WHIM, TALENT AND DESTINY: PAGES OF A STUDENT’S  MEMOIR By Everest Udochukwu

CAMPUS LIFESTYLE Campus Memoirs

I was seen as a brilliant student in primary and secondary school days, at least by all accounts and concrete evidence. I loved writing, so much that my notebooks became manuscripts. It was raw talent. It got to an extent that it made me averse to attending classes, doing domestic chores and funny enough, maintaining hygiene habits. I only wanted to sit undisturbed, with a thin, inked object in my hand, and sheet of paper facing me.

My stories were scrawls then, like scratches left by a hen on earth. The trend continued till SS1. We had to take all subjects, science and art, to determine the field we would perform better in. I had incredible marks in art subjects. I was like a god in Igbo. I was also exceptional in Chemistry and Agricultural Science. Physics was not a walk in the park, but there was a huge obstacle among the subjects. It was a gale in a garden. It was no other than Mathematics. My loathing for the subject was transferred to the teachers and their classes. It was dire.

The academic year for that class was concluded, and there came SS2, the decision class. I developed a whim for science because of the laudable things that were said about it. Prior to that, I was tipped to study Law. Science was hyped then, and accorded staggering respect, both by the teachers and students. More so, the belief was that the cleverest students would be science-inclined. It became a dilemma: good at arts, interested in science with reasons.

The teachers offered us help. We were crude, and were likely to err in decision making. Career errors are costly, and everyone was keen to avoid them, but it didn’t occur to anyone that teachers could victimize one in that regard. The teachers fixed a date to ‘select’ students to be in science and art. Then, I never deemed it unprofessional or inexpedient for them to categorize students themselves. It was normal for me. As I was already tinkering on what to do, I felt it wise for them to help me.

That day, boys and girls queued up severally under strict supervision of the teachers. They then said those interested in science, both boys and girls, should form a mixed line, while those interested in art should follow suit. It was a disequilibrium: science was to boys and art was to girls. Almost all the girls joined the art queue. I was not too surprised. They had already whined about the difficulty in science in SS1. Everyone was looking at the boy who always came first in class. I stood confused, but at last, I headed for the queue filled with birds of the class. 

A Yoruba teacher, Miss. Shade, mocked me. First, she said I joined them for some sneaking reason. She then asked me to come out and join those in the science queue. A very brilliant girl was in arts. The said teacher wanted me to compete with the girl for first position. She said I should join science for such a competition because the results won’t be computed in terms of field, but class. There was nothing like first in art or science. It was going to be first in SS2 if one’s average was the highest.

I said nothing. I calmly left the art queue and joined that of science, ‘the brilliant ones.’ That was a crucial mistake that I wouldn’t blame naivety for its future consequences. The boys there celebrated me, anyway. I felt good, after all, there was already a whim for science. The activity drew to a close. From that day, I became a science student, ‘kosewe, kosegbo!’

I was first overall in first, second and third terms in SS2. I was still bad at Mathematics as a subject, but made up for it with astonishing scores in other subjects, bar Physics which was ordinarily good. I still felt I was missing something. I was always envious of those in Literature-in-English class. I remember explaining some figures of speech to some art students then, with the little knowledge I got in SS1. I was coming first; I was doing well, but a strange feeling of dissatisfaction permeated through me. It reached breaking point in SS3. I hated my science teachers, but the praise science students were receiving found a way to assuage the situation. I kept going.

I didn’t sit SSCE in that school due to some reasons I rather keep confidential. Some problems came up in the school I registered for WAEC; consequently, candidates were made to sit NECO. It was disheartening, but time healed the wound. I loved doing things myself, and I upheld that characteristic in my exams. Strangely, Mathematics was my last paper. When I saw the first question, a simultaneous equation which would be better tackled with the substitution method, I knew my days in science were numbered.

The results were released, and my problem reflected: Mathematics D7. Science student indeed. It was an alarm bell. Whenever you fail, don’t completely lost hope. Here is an article on how to handle failure in school

Nevertheless, I was not overly downcast. I still decided to get a JAMB form. I didn’t know what came over me that day I went to register. Despite knowing full well I had science subjects in O’level, I went ahead and filled in Linguistics/Igbo, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Madness, right? Whatever pushed me, I never knew, but it was certain I was taking a huge risk.

I sat for English, Literature, Igbo and CRS in the four-subject requirement in JAMB and PUTME. In JAMB, my highest mark was in Literature. In PUTME, it was 15/15. Awing for a science student, right? Well, it happened. I was not discouraged by the risk, but the mistake of decision I made in the past. However, the soothing peace I found while writing JAMB and PUTME spurred me above my fears. Are you a tertiary institutions aspirant? Here is a post on how to stay informed so as to make better decisions.

I gained admission, one I knew I was certain to get. I resumed school. With my wanting credentials, my faculty officer cleared me and gave me a registration number. It surprised me. Then, the Cyclops of problems came. My name was published in the withdrawal list for unqualified credentials. I went to the faculty officer and asked her why she cleared me, knowing I was going to be expelled.

She brought out the JAMB brochure for that year, flipped to my course and asked me to read the requirements. In the requirements, I was qualified. I needed a credit pass in English, Igbo, a science or social science subject and any other art subject. I had CRS. It was qualified! She told me to go. I left, and visited the school website and confirmed the requirements. Every university in Nigeria has a website. Here is a list of Nigerian universities and their websites

I did my part and left God, who must have made me put that course while registering for JAMB, her and my department to do the rest. The list of unqualified students was pasted a second time, and my name was missing. It had been rectified! It was a miracle all along.

I relaxed. Anytime I attended classes in first year, I felt satisfied, fulfilled and motivated. It was where I belonged. Meanwhile, for a successful stay in school, here are some things you should never do while in a lectureI didn’t care about the demeaning remarks people made about it.

I was performing well, doing things I always wanted to do: heights I knew I could not have attained in sciences provided there was Mathematics. It was a story of whim, talent and destiny. It was miraculous. I wanted to be here (art). I am here. I am comfortable. I belong here (fieldwise). I will make it here. I tasted whim, but linked talent with career to fulfill my ‘sci-artistic’ destiny, one that was certain to be uncertain in science, Mathematics permitting. I was able to avert a lifetime mistake that would have led to perpetual regret. Another may not be adorable lucky. Let your inclinations and abilities move you in career choice, else it becomes a story of an epic fail. 

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