Budapest Chronicles: A birthday in class and naked trees
By Brian Friday Bwesigye
This week started well. No, let me put it more accurately. This week was meant to start well. My birthday was Monday and Birthday weeks are usually great weeks for me. But this year's has gone beyond greatness. Since August when I started this course, I have had a crowded class schedule to follow for the modules we have so far covered. But I had never had four, two hour classes starting at 09am and ending at 07pm all in one day until my Birthday! The over-worked brain cells in my head could not sustain any activity beyond 10:00pm that night, a first in my close to three months here. I rarely sleep early.
I am yet to find out if the person who makes the class schedule intended the huge class-load as their birthday gift to me! What a gift! The over-occupied Monday was however a sign of more things to come in the week. Tuesday and Wednesday were not any easier. With two assignments, all laden with a tight-noose of razor-sharp deadlines, Monday's workload was indeed not as heavy.
I am keen on attending all classes as scheduled as it is in class that my brain works more effectively than on my reading table. But, Central European University classes are just half the work a student is required to do. The pre-class reading is very much part of the class. In fact, without prior reading, one does well to miss the class. And one may think that is all. It is not. More out of class academic work in the form of assignments forms a large part of the examination system that for some courses assignments account for as much as 70 % of the final mark. Having to hand in two assignments on a similar day by a specific hour, yet one has classes to attend inevitably makes one wish days were as long as thirty six hours.
Birthday week can not get worse. I have no idea what the events of this week symbolize. On my birthday, last year, I recited a poem at the National Theatre at a recital organized by the Lantern Meet of Poets and surely my 23rd year on earth has seen me do more writing prose and poetry than before. Now that my birthday was a cramped-job of classes, will my 24th year be of hectic schedules and taut assignment deadlines? Well, I have eight more months of study, so will not engage in more speculation.
But will my brain handle this? Will my eyes cope? Does that put an end to my nocturnal ways? I do not know. But there is something that I know. Darkness pitches camp in Budapest earlier in the day than it did a month back. 5pm is already night, judging by the sky. The blanket of darkness starts peeping at 4pm. Things have changed all of a sudden. I find myself licking my lips all the time as if something from beneath the soft skin of the lips is sucking the saliva from them.
The combination of a dry-lip problem and too many assignments and classes naturally leads to my drinking more and more water. With water, I concentrate more, but I also visit the lavatories more. It seems to be a cycle, drink more, 'dryen' up more and pour out more. It is evident; it is not only me in the same situation of literally drying up. But the other sufferers have no one to help them get water. You see, they can't help themselves as easily. And so they are losing themselves because without water they keep losing their life. Their leaves are drying up, falling off, some trees are already fully naked, others half naked. What is a tree without leaves? And if I did not have water, who would I be with these assignments and drying lips?