I walk around the room looking for names that remind me of home. This is how I distract myself from the pain in my left knee. This is how I ignore the voices in my head.
See; I’m invigilating national exams, UACE to be specific. The Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education exams are done after two years of A’level. They play a huge role in determining what course one gets to do at the university. This is the second time I’m supervising. The first time was last year. I mean 2019. That time I did it for the money. This time I’m also doing it for the money. You thought I’d say I’m doing it as a service to my nation? Of course I am. I’m serving my country and securing the bag; call it hitting two birds with one stone. One very looooong and tedious stone.
Sauti Sol and Burna Boy lied. Time doesn’t fly like a thief in the night. Not when you’re seated in a huge hall, with no phone, pen or paper!
Most papers last three hours. The first hour is usually fast. You pass the attendance list to the candidates while someone else walks around drawing the sitting plan. Before you know it; thirty minutes are gone.
Then it’s just you and your thoughts. Yesterday, I thought about the student I recently found out has a crush on me. I laughed. Thank God I had a mask on so no one could see me smile sheepishly. Then I thought about the teacher I had a crush on. Oh how foolish I was! 🙈 Anyway, today I thought about what it will be like when I first bump into Daniel Kaluuya. It will probably be at Berlin Fashion Week. By then I’ll be a model or an influencer for Mercedes Benz like my best friend Maps. FYI : I don’t know how to drive, I have never been on a plane, and some guy disappeared with my passport in 2019. (Story for another day)
But I think about silly things to avoid thinking about the actualities of my life; like how our bosses are considering laying off all staff, or how most of my mates are getting married east, west and center and here I am, in bed, writing a blog. Suppression is my go-to defense mechanism.
Suppression : conscious effort to put disturbing thoughts and experiences out of mind, or to control and inhibit the expression of unacceptable impulses and feelings.
Suppression is the defense mechanism by which individuals cope with distressing mental contents by voluntarily making efforts to put them out of conscious awareness until there is an opportunity to cope adaptively with those stressors.
In 2019, I was posted to a school with 76 candidates in total so supervision was generally easier. This time, I’m in a school with 361 candidates. My feet hurt from all the walking and standing yet it’s only been two days. The second half of the second hour is when it gets busy. Candidates who have filled their first booklet raise their hands to get another, and you hurry to them. I wish life worked like that; when your account balance is running low, you just lift your hand and you get a free refill.
Sometimes two invigilators reach the candidate at the same time. As a student, I lived for such moments. Now, as a teacher, I come home with muscle pull because even when no hands are raised, I keep walking around because I’m scared if I sit down, the voices in my head will think I’m making time for them. They’ll think I want to be reminded I could be jobless soon. Like something like that can be forgotten.
ANYWAY… the most exciting thing about invigilating national exams is meeting new people. Let me tell you about the guy who said he could tell my teaching subjects just by how I walk. No…let me start with the man who’s been teaching since 1976. (This part will be out before the end of the week. Cheers! 🤍)