At school Anena is basically the misfit. She isn’t necessarily rejected, and there are other small people with a character close to hers but somehow she is a misfit. She can’t even hangout with the other ‘misfits’. It just doesn’t work.
With three other siblings, Anena attends a fancy school that she has no idea how her mother pays for. Well, she’s always known that her dad pitched in, but recently she got a strange feeling that he stopped and mum has not said a word about it. Anena’s father is enstranged. She is not sorry because she doesn’t know why she should be, but let’s hold that thought.
Her school is so fancy that “East or west, home is best,” would cease to have meaning. She’d choose school over home a million times if she had to. She carries a small metallic case to school filled with her clothes and other essentials, because that’s all she ever needs considering her situation; and she’s not complaining because over the years, eating breakfast never made sense anymore and the two other meals are way better than she could ask for in a typical Ugandan boarding school. Every meal time, she’s convinced even more that her children will attend the same school in the future, so help her God.
Her school mates though, bring along three times her belongings because well, fancy school, fancy kids. Maybe that is why it’s hard for her to have actual friends. It’s as if she carries a repelling lebel on her forehead…
Anena has no expectations from her mother except for the school fees. She is lucky to have grace periods, but then she can’t be sent home, because she would never know how to get there. It is a long three hour bus ride so the bursar is sympathetic enough.
It is strange when on the last visitation day, her mother, Ma Rose has come to visit. Instead of the routine bottle of soda and her special English pancakes they always shared as they sat in the dining hall, Ma Rose asks that they sit outside on the grass. No, there’s no mat, soda, or the special pancakes. It’s just a soft wind with a chill mild enough to pass for fresh air, Anena, her mother and a results slip between them. They’re discussing her results and that’s all they will do because Ma Rose says home is okay and she is off in 20 minutes. Only. She hasn’t even left the usual 10k for a soda.
The finals are almost due and the school is buzzing with bookworms, new bookworms and ongoing seminars. She is constantly on the roll call in the mornings to go and make calls at the phone booth to “remind your parents that you will not sit for your finals!” It’s disturbing. Especially when Ma says she is totally out of solutions for now. But an angel is watching from a distance. Mr.Ochola then walks over to the phone booth where Anena stands in near tears; he is her teacher, and the most humble person she’s known her entire life atleast so far…students take advantage of that because then they never have to finish their assignments on time. Or they’d ask him to do them all kinds of favours for “a home-sick spoilt rich kid.” He’s just too nice for his own good.
When Mr.Ochola gets to Anena, he asks what the problem could be; she starts to wonder why anyone, a teacher, would care at this time considering the situation. It’s the finals. It’s not like if she tells him her problems, he can make them go away…like he can convince the administration, with no particular reason, to let her do her exams. She’s the ordinary student. Not in the books for anything good, or even bad. Unless he were the principal’s relative.
She tells him everything anyway, but she’s basically broken, she can’t contain it. She had dealt with all four years with the cliff-edgy grace periods, but not this time. Atleast not for her finals. It is the last straw and maybe the teacher sees that. They then have a small conversation, and he asks her a few questions then that’s it.
All she knows the next day is that she’s cleared, all of it. And God knows it was a huge debt. For all she knows, her teacher must have emptied his bank account but he doesn’t want to hear it. Infact, he wanted to remain anonymous if it were possible. But we know for sure that a miracle has happened, from the least possible options. That was God.