Friday, October 23, 2015


Photo Credit:
By Amanda 'Maya Madumere

When I was assigned a class, my colleagues got to know it was Buoy's class, they all kept coming around to sympathize with me. I couldn't figure out why. Until I met Buoy.

This boy, Buoy, at his age, was neither able to read nor write. His literacy was poor, and his numeracy, too, was nothing to write home about.
The odd thing was; he never seemed distracted. Actually, he'd always focus on the whiteboard, or the class teacher, and would 'mime' along with his mates when they chorused answers, that you'd be impressed. But, he rarely understood anything.

He's six years older then many of his class mates. And, he's supposed to be six classes ahead of them, too. But, he's spent many years of his life, failing and repeating classes.

Of course, he'd become a laughing stock to his mates, and some teachers, too.

Some of his mates called him 'papa mmadu'. Some of my colleagues, too, made it a priority to always ask me, "Amanda, what of that dumb boy in your class, that gets dumber on daily basis?". "He's improving", I'd lie. I never did give them the satisfaction of the truth.

The irony of it all; Buoy's mother is an academic. She lectures in a university, outside the state. So, she travels to and fro, everyday, and is never prompt to come take him home after school. As a result, he'd always stay with me, after dismissal, in school, while he waited for his mother.

From the school library, I'd get him books, in my name, which he read there - in class, while he waited for his mother. From these books, he'd copy out 'difficult' words. He'd go home, learn their meanings and spellings. The next day, I'd dictate those words, while he spelt them aloud. It had become a routine, and I could boast he was improving.

On that day, I brought him books from the library, as usual, and instructed him to read up. Then, I headed back to the library to do my business.

After some time, I thought it wise to check on him in the class.

"What the heck?!" I yelled, obviously surprised.

He jumped down from my desk, where he had stooped, facing the air-conditioning system that had suddenly come to life, after months of being out of service. The system had parked up due to inadequate maintenance.

"I. . .I repair it", I could sense the fright in his voice.

"You, repaired this?? How did you do it?", I asked, still astonished.

"Eh, I opened it with this t'ing," he revealed the screw-driver he held, "and it was the dirty have cover that place that used to filter the breeze. That is why the t'ing stop working, so I cleaned it"

"You. . .you actually fixed this?", I stuttered, as it was unbelievable.

He nodded. He tried to wipe off, with his fingers, the smear of grease on his shirt. He only succeeded in smearing some more.

I took a peek outside; to be certain there was no one around, who could have helped him fix it. There was no one.

I had just discovered a genius!

Unfortunately, no one else believed that Buoy repaired the AC system - not even his mother.

"So, you're trying to tell me that my son was born to be a mechanic?", Buoy's mother asked, amused. I had just told her what happened the previous day.

"If that's how you'd put it, yes. I mean. . .he carries, in his back-pack, screw-drivers, nuts and screws. That's something", I said, obviously expecting the pits.

"I've told you, my boy is going to become a doctor. That's the only thing I can allow him to be. In fact, he'll study neuro-surgery, that's the only way he can become wealthy", she spoke with a dogged resolve.

"Only way?? Ma'am, who says 'mechanics' live in austerity, and then, doctors are wealthy?", I was getting visibly agitated.

"Yes nah! That's the profession in vogue o," she let out a brief laugh, "don't you know? Nowadays, doctors are booming o. They're now making money o"

In her daydream, she's, probably, not aware that it'd require something supernatural for a boy who carries, in his back-pack, screw-driver, nuts and screws, to study and excel in Parasitology, Pharmacology, or even, Anatomy. How would he study the gigantic textbooks? These were my thoughts.

If only she could think less about the wealth and, think more about the boy - her boy.

I thought up something helpful. I made photo-copies of every house electrical appliance manual I was able to lay my hands on and, handed them to him. They'd sharpen his senses, I thought.
I met the children, again, yesterday.

Buoy keeps improving. His teachers are awed by his performance. His peers, too.

He's stopped making grave grammatical errors and, rarely fails a test nowadays. On Friday, he came tops in a Maths quiz.

He was so eager to share, with me, all he's learned so far, from the photo-copied manuals.

He told me, a lot, about compressors, expansion valves, serpentines and refrigerants.

I wasn't wrong when I said I had discovered a genius.


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