A young student decribes being torn between studies and what she discovers she loves doing most…

I walked into the study centre with determination. Three hours of studying was what I had planned. I walked around looked for a spot, passing empty desk chairs. You’re procrastinating, I rebuked myself as I made my second trip around the place. I finally settled on a spot at the floor and took out my textbooks, tutorial book and my exercise pad.

And there, sticking out of my textbook, in big ink, was the mark that made me come here. I pulled the page out and stared at it. 48%. How pathetic. We had gotten the marks early in the week and mine was not something to be proud of.

“Yhu three years, usana lwam will be an engineer.” My mother’s voice, filled with pride, echoed my head. But these results are not what engineers are made of. 85% results like Sindi got, now that’s what mothers become proud of. I could picture her disappointed face, shaking her head at me. Part of me wanted to tear the paper and throw it away. Another part of me wanted to forge the 48 to 88 or even 78.

“What happened?” Sindi had asked after we got our tests back. I couldn’t answer her. It wasn’t like I didn’t study or that I didn’t understand the work, no, the problem was that I hated the course, and how do you flourish in something that you detest?

“I don’t know,” I had answered.

Ngxakiyakho, you don’t focus, you have an attention span of a 5 year old,” Sindi had told me to my face. I couldn’t argue with her. You’re doing it now, I thought as I realised that I spent half an hour, dwelling on my misery instead of studying.

I put the paper down and started to work. I did one exercise and I got it right, then as a reward, I took out my magazine to read one article. Before I knew it, my alarm went off telling me that my three hours were up. Feeling helpless and defeated, I put the books back in my bag and headed for res.

It was sunny outside. I didn’t want to waste the good weather so I lingered in the warmth. A hot day was rare weather in P.E, one had to take full advantage. As I wondered the varsity grounds, not sure where I was going, there in front of me, stuck on the wall was a huge poster: NAMASTE DANCE COMPANY AUDITIONS!

Their tag line ‘dare to dance’ was written beneath the little feet. Before I knew it I was standing inside the hall ready to sign my name down. There would be no turning back after this, I thought. I signed, I had nothing to lose. If I didn’t make it, no one of my friends would ever know. Besides, they are all good at their studies, I thought, trying to acquire some courage.

They gave me a song to listen to. It was a woman who sounded as if she was crying. She sounded torn and I could relate. Standing in the middle of the stage, I closed my eyes and followed her voice.

All I could see were my friends, all gathered around Sindi, congratulating her on her achievement. Grabbing her test paper and passing it around them as if staring at the big 85% marked in red would make them any smarter.

The music stopped. “Ready?” said a voice of one of the directors. I couldn’t move, so I just nodded.

“Go for it,” he said, and he played the song once more.

As if carried by the woman’s voice, to a world so magical, where all things were in an abstract arrangement of colour, I dared to dance. There was no system, no order, just flow of emotions. In my mind I was in paradise. I jumped and sat on a tree branch, put my feet up and ate out of the fruit. Then I saw ants dancing and moving at a fast pace on the ground and I longed to join them so I jumped down and crawled and spoke to them on the ground.

A voice called to me, and I looked up – there, on the clouds, was a woman’s face crying in beautiful agony. I wanted to listen to her, converse with her but then the music stopped.

“Bravo! Bravo!” interrupted the judges in applause! “Best audition we’ve had all day,” one said. I opened my eyes – I was still on the stage, everyone was clapping, and I was in tears.

“That’s the stuff great dancers are made of,” one girl from the audience shouted. I bowed and ran out. Standing outside the hall I couldn’t help but to think of Sindi. She was great at getting high marks, and I was good at dancing.

“Congratulations,” said a voice, handing me an envelope. “I’m Motebang, I will be your instructor,” he said.

“Thanks,” I smiled as I took the envelope from him.

He turned and went back into the hall leaving me smiling alone.

As I grabbed my bag and headed to the res I wondered what my mother would say about this.

The rest of that year was a joy. Because I had found something I loved, I was doing better with my studies.

“But chomie, if you quit now, you will regret it,” my friend Sindi advised when I told her my plans.

“I won’t.”

“And your mom, she’ll be devastated,”

“She’ll live,” I said as I walked out of res.

I didn’t know how she would take the news that I was quitting varsity for dance. But I dared to dance.


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