Getting hold of a [research] supervisor at Makerere University is a pain in all the wrong places. If you have gone through that institution and carried out research as part of your degree, you will be familiar with what I’m talking about.  The supervisor is either very busy, out of the country, doesn’t answer the phone or the phone is not available at all.

Three years ago, I switched from supervisor A to B and back to A. None of them seems keen enough to notice my desperation to complete my Thesis so I can graduate in time. It took insistence and some strongly-worded emails before my work could get the attention it needed.

And now I find myself back to this academic hide and seek. He is not at his office, does not pick his phone and…frustrated after several weeks of trying, I pay a visit to my course coordinator.

I knock on his office door, and as I walk in, water lazily flows towards my direction. The office floor is half-covered with water and before I could ask what happened, the Dr says ‘I hope you came with a boat to swim’.

He laughs, I almost laugh too, but instead I ask, ‘what happened to your office?’ He goes on to explain how the floor has been ‘emitting’ water since morning.

He then pulls a chair and tells me to place it on the ‘drier’ side of the office. He extends a fist for a ‘bonga’ kind of greeting and asks ‘how is life?’

My eyes are on the floor and I’m watching my shoes to keep them away from this water, whose origin is unseen.

Finally I tell him, ‘I have failed to get a hold of my supervisor, and time is really not on my side’.

Did you check on him at his office? Is he in the country? Did you call him? My answers were yes, yes, yes and brief explanations.

He is visibly concerned about my dilemma but he tells me, ‘Keep trying. Keep pushing. When you are done, you’ll say I succeeded despite the problems, and not I failed because of the problems’.

I take a second walk back to my supervisor’s office and he is there. He will look at my work and gave me an appointment for next week. He even apologises for locking up his phone in office the whole morning to charge, thus the missed calls. Great!

As I left the university, my head was a workshop of thoughts and images. I kept seeing the face of a seemingly unbothered Dr, sitting in a water-invaded office and tapping away at his keyboard like nothing is amiss.

I thought about his advice and how he joked about the state of his office, which despite being tiny had been invaded by some unwanted liquid.

Hmmm…but such is life, after all. You take it easy, you keep the hope burning, regardless.

6 thoughts on “Lessons under water

  1. I love the literaly simplicity with which you coin your experiences. Makes it fun reading…

    I was actually reading while drawing a picture of the actual events happening.

    Good you finally succeeded to get the appointment. Its never easy in our land. The systems are rusted if not broken.


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