Murals & Memories

Our school in Lagos does not look as impressive as the one in Islamabad, because it has run out of space and does not have the lovely trees, seasonal flowers, and  well-maintained landscaping of the latter. But tucked in some nooks and crannies are a few gems, like this tile mosaic behind my classroom building. My students were surprised to see this photo, because the wall faces the residences of the teachers and therefore unknown to most students and staff.

There’s a lovely mural on my classroom/lab wall, and unfortunately it is now partially blocked by the Smartboard. Because my room is just an extension of the Math classroom nextdoor, the rest of the mural is also blocked by the Smartboard in that room. A similar mural was painted in one of the 6th grade classrooms in the Main Building.

But the most impressive one, and our favorite, is right on the stage of our gym/multi purpose hall. Sadly it met the same fate as the classroom murals — tucked in the back, veiled by heavy curtains because the backstage is full of furniture, props, and gym equipment. Nonetheless, we like to hang out here after school, and while James runs around imitating the gymnasts practicing here, my husband and I simply gaze at the painting. The musicians and dancers depicted in it look so alive I can hear and feel the rhythm of their music, dancing, and shouts – don’t you?

I don’t know who did these. The few people I asked all said they were already here when they joined the school. A sad reality of international schools like ours is the turnover. It makes me wish there was a “keeper of memories” among the staff. Yearbooks are not enough — our librarian said she does not have copies of all issues, and this school is about 40 years old.

I should probably talk to my fellow Filipina teacher, Linda, who has lived here for 20 years. While we discussed the time capsule that was buried 10 years ago I asked her if we could interview a student or teacher who participated. She said she did, but could not name another teacher who has been with her that long. At least in Islamabad our librarian and manager of operations had been with the school for 30 years! Our superintendent had been there for at least 20. And some of the teachers actually graduated from the school.

Memories are important. I think we follow traditions, even blindly, simply because it is the best way to give life to memories long after our brains can keep them, and after the pictures fade, or the yearbooks and videos disappear … or these murals are torn down

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