TRUTHLAND, In My Heart – Caesar, When you suggested forging my documents, I thought I was stupid to have missed that brilliant idea. I was excited to find a way to school again. I went to the shop and bought a blade that we used to cut the “expulsion” part of my report. Then I printed “admitted” on another piece of paper. As you instructed, we photocopied the new report, and voila! I was ready to go get admission somewhere else. Anywhere. But things changed when a strange spirit came to you and convinced us not to go down that path. I listened to you and did exactly what you said. It saved me in the long run.
When you suggested forging my documents, I thought I was stupid to have missed that brilliant idea. I was excited to find a way to school again. I went to the shop and bought a blade that we used to cut the “expulsion” part of my report. Then I printed “admitted” on another piece of paper. As you instructed, we photocopied the new report, and voila! I was ready to go get admission somewhere else. Anywhere. But things changed when a strange spirit came to you and convinced us not to go down that path. I listened to you and did exactly what you said. It saved me in the long run.
I was desperate. I knew I was innocent but couldn’t do anything about my expulsion. Until now, I can’t explain. But I don’t care anymore. My mom and I went to request a second chance and proved my innocence. The decision was final, and no objections were welcome. We came back to Kigali empty-handed. My mom and dad gave up and threw the ball on me. Now, I could do anything, but I’m happy I got a legit admission at another school and succeeded in that 9th grade.
Day 1. The Lord works in mysterious ways
I took a matatu to town with my report written “renvoye,” which means “expulsed.” My heart was beating fast. When I reached the gate, the security asked me my reasons to visit. I said I’m here to register for the next intake. He opened. I said to myself: now I’m in, but I might not get out. He directed me to the admissions desk. There, I met a woman with a pile of files in front of her. She asked what I was here for. I said I’m here to register for the next intake. I couldn’t face her when I was talking. Just like any other thief does.
She told me the requirements: application letter, 5000 francs of application fee, and my 8th-grade school report. My hands were shaky and sweating when I pulled out my shameful report. I knew what kinda crap I had. She took the documents and put them on the table without checking the bottom part of the report decision, where it all was. Then she said, go pay over there in the finance office and come back here. I went and paid the 5000 francs. They gave me a slip that I brought back to the lady. She said: go home and come back on Wednesday for a test. It’ll be Math, Chemistry, and Biology. I ran fast and took a deep breath when I made it outside the gate.
“What the hell just happened?” I wondered. She received my embarrassing report? The report with expulsion on it? She must have been tired or busy and didn’t have time to look at it closely. Or she must have seen it and ignored it. Which one was it? I wondered on my way back home and kept my phone on so she could call to ask me to come back to withdraw my application. My phone didn’t ring until I reached home, where I started preparing for the test. I knew it was illogical and weird, but I followed my heart. I couldn’t say anything to anyone because I couldn’t explain anything.
Day 2. The Lord helps those who work and believe in themselves
At 5 am in the dawn, I was already in front of a 100 pages Mathematics notebook. The kerosene lamp smoke was giving me a hard time, but who cares! I crammed, exercised, and revised everything I had learned in life. I had to succeed in this test or join the community of unskilled labor in the future. I chose the former.
I was used to this learning environment – sometime in the past, the sun and moon were my only source of light – so, I was comfortable, despite the discomfort of tremendous pressure and uncertainty. Calculus, arithmetics, geometry, puzzles, and whatever you can name in Math had to come back at the top of my head even if I wasn’t going to need it and even if I was going to forget it right after the test.
I did my best, then I left everything else to God – Oh, this time, I even prayed, just so you understand how serious this was!.
Biology was the most straightforward subject for me. All I had to do was read the pages as if I’m reading a novel. One-time read could leave me with 70 percent of the entire content saved somewhere in my brain. The second full read was usually the last. It’s a gift, I think. I don’t put much effort into memorizing written texts – but I forget my dreams quickly, and I am not a multitasker. In other words, give me one thing, then I’ll do it well. Give me many jobs, and you’ll make a loss in your total investment.
