I went back to my University on Tuesday 11th June 2019 few months ago after being invited to participate on the event of instalation of Vice Chancellor of MRU Prof. Vicent Kakembo and to talk to soon-to-be graduates and a wave of nostalgia slammed into my chest. Looking at the main entrance where, Five years ago, I stood for the first time, entranced by the possibilities it represented, I smiled a little. I thought of that 18-year-old walking through those doors for the first time, his backpack strapped securely in place with at least 10 highlighters inside, ready to take on his first University class and start the path to his life.
Walking through campus that day as a grown man, memories came flooding back. Good memories, hard memories, and memories we made together.
Even though I’m happy where I am in life, it made me a little sad to think those days are long gone and life has moved on.
It made me sad that all those moments slipped away so fast.
It made me sad that I didn’t even realize what I’d be missing.
Social workers infront of administration block.
It’s been Two years since we took that graduation day picture in front of the main administration block, two twenty-somethings ready to take on the world. We’d met during the formative years of our lives, three small-town boys who happened to sit near each other in our first university class, and other 20 colleages.
We grew inseparable over laughter and stories about girls, over classes that put us to sleep and classes that made us want to cry.
Three years. It seems like an eternity, yet at the same time it feels like these years have passed by in the blink of an eye. It wasn’t just the sheer amount of time we spent together—it was the fact that these were the most transitional, impactful, life-altering three years of our existence. In three years, we’ve seen each other at our very best and, inevitably, at our very worst.
From day one, we saw each other through every up and down on life’s greatest emotional roller coasters. From being heartbroken, to falling in love, to even falling in love with the ones who broke our hearts—we were there for each other with advice, hugs, moral support, tissue boxes and of course, plenty of laughs.
For three years, we laughed, cried, and trudged through the exhaustion that is university life.
At the time, all we could think about was getting out and moving on. We talked about dreams and how we couldn’t wait to start life. Those three years seemed like a stopping point or like a purgatory before we could get to the real parts of life, the good parts.
hen there was the anxiety of selecting a path for our futures. Sometimes we changed our minds, like myself i changed from Education to Social sciences, sometimes we second-guessed our decisions and sometimes we just sought reassurance for the path we were already on. No matter how impossible it all seemed, we were in it together.
Everyone told us college goes fast and we’d miss it, but we didn’t listen. We were in such a hurry to grow up and move on. We complained and moaned and whined about our exhaustion. We couldn’t wait to take the last exams, write the last papers, and say goodbye to those years.
Now those inside jokes we made and those moments we had are faded memories. We’ve grown up. We’ve traded our weekly frozen mocha runs for the doldrums of adult life. We traded meticulous study sessions of Mr. Luttamaguzi Johnbosco we’ve long forgotten for 40-hrs of work.
We still talk, and we still share our laughs. But the laughs are fewer and farther between because we’re busy now, busier than we ever thought was possible during our university years. We’re busy living life, and we don’t have time to laugh about funny Luswata Shafik’s Jokes, Mario Akatusasira wierd Statements, Erumbi Ritah’s Adult comic jockes with Uncle Ssembatya Deo, Mr. Luttamaguzi’s happiest Lectures, Mr. Lwanga’s Craze actions and talks, or go on crazy field trips like Nabugabo Sand Beach, Mbarara and on sad events like Funerals or make up ridiculous dances in Club Ambience.
Standing there on that day where we used to sit and talk about tomorrow, discuss about papers and coursework, I wish we’d have held those moments a little tighter, grasped the moments a little harder.
I wish we hadn’t let go so easily. I wish I’d known when we said goodbye on graduation day, we’d miss that time more than words could explain. I wish we’d have taken a little longer to soak it all in.
I wish we’d known the time we felt rebellious for talking to each other would be something we’d laugh about later. I wish we’d known that those moments of laughing until we cried on our crazy field trips would be things that would make us smile and miss who we used to be.
I wish we’d have known it would all go too fast, and those moments were good moments to cling to, even if they were in the midst of sleep deprivation and uncertainty.
ut we didn’t know. How could we have known?
They weren’t great years because of a lack of responsibility or because of an excess of freedom. T hey were the best years because they were the years of dreams, the years when life had so much potential and yet such simplicity, too. They were the years that we bonded over crazy hopes and uncertainties for the future. They were the years we decided who we wanted to be—and none of it felt out of reach. Reality hadn’t tainted our perfect views, and working hard made everything feel within reach. We felt like the world could be ours, and we were energized by that thought.
So on that day, standing on campus, I took a picture to remember. I took a picture in honor of all the memories we made so that I had something tangible to attach to those moments.
It took a picture to remember, but maybe I didn’t need to. We didn’t hold those moments tightly when they were happening because we didn’t know they would be important. We didn’t know they would shape us and move us into the adults we’ve become.
But now we know. Now we hold those moments tightly and appreciate a friendship, a segment of life, and the part of our journey that turned out to be more than just exhaustion and cramming for tests.
It turned out to be the foundation for who we would become and for the good moments we will laugh about for years to come.
I’ll miss each and every one of you for more reasons than I can count, but most of all, I’ll miss you because of the way we took care of each other. Looked out for each other. Loved each other, in spite of the stupid arguments or frustrations that occasionally threatened our relationship.
So, friends, I hope you know how much I love and adore you. I hope you know how much I respect each of you. I wish nothing but the best for you; you all deserve love, happiness, and friendship.
This isn’t goodbye, it’s just a “see you soon.” Nothing is ever permanent, our distance is only temporary. Friendships are like flowers, we must continue to water them so that they can grow. Our friendships have grown and blossomed, and they will continue to blossom as time goes on.
Thanks Marion Akatusasira, Kizito Abdu, Namatovu Safiina, Okot Ben, Elipu Bruno, Namagembe Doroth, Katushabe Gloria, Natulinda Prudence, Kirabo Joan, Ssembatya Deo, Matovu Steven, Luswata Shafic, Nambalirwa Diana, Waliggo Keneth, Lukonge Achilles, Kasibante Gilbert, Nakafuuma Lilian, Erumbi Ritah, Birungi Sarah, Nakabira Soadu, Precious Chloe (Shamim) and Kwagala Betty for the memories.