I don’t remember it like it was yesterday. But I remember most of it. I’m pretty sure it was on a Tuesday that I first met her. I remember waking up late. I remember gulping my meagre breakfast (three slices of bread, no margarine with tea), cleaning up as best as I could, and walking (sprinting more likely ) to school.
It usually takes twenty minutes to walk to school. That day I managed to reduce the time to twelve minutes. My shoes were dusty, my armpits full of sweat mixed with a cheap perfume I’d gotten a few weeks earlier and my hair was barely combed. The clothes on my back were less than inspiring to say the least. This was my second (or maybe third can’t really remember) week in medical school, and considering the fact that it was a miracle that I was here, I wasn’t really thinking of how I looked. My heart was racing with anticipation at finally having the chance to fulfill my dreams and start my upward climb from the lower bottom of the middle class.
I checked the time on my phone. 7.48 A.M. Class was about to start in 12 minutes. The lecture hall was already full of eager medical students who, unlike me, had woken up at the crack of dawn to make it here. “Crap, this is going to be a crap filled day,” I thought to myself. I could feel drops of sweat running down my skin, but thankfully I couldn’t smell anything bad(I’m a clean guy!!) . The sensation was disturbing, but I had bigger issues to deal with. I had to find a seat, quickly.
I scanned the hall, looking for spaces between people’s heads. I didn’t bother with the ones at the front, partly because I knew those ones had already been booked and partly because I didn’t want to answer any questions (I was that shy). I spotted two likely places where I might find a seat and settle down for the day.
The first one, just near the back of the class, was booked. That left me with only one potential space , and if I didn’t make a move for it, someone else, late like me, would make a play for it and then my day would really suck. 7.52 A.M.
I didn’t even look at her properly when I asked if that seat was taken. The only thought running through my head was finding a seat. ” No it’s not. It’s broken.” I couldn’t believe this. Broken?? I touched the seat and sure enough it fell down. The hinges were detached. What the hell was I going to do? “You don’t believe me?” She asked . 7.53 A.M ” No, no, it’s not that, I was just thinking of what to do and I just sort of touched it ,” I said without looking at her. An idea suddenly popped in in my head and put my bag down on the ‘table bench’ (have no better word to describe it, bear with me) and rushed out of the hall.
7.56 A.M. I’d gotten a plastic seat I’d seen on my way to the hall that was lying outside with no one to claim it. I carried it and placed it in front of the broken one just as the technicians were coming in to set up the projectors and we could see the lecturer outside on the phone. I sat down, and found that I was slightly lower than everyone else seated on the normal seats. I looked to my right, and then I saw her for the first time.
The lecturer had come in and he was preparing to start. I quickly mumbled my “Hello,” and focused on him, feeling the clean sweat running down from my armpits down the sides of my body. I was acutely aware of the dust on my old, brown shoes and the barely fitting shirt that I had on. At least I’d taken the time to brush my teeth and comb my hair,I told myself.
I could barely look at the person seated next to me (I was at the edge so there was no one seated to my left). I didn’t even know her name, and I couldn’t even fathom how I was going to ask for her phone number (what would I possibly do with it?!).
The story doesn’t end there. But that was the first time I saw her.