Africa I: Moonwalking Boxer, Hungry Bees and Rachel.

Back when I was in grade Four I lived with my dad in Uganda, Africa. I studied there for 6 months but including the visits before and after that you could say I spent a year there. Africa was awesome. And I say Africa because even though there are several countries there, even the locals speak of everything as being African, not Ugandan, or Kenyan or Tanzanian. It was Africa.

I remember our class teachers had been given coupons at the beginning of the year bought by our parents, and these were used to fund our lunch meals. I, however, was a coward and was afraid to ask for the coupons (even though our teacher was super nice) and I managed to spend all my months in school without eating lunch.

There was this one kid, I don’t remember his name but it began with a ‘W’. He Always moonwalked out of the class and he told me one day that he was going to go to Nigeria to watch or be a boxer. I told him there was a primary school in front of our house where early every morning, several boxers came and sparred before school started. I think that impressed him and I was slightly cooler by association. He had also never heard of Onions, which I found extraordinary.

My best friend was Karim. He was small and agile, like a happy, Attention Deficit bee. One day he requested the principle to let him dance for the morning assembly. Being the ultra-introvert I have always been I thought that was insane. We remained friends. And I took a leaf out of his confidence book, brought it down to my level and decided to talk to this girl I had a crush on. Her name was Rachel  and she was running for School President. One hungry lunch I saw her in the middle of this galaxy of kids and said “Hey Rachel…” and immediately the entire galaxy started laughing. You see there is a thick African accent which does not promote my regular pronunciation of the name ‘Rachel’ and since kids are inherently bastards, they did not let this go, worse still, Rachel laughed with them. I melted, and then evaporated.


Pockets, Friendly Enemies And Not Being Poor Enough.

I’ve come to accept the fact that I am, unfortunately, not poor.

Don’t get me wrong, my family is NOT rich, not even close. Seriously, I cannot emphasize how ‘not close’ to rich we are. We fall into that class people like my parents call “Lower Middle-Class” except we are in the bottom half of that sub-division as well.

I went to a residential school when I was a kid and I had a friend there, well not friend, more like enemy. However he was poor. His parents slaved to get him to a good school. His spectacles and his replacement spectacles were the same thing. When he got new shoes, they stayed locked in his trunk and he slept with the keys. But he embraced the fact that he was poor, and that made him fucking cool-ish. He could be arrogant and judgmental. I could afford to break my glasses, even if it was just once, but he had to have cello-tape handy. When he bought a comic book (yes ‘a’ comic book) and someone mishandled it, his lecture about his parents government job was tolerated. Once we had a fight and I ended up ripping out his shirt’s breast pocket. He Wore That Shirt To School The Next Day!!! Do you know what that feels like? To do that to a fellow classmate?

Anyway the point is my parents are just a hair above the poverty line. They worked to send me to a good school and they’ve worked all their life. But I was robbed of an opportunity to be a “people’s people” because my parents could just afford to get me another pair of glasses, pair(S) of shoes, a replacement to my tie. We’re Almost just as bad, but not bad enough where all that hard work can be ‘notarized’. I mean each and every one of my friends is way way way richer than me but I don’t get to stick out like the guy who deserves more. Damn it’s hard to be slightly more well-off and have a comfortable lifestyle.

But then again I guess my parents just worked harder.