It came, it saw, it conquered. All on one glorious day of love. Alas! The Feast of Saint Valentine has come and gone, leaving in its wake tears of joy and of sadness. We can all breathe a little easier, well at least for one more year.
By some strange twist of fate, I have managed to pass through all of life’s major developmental stages, including the loathsome school years. There has never been a more unexpected thing, I can assure you. As early as nursery school, I had figured out that school wasn’t going to be fun. It clicked when my nursery school teacher wanted to pluck me from my comfort zone in the younger class and move me up a grade to learn with the older children.
I promptly gave her an ‘oh, hell no!’ and the side eye, in the way only a 5-year-old can. No way, no how was I going to be pushed to work harder. I was happy with my peers. And they were happy with me. And so began many years of underachieving in the classroom. By the time I got to high school, I had figured out how to do very little and appear to have done very much.
It worked, for the most part, until my final year when I was expected to pass a national examination that was much harder than any test I had ever taken in primary school. To do that, I had to go to school on weekends for an entire year. Mostly, I hated it. But there were some redeeming moments. One such moment was our literature remedial class, where we encountered such lovely classics as Wole Soyinka’s Masaibu ya Ndugu Jero and the ominous Mashetani by Ebrahim N. Hussein.
Together with those, we had to cram the salient passages from several English literature books as well. Naturally, there was some Shakespeare thrown in there, just to complicate issues a wee bit. I never could understand where the dead Englishman was coming from or where he was going, but he did know how to string a beautiful sounding sentence together.
I particularly liked Romeo and Juliet because one, it was a love story and two, my name’s in the title. There’s a passage that Valentine’s Day always brings to memory. It’s from the second act in the second scene, and Romeo is serenading Ms Julie who has appeared in the window above. “What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief, that thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.” Pure poetry, isn’t it? I’d take that over red roses, any Valentine’s Day of the week. But for now dear reader, I bid thee adieu.