Back to school nightmare
Even though I matriculated in 1985, I still feel nauseas when I think back about the start of every school year.
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Back to school week has always been my own, annual septimana horribilis.
Even though I matriculated in 1985, I still feel something between slightly nauseas and violently ill when I think back about the start of every school year.
In my day, we had to wear a tie and jacket and long pants to school. Insane, considering the weather in Africa in January.
The school year always started with every single one of the inmates crammed into the hall for a few hours, where we were first sermoned, then summoned to our various cells, drenched in sweat from the heat and the fear.
The wardens would all have different rules for the various detention centres, with some demanding we line up outside and await permission to enter.
Some would demand we stand to attention and take our seats at exactly the same time when instructed to do so. We were issued with books and precise instructions on how they were to be covered.
Back at home, my mother and sister would head up the book covering production line. One would cut the brown paper and plastic to the exact size, the other would place and fold, while I was responsible for providing a never-ending river of Sellotape trips, all of the exact, equal length.
Every new year would bring a new roster but after the first week, the new routine would be just that, except that we’d have a different set of some heavily armed guards.
Two decades after finishing school, I was back in the crammed hall when my first-born started her school career. It wasn’t déjà vu.
Not at all. More like a recurring nightmare, but with a few changes. The wardens weren’t allowed to carry weapons any more so back-toschool syndrome was somehow not that frightening.
The book-covering remained the same, except I was promoted to head of production. After another decade plus of back-to-school fear dominating the first month of the year, I was under the illusion that I was finally free after my youngest finished matric.
Ja, right, until my first-born became a teacher.
Seems I will be a back-to-school lifer. I just hope the school has installed a metal detector during the holidays, because it really isn’t safe for the teachers any more.
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