Friday, 26 December 2008
Sundays as a kid were always superb.
Mass was a very short affair (phew!!) and afterwards we were all bunched in the car and taken swimming at the local sports club (bonus lunch too when lucky!)….when money was tight we had to eat at home (then wait 20 minutes for the food to “reach the stomach” to avoid barfing in the water).
We would race to change in record time and my mum swathed us all with a gob of Vaseline making us look like shiny brown blobs jumping into the water with glee….
All my siblings could swim like aces except me….I used to like belly flopping at the club’s baby pool to maximize the splash effect to those (idiots I thought) who were not in their bathing suits or ready to face the risk of getting wet at the poolside…
My mother, who believed any water more than a bath tub was lethal never got near the pool. She sat under the umbrella chairs propped her feet up on another chair and sipped on tomato juice on the rocks and browsed a romance novel or those weekly women magazines sometimes even chatting up my friends mummies….
My dad would routinely pop in and surprise us “to inspect our swimming skills” and treat us to red Schweppes and a packet of crisps… (by the way, if we broke that 20 minute rule to wait for the food to “reach the stomach” the puke in the pool was a horribly gross pale pink making all the swimmers scamper out of the water in total disgust….euuuuuuwwww you didn’t want to see pale pink puke floating in a pool)..
I kept pissing my dad off because of my lack of swimming skills…I had been doing the whole swimming thing since I was like two and he felt it a waste of money that I opted to empty the baby pool and upset guests by drenching them. So one day my dad got radical and yanked me out of the baby pool saying that it was a high time I learnt how to swim in the big pool.
To the surprise of everyone my dad took me to the big pool and threw me right in the middle before anyone could say KARUMANZIRA….
There was a collective sigh followed by horrified screams from all quarters….
It was like slow motion and surreal…am telling you my eyes were open as my body made impact with the water and as gravity pushed me down to the bottom …my feet floundered looking for the floor of the pool and God it was soooo deep…
I wondered for a second if I was going to die. Then I floated back up and grasped for air. I saw my dad with that ka-broom thingie for cleaning the pool shouting at me to swim and grab onto it. Almost everyone was at the edge of the pool hysterical and my dad kept telling them to back off.
So there I was like 5 years old crying and drinking all the pool’s water wondering why my dad hated me. Then he reached out with the broom inches away from me… I lunged to grab it and when I almost got it…he pulled it back away a bit…I lunged again to reach for it and he pulled it back again. …then I realized he was deliberately pushing my life link away from me and I felt like I needed to survive that ordeal to strangle him with my bare hands…I lunged again reaching for the bloody broom and he ….yes….pulled it back away from me!
What a mean horrible man….
My eyes never lost contact with that broom thingie and before I knew it I had done a half width and when I reached close to the edge my dad grabbed me and pulled me out. The bystanders at the poolside burst with applause once they realized that I actually swam on my own across the pool….
But I was pissed …crying bloody murder…. I hit his face like 20 times hating him for throwing me in the big pool. He just held onto me not letting go…letting me vent my anger. My mum tried to get me away from him (by the way I hear she sulked at him for like two weeks for pulling that stunt) but my dad refused to let me go.
Exhaustion hit and I rest my head on his chest with dry wracking sobs. He took me to sit at the table and just continued to hold me in his arms. When I calmed down, my dad told me matter of fact as he cleaned up my gooey face that even though he kinda pissed me off at least he proved to everyone that I could swim.
He told me I had no excuse to ever go to the baby pool again since I managed to swim across the big pool. That was when it really sank in that I could swim…well I could fight not to drown at the very least which I think is technically the same thing– lol…
Friends of the family all came to our table with various goodies from the pool bar…chocolates and peanuts more Schweppes congratulating me on the brave thing I did.
In those days I needed very little to boost my ego…in minutes I was stupid enough to think I was ready to go back to the big pool to give a shot at swimming a full length right up to the deep end….
My sister and brothers capitalized on my vanity for the next couple of Sundays and taught me the strokes in grueling training sessions. They never cut me slack and never let me chicken out on anything. I soon caught up with their skills and held my own in the pool.
When my dad came again for “inspection” we always had some new snazzy swim skill to show off to him and swimming became a real joy for us all.
So one day recently I asked him how he knew I would not drown that day when he threw me in the water…
“Let me admit now Chiqy that I didn’t know whether you would manage in the big pool. Of course if you didn’t come back up I would have jumped in shoes and all and gotten you out…. but when you lunged out the first time to reach for the broom I realized that you could do it and I pushed you into going all the way. Sometimes you don’t know the potential you have until someone pushes you to the very edge. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to get us all started.”
