My school days adventures

My school days adventures
St. Theresa's Primary school - Eastleigh Nairobi

Going to school always felt harder than going to work. I remember in my first class, (class 1) - (there was no kindergarten at the time, maybe we didn’t need it) all the children sat on small chairs and some were crying. I wondered why. For me it was exciting to see what is next. I guess my mum stood outside for the whole session. Didn’t see her, but don’t think I cared. It was just a fun day, which ended in go home for lunch, which looked like an award for being in school.

Then as I advanced I got new books at the start of the year, which seemed like presents and made coming back to school all worthwhile. Later on my books changed from brand new to hand downs. I had 2 siblings before me, so I had to be content with those handed down, sometimes with dog ears and scribbles although the scribbles did work for me sometimes since they were the answers to the questions.

For class 1, most of the time it was playing games outside and singing the same nursery rhymes. It seemed they never found new ones because every generation in the house was familiar with those.

At grade 3 it was a bit more serious learning. Arithmetic (a big word) but was my favourite as I always scored high.

I remember at one test, the sums (what they called them)were put on the board and we had to write it on the test paper and solve them.I copied all those from the board and answered all correctly and was quite pleased. However when the teacher marked my paper, I got an X for all, meaning they were all wrong, although I knew they were all correct. My accounting skills were perfect even at that time.

When my mum saw the paper, she wondered why they were marked wrong. Does the teacher not know how to add ? So she marched to the school to find out what was going on. The teacher’s response was that the sums answered correctly, however those were not the ones that were put up on the blackboard.

That was trouble. The teacher suspected I couldn’t see well so I had to go for an eye test. At the time our optician was Baliwala and Homi. I had to go to this particular one because they were around for over 100 years and my entire generation went there. I was short sighted and had to wear spectacles since that class. The spectacles came with frames which had a sort of a clothes hanger hook that went around the ear, so they don’t fall off. Further more all future class teachers were instructed to place me on the first row which was not fun being under the nose of the teacher always, especially when you are gifted with the art of mischief.

At recess, most of the children, would go accross the street to the store and buy chips and other good kid stuff. I wasn't given money but home made sandwiches. However, I wanted chips and the other good stuff there. I asked one of the classmates to give me money and he asked me to give me my sweater, which I did and he gave me 10 shillings, with which I bought chips, mango slices dipped in salt and chilly powder and some other stuff. That was a lot of money then and after buying all that, I had money leftover for the next day.

When I got home, my mum noticed my sweater missing. I told her what I did. Trouble again. Mum went to the school the next day and paid back that boy and got back my sweater. It was probably worth more than 10 Shillings. The good part was I already enjoyed the chips and goodies.

In class 7, at the Hindi test, since I wasn’t so well versed with the language , I memorized some of the answers, but there were others which I couldn't understand. I asked my classmate sitting next to me and he was kind enough to keep his paper, where I could see what he had written, but then I had to sneak at intervals as the teacher was moving around the class. As time was running out, I knew I would not be able to complete the answer, so had to come up with plan B. I copied some of the entire questions as answers just changing a few words here and there. And guess what, I don’t remember failing that class.

Grade 7 in Bombay. The setup is just as I remember

At SSC (grade 11) - the final year in school, the exam results were always published on the newspaper in 3 categories(distinction, pass or fail ) I would always looked first at the distinction part, not that I expected it, but just because there is a another chance. On the evening before it was published, outside the press there was this guy who got a copy of the results from the press, for those who paid him Rs 10. What a scam, but there were many who were interested including me. Those who passed were happy, those who failed had time to come up with some excuse as to why they could have failed.

I think school was fun in a way and hope you enjoyed reading.

Remember feedback/comments are always appreciated which helps me dig out more memories.

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