First year of study… or perhaps first year of fun? As a young student Sarita Waller found herself facing the consequences…

In the grip of terror and with strip in hand, the lemony liquid stares expectantly… what will I do and what will I say? How could this be happening? Questions keep flooding my fragile being, emotions descend upon me like the Cape Southeaster.

We met in the winter of 2000. I wonder, will he have a place in his battered heart for another soul besides me?

How will I let my parents know? Can I forgive myself for failing them all? I’m about to dip the strip in the all important specimen. And as the waft of ammonia makes my nostrils flare… fear, sadness and despair thrusts me even deeper into the darkness of the night.

But a sudden knock on the bathroom door shakes me up and the lemony fluid spills on the floor.

Memories of months before comes flooding back… as I see my father’s beaming face filled with pride. Born a woman of colour with a perceived disadvantaged schooling, my challenges seemed insurmountable. Yet, I had successfully entered university with the romanticism of untold freedom. The knowledge that I had bound myself by promise of excellence cripples me even more.

That untold freedom, which now seems to have shackled me. “Have I become a slave due to this yearned-for freedom?” I ask myself. The salty taste lingers on my tongue as tears snake down my face… what has become of the innocent young girl that was previously me? In the mirror a naïve young woman ravished by reckless behaviour stares back at me.

A young woman who vowed that her humble circumstances would not define her but instead fuel her dreams to soar even higher.

And as the scent of the ammonia pierces the air, yellow fluid stains the virginal tiles and washes away her dreams of success, leaving the promise of a life of possible strife.

“Are you ok?” asks the gravelly voice from outside the door.

“Yes, I’m fine, thanks, just nerves, it’s normal before results.”

“Oh, yes, finals are out tomorrow, I completely forgot.”

Well, yes, I thought, it might just be the final to my life of promise.

Will I wait in this chamber of doom until I have a new sample to test or shift these nagging feelings of fear about being pregnant to the darkest corners of my soul?

I’m transported back to that tender first touch, soft lips caressing the inside of my innocent Nubian thigh, anticipating his steamy wine-tinged breath against my expectant breast. The yearning of a woman in waiting, with a pulsation deep within. But that same yearning which injected unknown pleasure into every crevice of my childlike soul has now left me with a possible future of unrealised expectations, empty and drained…

But could these expectations merely be me, wanting to fulfil my parents dreams which they have for me and that which society dictates, or are these the unrealistic expectations I have set for myself?

But like raw flesh torn apart, ripped and blood-stained, my emotions lie bare in this chamber of doom which closes in on me. And as the stripes appear declaring my greatest fear I realise the true meaning of GREAT EXPECTATIONS.


Postscript: Sarita Waller did not let this deter her, and 20 years later she is a mature student with a BA Hons, HDE (PG) & Bcur ( Education and Nursing) qualifications and is currently a Masters student in Research Nursing at her alma mater.


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