It was the same for Chemistry. It was a bit complicated since I had to calculate atomic masses and memorize atomic numbers on the periodic table at the same time. I wrestled and wrestled until 5 pm in the evening when everything started to look blurry. I knew I was tired and had to stop. I spent the rest of the day and night fighting with my internal emotions and keeping my temperature steady. But I knew I had done what I had to do and wouldn’t blame myself if I failed. You have no idea how I hate judging myself.
Day 3. Fear goes. But you have to chase it away, or it’ll haunt you.
I’m ready for the day. I have eaten well that morning. I took a taxi and didn’t walk. I have repeated my prayers. To me, nothing feels judgmental or scary. But as soon as I arrive in the test room, I realize there’s a ton of things I don’t know, the ones I forgot or even those I’ve never seen before. Different people showcase their various talents in knowing and doing well what might come on the questions list. Panic attacks me and makes my heartbeat again. But for some reason, I remember the effort I made yesterday; and I can’t blame myself even if it’s forgetting. I bring back my calm and put all the unknown Xs and Ys behind me.
But something interesting happens when we finish the 3-hour and 3-subject test: Some people knew the questions and had answers, it seems. I didn’t! Again, I happen to be the fool guy who doesn’t know where stuff is and how to make deals. I, however, remember that this is who I am and that illicit act irritates me and makes my life miserable whenever I think about it. With no comment or gossiping, I packed my bag and ran. Now, my part was done. I had nothing else to cry for. I was given a chance I asked for. I’m fulfilled that I have tried, and now, I’m waiting to harvest the fruits of my work. I know my hands and heart are clean.
However, to be frank, I’m wondering: what if I don’t make it yet I had an opportunity to cheat, just like anyone else? Wouldn’t that be stupid of me? Anyway, it was out of time and relevancy at this point.
Day 4. On Judgment Day, sheep will be separated from goat
I didn’t get a phone call or an email. I had to get back to town to check my results. It was only one week before school opens again, so I had to rush as fast as I can. The notice board had all our names printed. To my surprise, I was on the first row of the list and ranked the highest score among all contestants entering 9th grade from other schools. What a mixture of feelings! It was just a good mixture of pride, energy, unspeakable joy, and satisfaction. I had made it with hard work, confidence, and zero fraud.
Two months after this historical moment, when classes were underway towards the end of the first trimester, I got an invite from the Discipline Perfect. Wondering what this was for – my mind was telling me school fees though I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t called by the finance officer – my colleagues, and I walked to the north part of the campus where, at the entrance, I met a number of my colleagues from other classes. But there was a pattern in this invitation. All invitees were students who did the admissions test that year, including me. We entered one by one before being sent to the principal’s office, one by one, as well. When it was my turn, the perfect asked me why I had a report with “expulsion” on it. I said that was a mistake made by my previous school.
“Would your school confirm this if I called them and asked. He asked. I said they would and gave more explanation. “Okay,” he said. “If that’s how it went, then go back to your classroom. Now, astonished that my shameful report is revealed but left alone, I couldn’t grasp what I was experiencing at that moment. On my way back to class, I passed by the principal’s office, where many other colleagues have been sent by the Perfect. More surprisingly, there was a policeman there. That’s when these guys were charged with document falsification and sentenced for 6 months in jail plus expulsion and retaining of their tuition and fees that they had paid.
Day 5. Tell the truth
To me, day 5 is every day since day 4, when I decided to become a truth-teller. It has benefited me through many situations and has kept my heart, body, and soul in good physical and mental health. It has also prived me of many opportunities I could seize easily. But when I look back, I discover the trap I was going to fall in if I did grab those free-fall goodies. Many of us want to avoid evil – or to run authentic life transactions – but find it in their actions. If you’re one of them and want to heal, read the following 7 sentence poem that changed my perspective. If you’re going to begin the practice of truth-telling, also read the poem that elevates me when I am hooked to the lie and trickery. Then practice it and practice it again.
When you can’t deliver what’s asked of you, tell the truth and ask for support. When you get that support, use it precisely for the reasons you said. When asked for something you don’t have, say you don’t have it. When asked for something that you have but can’t give, say you can’t give it. When caught up in a lie, tell the truth and apologize. Don’t bend. Don’t water it down. Don’t try to make it logical. Don’t edit your soul according to the fashion. Truth never damages a cause that is just.
Yours in truth