Sunday, 13 March 2016
Donation of Books to my Alma Mater, St Augustine Girls High School
My husband drove into the school yard of the St Augustine Girls High School and asked the guard, “Where can I find the school library?” He replied, “Drive down through that gate and go straight ahead to the last building. The library is upstairs.”
“Thank you,” said my husband, and he drove off.
When we got to the building I said, “That is not the library. That is the dormitory. I used to stay there for my last school year.”
My husband replied, “There is the sign. Library.”
I was puzzled but then it struck me that the school had expanded a great deal and the library was removed from the school building and put where the dormitory used to be.
As I walked carefully up the staircase, one leg at a time, my mind wandered back to many years ago. I had ran up and down those very steps in my school uniform holding lots of books in my hands several times each day. That day it seemed a bit difficult to walk up the steep staircase.
My husband brushed past me and opened the door for me to step inside. Three smiling faces looked at me. One pleasant looking girl said, “Are you here for the interview?”
I replied, “No. I called you yesterday. I am here to deliver the books that I want to donate to the school’s library.” Her smile widened as she stood up and said, “I remember. You are Brenda Mohammed and you are here with the books you want to donate. That is so nice of you. I am the librarian.”
“I am pleased to meet you,” I said.
She said, “We are interviewing prospective teachers this morning and I mistook you for one of the interviewees.”
I smiled thinking, I must look very young.
I opened the Harrods tote bag that I had bought in London and removed the books and handed them to her. She gasped in excitement and said,
“My Life as a Banker. This book looks really interesting.” She started to flick through the pages immediately.
My husband interjected. “My wife told me that this building used to be the school dormitory.” Her eyes lit up. “Did you stay here?” she asked as she turned to me. “Yes, I spent my last school year in the dormitory,” I replied. She seemed happy to hear that and said, “Maybe you can come back another day and tell us all about it. The students have been asking me about what life was like in the dormitory and I have no answers for them. There is no record by anyone about what life was like in the dormitory,”
I was taken aback by her request. We had just driven for more than an hour in heavy traffic and we had to drive back for more than an hour in heavy traffic. Can we come another time? I don’t think so? I thought.
My first reaction was, “Well maybe I can write another book about those experiences.”
“Oh Yes,” all three replied in unison.
“Can I have a photograph of you receiving the books from me?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said.
My husband was standing by with the camera and he took the shots. The librarian kept apologizing for not being able to sit and chat longer because she had to get on with the interviews as applicants had begun to show up. I promised her that I would write the book about dorm life and my husband and I left.
As we drove home I tried to recall those days and wondered if I had enough information to fill a book.
Mqybe I would write a book about it soon.