Growing up, as way back as Primary school, I never taught anyone could be dull. I always felt we were all intelligent. But with time, I discovered that there were people like Joko who couldn’t pronounce ‘if’ or couldn’t spell a cup. Most times we use to sing “shame, shame, shame — shame” to her, whilst clapping, dancing and making funny faces, to mock and annoy her.
Now, you know how most parts of people’s body grow larger before the others, so did my head. It was like I was a boy with a man’s head, my only saving grace was that ‘I know book’. I remember moving and my dad switching me to a school of my choice at the time, especially as my new favourite neighbor — Philomena, attended the school. I wanted to get close to Philomena and all her ‘fine’ friends.
I didn’t even start on time, I started late. I played a lot, I really did play a lot. I think then, the brilliance just came to me. By the end of term, I scored fourth position; the next term, the teacher when scolding a boy that dropped in position, mentioned how the ‘new boy’ that came halfway, came out fourth position. The next term, I was the best student in the class and so then, I became popular and loved in my class. I was also short with a big head, so easy to describe.
My dad, one that was so proud of us, promised I would attend a boarding school, I did. Of course, in boarding school, the protection of my parents were not there anymore. The ‘big head’ remarks didn’t stop there, it blossomed (laughs). In my class of 62 students, I came out first. It was one of the proudest moments for me. By now, I had started studying, but not as some of my friends who still didn’t come out best. Most persons usually called me ‘deceiver’ when playing with other kids. Though, at the time, I didn’t like studying when others did, I preferred studying alone and quietly, while I schooled others during prep time.
At the end of my first year, I came third overall best student in the whole of Junior secondary. The best was also a first year student like me — Sabbath Usenobong, while the second position — Byron Amaokachi, was a class above us. But, by my third year, I had started having a crush — Iniyekpnonimi Suobo. Iniye, for short, wanted to be a friend, and I think I misread the signals, to think I was just between twelve and thirteen. This I could say was the beginning of my problem, as the term before my Junior certificate exam, I was the 7th best while Iniye came third.
After junior secondary, I wanted to switch schools. I wanted one that was sought by many. Federal Government College, Port Harcourt. I remembered how I wrote that exam with confidence, finished before time. I just felt like the anointed one. My very first term in this school, I was struck with Chicken pox, two weeks to our exams. I went home but came on the very first day of exams. I still came out fourth. I felt it was the sickness, next term I will conquer. But you know what? I never conquered. Anyaogu Ojichukwu, was now like the anointed one. I always felt I was more intelligent, but why was he doing better, why was he grasping things, that I took a while longer to grasp?
The worse of it all, was when the seniors above us, sat and wrote their senior secondary certificate examinations, and left. We were the seniors in the school, and of course everybody wanted to show. At this point, I wanted to be intelligent but not a nerd, and I also wanted to be ‘a senior’. Hmm(chuckles), Well, onto the tertiary institution — University of Port Harcourt. I was deep in school politics to the detriment of grades, not until a talk from my course adviser then — Dr. Sydney O. Nzeako, who said I was walking with a wring circle, where others are getting F and I am getting E, and being happy. He said I am supposed to be among the As and Bs. Twas then I looked around and felt he was right.
By my third year, was when the struggle really started for me, I struggled, and got stuck in the middle (or what you’d call average). I knew I was better than it, but twas where I got stuck on, cos of wasted time in my first and second year.
Now, do not think I don’t believe in talent, I do. But the point is, you should never rest on your laurels. You should never rest on talents alone, back that talent with hard work. Put some muscles into what you do. Don’t just feel talent alone is enough. Get yourself exhausted! Get yourself exhausted investing in yourself. Never get distracted! We all have equal time to be unequal. Happy new month (winks)
Paul Chikaike Kalu alias Paul Kay is a prolific writer of prose, poetry, and articles; a content creator, a guest columnist on magazines and blogs, a copywriter with huge experience in ghost writing. A member of Association of Nigerian Authors. Author of THE VISIT, (his first published work on paperback) now on Amazon and on Okadabooks. You can reach out to him on email@example.com