Legend of the sleeper
By William Dekker
I was not a backbencher in high school. I always sat at the front row in class, like the good law-abiding, assignment-completing and teacher-loving students. Still, I slept like nobody’s business. I was a legend at it!
Mr. Apondi was my CRE teacher at Rapogi School. He taught the subject faithfully, and I slept religiously throughout his lessons. Whenever he stepped into the classroom, my eyelids would add an extra share of weight before closing into a heavy slumber. Sometimes I think we were chemically connected – his voice and my sleep hormones, melatonin.
“Good afternoon class…last week we talked about Nebuchadnezzar, isn’t it?”
I would make forty winks as soon as he began talking (I mean whispering) in his subdued voice.
By the 2nd term of Form 1, Mr. Apondi had given up on me, and so had I given up on him, on myself and on everybody else. No amount punishment would stop me from blatantly snoring during his lessons. I was daring! I slept through double Mathematics lessons, History, Chemistry and even Physics practical sessions.
In those days at Rapogi, I could sleep while standing a few metres opposite the school principal during Monday and Friday assemblies. I would sleep while queuing outside the dining hall. I would sleep in church while seated next to the priest as an altar-server or when seated at the choir benches next to the music conductor. I was unstoppable! Behold! My ability to sleep anywhere, anytime in front of whomever, was ultimate gift of joy. Once again, I was a legend!
One sleepy afternoon, Mr. Apondi could not take it anymore. He paused his teaching and dedicated the 80-minutes double lesson to pull an act of revenge on me. He called six students to the front about and asked each of them to draw the different sleep positions I had used in all previous lessons. The class was noisy, but still, I slept! They laughed, but still I slept. Towards the end of the lesson, Mr Apondi stepped out of the class to make a call. A few minutes later, the deputy principal arrived accompanied by other teachers who had grown tired of my class catnaps. Brethren, to say I was beaten is an understatement. To say I almost died of beating, could be short of accuracy!
Anyway, I still slept on the subsequent lessons. It was a talent I couldn’t let go of. And so, we became friends with Mr. Apondi. Perhaps he literally accepted the meaning of the phrase “if you can’t beat them, join them!”
On the last day of high school, Mr. Apondi called me to the staff-room and gave me a note. It read:
“But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.” Matthew 13:25
So today when I think of going to bed early, I look at the note and return to my desk to write. And if I must sleep, I keep my wheat flour next to the bed, just in case the enemy comes. Just in case!