I used to be very outspoken in secondary school. I was social, kind, made friends with anybody that was kind, and I talked a lot. Oh, I talked a whole lot. I was a chatterbox, everybody knew that.
At a point, in my final year, I started to withdraw. I would sit alone in my corner, and read books by Sidney Sheldon. I would speak to nobody, except it was necessary. I had totally changed, that too, suddenly.
Once, I heard my ‘so called’ friend say, ‘She’s proud, and she’s looking for attention ‘. I said nothing, I only walked away; I was going through too much for common words to get to me. The only reaction I gave, was a shake of my head, if only they knew.
Back at home, my dad was battling cancer, and I had to watch him suffer. He couldn’t speak to me anymore, he could only write because he had a tracheostomy tube on. I do not want to go into details, but my dad was sick, and I was afraid. I had even hinted it to them once, but nobody bothered to ask me again.
I would pray five times a day, fast on Thursdays and Mondays, and even give some of my lunch money to the poor, I wanted to do everything possible, I didn’t want to leave any thing undone. Sometimes, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I would walk to the rest room, and cry my eyes out. I cried in the class too sometimes, but nobody noticed. Sometimes, I cried in the library.
They would say things like I was looking for attention, I was proud, I thought I was smart, which by the way, I actually was, I still am. I didn’t just think I was smart, I was smart.
Later, they started to say worse things. There was a time I had over 90 percent in mathematics, I did it for my dad, his best topic was mathematics and I wanted to make him proud. I had the highest in my class, which was actually nothing new, but they still chose to talk. A certain person said behind me, “She thinks she’s smart”, but during WAEC, the same person came to me to explain a topic in mathematics for her, and I did, with joy. Maybe if it was now, I would have reminded her of what she said, then teach her, I’m still nice.
I had the highest in English too. I wasn’t expecting that one, but yes, I had the highest. I was glad, honestly, and I wouldn’t stop smiling. All these, I knew when I was at home. There were still some classmates that cared about me. I was just going to mention her name, but I can’t anymore. She was so happy, one would think she was the one that had the highest score. She told me that one of our classmates had asked, “Is she the only one? ”
I wasn’t even bothered, until I realised it was the same person that had said I thought I was smart. I wasn’t mad at her at that moment, I felt pity for her, because I knew, that she was the one with a problem, not me. I didn’t stop talking to her, I still said hi, and sometimes, I called her name to say good bye. I have forgiven her, I do not think I would ever forget, but I have forgiven her. We talk sometimes these days, and I still have grown to love the woman that she is becoming. She writes, and she wants to be a journalist. I’ve accepted, that she was a little bit childish in the past, that’s the best I could come up with.
I was afraid, and lonely. I was lonely even when I was in a crowd. I needed someone to share my burden with, I needed someone to speak to. I couldn’t speak to anyone at home, they were sad too, I didn’t want to make them feel worse. I was dying inside, I was hoping someone would be sincere enough to ask me what was wrong. But the only time someone asked me, the others were waiting behind the class to hear what the outcome would be, and of course, I had told her nothing.
I have judged people a lot in the past too. I try not to anymore, because I know what it feels like to be judged wrongly. I used to always have something to say to every situation that comes up. I most times, said, “If I were the one… “, or “, or worse still “It can’t even be me”. The latter is so much right, it could never be me, because we are different, we both have different situations, and if I had gone through other people’s experiences, then maybe, just maybe, I would have done the same thing.
Judge not, you can only know half of the story.