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SWEET SIXTEEN 10 JAMB

But now, I didn’t think I wanted to be a doctor anymore. I hated the sight of blood. Then, I found John Grisham’s books in our library. Since I started reading them, I began to think that maybe I should be a lawyer. “Is that a way of solving your Chemistry problem?” he asked “Nope,” I said.

Oh, you have not seen my results?” I set down my mug and ran to my room to get my third term results. He hardly bothered to check my results. I believed he just took it for granted that I would do well. “Guess what I got in Chemistry,”I said as I got back to the room. “Well, I can guess that it was much better this term, giving that you look all excited,”he said. I handed the results to him.

What? How did you do it?”he said, obviously impressed. “I just worked harder, that’s all,”I said, feeling good with myself: “I told you. I always tell you. There is nothing you cannot do if you set your mind to it.You see now?” Even I was surprised when I got my results and I saw that I got an A in Chemistry.

He studied the results closely as if he was looking for something. Then he put the results sheet on the tray. “Good job. Welldone.” “Thank you, Daddy. But it was difficult. Just like Further Maths.” “Well, you have proven to be up to the task. Like I have always told you, there is only one way to success, and that is the way of hard work.

There are no shortcuts. I am proud of you. I am delighted that you finally got the results that you deserve. But I am more impressed with the efforts that you have put into it; the determination, the hard work. Sometimes, these are more important than even the results.” “Thank you, Daddy.

You know, when you said there is no short cut, you reminded me of a girl who cheated in Physics. I saw her copying from a piece of paper.” “What now happened?” “Nothing. It’s like I was the only one who saw her. Of course, it was none of my business. She got away with it. That’s her luck.” “That was not luck. My father would say that it was better to die in poverty than to be a prosperous thief. I guess the same thing applies here.

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It is better to fail and fail and fail and keep on trying than to cheat and pass. Sooner or later, her dishonesty will catch up with her. Passing an examination is never enough in life.” “She knew I saw her. After the paper, she came to me looking embarrassed. She thanked me for not exposing her and said she was not proud of what she did. I asked her why she had to do it. She said her parents would be mad at her if she didn’t do well.

She said they were always comparing her with her younger sister, which makes her feel bad. I wonder ii’she cheats in other subjects too.” “Well, that still did not justify what she did.” “Of course, it didn’t, and I told her that. But Daddy, I also think that her parents were wrong to make her feel that way. I mean, it is not nice to be comparing people like that… well, thank God that I don’t have a sister.

Yes, and why that?” “Why what?” “I mean,why don’t I have a sister, or… a brother?” “Well, God knows I love you so much and He doesn’t want me to share the love with anyone else, that’s why,” Daddy said and laughed. “I mean…,” he started to say again, then his phone rang. He picked it up and peered at the screen.

Hey, how you dey now?’ He said in pidgin. Whoever was on the other side must have said something quite funny to which Daddy laughed so loud, showing all his dentition, which had been missing a canine since I was born. I could see a remnant of something he ate had been caught between his teeth. It must be the reason he had been working his mouth in a particular, funny kind of way, hoping the thing, whatever it was, would come off.

A simple floss or toothpick would have solved the problem. But I know Daddy could be like that sometimes. And I liked him whenever he was like that. Ordinarily, he seemed to be incapable of doing anything wrong. Instead of admiration however, his perfection only terrified me. But when he had food particle stuck between his teeth, or he missed a belt hole on his trouser, or spilled tea on his caftan, evidences that he was not perfect after all, I felt more comfortable with him. “Aba, what was I saying?” He asked as he flung his phone on the bed.

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Yes, I mean, we tried. But it didn’t just happen. And, with a daughter like you, I wouldn’t have asked for anymore.” He laughed again. The particle was still there, helplessly wedged between his teeth, looking like some caries. I was tempted to tell him. But no, I won’t. No one had the right to be so proper all the time. Instead, I thanked him for his compliment, covering my face with my hand in mock embarrassment. “But I agree with you.

No parents should make a child feel that way. We all have different abilities. So, it is wrong to use one child as a standard for another. Besides, when a child is not doing well at all, or not doing well in a particular subject, that is when the child needs all the support he or she can get.” “I really feel for her. I think she regretted what she did,”I said. “You see, once a child believes there can be an alternative to hard work in achieving anything in life, then there is a problem.

I mean, where do you draw the line? Today, it is about cheating in an examination to pass Physics, but life is full of all sorts of challenges way tougher than merely passing an examination. What other fraudulent devices would she come up with on encountering those other challenges? I am really worried for the Young girl.

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