by: Sumaya Hussein
Let’s rewind the clock back to 2019, before coronavirus. When there was no curfew, no ban on public gatherings, no wearing of masks and social distancing, and most importantly, no online learning.
It is in the evening and the day for Daystarians in Athi River is just beginning. Classes ended few hours ago and students are roaming around all over the campus.
Music can be heard coming from the PAC and the amphitheater. The last group of lecturers and day staff are just leaving.
Students are gathered in groups and others are stretched out in the pathways leading to off campus. Two DELL buses from Nairobi arrive, full of students. They are greeted by a band playing music at the PAC.
Up the Agape Library, there’s a bit of warmth and murmuring as students clock in and out of the building. The reading rooms downstairs are filled cheerful laughter from students engaging in group discussions.
At the amphitheater, the worship team is holding chapel rehearsals. The drums can be heard all the way from the Rugby pitch where teams are in practice.
The blocks in the BCC and SBE buildings are brightly lit, every classroom having few students. The ICT area is buzzing with activity. Some students are having their dinner at the restaurant while others are lined up outside the theatre to see a play that was to start an hour ago.
Down at the TV room, screams of excitement and others of disappointment burst through the windows. Students are enjoying one of those few soccer matches that end before the school gates are closed.
Offices at Hope Centre are still up and running with students coming in and out of the building. Behind it, the busiest of places in the campus at that moment; the cafeteria area. The smell of a variety of food is carried by cold winds all over the place.
In the dining hall, students are seated in groups eating and sharing memorable moments of their days. The restaurant beside it is also busy, with each table having at least two diners, tapping away on their phones.
Something is going down at the basketball pitch. It’s a dance off to break the ice before two teams face each other in a night match.
The hostels are vibrant, with light coming from every window of each building. Students are idling outside the entrances in crocks and sweatpants, listening to their favorite tunes.
On the other side of the Daystar gate, there are vehicles constantly passing on the newly built tarmac, competing with bikers and skaters for space. Student-owned vehicles are parked beside the street, each having at least 3 passengers inside.
The small hotels off campus are flooded with customers as the owners struggle to keep up with the busiest hours of the day. There’s a long line at Ideal Shop, where everyone is waiting for their turn to get a chapo smokie.
Loud music is booming from the Play Station Shops, slightly overpowering the FIFA commentary, and Mortal Kombat sound effects.
At the hostels off-campus, tenants are pitched on the balconies of Heri Homes, Wakes, Monique and Kryptons, taking in the night’s cool breeze, enjoying each other’s company.
Then came COVID-19, that stripped us of the joy of campus life, the joy of togetherness and the joy of living a normal life. Some will graduate before tasting pre-Covid life in campus again, and some will join without ever having the idea of what it was like before.
The good times however, remain in our memories, awaiting the day there will be a happy reunion and return to normalcy.