Happy is what I feel now, just being here makes me cry with joy. In life there are many lessons that you learn such as “be kind” or “live life to the fullest” and these are good life messages; but they weren’t mine that is because until the age of 14 I didn’t even have my own life.
I grew up in the middle of Somalia: a destitute village with no mum just an inexorable dad.
I can remember this day as vividly as anything else: it was the day that change my whole life.
Walking home with the cattle, it caught my eye. A poster. As I walked towards it, it became easier to read and I could see every letter on it. I read the words aloud in my head “Paula’s secondary school opening”.
Pervading into my mind the feeling of excitement rejoiced me. Tingling with exhilaration my fingers couldn’t stop intertwining with each other. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. “Cost: 1000 shillings please reserve your place as soon as possible”. Suddenly, those tears of joy became tears of sadness and pain. There was no way I could afford that I thought.
Unless I somehow manage to get this money…
Running forwards, I dragged the cattle along with me to the market. Just before I could stop myself it was gone; I had sold it away for 1100 shillings. It was less than the cattle was actually worth but it would be enough to pay for my dream. I had to go quickly.
After I had paid, a sudden terror froze me. What was I going to tell my father?
Fear is as ubiquitous as sunlight on these cracked streets. There are the leaders who watch for the end they know must come. It is the fear of the prey or the fear of the street soldier, the arena ever changing for both yet forming a prison. Being scared is so normal, so inescapable, that it is ignored by the majority. Not me though, I'm going to be different…. I’m going to stand up to him.
As I go into the house I saw his face: he was drunk again.
“Where is my cattle?” he shouted.
I couldn’t speak but I know I had to. “I sold it” I replied whilst I put my head down low so that I could avoid eye contact with him.
“Why!” his voice boomed in the atmosphere
“I spent it on going to school and it’s non-refundable.” I replied trembling with fear.
“You did what...” he replied. Coming closer my hands trembled at his presence, this couldn’t be good. His hand came and slapped me across the face, the pain was unbearable. Tears escaped my body as if they cannot bear to witness another physical assault; so I ran out of the room I couldn’t bear to get near him any longer.
This moment changed my whole life.
Weeks passed and my father had forgotten some of this but not all; his eyes still started at me like I was some lunatic and he never ever left me unsupervised.
The day of school was the worst; he told me that I had to pay back all the money for my school by getting another job somewhere else. Reluctantly, I agreed.
After a year of schooling I had paid back all that I had taken from my father. It was a very stressful year because of the pneumonia was very prevalent in our country and I saw doctors coming in; they did a fantastic job. They were extraordinary.
The last year of high school was the most memorable of course; even though there were my main exams I still got to enjoy life with my friends and seemed to find my life here and finally I had a life.
Me and my father didn’t talk much because whenever I came back from my part time work he was either heavily drunk or just not there. Furthermore, I never saw him in the morning mainly because he didn’t even wake up and also I had to get up early to go to school or revise at the local library. However, to be honest I didn’t want to see him just like he didn’t want to see me.
On the last week the test results came in; I had gotten full marks on all of them and my name was in the newspaper. It was extraordinary.
My happiness was like the sun rising and casting the trees in their virescent hues and bringing the warm brown tones back to the earth. It's as if invisible holes were poking into my skin and all my tension leeched out, an overwhelming feeling came over me I actually stood a chance to go to a good college. Happiness flowed through me, warming my skin like the rays of an early summer sun.
Suddenly I was called into the head masters room, but I hadn’t done anything wrong so what could it be about? I thought.
“Casho, please sit down” he beckoned.
Taking a seat right in front of him, I nodded. Staring at me, his eyes started to examine me. Something wasn’t right I thought; something was just odd and I could tell by the way that he looked at me. Sitting upright, this was the hardest speech he had ever made I thought. But why?
“Miss Casho, I have recently been told that your test scores are fantastic and are the highest of the country…” he told me
“But sir…” I interrupted, I wanted to know whether I was in trouble or not; I couldn’t bear it anymore it was slowing eating me up
“Please don’t interrupt me, so where was I? Yes. So you have a funder now who will pay for your college education in one of the top medical universities.” he said.
My brain stuttered for a moment and my eyes took in more light than I expected, every part of me goes on pause while my thoughts catch up. My eyes and my mouth were frozen wide open in an expression of stunned surprise, and although I was staring straight at the head teacher I couldn’t notice him at all.
One word escaped my mouth. “Seriously?” I asked.
“Yes” he replied and a small smile grew at the corner of his lip but then it was gone as quick as a flash.
“Actually he’s here to meet you now” he told me and pointed towards the door.
Yes he was actually there; a tall lean man who looked like a retired teacher was standing by the door. I couldn’t believe it.
“Hi my name is Thomas and I’m so proud of you, you are a smart and talented young girl who has a bright future and it would make me really happy if I could help you”
I couldn’t bring myself to say anything apart from thanking him. As I watched him a go my heart started beating rapidly and I couldn’t believe it. This was extraordinary.
Now I am here: at my graduation. I have made it; my dream has been completed. Now I can gladly say that I have made the most of my life.
So one life lesson that I have learn is that: life is something extraordinary.