Faces In The Street/ This Road (to Greatness)

05h30am
Winter
Sitting in a semi-upright position under my blankets, I ask myself why I have to go to work. I question my decision to take a lecturing job at the beginning of the year. I wonder how I ended up here. Here being back home, as somebody’s daughter. But then I think about women who inspire me. I think about what gets Michaela Angela Davis up in the morning. I think about creative people changing our worlds through Art. I think about Winnie Mandela and what she did. I think about who I want to be, what this job actually is for me. A stepping stone. I think about my parents and their lives. What they went through to get to where they are today. I think about my ancestors. Nomads. Warriors. And when I’m about to cry, I think about the struggles and tell myself: “Who am I to not wake up today? Who am I to not be great?” I get up and make my bed.

 

07h00am
I close the gate. Check that I put everything in my lunchbox. Breakfast, snacks, lunch, coffee. A quick sigh. Make sure my bag is firmly in place. As the darkness clears, I am hugged by the morning cold and my shoes greet the morning dew. I can see my breath as I walk. To my right, I see the security guard. He’s here at 6am on most days. Wearing his beanie and coat, he stands guard. I wave. He waves back. The Laundromat is already open. I can hear the women chatting and laughing. The liquor store staff are arriving. They wave at me. I wave back. I cross the road.

07h10am
I am walking fast. Not because it’s cold but because I generally walk fast. Besides, my first class is at 07h45. I don’t want to be late. I am grateful for my coat and beanie, as I go over my lesson plan in my head. I hear the cars drive by as parents take their children to school. I spot an 18 year old learner on her scooter. I give her a high five in my head. The construction workers are arriving. Blue overalls with glow-in-the-dark lines around the knees. Some are already working. A woman stands next to a stop sign holding a red flag. I pass an old woman walking her dog.

07h20am
Students wait at the shuttle stop as I enter campus. I greet the security guard but he ignores me. I make a mental note to never greet him again. I hear a shuttle drive past as I head towards my office. A student approaches me: “M’am, when can I come talk to you?” “I have a 07h45 class now but I will be free afterwards.” “Ok, thanks.” He runs off.

07h30am
Nobody’s here. I can drink my coffee in peace. Hallelujah.

07h45am
I head to class. I pray for more than five students this time. It’s winter so I know I’m pushing my luck. But maybe, just maybe, this morning will be different.