Legend of the Seeker

***Mohamed Kimathi***

Since infancy she was told to aspire to be someone great; that it is okay to dream; that indeed she should dream, for all noble achievements were but dreams in the beginning. The adults, full of good intentions, would have her and her playmates sing what grand professions they wanted to be members of. A childhood friend of hers claimed seriously that she wanted to be a dentist and the grave adults clapped. Another claimed he wanted to be a farmer, and he was slapped. Herself, she wanted to be an engineer. At her tender age nobody asked her particularly why she wanted to be an engineer, of course. It was enough that she wanted to be; she would get to the technical details later on in life.

In primary school she held on to her dream. She sang it to bed and whispered it in her innocent prayers. Still she did not know why she wanted to be an engineer. She refined her dream however, and said she wanted to be a mechanical engineer. Every waking moment was dedicated to this end. She studied hard and played little. She stayed up all night revising and rehearsing and spent all day “plying her books with diligence”. Indeed, she went through her textbooks from cover to cover many times over in a month. In her exams she was always the top – always. And boy, wasn’t she praised by her teachers! All day her teachers spoke in such fashion: “Why will you not be like our fine girl here? See how focused she is. She will be a great lady someday. If I was like her in my younger days I surely would not be teaching.”

She heard all about her that a certain high school was among the best in the country. Every great girl must strive to gain admittance in the school. This fact her teachers rammed and forced into her head and went to great efforts to make sure that it stayed there. What chance had she against such all-knowing adults? Thus she aspired, or, more precisely, made to aspire, to join the wonderful school. Her final primary school exams were mere child’s play, and she aced every single test. Her dream school informed her of her qualification for admission into the school of excellence, where leaders are trained.

We need not mention here how she doubled her studiousness, ever in the library whenever she was free. Neither need we mention how she always talked about books and study and books and study, and not about boys, the way her lady friends did. We will mention in passing, however, that she won many accolades of awful distinction and won the praise and envy of many. Meanwhile, she grew a fancy that she would love very much to become a mechanical engineer and make lots of money and get married to a doctor maybe and have a nice home and beautiful kids. It would seem that such lofty ambitions would surely distract her, but instead they filled her with a certain fiery quality and furious determination, such that she passed her final high school exams and thus gained admittance to a prestigious university to pursue a degree in her dream course.

Every class, every assignment, every exam, indeed, every single hour was a step closer to her dream. With her eyes on the prize she was careful to steer clear of any distractions whatsoever. Her classmates went to parties and had boyfriends and girlfriends, and got morbidly drunk, and missed their classes. Herself, she was ever sober and of a one-track mind; ever at the front of the class, paying keen attention and asking and answering questions. Her classmates thought her queer. They called her names. She paid them no mind however, for she knew that she who laughs last, laughs best. It will be incongruous and utterly absurd to imagine that she did not get a first class honors, for she set an academic record that stupefied many. And she deserved it. The great many hours she had put into this final achievement, the amount of ridicule she had endured – fate would indeed be a scheming, conniving and utterly unjust ruler, unfit to oversee the affairs of men, had she fallen short of her dream. It is said of the door, that knock and it shall be opened; seek and you shall find.

In an ideal world our story would end here, and our lady would have successfully proved to her friends, and foes alike, that she who laughs last truly laughs best. But, alas, this is a practical world. Our lady was knowledgeable, to be sure, but her knowledge was bookish. She was well versed in the books of engineering and philosophy; she had mastered the laws of Euclid and of motion; but she read little from the book of life. While her friends were busy acquiring practical lessons in the bars she had her nose buried in her books; while her mates were playing truant she was being true to her dream. Thus she could not speak to persons who knew nothing about Euclid. Away from her books, she fidgeted and worried then finally sat still like a man waiting for a train, with no thought to rub against the other. She knew not how to let a man charm her; and even if she did, what charms had she? She was all spent from sitting her ass for hours on end. Would she had let the boys chase her while she still had her girlish mannerisms about her. She chased them away, however, and now the candle is spent only to burn no more. She attained what she so furiously sought to find, but no more.

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