“Go and wear it properly”

Do not laugh at little Alex. I know I could have been wiser.

It is a bright sunny morning, in Mbarara Junior School, Western Uganda. The Primary One school children are running out to the field for the Physical Education (P.E.) lesson that precedes academics every morning. Some girls are walking with arms on each other’s shoulders, a sign of friendship. The boys are only in their shorts, and, the little girls bared to their knickers. That is our sportswear.
It is the second term of the academic year, 1971. I am a new pupil and, therefore, still making new friends. As children of a head teacher, my sister and I frequently moved schools upon daddy’s transfer.
We get to the field and as the teacher does her routine inspection, she notices I have worn my knickers inside out. “Go and wear it properly”, she instructs me as the whole class burst out laughing. I run away in shame and head for our classroom, with the intention of adjusting my wear behind the class book cupboard.
However, there are some boys sweeping the class. This means that I have to wait. I quickly put on my uniform and stand behind the cupboard, but cannot complete my mission till the sweepers have left. I have to put up with their annoying interrogation as to why I am hiding behind the cupboard. I refuse to answer their questions until they leave. As I do the needful, I hear the bell ring. What a day! I have missed the P.E. lesson and my new friends have laughed at me.

By break time everyone seems to have forgotten the incident; except of course, one little girl whose small behind is still burning from the pain of the cane, administered on her for ‘dodging’ the P.E. lesson. Why didn’t I think of changing from the washroom? I wonder.

©Alexandra Kukunda 2015


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