Clearing from the University of Nairobi~ the process by which a former student prepares to graduate~ is a bitch, its a rabid bitch that's suckling its young. in these chronicles I relay my adventures riding this bitch.
There's something about arriving at the dean's office and explaining my problem to the receptionist there that gets to me. Its not the absurdity of the situation, I had a weekend to get over that,its her reaction to it. She's not rude or unwelcoming, she's just shocked.
“Your answer booklet is lost? I don't understand how that can happen.”
My answer is a smile, a smile that should say I don't understand either, however I don't think it’s your fault in fact I do not want to assign blame anywhere. All I want is allies, we can both agree this is absurd and I hope you can do something about this,if you can't I hope you can join me in hating whoever put this boy with the sweet smile in this position. I don't know whether a smile can convey all that, I doubt one of mine could but I smiled trying to look hopeful and hurt at the same time. I soon got to see the dean.
I like our dean, he taught us one unit this year and he's the kind of person people would say has a first rate mind. He would stand in front of the class and regale us with tales, teaching us law by telling us stories. Stories of kings and the consequences of their decisions. “Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin met on a submarine after the war to decide the fate of the world” began one of his lectures. All the rest were similarly structured. “the reason America is still a superpower? some countries make machines(Japan and cars e.g.) to make these machines they need other machines, but who makes the third tier of machines the ones that make these assembly lines? America. They make the machines that make the machines that make the machines. That's why.”
He's also fat, fat in a jolly way, Falstaff fat(i should mention that unlike Falstaff above he's black). Always with a smile not far from his face but also not someone to be messed with, the kind of face that could turn in an instant if provoked, perhaps not in expression, the smile would stay firmly fixed but in quality with menace sneaking in to hide behind the wrinkles left by laugh lines, waiting in shadow not seen by those too foolish to give it a second thought. And efficient, he's very efficient. I told him my name, I told him my problem, told him I had written a letter laying out in cold as stark terms that my answer booklet was missing. He looked at me with an expression conveying not concern but a call for commitment.
“Yours is truly a strange case, I’m going to have to look into what happened but the supplementaries are on Thursday and the best advice I can give you is to sit the paper again.”
Grimly I said, “I’m going to have to do that paper again.”
“it's really up to you, but that would be my advice.”
“that wasn't a question I was steeling myself for what's to come.”
Prepare for the worst is a good personal philosophy for nearly everyone and i had done just that, rooting out old books, giving them some old looks and settling down in old nooks to give them a read. Reading is hard, it's really hard. Your mind wanders when it shouldn't and wonders why the hell you're sitting there re-doing something you already did, something you already gave all of yourself to. Libraries can become oppressive domineering and dominating. They are these buildings where knowledge is locked up, vast cavernous jails filled with line upon line of information. Information that wants to get out, wants to be free but cannot, not really. You see the ones with the keys who can let it out don't want to,when they come here it's because they are forced to, painted into a corner by the spectre of exams, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what they have to overcome. They come here tired or leave tired. They come ready to remember but in truth forlorn waiting for when they are free to forget. They come in with targets to reach, one hour, ten pages, a hundred case names and almost to a man they are defeated. Almost getting there, 50 minutes is good enough, I got to 8 pages, 78 cases. So they leave frustrated and the information that wanted to be free? Locked up in minds that resent its presence there.
For one unit in one week I read my ass off. Preparing my mind for a mental sprint, making it malleable and cramming all I could in there. Then on the day of I was as prepared as I could hope to be only to walk in and get a switcharoo. Every once in a while there's an exam question that can't be helped, you could be given all the notes you ever took down and it still can't be helped, you could be allowed to consult all your classmates and it still can't be helped. Every once in an even greater while that question is compulsory and carries more marks than the rest. This was once in a greater while.
But, that's behind me. Now on to the next one.