Apr 13, 2012, 4:00 PM
It was graduation day. The day I had waited for all my life. My friends and family came to cheer me up. Some of my colleagues came without any family member, and I felt lucky.
It made me appreciate my family more. The Vice Chancellor delivered a speech followed by a drama performance by the Drama Troupe of the University. I could see excitement written all over the faces of the other graduating students. It reminded me of the hard work we had all done and gone through. The moment my name was called my heart beat faster. I stood up, pulled my academic gown, smiled at my family, and stumbled to the end of the row. My heart was racing so fast I was afraid others in the line would hear it. Sophie, a friend I met in my sophomore year, saw how I was perspiring handed me a tissue. I murmured my thanks and wiped my face. I hurriedly reached for my pink lip stick from my gown pocket and applied it. I smacked my lips. When the line thinned out, I turned into the aisle and walked up the red carpet to the front of the hall. Five steps climbed and I was on stage.
The crowd roared their approval, smiling, waving and clapping. They kept saying things like, “Well done, Aunty Binta,” and “wow,” and “Isn’t she amazing?”
I took a moment to smile at the crowd, then I patted my hair, fondled my pearls, blinked the tears from my eyes and walked across the stage to where the vice Chancellor stood.
“Congratulations,” he said with a smile as he took my hand and shook it gently. “You are our first centenarian to be awarded a B.SC in Engineering.”
I smiled proudly at the crowd, held up my certificate for them to admire. Camera flash lights came every which way. The whole wide world beckoned. But first I had to get down the stairs without falling or breaking my hip. But I was having a hard time at it because one of my Jimmy Choo heels was stuck on the stage. Chills started running down my spine and the crowd looked on with curiosity written all over their faces. I kept sweating profusely. Just then, the Vice Chancellor noticed my plight and came over to help. He removed my stuck heels with ease and led me down the stairs, like the gentleman he was. The crowd cheered more and my family and friends hugged me to show how proud they were of me. Then it dawned on me that the excitement was yet to end.
My husband and parents were going to throw a party for me that evening. The evening came slowly and my apartment became a busy place. I welcomed my guests with the best smile on my face. And I thought of the promise of the good life I would have. “Education pays,” I told myself.