Sorry everyone, I’ve been a little busy. In my last post, I made some cryptic musing and everyone either assumed I was in love or that it was the other way round. Actually, I’ve been watching too much anime.
As always when I’m at a loss on what to blog about, I go back to the time of my life I feel I can talk about things without putting on too much whitewash — childhood.
It was one of those days in December. Our school was situated at the top of a little hill, making the harmattan colder than it already was. We made less noise and generally huddled together whispering among ourselves — even those of us who could take a caning without crying knew a cane felt different during this season.
“Azuka, what’s that you’re reading?”
I looked up. It was my friend Chiedozie.
“Oh, this?” I held the book up. “It’s a novel.”
“I know it’s a novel. Everyone’s revising and you’re here reading a novel — don’t you think you’ll fail?”
Exams were starting that day. The ones whispering among themselves were asking each other questions to gauge their level. Others’ lips moved silently as they memorized definitions and lists.
“Me fail? That’s impossible,” I said haughtily. “I’ve always been first in every subject and in the entire class since I transferred to this school and I will continue to be. I don’t need to read — I’m the best.”
I don’t think I spoke any louder than was necessary for a conversation but apparently, everyone heard because a deathly hush fell on the class. They were all staring at me — cold, angry, accusing eyes that spoke to me of things I didn’t understand.
I looked towards the door. The French teacher stood halfway through, the same look in her eyes. I went cold all over. She only looked that way when she was disappointed at something wrong I’d done. Mom.
Without a word she turned and left. There was this sinking feeling in my stomach — the kind that comes just before you wish the ground would open up and swallow you.
The stubborn side of me refused to let up. Wasn’t I the best? Didn’t everyone say I was? Didn’t I know that myself? What was this grievous sin I had committed that made everyone look at me that way? Well, I would show them. Nothing would change.
We took the exam and the results came back just before school closed. The person with the highest score wasn’t me — I made a 90, and the highest scorer made a 95. I’d been in the same class with my elder brother from Primary 1 and this was the first time he’d ever surpassed me. There couldn’t have been a better way, or a better person, to use to teach me my lesson.
Over dinner that night my father talked with us about the evils of pride.
I learned two things that day — to remember how others feel when I win, and that overconfidence is the biggest symptom of pride. I’ll admit I’ve been proud a few times since then, but the memories of those stares still serve to guide me.
I never want another person to look at me that way again.