Life and General Fiction Stories


Call notes, September 15th, 19:43:

Growing up wasn’t fun, but spectacular as I had parents who were teachers. I mean, the real teachers of those days—not these new generation ones that smile—but those ones that measured their yams with rulers and counted their grains of rice; the ones that had wicked looking canes, and had them in different sizes for for each child. My dad was widely known for his ever serious face and loud flogging, the worst part being that it was very painful and not just loud. The few friends I could keep wondered how I coped at home and made sure they kept a safe distance from my house so as to avoid any encounter with my father.
I was not left out as I wondered how possible it was to be birthed by him. With the way he flogged me and his serious mien, I wished he would tell me one day that my real father was coming to get me. But that never happened. I grew up seeing my father in different lights. To my younger siblings, he was playful and kind, but to me, he was serious and unyielding. I can still recall vividly, the day he gave me wounds from flogging simply because he saw me playing football with my peers. Till today, the fear of that experience is still with me as I only watch football from afar. He was indeed, a quintessential strict African father.
On the other hand, my mum was not overly strict. She was showed me more love than my father. She was never in support of the way I was flogged by my father, to the point of inflicting injuries. It wasn’t that she didn’t flog, but I preferred being flogged by her to my father. Now, as an adult, I kind of understand why my dad was like that. It wasn’t that he didn’t care, but it was because of his own childhood. He grew up with just his brother and their sickly mother. Their father had died years back when he was barely eight years; and having grown up living with uncles and training himself through school, I can only guess that he didn’t experience the fun part of life.
All through primary school, I took the first position and couldn’t remember reading so hard for it. When I was admitted into secondary school, things changed because I never saw first position again. I now had to struggle with 4th and 5th positions. That was not funny, believe me. It only got worse in senior secondary as I battled with Mathematics and Physics. This prompted my dad to enroll me in every lesson center and, which kept me occupied anytime we had a break no matter how short the break was. Back then, I never really thought about what life had to offer and the things that followed. I mean, I hardly thought of those things. Nowadays, children are taught to study hard and think about what the future holds, instead of allowing them to enjoy life and discover themselves first.
After secondary school and writing JAMB, that was when I started thinking about the future. I was under pressure from my dad who said he wouldn’t find it funny if I did not gain admission that year; I was terribly scared. Luckily for me, I got the much expected admission into a reputable university—Nnamdi Azikiwe University, with no clue about what life on campus entailed. Being the first child, there was no one to tell me about the experiences of school life; I had to go and gather the experience and then tell my younger ones. All these I had to do without knowing a thing about what I really wanted for myself, I needed to find myself.
After admission list came out, I got in for Radiography and life started again. But on a new level, my male classmates were fun to be with, they were noisy and full of life. At least most of them were. I moved on with the flow, so happy that no one really noticed me in all the heat.
Year One came and went so fast that it was as if it never happened. Long vacation came and went, and boom, it was time to go to Okofia, the dreaded town were everybody was serious and nobody smiled; the place where all their languages came in medical terms. It wasn’t a place for unserious people but I nevertheless prepared myself for the worst case scenario.
Year One results came in, and I was eligible for Year Two—did not have any carryover—even the Math 102 that made me not to get my Okofia uniform on time was passed. A few people that tried ‘notice me’ in Year One were surprised that I had no hitches.
So uhmmm… that is how your girl came to Okofia. The semester started with Biochemistry lectures; oh how I hated it! The hatred was not intentional, but it was there. Stories upon stories came from all angles, even people I did not know made effort to tell me how evil Okofia, it’s courses and lecturers were; at my every complaint I got the resounding response of “that’s Okofia for you…you have not seen anything yet” Ha! I was in trouble! I hated reading academic books, but could sit with a novel as big as Guyton and still finish it in a day.
I started reading, but trust my class boys to intimidate you with all the big grammar they have seen in Keithmore. I was still battling with BCH 201—it was a mad frenzy. I tried to read with all that fear and tension, but man, that was not me.
I went to church religiously, and attended fellowship, but I mean I could not measure up to the testimonies I always heard from the brethren. My own was different. I could not go for night classes because my previous experiences in year one with night class were still fresh. I tried to juggle it all. On top that, I jumped into politics with my two left feet. Omo! I was drawn thin from within, but nobody knew because your bae still dey chop up on a daily. I always comforted myself with the saying that I won’t lose on all sides at least I go dey tachie.
So my people, exams came and went. Second semester began, and when the results started showing, I lost hope. With all the E’s I was seeing, I could not face myself talk more of my mum who really saw something different. A star she always called me, but I could not see what she was seeing. I just concurred with her in faith—at least the Good Book advises so.
I was sinking fast, self confidence disappeared, Uncle Self Esteem left me for another. It was as if I could not look people in the eye anymore. I started distancing myself from people, I withdrew but just few people noticed. As I was trying to find my way out of the current mess I was in, one day I stumbled upon on a write up. It was as though the person writing could see through me; it read “do not let people, circumstances, failures etc. define your worth.” For a split second, I looked around to know if anyone was around, and the tears came. I could not hold back, I just let it out. Thankfully, I didn’t draw any attention to myself, I stood up to go and felt so light. Wow, I thought, I had been carrying a lot.
This was before the second semester exams came; when they finally came, I tried to redeem myself with the new found strength. The exams went faster than I anticipated. The holidays also flashed by without any sign of the results.
During the holidays, I went to Enugu for my clinical posting, it felt like a conference of Okofia students—they were many there. I just hid amongst them during the clinicals so as not to be singled out and questioned. Although the weight was lifted, the confidence and Uncle Esteem were not back fully. I hid like that till the holidays were over and I traveled back to school.
