The Weight

Jancan Limo, Teaching Facilitator

09 April 2018

After a series of weighing options that had consumed much of our past week, we could not avoid it anymore. The conclusion was silently reached after all the reasons for putting off had been watered down.

We strolled out of the small pub where we always go in the evenings to pass time as we gallop the cheap beer if we were lucky to be owning some coins and wanted to be generous to ourselves. The humour we always possessed was fading down as time passed by. We had dinner and instead of having our usual long chats and laughter, we laid our bodies to rest on the bed as we watched the ceiling of the cubicle we had secured. Inconsistent communication popped in at random but faded as soon as it started. We were afraid to look at each other lest you meet a lugubrious look from your mate.

It was all joy and jubilation for our siblings back at the village when they saw us. The old tradition was still intact. The children from the two neighbouring families were assembled in a portion of a farm playing the famous ‘one-touch’. The sight of the ball improvised from old plastic bags reminded me of those days when all that mattered to us was play. Children, others half naked due to sweat from the play, run to us leaving behind a cloud of dust. Girls carried the younger siblings on their backs so that they were not left out. We gave them the gifts we had invested so much in. They were happy. Our mothers welcomed us warmly. Hugs that lasted for minutes. Their smiles were bright and you could see that this was a rare occasion to do so. Everyone back at home was happy that we were back, except the two souls. My friend Kiptoo and I.

Later in the evening, we found ourselves in our childhood spot. The sun was bidding goodbye to the countryside. The calm wind was blowing and we could hear the sounds of crickets. We could see our farms from where we were. Once filled with livestock mooing, bleating and peeping at such hours was now filled with sounds of children either crying or calling each other or their mothers call. I glance at my friend, I could see guilt transforming his face. Sadness filled the better part of his visible parts of the body. A cloud of a tear was forming in my eyes clouding my vision. I had to look away so that I could collect myself once again. The sight that we used to laugh our hearts out is now filled with sombre.

Our parents had invested up to their last coin including selling livestock and a piece of land so that we can secure the much needed, the saviour, education. We were lucky to have advanced beyond primary school to college and my friend to university. We managed to expose the frailness of our parents and laid bare the discrimination that they were forced to have for us to secure an education. We saw the way they had to patch their clothes one patch on top of another, our siblings inheriting the undersized clothes of our parents. I witnessed my father sacrifice the future of my elder brother in order to pave way for my education by edging him out of secondary school. My friend had his father fired and survived a divorce. It was hard to bear. After all what our parents and siblings had gone through, we had nothing to offer.

We roamed the country trying to secure a job so that we can be able to support our families back at home. Frustration after frustration, disappointment after disappointment, no job after no job. Bothered our well-off relatives for help in futility. Begged God for favours. Tried gambling in vain. Any opportunity that came was not paying enough to sustain us, leave alone offering support. That’s why it was hard for us to just decide to go visiting home. We rarely go home, not because we fail to miss home, but because it reminds us of what education reaped away from our families. It will make us question the value of the education we received and the fruits of education that was highly talked of during our primary education. We had nothing to show our siblings that what they went through was justified. Feeling of guilt engulfed us.

If only our education helped us to be more responsive to the job market or prepared us adequately for the dynamics of the workplace. If only we were equipped with skills that will help us transform the knowledge we acquired to create or innovate something else if we are locked out of the workplace. If only we had spent part of our academic years in side hustles rather than full-time classes. If only our education assured us of the value that we will obtain from the finances we pumped into it. If only our education institutions gave us a chance to select what we would like to pursue rather than having a central placement unit. If only our education was meaningful enough. I can’t justify the pain of going through boring classes day after day to come out and be more miserable.

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