I could have done much better if I applied myself. That was my overriding regret after I left school. Staring into space I had time to reflect on this as I plotted my first futile career move. “So what the fuck are you going to do now?” asked SevenStones. “You really fucked that one, didn’t you?” I must admit I did. I wanted more, much more. Even if I could afford it, there was no way I was going to get into university. I messed around in class, ignored my teachers and excelled at being a troubled child. I had far too many extracurricular activities, I was way too cool for school. As I sat in the stony shadow of a tall building in downtown Johannesburg, the truth crept up as cold does into aching bones. The future I wanted for myself was out of reach.
“So,” SevenStones repeated the question staring ahead, not looking at me “what are you going to do now, asshole?” He was angry. I was desperate, numb. “I’ll get a degree, I’ll go to university and get a degree. I’ll…I’ll make a plan.” I knew that the University of the Witwatersrand took in a limited number of students each year based on mature age. I also guessed my chances would be that much better if I was armed with a National Diploma, if and when I applied.
“Good, I like the way you are thinking,” my Guide gave a small wry smile. “Bide your time by taking a diploma. Any college will take you, even with your shit school record. But hey! It’s ok! Get off your cold arse and go register for a National Diploma for Cost Accountants now, like right now.” He was waving his arms and shouting like a madman, “If not now – when? Come fuckwit, we have no time to lose we are on the Redemption Road. Yours is the action to take.”
And so began one of my earliest and most important steps towards redemption. I did enrol for a National Diploma and when the time to apply for a place at Wits University, I was accepted without a problem. To be sure I was a slow student who struggled, but I was in the lecture room and I worked hard, fought hard to keep my position. And, against all odds, I graduated. Law and Accounting were my major subjects, but in truth I learned more about myself than any academic programme. The fatal action I took in the shade of a tall building in Johannesburg one despairing morning long ago was now telling. “Not too shabby, Poepsticks,” I knew SevenStones was pleased as we both graduated. “You got off your backside and did something with your life, you were patient and diligent. Now, Fatso – all this sitting around and reading has made you flabby. Look at you, yeach! Do you think you are good enough for the Comrades Marathon?”