SCHOOL MEMORIES: Viola's imperfection

The silence in the room was so loud that it was almost deafening. The National Examinations were upon us. For a long time, so long that the school administration prepared for it as one prepares for a forecasted disaster, this period of time had been known for causing mental breakdowns among students.

The silence in the room was so loud that it was almost deafening. The National Examinations were upon us. For a long time, so long that the school administration prepared for it as one prepares for a forecasted disaster, this period of time had been known for causing mental breakdowns among students.

So when Viola Kemigisha suddenly broke the silence with a loud groan, none of us were startled. We just did as we had been told to do in such situations; we stayed calm and carried on expressing our knowledge (or lack thereof) on paper and trusted the first aid team to do its job.

The first aid team was headed by a medical doctor. He was assisted by the school chaplain whose role was to pray because students had a tendency to obsess over the belief that their ancestors and relatives were plotting their failure. The school counsellor was on call in case the victim of the famous mental breakdown required being soothed with words. Also on standby was the school driver, to drive the victim to a hospital if need arose.

In the past, a few minutes of fresh air had proved good enough to calm the nerves. I was therefore surprised when I didn’t see Viola anywhere on the school premises that evening or in the examination room the following day. For four years, Viola had been the perfect student. She could do no wrong. She was the yardstick for good behavior. I was forced to sit beside her in the hope that her perfection would rub off on me.  And for four years, at least twice a day, teachers had said to me, “Why can’t you be more like Viola?” How I resented her!

Upon hearing that her loud groans were not in fact as a result of a mental breakdown but labour pain, I was excited. I had longed for the day that her perceived perfection would stop making me feel inadequate. Of course, Viola wasn’t the mother of Jesus, and, therefore the Holy Spirit wasn’t involved in the conception. So then, the fact that she got pregnant and I lived to see it was a miraculous event, one that was as worthy of celebration as Christmas is.

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