Saturday, 16 November 2013

The Golden Effort (Part1)

Did I hear him right? I qualified to the next stage? My joy knew no bounds. I was so elated that I thought my heart would explode out of happiness any moment soon! What joy is it to know that your efforts paid off! I couldn't help but to take a trip down memory lane when I first saw the advertisement in the Daily Graphic. I fell within all the necessary criteria needed to be passed in order to enter the essay competition…but the topic of the essay; so complex! The prize? 10000 Ghana Cedis scholarship! Wow… how badly I needed this! I had applied to a University and I was waiting for my admission letter to get to me. How to finance my tertiary education was my biggest headache. The thought of it always lingered in my cerebrum. The first thing I thought of when I woke up from bed in the morning and the last thing on my mind before I retired to bed. “From whence cometh my help?”; this I never stopped asking myself. If money could be derived from worrying, I guess Bill Gates would be nowhere near me in terms of money. As I read through the advertisement, I knew this platform held my golden ticket. There was just two days left for the period of submission to be due. The complex nature of the topic nearly discouraged me; but my determination was so great that it drowned the discouragement trying to take roots in me. Within two days, I worked tirelessly to produce my essay. Man, it was such a herculean task! The prize kept my zeal aflame. It urged me on whenever I felt like giving up on the task. Finally, I completed it and sent it to the nearest submission point. “Whoa!” I thought I could never complete it. I had done my humanly part, I left the rest in the hands of my God, and there I was qualified to the next stage. That phone call was the best I had ever received in my life. The date, venue and other necessary information were given to me. In anxiety, I waited for that green-light day to arrive. I was asked to prepare to write another essay on that day, but no topic or area was given. Slowly, the days moved; seconds grudgingly gave in to be minutes. Minutes unwillingly grew to be hours and hours reluctantly handed over to days. I had never in my life seen days move that slow. All my brain could do was to imagine how the green-light day was going to be like and which possible topic we could be asked to write on. Who could my competitors be? Did I stand a chance of winning? These were the elements of my thoughts during my “waiting period”. Inevitably, the green-light day arrived. I couldn't afford to be late. This was almost my life. I woke up very early and set off. In the car, I was so full anxiety and the butterflies in my tummy were uncountable. Silent prayers, I didn't stop offering to my God. Finally, I reached my destination. I stood before an extremely exquisite huge and tall building which looked like a pyramid. I walked towards it and entered. At the reception were three young gentlemen and two young ladies seated with their eyes fixed on their phone screens. They looked engulfed in whatever they were reading. It instantly hit me that they were part of my competitors. My heart started to beat faster. I greeted and took my seat as I got to them. They looked up to the stranger who just joined them; some kept staring like I just dropped from heaven and two others quickly focused back to their screens. What was it they were seriously reading? Had they heard about any topic? I couldn't help miss out on any information so I quickly asked the gentleman sitting by me. “No extra information has been given, just thought it wise to go through some stuff which might help” replied the gentleman. “Some stuff which might help?” My eyes grew wider, whatever that was, I hoped it wasn't something I had no knowledge about” Wisdom was knocking at my door and I needed to open “her”; I quickly took my phone and goggled stuff I also thought could help. A while after, more people joined us and we were ushered into a conference room on the 13th floor. The lift that transported us to there….hmm, I’d share that experience another day. We were too many for just one conference room, so we were divided for three different rooms. The conference room I was sent to was so beautiful and well furnished. We took our seats around a big round table. The room was clouded with great tension. I had never experienced that kind of tension in my life; not even when I entered the examination hall for my first WASSCE paper. I could really feel the throbbing of my heart as I looked round at my competitors. No one had even said a word to another. Just then, a gentleman entered the room…all eyes was on him .He was slim and tall and fi…ne. He stood before us and introduced himself, and told us a little more about him. He opened his fountain of knowledge and shared some things concerning his field which we found quite interesting. One major bread of advice he broke and shared with us was that we should avoid getting into a relationship as we enter our various chosen universities. His premise for this was the fact that university guys aren't “serious”; they don’t know what they really want until they are done with school and face the missile life may dart at them. That piece of advice triggered discussions among ourselves, he urged us to make friends among ourselves and by the time we could say jack, we were all happily interacting. He really inspired us. This gentleman was the heat that melted the ice of tension that surrounded us. About an hour after that, some men entered the room with cameras, set them and there we were, being covered. “Were the press supposed to be here?” I wondered. Tension started growing again but the “fine gentleman” had already surrounded us with his anti-tension membrane. Just then, we were alerted that we would be writing our essays in the next ten minutes, but before then, a list was passed round for us to cross check our details and sign. When the list got to me, I realized that every other name were in capital letters except mine. Worry engulfed me, a lot of thoughts made way into my head. Just then an official of the company came by and I quickly drew his attention to it. “Oops! Sorry about this dear, it is not intentional at all. It’s just a printing error. Don’t worry, it’s not going to affect you at all” he assured. He had a soft soothing voice which evaporated my worry, he was good looking too. Still looking on the list, he exclaimed “Oh, you are going to this University? Am an old boy of it!”  What a coincidence! I thought, he was actually an old boy of my dream university? I shot him a smile and with that, he left. I felt relieved. Few minutes later, our essay question papers were distributed to us and we were asked to start work. Cameras were everywhere. Only 30 minutes was allocated for that essay, gradually, we were done. The fine gentleman announced we had to get ready for a one-on-one interview with a panel of judges. OMG! My heart instantly sank in. An interview? We weren't informed on that part of the deal! Who was I not go accordingly?After all, I was chasing a prize and so whatever mountain it came with it, I had to move. As I still sat there, I took a quick trip down memory lane back to my senior high school days. A classmate, Sheila asked me to help her write a letter to a friend in another school. The reason why she asked me in particular, I didn't know. In the process of helping her, a dorm mate of hers joined us and started dictating to her what she should write rather, I realized that Sheila’s attention had totally shifted from me to her dorm mate instead. Right in the middle of the abandonment, I didn't force her to listen to me, I didn't complain or go away instead I started making use of the pen and paper to before me and started writing. I absolutely didn't have any pre-idea of what I was going to write about; I just began to write whatever came into mind. I didn't allow the “your- writing- idea- is – not – good – enough” feeling discourage me. In about 30 minutes, I was done with an amazing short story I couldn't believe I wrote myself. Just as I finished with the story, I gave it to Sheila and her friend to read. Though this incident is five years now, I am still looking for a perfect word to describe the expression on their faces when they were done reading. I wasn't aware of my writing ability then; that was my first brainchild which was published in the Mirror. In the midst of discouragement, I kept believing myself and achieved something great; my reward of still believing in myself in that discouraging situation. This competition is another bright instance where I had to believe in myself in despite what and how the mountain was. If the magic worked before, I strongly believed it would again. I was poked back to reality by the fine gentleman’s voice telling us to move to another conference room to meet the other candidates we were separated from in the beginning.(TO BE CONTD.)