When we resumed, results started showing up. Biochemistry was still the same, but I did not bother; I assured myself that the department was cursed, and since that was my last Biochemistry course, I should be happy I crossed over. Anatomy results followed suit. They were not so wonderful but I was getting somewhere, and like that the whole results came out and I still had no carryover, even when people I was looking up to in a way were packing carryovers.
The results were not so wonderful but for me it was a good start. I started feeling like I belonged in Okofia in way. Year Three came, and ‘almighty head and neck’ came with it. It was another mad frenzy as people said a lot of scary things; I just did not want history to repeat itself. So I paid no heed to all the negative vibes. By then, I had handed over my political position to my successor and had that one off my shoulder.
I read my Head and Neck Anatomy comfortably without killing myself. There were thirty topics out of which I could only cover 10-15 topics. It was a gamble, and I was willing to take the risks come what may. That was also my last basic Medical Anatomy and I still took the chances. During study, I realized that I understood it more than others, and that was because all my fear and apprehension were gone. The stuff was just flowing till exams and still flowed like that—a divine experience. My mojo was back and I was not going to trade it for the world. Another set of exams came and passed, the results came too. They were better than ever.
Second semester came and I had to face Renal Physiology which was another dreaded monster. A course even final year students were rewriting. During the course of the semester, I could not get the drive to read the course. It was virtually a physical combat between me and Renals. When exams came, it was like that. I kept on staring at my question paper and OMR sheet for half the exam duration. I wondered what my response after the exam would be if someone should ask me how it went. But I found a way and wrote something. That was the last paper for me semester.
Na so holidays came o, and I had to go to Lagos for my clinical posting. I was to stay at my uncle’s house in Ajah. See small me wey dey go big man land. When I was coming, all my parents had to tell me was “your uncle is not a talkative, do not expect much.” I did not like it because I love talking to people and chatting at least most of the times. But what can I do?
When I got to Lagos, and got to my uncle’s house, I didn’t even see him that day till the next evening. I was apprehensive because it would be weird being in someone else’s house and not getting to meet the person. On the other hand, his wife was bubbly and full of life. But when I finally met him, he was different.
As a good Igbo girl, I greeted him, but he just smiled and said, “Hi.” Then as if he had just realized. he was in Naija, he replied my greeting with the normal “Evening dear.” I was satisfied. At least this was a good start. As time passed, I realized he was actually a warm person; we could sit in the sitting room and talk and I wouldn’t fidget. Normally talking to adults doesn’t always sit well with me but it easy with him. We got on very well.
So on one of those our talking occasions, he asked me the dreaded question: “What do you see yourself doing in the next 5-10 years? Or don’t you think that far?” He said it in good humour but that feeling came back. I was lost, clueless, whatever words you might want to use, but that was it. I wasn’t thinking far, I didn’t know what my life would be like. I tried to answer him, bluntly saying that I didn’t know but that I would make money and establish a big health care organization and then employ my class mates. I said I’d travel the world and learn languages. He was like: “In all you said, I can’t find Radiography. Is that what I always wanted? To study Radiography or were you talked into it?”
I was back to that hole again feeling trapped—suffocating. I just had to switch the topic back to him so I’d get some air. But after that, I was left in deep thought. On one of my deep thought days, my friend said I should help him read his stories and make corrections. When I read, I saw myself, or rather, saw where I was headed to. I decided to talk with him; we talked at length. I told him in was in a journey to find myself, and. he encouraged me to do so.
In a way, it’s nice that he has started his own journey towards self-discovery, but it’s not really nice that he started after graduating from the university. So I decided to start afresh, and to take life one day at a time; to relish the moments that come by, and the people. around me. To find out the things I liked doing and things that brought me joy—but don’t get me wrong—that Radiography isn’t giving me the exact thing I want doesn’t mean I don’t like it. I just want more and I know I deserve that. I wasn’t going to rush so I’ll let it all seep in. I mentioned to my friend that I loved reading and writing, and he said I should write a short story and get it across to him, I thought about what my topic would be and decided to pour it all out in writing.
So when my uncle who traveled since our last talk came back, in his usually manner, he asked me about life. I smiled and told him “I’m finding myself.” He laughed and asked what I had found since he left. I told him nothing yet, but that I was still searching. I went on to tell him how I’ve always prayed to God to reveal his purpose for my life and I went on and on then he said something that struck me. He said that if only we could learn to listen to God and do what He wants from us everyday, it will bring us closer everyday to His purpose for our lives. I thought of it and figured that was much easier than beating myself up everyday and waiting for a million dollar purpose straight down from heaven. The next day at work was more interesting, I met two ladies that came for scans and while I was attending to one of them we started chatting and she said to me “you are a young girl with a promising future, don’t let medical school turn you into a boring person ” she went on to encourage me to go out and see life outside the walls of medical school before it becomes too late. She gave examples with her two brothers who were medical practitioners and all she could say was how boring their lives had been since Med School and now she told me how medics have the highest rate of failed marriages because they never had time to date and know who they were getting married to. Phew! I was so overwhelmed and she left me more determined than ever to make changes.
So now, I can’t say I’ve figured it all out already and I don’t expect it to happen very soon but I am going to take life one day at a time, enjoying every moment and the people around me. I am going to talk to strangers and make new friends and I’m going to find out what really rocks my boat and I’m going to tell you all every single one of it and how it went down.
So you my friend might as well grab a Coke… Oh sorry I am dieting too, grab a cup of coffee then and sit while it unravels… the best part is just about the corner.

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