It never occurred to me all these years that he didn’t know whether I would come back up in that water.
Yeah that was faith and faith can seem real stupid sometimes….but the results were totally worth it!
I still have vivid memories of struggling to get my legs on some solid ground that day and just trying to stay afloat to breathe…
But that’s how life is sometimes isn’t it?
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Growing up I was a gawky girl with buck teeth and a shy smile. I took a while to warm up to people hiding behind my mum’s legs when strangers were around. With kids it was rather worse…I had not really had kids to play with and so I took socializing a bit tooooo seriously…It seemed absurd to me when kids threw sawdust from the play ground at each other as fun. I was a tad too sensitive and held back tears most times…I really preferred playing with pets insects and tailless lizards around the house…they were less likely to call me names or hurl saw dust into my eyes.
When I first went to nursery everything was new and exciting. I loved my tomato red uniform. My mum did my hair in little pom poms and I think I looked cute…..I had this little red box with my break tin and juice, two books and pack of 12 crayons.
My Stuff was labeled by my perfectionist mother…
Its here where I met Mrs Raja. She was a tough but ok teacher, which was to say you didn’t want to make her mad – her face turned a crazy crimson. She pushed her thick specs in then glared at you, her sari rustled and she swished her looong black hair this way and that….She huffed and puffed with many of us seriously considering scampering under our desks till she stopped ranting….Am pretty sure someone peed in her pants once when she lost her temper in class….
So I learnt very early in school that I royally pissed the teachers off when they saw me using my left hand to write and draw patterns….About 3 of us in class were lefties and the crew found this an unacceptable statistic….(by the way I still don’t know what the big deal is being a leftie…???)
So one time (and without the knowledge and consent of our parents) the school decided to “de-left” us freaks led by the “Project Leader Teacher” Mrs Raja in the flesh….The school would have us stay on in class everyday during recess for two weeks….They would tie up our left hands at the back of the colored wooden chairs and force us to do writing and patterns using our right hands.
First day I untied myself after a frustrating few minutes with my right and just finished the sentence with my left. Mrs Raja’s hawk eyes spotted me fast and out came those puke yellow wooden rulers that had a metal slicer in between it (gosh remember those???)….she yanked my left hand out and wacked me One …Two… Three on my knuckles! The other kids were so horrified they actually went on to use their right hands without further protest. I cried of course and my hand bruised badly but the next day I still broke free and used my left hand to work.
I got whacked often as I defied the orders of the “de-left” project.
On the 5th day when I could not wriggle out of the knots (they tied me real tight that day) I simply put my pencil down and said I wasn’t going to write. I looked at Mrs Raja in the eye and held my gaze! I saw her nostrils flaring and for a second I wondered if she was planning to kill me then she just came over to my chair untied me and scooted me out of class to play with the other kids…I kept looking back wondering whether it was a trick… but sure enough I was free and happily joined in with those twits throwing saw dust at each other…my two other mates came out of the whole sordid program as right handers…and even though I was relatively intact, I picked up a slight stammer then (which I have thankfully overcome for the most part).
Another time when I was a teenager, I was nagging my dad for permission to go swimming over the weekend with some school friends….I anticipated some opposition so I started very early in the week…..
I kept asking and begging “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaase Baba let me go swim with my friends at the club on Saturday?”
….he kept saying NO.. even in different languages….but that didn’t stop me from asking again and again and when he could not take it anymore he snapped back…
“Wewe, are you asking or saying you’re going for swimming on Saturday?”
I said, “Woiye si of course Baba am asking…am beeeggggging…pleaaaase Baba…”
“Chiqy you aren’t asking your saying and even though I say no you will still find a way to swim so you better think about that stubbornness you have.”
To be honest, he was right…I did end up swimming that weekend….
As annoying as it is, once I make up my mind on something it’s very hard to make me change that resolve.
On the most part, stubbornness has taken me through shaky life moments….and waded me through flaky lifestyles and very tempting temptation…..lol…
Stubbornness reigning is what kept me up all night trying to finish some god dammed report due next day at noon…..
Stubbornness is what keeps me going with living in this dark world….
And while it won’t win me a popularity contest, let’s hope my stubbornness can get me through a new upcoming year….
Have a happy holiday y’all….hoping for good things in 2009…