“Not now mum,’ I always said. “Can I first finish this and then do that quickly quickly,” I asked, always. “How soon do you need that,” I implored, sometimes. Often, would say, “I have a headache.” You would have to do it yourself. My stomach would suddenly ache when my name was called out. I suddenly got mental wounds. My knees would suddenly develop a swelling; one that would make you feel guilty if you sent me on an errand. How inconsiderate can you be to send a sick child on an errand? Asking for a hand from me was always a try. Those who noticed held back their call for help before it left their lips.
Of course this was then. Time changes people. People grow. Age helps one file for divorce with discourteous mannerism so that maturity can set in. But old habits live longer the hills. Flashes of now-divorced vices come into sight every now and then.
I didn’t start procrastinating tasks yesterday. I didn’t start making excuses the day before. And will not say I was born this way. The environment has a way of tuning behavior. I was born in an age where more time is spent in school. I will square this one on my earlier days in school. Let’s spare the parent who once in a while spared the rod, unknowingly, because he/she was raising a cunning child. And had many other children to also tend to.
[Teacher] “Why didn’t you do your homework?”
Ahh. Uhmmm. Yes. [Excuse has been found] There was no power last night. UEB (the then UMEME) sent me to bed when the cows came home to roost. Mummy said I could not do the homework using a candle because that would damage my sight. She also said damage control is not affordable; spectacles are for rich professors. If every lie I told was a death sentence for mum, back in the day, she would have to be a cat to live another day.
The truth was I had made a mental note to do the homework after watching Power rangers, the Ghost busters and lastly, little Tupu tupu tupu and Pingu on UTV. I had deferred the homework to be done at prime news time. One thing led to the other, before I knew it I was woke from sleep to prepare for school. Without attempting to do any homework.
Mother never felt pressed to check if I had done it. Not that she didn’t care but I often did the work without supervision. When she did ask, once in a while, I would answer in affirmative, without hesitation. She would rest her case assured she was raising a responsible child. My teacher too always called my bluff. This was a time when there was wanton power cuts. Or no electricity at all, in many a home, across the country. How would she know I was lying when electricity was a myth in the staff quarters at the community school?
[Sunday evening. The year is 2007. I’m a Senior 1 in that over a century old only boys missionary founded school perched atop a hill in Seeta, off Namilyango road]. The weekend has finally come to a halt. I have to prepare my uniform for the week’s classes. But there is a hitch, it is not washed. So is the other pair. I, like so many other boys my age in the school, made a mental promise to thy self to do laundry over the weekend but we couldn’t desist the allure touch rugby on Friday evening. Washing on Friday night was close to impossible especially if one had a beat (read radio) to dance to dancehall and pop mix-tapes played across all FMs on the night. Saturday was consumed by TV. And yours truly had to attend church on Sunday, and wind down through what was left of Sabbath to detox the madness from the two previous days.
So here I was with two dirty pairs of uniform. Nothing to do but wash and wear. If the heavens had no mercy, a downpour would rinse the uniform left to dry on the wire, a second time. If there was there a power cut the morning after, you’d attend class with visibly wet uniform hugging you passionately.
Many a time, during these days, I would tell myself I will read, later. Not on a chilly morning but at night. “It’s painfully cold, I cannot read in this weather when I have just stepped out of bed,” I would assure myself, whilst my classmates read during this dewy hour. But at the fall of darkness, I would pick up a newspaper and tell myself the real reading will come in the last hour of prep or during the extension when the classroom was less noisy. This would all never materialize. The real reading only came a few weeks close to examination periods but by now I had lost out on preciously irrecoverable time.
Unfortunately I could not defer failure as I had delayed my reading. There were no shortcuts. Mediocrity and subsequently, total failure, were the only alternatives. Subconsciously, I flirted with mediocrity until the mock examinations of the Uganda Certificate of Education. The remaining months of preparation helped me to save face. If I was to fail, at least, I should fail like a gentleman –pass miserably with a grade just good enough to get you admitted in any school (with a little bit of lobbying school administrators). And that’s exactly how I scored in the finals. All I could muster was mediocre first grade.
Today, I have a two minute rule that I follow, sometimes. A principle I discovered as I tried to pick up myself. Nothing should be postponed to be done later when it can be done away with promptly –a space of two minutes. There is no longer a parliamentary seating in my head to debate whether to do something. No more Vision 2040s and Millennium Goals for something I should have accomplished yesterday.
It has worked well for me. I get simple tasks out of the way and have chunks of time on my hand to attend to more pressing matters. However, it’s a principle built on shifting sands. My temperament often dictates the day. Even the two minute principle gets broken. School gave me many a skill but tenacity. My plans fluctuate comparably with the Uganda shilling against the foreign currency. That is why I, sometimes, still get to do things LATER.
One down, six to go. Enjoy this months #UgBlogWeek challenge with themed School made me no better; read, share, like…repeat.