are more or less with two personalities.’

‘Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?’ I chipped in. ‘No. like crazy in bed, yet committed and very hardworking wives. I think that sounds a lot like you.’ I obviously blushed happily.

I smiled knowingly and turned back to what I was doing. So it’s true. Initially I thought I was being hypocritical… Wait! Not in the bedroom sort of way…crap! Am I trying hard to defend myself?

I was a melancholic and lived in utopia. I thought a lot more than I spoke and built estates of castles in the air. I fought memo wars and murdered my enemies in my mind. I was too scared of attention… still am and I finally stopped asking the ground to open up and gulp me down, since I noticed it wouldn’t anyway.

Now this attention thingy is my focus this episode. I happened to experience a life-changing…rather grades-changing incident  back in school and its side-effects made away with an outsized portion of my temperament.

I was one of those very many girls in high school who stuck novels in Maths Text books and looked busy. I was notorious for dozing off with a pen in my hand and a friend to poke me so I can scribble something whenever the notes were read. I was the noisemaker who was never caught. The one who always had an excuse parked below the tongue. My innocent-looking face saved me a great deal. I was an expert in holding in laughter till break time.

I survived tests. Barely survived pass marks and sometimes got unluckily stuck in what we called remedial classes after schools closed. Everyone was the most disciplined in the last weeks of school as our teachers hated to see us going home…or so we all believed. We all attended morning prep on time and finished our assignments. We attended church service and never dozed off when the pastor shot blunt jokes. You’d get arrested for mistakes as small as clipping your nails during assembly or sneezing into your hands, gross as it may sound.

In form three I had literary lost all my brilliance thanks to the many events; lists that my name always appeared on regardless…including Christian Union. My grades were ghastly and unsightly. I had no favourite lesson anymore and it seemed clear where my life was headed.

Well until…..

One chemistry lesson.

We had just completed our mid term exams and results were streaming in. Our Chemistry teacher was a lady and nothing close to lady-like. She must have been in her late 40s. She had stopped caring about her looks and treated us like grandchildren. She snorted like she had eternal sinuses and made us nauseated with the sounds she made. She had a gap in between her front teeth that made her already famous Meru accent sound intense.

Ngoond morning?’ We all stood and responded. I couldn’t help but notice how old her shawl was getting, considering she wore it daily, and paired it with a headscarf that I thought smelt of worked up hair oil.

Tonday I am very ashamed of you.ngaos’ She began. Silence. ‘Nombondy ngot  anything ambove 20 out of 30….except one ngao’

I wasn’t moved. I guessed I must have landed safely somewhere like 10 marks. She went on.

How can you fail even the simplest question on balancing equations? Yet it’s the same thing we ndo here every nday. Some of you even ngot an unashamed  half!’

Our eyes met.

Wait. Did she just look at me? No way. She must have been avoiding the one who got that unspeakable half a mark to avoid embarrassment. She started calling out names and we went to collect our results.

She called my name and I walked to the front, worrying more of her snorts and how I might burst out laughing at a joke I would think of her. She held out my paper and as I held it she didn’t let go. ‘Shame on you!’ she hurled at me and the class was dead silent. ‘You are letting the class ndown.’ That was the moment I looked at the mark displayed on my answer sheet. Crap! It read the ‘f’ half! This was impossible. And now all eyes were on me, boring holes and mocking my shy ass.

I cringed and scampered back to my seat feeling worse than a rained on cat. It was horrible watching my ‘friends’ gaze and chuckle under their desks at the sight of the half-mark. The sensation was nasty and I would have wished for anything but it. I would have thought to lope away from school but I was a coward. I chose to get irate, not at the Chemistry teacher but at myself.

It took me two weeks to get my courage back though I never was the same. I got more confident and lost all coyness. I moved and sat at the front of the class and aimed to blow everyone with amazing grades at the end of school. I pinched my ear and swore never to get humiliated this way again.

I wedded books and detached from sleep, working round the clock and keeping in mind I had little time. I tutored and my father promised not to shell out a dime till he was delighted. I toiled the preceding three years in three terms and gradually transformed into a mini guru. I sacrificed a lot and worked on my key strengths, pocketing every counsel I could get. I did it because I was afraid of shame. The bad attention opened my eyes and showed me things I had never seen before. Things like my resolve, brainpower and acumen.

In the end I did bolt from the blue. Everyone was knocked for six.

I’m still trying to figure out what I am now…or probably my Melancholic side is the Mr. Hyde, hiding somewhere waiting for me to get home.

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