I went home excited after having a choir practice with my classmates. I couldn’t wait for tomorrow’s assembly as it was my class’ turn to sing. It’s compulsory for every class at Geleza Secondary School to sing at the assembly; it’s in the school policy. My class, Grade 10B, was the best when it came to assembly performances, especially in singing. And this was because of our lead singer Mlungisi.

The whole school loved his voice, and this made me jealous because I also had a beautiful voice and always wanted to be in the spotlight. Mlungisi was sick this time around and couldn’t perform. Students asked themselves what would happen. But I said thanks to Mlungisi’s sickness, it was my chance now to be the lead singer. I stood up confidently during rehearsal and lead the song that we were supposed to prepare as a class.

“Wonderful day, oh yes it’s a wonderful day,”

My classmates were surprised and asked why I was so silent all this time with such talent.

Everyone went home excited and couldn’t wait for tomorrow. Excited as I was, I couldn’t wait to sleep and wake up the following day. Before I could sleep, I felt there was something I was forgetting to do but because I was so excited about the following day, I forgot what it was. My excitement was like a grade one kid going to a school trip the following day.

The day finally was here and me and my class went to the assembly. Everyone wondered why we were so confident because our lead singer was not with us. But we knew we had a secret weapon. We started singing

“Wonderful day, oh yes it’s a wonderful day,”

Everyone was like…wow!

They were surprised to hear me sing. I heard one student shouting, “Halala Grade 10B learners, you’ve got talent shame,”

As we finished, our teachers clapped hands and everyone in the assembly. It was as if South Africa had just won the soccer world cup final. My Vice Principal, Mr Jackson, we call him Mr Mathawena but that’s a story for later, clapped hands too. He looked at me with pride and I remembered what I had forgotten to do yesterday; his Math homework. And our first period was Math.

Now my excitement ended but I couldn’t show it because students were all over me, hugging me, handshaking, some girls kissing me on the cheek. I always wanted this spotlight but now it didn’t feel good anymore.

I had to remove myself from it and find a place to quickly write my homework. Time was not on my side, we had to go to class. Mr Mathawena was always early for his class especially when there was home work. I was scared to go to class. I was scared of his punishment. If you did not do his homework he would hit you hard on your hands until your hands got red, blue, and green.

I went to the toilet and pretended for a number two only so I could try and finish my homework. I couldn’t afford to be embarrassed after my great performance at the assembly. I couldn’t do my homework as the questions needed time. I just stopped and decided to not go to class. I was now bunking class and Mr Mathawena had seen me.

The first period ended but it made no difference because we were still attending; it was a double period. Every student at school knew that they can bunk other classes but not Mr Mathawena’s class because if you do you will now understand why we call him Mr Mathawena. He was an athlete and he was not shy to run after you and catch you while the whole school was watching you from the windows. This would distract classes and teachers would try and to stop them, but students would ignore the teachers and start singing:

“Mathawena, Mathawena e ke ri Mathawena,”

I told myself I would not face this, not after that great performance. I decided to walk to class, better I go get punishment and avoid the Mathawena moment. But I was too late, Mr Mathawena had started to search for me. He was carrying his stick and shouting my name. When he saw me he started to run after me, I could hear voices of students singing from classes.

“Mathawena, Mathawena e ke ri Mathawena,”

It was as if we were the racing cars from <em>Fast and the Furious</em>. No student from our school had ever won the race; Mr Mathawena always won. I shouldn’t have run, but I was running and was disappointed in myself.  I was meant to be a star, but what kind of start doesn’t do his school work?

For the first time in our school’s history I had defeated Goliath. I won the Mathawena race! Mr Mathawena fell and broke his right arm. All the students who never liked him were very happy and laughed out loud. My singing spotlight was forgotten, I was now a star of dodging Mr Mathawena. Everyone knew at school I was bunking class and didn’t do Mr Mathawena’s home work.

This was not the spotlight I wanted.

I became a star to students who didn’t like doing homework and loved bunking classes. I was shy to even sing at the assembly and Mlungisi became the number one lead singer at school again and was always on the spotlight I wanted to be in.

<p style=”text-align: center;”><strong>***</strong></p>

<strong>Tell us: Have you ever done anything you were not proud of at school? Tell us about it?</strong>