I sat there in distress, my palms were sweaty and I could hear my heart pounding.

“You can go in now,” the secretary said.

As soon as I entered the office, I was offered a seat.

“Your name please?” Mr Bwalya, the school’s head teacher asked.

Mr Bwalya was a very feared and respectable man at St Mary’s Secondary School.

“Faith Phiri, sir,” I responded in dismay.

“Have you come with all the requirements listed on your acceptance letter?” he asked.

“Uhm, no sir,” I hesitated, “but my parents…”

He shut me up even before I could finish my sentence.

“Enough! I hate excuses. Make sure you come with all the requirements! This is not a playground! Go to grade 10A,” he said firmly.

The tone of his voice was frightening. I quickly got my bag and rushed out. And there I was, in high school.

The first sip of high school was not so pleasant. I went through a tonne of stress, trying to figure out my path to educational success. I was a decent student with consistent grades of C’s to A’s. I felt isolated. I was never popular. I was occupied by doing what would benefit me.

“Look at her, she thinks she’s really smart, kamoneni, mxm. Just look at the shape of her head,” Mercy, my classmate said one day.

My other classmate, Luyando, looked at me and they both laughed. People were so mean. It didn’t bother me in the beginning but it became unbearable. I didn’t want anything to do with my classmates.

“Faith what’s wrong with you?” Charity, one of my classmates asked.

Charity was very outspoken. I adored her courage, and the way she defended herself when people tried to bring her down.

“What do you mean?” I responded.

“Please don’t ask me that. You don’t talk to anyone in here. At least try to interact with people. It won’t hurt,” she said.

It meant nothing to me. I was happy in my own space, within my solitary group of friends. Even though we were in different classes, we promised each other not to make any new friends. I noticed they started avoiding me, then later I found out they had made new friends. It felt as if I had fallen into a cactus, my heart punctured a million times over tiny pins. It stung at first, but then it felt as if they had left me numb. Not even slightly painful, just numb. I was betrayed!

High school was the worst. I was sinking into the first major depression of my life. I felt so alone, unwanted and lost. On top of not feeling like anyone cared. I was dealing with a few health issues of my own. I knew that there were some things that were not right. I knew that my eating habits were not right. I struggled and finally mustered up the little courage I had to get help. My grades dropped lower and lower but I didn’t care. I hated high school. I had no motivation.

It was clear that high school was not for me. Not until I found hope. It all started in grade 11 when I noticed her. Her name was Thokozani. She walked over and said hello.

“Are you talking to me?” I said, sounding rude pretending to write something in my notebook.

“Well, I’m sorry to disturb you, can we go through a maths pamphlet together?” she asked politely.

No one had ever asked me to do anything with them. I was shocked.

“You do realise who you’re talking to right? Hello!” I responded in a sarcastic voice.

“Yes, I do. Aren’t you Faith? Come on please…” she was so kind it was surprising.

No one had ever been so nice to me. It was too good to be true. Days went by and I became so fond of Thokozani. She had a wonderful personality and was so determined to reach her goals. Her grades were outstanding. Something was special about her.

“I’ve been observing you for the past few days and I noticed you’re always happy. Tell me what’s your secret, Njebako naine?” I asked, curiously.

“Love,” she responded, with a soft tone.

“Love! That’s so cheesy!” I said.

“No, it’s not. You see, love is a powerful force. I’m happy because I don’t hold any hatred or grudges towards anyone. I’m always at peace,” she said.

Thokozani’s words haunted me for the past few days. They made me realise how unfair I was towards everyone around me. I always considered myself to be the victim. All I needed was to love my friends, my classmates, my school work and my life. The magic of love is that it has the power to create a magical world in and around us.


Tell us: Do you agree that love is a powerful force?