I have always been optimistic; believing that anyone can do just about anything they want to. I mean that’s cliche now, right? Even MTN says you can go, be and do whatever you wanna; not necessarily in that particular order but you get my drift. I knew this before MTN or them other self-help people did. Wise kid I was; wise for my age. So what exactly did I do about it? Put my money where my mouth was, that’s what. Not so wise a move, I must admit. So here’s what happened:
It was the year I was in primary four and an inter-class swimming competition (I think) had been announced by the Sports Teacher. I’m not sure there had been a lot of swimming prior to this announcement but hey. The interesting part was any interested student could show up “as long as you have your sports wear.” I had mine as did my good friend, Rashida S and yes, we were interested. I mean, how hard could swimming be? Worthy of note is the fact that the closest I had ever been to a swimming pool, asides from school were the ones I had seen on T.V. I was duly warned by my older sis, who when I refused to heed her admonition, planted herself on the corridor of primary six to watch.
Clad in my sports wear, I turned up at the pool. We were divided into two groups: the have-swam-befores and the have-never-swam-befores and we, the latter group were warned off the deep end. We took our positions and when the whistle blew, we plunged, plopped, dived, jumped or plain simply dropped into the water. When you watch a lot of television as I did as a child, you tend to believe as I did, that I had dived into the water. In retrospective, I believe I dropped in. Then the action began.
Now, I will combine my experience with what I was told later for full comprehension. In the water, I couldn’t see but not being one to be easily deterred, I kept on doing my bit, visualising leg movements I had seen on T.V. Soon, I heard claps; someone was doing pretty well. Soon, I was at the deep end; I didn’t know this at the time and neither did anyone else. Why, you ask? Oh, I was under water. Technically, I didn’t exist anymore. Soon enough, my legs felt heavy and as my heart sank in disappointment, as did my body. In panic and a bid to survive, I lurched and sought to grab at anything, which I found. I held on tightly and somehow, I still heard claps. Now here’s what was happening above: I had apparently grabbed at someone’s leg and in the struggle to save myself, had gradually pulled her over to the deep end as well. The claps were induced because whilst the poor girl was being pulled down to drown and fighting to save herself; she was seen to be performing an astonishing feat above: backstrokes. Incredible huh?
Well, it took sometime for someone to notice she didn’t actually mean to thrill the crowd but was trying not to drown. She was brought out and it was whilst telling her story that she mentioned someone had pulled at her leg. That informed another dive to the deep end and thus was I rescued. I had taken in a lot of water so I had to be pumped. That was one experience too many. I had learnt my lesson. Possibly a little too well because I hardly ventured near the pool again; empty or full. It effectively curbed my adventurous spirit; now I only dare things I can handle. I am still quite optimistic but that is soused with a dose of logic. Next time I feel like swimming, I’ll find me an expert. Simple!
As a confirmed tomboy -I wasn’t even recognised as a girl except I spoke- I hung out with boys. I kept a short crop and couldn’t be bothered with earrings. A sensitivity around my earlobes which caused pain helped me evade the earrings gratefully. I was always in boy-clothes, could be seen scaling fences, a habitual latecomer (c’mon I lived directly adjacent the school, what did I need to be early for?) and could be found up in fruit trees, should anyone be looking for me. As such, I thought I was immune to the whole boy-girl thing, that was until I had my first crush in primary six.
He was gentle, easy going and smart. He was also always so neat; boys were generally rough and dirty back then but he was different. He was also a very quiet boy; whether or not that had to do with the fact that he urgently needed braces, I cannot readily tell. All I know is I really really liked this boy who also lived further up my street at the time. I had observed I probably didn’t exist as far as he was concerned, so I devised ways to get him to notice me like hanging around until I saw him heading home so as to fall in step with him or reduce the pace at which I walked so he could catch up. Some other times, I would raise my voice whenever he passed by so he could hear me but the guy never noticed. Now that I think about it, he was probably hard of hearing. Then as things happen in this world of ours; Mother luck stepped in.
I was in 6B while he was in C but our classes had been merged for a particular subject period and boy, was I excited. The teacher started the class but I was hardly listening. Oh I was listening alright but not actively paying attention. Was thinking of ways to catch his attention since I was directly in his line of vision without seeming obvious, like shifting incessantly in my chair. Well, apparently, dude was hard of seeing too (pardon the expression) so when opportunity knocked, I grabbed at it without thinking.
It was an agricultural class and the teacher had asked that we spell an equipment. Ha! my turf and up I jumped without thinking and leapt to the front of the class hoping he would see me and recognise how I was brilliant. Already, there were three students out infront who had misspelt the word so I thought to dazzle. So when Teacher asked for anyone who could spell the word correctly to come forward, I volunteered to. I did know the word and could spell it.
At the board, I confidently wrote out the words and smiled as I stepped back to take in my moment; except it didn’t look quite right to me. Hmmm, something must be wrong with the chalk because try as hard as I did, I couldn’t think straight enough to correct it. Now my heart was thudding. How is he going to like me now? My heart further sank when the teacher called for someone else to come correct what I had written. Might I add that all this while, I had my back to the class because I couldn’t turn to face the class, nay, face him. Then, the other person came up to the board and corrected me -apparently, I had a word in the wrong position- and did I die or what when I saw who it was. It was my crush and he got the word right. He didn’t even look at me but walked straight back to his seat afterward. Words cannot describe how I felt that day. I was so embarrased and my inability to turn red at my shame was by virtue of my not being a Caucasian.
Well, the event nailed that crush to the cross and I returned to normal living: climbing trees and scaling fences. I also stopped hanging outside my gate when I saw him passing or speaking out loud so he could turn at the sound of my voice. Mercifully, I had told no one of my crush so I was spared the jesting which would have followed. The episode effectively crushed (pun unintended) me and I have since ensured that future crushes would at least not rob me of my sanity. So much for Mother Luck, now I actively only believe in God!