”Hips broaden stand up! Hips broaden stand up! ” he commanded”. Are they not here ?”. For the last time, hips broaden stand up! ”. In his head he expected to see every girl standing whenever he mentioned the different changes that occurred in us during adolescence. Being shy and not wanting to accept the fact that we were growing old. We remained seated (rude).
“Go get me a cane from the staff room!” he ordered. That moment you realize he was actually serious and wanted us to stand whether our hips were broaden or not. The canes that landed on our bums thereafter made us regret why in hell we seated.
In class 6, I hated science lessons. I woke up everyday, got to class and the first thing I checked was the timetable to see if there was a science lesson? and if yes – what time and for how long. The science teacher was a no-nonsense man. I was afraid of him like a plague. Seeing him at the door made my whole body shake(poor me!).
He always expected a clean board whenever he came to class. Otherwise those who sat on the front row received thorough beatings. During his classes he asked questions and pointed to anyone to answer. Failure to which invited punishment. After every topic there was a quiz which he expected everyone to pass unless one wanted beatings. It was hell of lessons.
Despite my fear for him, I loved how he gave his all when it came to teaching. He taught with so much love, enthusiasm, passion and vigor. All he wanted was for everyone to know, love, talk and drink science. Any practical lessons could not be passed without being done. I remember carrying maize and beans for germination lessons. We could carry fish and meat(I am talking of real fish) for preservation lessons. We even went to a cattle dip to see how animals were dipped. Not to mention the nature walks we took to see different types of erosion. It is a long list that I may not be able to exhaust .
As long as you were in his class,you had no excuse to not excel in science. Every class he taught led in subject ranking every other time. He kept us glued on our science books through the random questions he threw at us.
School was not a place I looked forward to because of science lessons. I was always on the wrong side of him and was not good enough to answer all his questions correctly. I got most of the beatings guys. Ironically, thinking of these old times make me happy because as Freud once said, ”One day,in retrospect, the years of the struggle will strike you as the most beautiful”.
His lessons brought about being bold as a person. Whenever you answered a question you were to speak loudly and with confidence. There, is where I got courage to be bold with the inevitable changes adolescence brought. I can not say I grasped it so well not to be shy. Most times I struggled a lot with shyness. So much happening in my body like (breast popping out, hips trying to broaden causing painful thighs, hair coming out through some parts of my body) was overwhelming to take in at once. But I can not take for granted the efforts he took to help us build confidence within ourselves (rest easy Argwings Gaya).
Every girl wanted to look young. We silently denied the fact that adolescence was hitting on us. Wrapping our heads around that fact took us so long. I remember faking a hump to hide the small breast that started coming out from my chest. Besides that, I could wear so many clothes inside my uniform and wear my sweater the whole time (things I did out of ignorance).
Growing old felt like inviting responsibilities into your comfortable life, I would say. As an older sister,that meant added responsibilities like washing clothes, cooking, ironing and taking care of the younger ones (felt like a mother all over sudden).
The adolescence change that stood out of all was menstruation. You know those visitors who come into your place uninvited? Menstruation is the head of them. The good thing was,when it came, I had my cousin who had experienced it though had little knowledge of how it should be handled. I was afraid to tell my mum about it so I opted to use an old pair of socks and inside it placed a piece of mattress or a piece of blanket. I changed them twice a day (at lunch time and in the evening) and washed them for reuse. It took me long to tell my mum but she finally noticed and all was good after.
For her(my cousin), after noticing she had started periods, she had no idea what to do. So she went to school with nothing to prevent the flow(gross). She looked forward to lunch break because it was the best time for her to wash her skirt uniform and her mess before heading back to school. She smelled bad but had to assume just to concentrate during her lessons. I wonder how she managed to get through the stigma that comes with bad odor.
It took her long to find a solution. Fortunately, she came to Nairobi to visit her uncle, coincidentally, menses accompanied her(hahaha). Good luck the house manager noticed her struggle then talked to her aunt to help out. She bought some pads for her, gave them to the house manager who proceeded to teach her how to use them(what a kind gesture).
When she went back home, she had a struggle buying the pads though she knew what to do. The money given to her to buy sweets by her dad she saved for buying pads. It is not that she lacked. Courage is what she lacked. Courage to say she wanted help on her then current situation.
If we can be confident to just speak out and ask for what we are entitled to, such suffering will never be. We never chose to be girls and neither do we choose to have periods every month.
There is this misnomer that if a lady experiences adolescence changes at an early age then she knows more(anajua mingi). That is not true. Most girls shy away to ask for help because they will be seen as bad people. Let us normalize period talks, educate our young girls that it is okay to have periods at whatever age and they should not fear to ask for help if need be.
We should not as well shy away from buying pads from shops or picking as many pads as possible from a supermarket. We always think everyone is looking at us buying pads but no one cares.
To the reader- scroll down, to your left there is more coffee.