That Wednesday evening in August, I had gone to see my cousin who just finished from the Nigerian Law School, Lagos. We were gisting when my phone beeped, it was a text from my friend, Okaima and it read, “Og, I’m so sorry, you didn’t pass anyone”. Instantly, there was a black out, everything seemed to shut down. Like Bolton wanderers’ midfielder, Fabrice Muamba, I died for milliseconds. Jesu Christi, I had just failed my first major exam in medical school, MbbS! I failed not just one but all three courses( Anatomy, Physiology and Medical Biochemistry). Then I began to see recent updates of my colleagues on my blackberry: “Baba God Noni”, “3/3”, “Congrats…!”. All my friends had passed all or some of them.
How I managed to get home that evening, remains a mystery to me. On getting home, I broke the news to Paddyman, thank God Paddywoman had travelled, who knows what might have happened. How would I have told her that I just failed and that I had to repeat the year(year 3). I hear, when she got the news, she cried. My mother wept like a baby! The last time I made her cry was in November 2007, I had just checked my post- UME result and I was offered provisional admission by the University of Benin to study Medicine and Surgery. She had just returned from church, when I broke the news to her, she looked at me with the pride of a mother in her eyes… A look which soon condensed into tears, tears of joy. Once again, her only daughter and last child had made her proud!
As a little girl in Oregbeni Estate School, Benin-city(where I had my nursery and primary education), I excelled in my academics and always topped my class. It was even rumoured that, of all the pupils that sat for the National Common Entrance in Edo state that year, I had scored highest(that I’m still not sure of though). Hence, getting admission into F.G.G.C. Akure was quite easy. On one of the visiting days during my first term in FEGGICOLLA(F.G.G.C. Akure), Paddywoman told me that I had passed the screening exam into the almighty Federal Government Academy, Suleja and I wouldn’t be returning to Akure the following term. That term, I also came first in my class. Paddyman would seize every opportunity he had, to tell people that his daughter had just gained admission into Gifted(F.G.A. Suleja), as it is popularly known as. He would go ahead to tell them that everyone in the school was on Federal Government’s Scholarship. Virtually everything was free there!
In January 2002, I was off to Suleja, Niger state to continue my schooling. That term, I came 10th! From 1st in Akure to 10th in Suleja. So, all the while, I had been enjoying the pleasure of being a local champion! Here, the best from each state had been brought together and it was only natural for competition to be stiff. The disappointment my folks felt when they opened the brown envelop containing my result can best be imagined. Thank God for my WAEC, JAMB and post-UME results which helped redeem my image before them. Paddywoman cried, sang and danced for days after my post-UME result was released. In my 16-year-old mind, I was thinking, “Wetin dey do this woman sef, no be common admission?!”. People began to call me ‘Our Doctor’.
Four years later, she was crying again… Only this time, not tears of joy. Tears of pain, tears of disappointment, tears of shame. Ever heard of the bird called phoenix? Let me tell you about it.
The phoenix is a unique bird(in classical mythology) that lived for five to six centuries in the Arabian desert, after which time, it would burn itself on a funeral pyre and rise from the ashes with renewed youth to live again. It represents our capacity for vision. With its great beauty, the story of the phoenix creates intense mythical excitement and ‘deathless’ inspiration.
Like the phoenix, I birthed myself but not without the support of my family, Abraham Enahoro and a couple of friends. Prior to this rebirth, I would sit in my room and cry, I asked God questions and I asked myself questions. In the end, I knew what I wanted for myself(like my brother, Ekos would say, “The worst thing you can do is deceive yourself”), I decided not to repeat the year. Instead, I picked an inter-faculty transfer form. At this point, I always had in mind, Robert H. Schuller’s words when he said, “Always look at what you have left. Never dwell on what you have lost”.
Very importantly, I have learnt and I’m a better person now. I have a whole new approach to my academics and a new attitude to life. Life doesn’t end when you fail, it becomes what you make of your failure. Just few days ago, I was going through some of my books, when I saw a piece of paper. On it was, ‘I must pass MB at 1st sitting with at least, one distinction.’ I wrote that sometime in year 1. After reading it, I laughed so hard, tears welled up in my eyes. The irony of how things had turned out made me want to cry… again. But like Violeta Perra said, “Do not cry when the sun is down, because your tears won’t let you see the stars”. I’ll leave you with this poem:
“When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t quit.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint on the clouds of doubt,
And you can never tell how close you are,
It may be near, when it seems afar.
So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit.
It’s when things go wrong that you must not quit”.
Have a beautiful week!☺
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