John Komakech is a son of a fallen soldier who lost his life in Northern conflict over ten years ago. Besides the little the compensation money the family received from the government the only source of income for the family is the salary of the widow Monica who worked hard as a nurse in a military hospital. She single handedly tried her best to give decent education for John and two other children.
Monica sent her eldest son John to a boys’ boarding school and followed him very closely in his academics and behavior. She had a great hope on him dreaming that she could lean on him in the future and hoped that John will help her to shoulder the family responsibility. She gave him all the love a teenage boy needed and her love was coupled with motherly advice on teenage relationships, sexuality, personal responsibility and the like.
John too grew up as a “mummy’s boy” and always wanted to please her in everything he did. He worked hard especially in his Advanced Level of education hoping for government sponsorship to ease his mother’s burden on his education. Burning mid-night’s candle bore fruit. He was given the coveted sponsorship he so longed for, though not the course of his choice. He settled down to do a degree on statistics and hoped to be a banker in the future.
As he prepared to go to the university he promised his mother to be “her son” as he was always. As usual his mother cautioned him on being responsible to himself, mind the use of new freedom, careful about the traps that enticing girls might place for him, various lessons on smoking, drinking, friendship, etc, etc.
Hidden in his mind were expectations, fantasies and dreams of a normal youngster as he is moving from his boyhood of a school to a young adulthood of a campuser. He always heard many stories of student behaviour and the things happen in higher institutions. But what he saw was worse than the bad things he heard.
The first challenging thing was freedom. Freedom from nagging bells and calls, preying eyes of teachers, wardens and administrators and occasional monitoring visits of parents. You can come to lectures if you want to, you can dress the way you wish to, you may gang around with people of your choice without being called forming clichés, you can choose to date a girls without having guilt, smoking and drinking are given as personal choice and permissions are restricted to the minimum. Unless you do very weird things, no one asks you why, what, where and such questions.
Besides these freedom, attending parties, having steady female friends, possessing gadgets like laptops, exotic phones, Television sets, etc are rather mark of having a “standard life” than any need. This chilling life style is possible at anytime of the day or year.
Having understood this situation and being shocked to certain extend, John said to himself, ‘it is not worth messing up myself with unfocused people, I had studied hard at school and seen good results, I have seen the struggle of my family, I see the dream that my mother has for me, now it is up to me to make the opportunity that is in front of me… I either use it well or waste it to my peril…’ The thoughts were endless.
John noticed that students are in university for very many reasons. Not all are there for the education that is offered. Surely many are there to study and make meaning in life. Others are there to pass time, others are there at the compulsion of family, and others are there all the time searching for “life-partners” or just making “relationships, even others are there to make money on dubious friendships and questionable relationships to the extent of prostitution.
He decided to make serious choices to keep himself as “a serious student”. His behaviour and ways of life made his ears to hear comments like, ‘you guy you are wasting your life, what’s up? What’s wrong with you…? Life is short live it’ and the like. John cared little to those words. Now his task seems to be to focus on his life and keep focusing every day. And he understood that not merely university life is so, but being a young adult is such today. It is swimming against the current. But John knew well that it will surely pay in the new future and later in life.