Gems in Unlikely Sources; Dedication Books.
Recently, I traveled home. The whole visitation was as though being precisely managed by technology – some robotic systems somewhere – from a remote location. Everything was due according to schedule. Despite so, I had a great time. On one occasion, while doing a skim on a deck of my old books, I came across an unlikely script. It was a dedication book.
Let us jog our memories a little bit. Back in the age, sometime after our high school days, you could remember most of your close friends. Funny of it all, you are past university now and can hardly remember more than a handful of them. That was my case until I came across this “angelic” book.
I remember the last days of my high school vividly. It was a month before we could sit for the national exams (KCSE). My classmates and I were all excited to become citizens. We looked eager to have identification cards (IDs) and become independent. We could do all we wished without the eye-hawked parents and teachers on our necks. Besides that, we were going to join campus and “enjoy” as it was and has been stereotypical to date.
So, were we excited that high school life was going to be buried until kingdom come? Nay. That is where the dedications came in. They were to act as a detailed history of hardships we underwent before we could become the men we are today. At least as a custom, every classmate and close friend was supposed to jot something in the coveted booklet. However, as is always the case, not everybody wrote a farewell piece in that book. Those are the outliers and they ought to exist for us to have the Gaussian distribution make meaning.
So I found mine while on “vacation” at home. I took an interest to read at least 80% of the farewell pieces of writing contained therein. It was a rekindling of the old days. It felt good and exciting. Those who have studied beer and wine technology are conversant with the meaning of old wine. I have not tasted any but research strongly suggests that the oldest wine is the tastiest one.
My farewell book gave me the oldest documentation of school life, forget primary school life because we were still in our uncivilized cocoons, which equated to the old wine. It tasted like wine that had been aging for a thousand years.
What did I notice then?
First, if you want to exactly know your character and personality, read your high school farewell book. In high school, I noticed that friends then were very honest and only wrote what was in their minds. They were cognizant of your unfeigned you. If you ask some of your current friends to tell you about your character and personality, a good percentage of them will sugarcoat the truth. They will try their best to appease your ego. The best friends then are the age-old ones.
Secondly in the book, I noticed that my friends scribbled down the most spectacular sceneries that happened during our school lives. They then asked us to honestly not forget them. Sadly we forgot them too quickly. Indeed the book did give me a real taste and feel of my high school life.
For instance, a friend recommended I don’t forget being implicated in a “negative group” back in the day. The truth has always been that I was never a negative person. The only thing, perhaps, which was wrongly observed of me could be my unconventional nature.
Thirdly are the nicknames given to some of our teachers and prefects. I read them and giggled like I had inhaled laughing gas. More than two-thirds of my classmates had nicknames not to mention more than ninety-five percent of the teachers. We laughed at this more often and that was the most enjoyable moment of our lives then. These nicknames and their enigma nature were like the freedom songs South Africans sang on the battlefield for their liberation from the apartheid regime. That is what reinforced their atrophy as did our case too.
Fourthly was the unity in our diversity. The only point when all of us wished to go to university and most importantly the same university. We dreamt of succeeding together, sharing the same girlfriend as a class, and going on a trip together.
Somewhere on the way things changed, maybe after we realized that things never work in our favor always. The parent’s numbers we shared at that time became obsolete immediately after we “Chanukad” (became enlightened) and got gadgets of our own. We rarely keep in touch as time goes by unless we are very dear friends.
Times are changing. Nowadays fare wells are written as text messages and shared on WhatsApp or Facebook with the help of spell checkers. No authenticity. It is not sweet anymore. The young men don’t have time to creatively weave something off their heads and maybe remind you who had the best handwriting, the best composition writer, the critical thinker, the joker, the playboy, the enemy of the teachers, the Bokonos et cetera.
History often redeems itself. I can’t tell if this will redeem itself. I wish I had another farewell book for my campus life. I could treasure it as much as I treasure the high school masterpiece. High school life remains the most crucial, historical, and intriguing one to me yet.
Note: We can share what we learned from our high school lives.