UPSIDE DOWN

“Grrrrrr, grrrrrrrrrr……”the alarm went off at exactly five o’clock. It goes on to play a song “God is a prayer away”, one I selected to spur me into praying at that hour. But as usual I snoozed it. “Kofi, Kofi wake up!” I hear my mum call right after I snooze the alarm for the third time. Apparently, it takes more than the sound of an alarm to get me out of bed each day: My mum’s voice has to be thrown in the mix. I brush and join my sister and parents for morning devotion, after dragging myself out of bed. It is 6:15 by the time devotion ends and I had exactly 30mins to get ready if I didn’t want to miss the school bus. You can call this my routine on school going days. On Saturdays and holidays, I get to go back to bed after devotion.

I’m not particularly the school enthusiast my mates think me to be: with an IQ of 180, other students think I must simply love school. On the contrary, school actually bores me: Most people are interested in being popular; the latest fashion in town and making worthless conversations. An ideal conversation, to me is one in either mine or another’s best interest and not one about trivial matters like how Kate’s shoes made her legs look crooked or how crazy John’s haircut looked.

The only sure thing about my uncertain future is that, whatever it turns out to be, it must definitely be one that makes a huge difference. i want be or do something that really matters. In pursuit of this, I read to the kids at the children’s library two blocks away from school every afternoon. It is one of my high moments in the day and I look forward to it every day. Children are absolutely delightful and pure (well, most of them) and it is simply impossible to not be charmed by them.

Today, I’m reading “Snow white and the seven dwarfs” and apart from the occasional questions and comments everybody is quietly listening. Most times when I’m almost ending or in the middle of the story, I let one child read a sentence or two so they feel a part of the reading as much as possible and to motivate and encourage them to read on their own. All but Rosie have read at least a sentence once and this is not because I miss her raised hand or anything else but because she’s never volunteered or raised her hand although she always prefers to hold a copy of the book being read. Today is no different, so I let Maggie read. The session is over and parents are trooping in for their kids. I’m all over the place saying hello to this mom or that dad. After the crowd thins, I realised Rosie was still sitting with the book so I drew close to talk, her mum hadn’t come.

Rosie is neither a chatty nor reserved kid. She always wears an inviting smile, and so I invited myself. “Pretty interesting story, is it?” I asked. (I mean, it had to be because she was looking in the book so intently she missed hearing me.) “Rosie”, I called again. She seemed to hear me now, because she’s looking up and smiling. “Interesting story?” I repeat and she responds affirmatively and goes right back to reading. “You think you could read the last sentence to mum sometime?” I asked, while turning to see what had her attention. That’s when I realised she was holding the book upside down.

Now I didn’t know what to think; had she been holding the book that way since the session began, if yes, how come she didn’t notice it; had the book fallen and in picking it up she had it all wrong and couldn’t know because her mind was wandering elsewhere. No way I could know unless I ask, and ask I did.
“Did your book fall down? Were you holding it like this since I started reading?”, I asked. She shook her head to the former and nodded to the latter. Half a minute later, she seems to notice I was still there, she looks up. I smile, she smiles back, and I sit.

Seeing Rosie holding that book upside down reminded me of two things; a bed time story my mum told me when I was a kid and a scripture that was repeated often enough I couldn’t not know it. I related the story to Rosie….
It was a story about a farmer who, to the surprise of his neighbor, never seemed to make a big harvest despite the enormous hard work he consistently put in. The neighbor, at a time later, identifies the setback facing the farmers hard efforts while strolling past the farm sometime: He drew the farmer’s attention to the fact that weeding before sowing seeds would yielded a better harvest than would sowing seeds before weeding. The story ends with the farmer having a bountiful harvest after heeding the advice of his neighbor.

This is a story that thought me the need for order: some things no matter how hard we tried regardless of the effort we put in will never turn out right if we didn’t do them in the right order. It was in my relating this story to Rosie that it dawned on me that my mum could have easily made up this story to teach me a lesson like I was trying to teach Rosie: she could read better with her book turned right up.
She gave me a shy smile and turned the book right after I had finally gotten her to know about the book through my winded way. As if on cue, her mum walks in and we parted after a quick hug.

Now I don’t know (I doubt it even) if Rosie will raise her hand to read a line at our next session (for she has a long way to go before she could manage reading on her own) but I know for sure we have started on the right path and that, alone was enough to make me smile; it is stuff like this i always want to do.

In this century where all we seem to know and remember is going about our jobs having fun and accepting everything the way they come, let us not forget the eminent fact, there is a chronology to life: No hard and fast rules, but rules nonetheless. We see them often enough, even in nature – conception comes before birth; life before death, dawn before daybreak, preps before performance. Ignoring this chronology is like living life upside down, sowing seeds before weeding- we may see some results but not commensurate our efforts. Don’t live life putting the cart before the horse.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all other things shall be added unto thee.