When I was ‘Steve’ for a day

The year was 2004. The year I wore my first pair of spectacles. My father was thoughtful enough to get a green frame that matched with my high school uniform (or so I thought at that point), I think he could have chosen a better one today-but hey growing up changes a lot of things.

Ok, this is how it started. In primary school the top 10 always sat in ‘Group 1’, close to the teacher. And because I was a teacher’s pet I sat closer to the teacher-meaning closer to the chalk-board. Group ones were selected on the basis of performance in Mathematics. One unfortunate day in Grade seven, I did not make it to the top ten in a Mathematics test and had to move to Group two. Of course I was devastated, it was humiliating too-it didn’t last for long though.

As I took my seat at the front of Group two and quickly assumed group leader duties I realised I could not see on the board. Everything was blurry-words were swimming in water. My first attempts to explain this were dismissed as the teacher thought I could not deal with the humiliation. Later, I just didn’t concentrate and simply wanted to cry- I thought I was becoming blind. By day end I was back on my usual seat-unfortunately for someone who had to be removed after assessing an English test.

Fast forward secondary (boarding) school I realised I had a sight problem. So I went back home got my eyes tested and prescribed spectacles. They would be ready in two weeks, close to visiting day so the arrangement was my dad would bring them-I do not remember choosing a frame.

Apart from the green frame, the spectacles had the support of a string, ‘Ndokuti asadonhe pamunomhanya mwanangu,’ daddy said. It made sense. As we walked around the school I realised, the grunts from fellow pupils were imitating Steve-you know Steve from Family Matters, with large, thick eyeglassesflood pants held up by suspenders and of course with the specs had a leash, strap-whatever you prefer to call them. It was devastating, being teased like that.

Well, as soon as I waved him goodbye, my roommates and I carefully removed the string on those spectacles-to remove my shame.

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