Day 5 – Fear
I’ve been there, you’ve been there, we’ve all been there. Doing it right has to work. Winning has to be the only choice. The pressure to succeed may be an intersection of a last trial, chance, or opportunity. It may as well be fear.
“Tik, tik, tik…” Dele was subconsciously ticking the nib of his pen on the table. There wasn’t any obvious sign of nervousness written around his face, maybe because the exam hall was filtered with air conditioning and furnished with comfy desks that could occupy only one person a seat.
“Rinnngggggggg.” The bell rang and everyone in the hall assembled to submit their booklets to the examiner. Dele swallowed a large lump of saliva with a lining of sweat emerging from his middle hairline to the tip of his nose as he joined the queue.
“Do I know you? You look familiar.” Dele went ice cold at the examiner’s inquisitivity. Dele kept his head low as he was appending his signature on the attendance list.
“Erhmmm…I don’t think so, sir.” Dele’s mumble was accompanied by a tone of suspicion.
“Hmmm…is this your first attempt in this exam?” Dele was already done with all necessary protocols by the time the examiner raised his second question. Dele blitzed away from the submission desk as though he didn’t hear a thing. He maintained his low gaze as he walked out of the exam center like a person overtaken by shame.
He went on his way home with a divisive mindset. Should he be bothered that his input in the examination was not in contention to earn him a required pass mark or would he just get home and act calm then expect whatever stigmatization or critique that might emanate from his parent on the day he checks his result.
“Omo miii! How did it go?” Dele’s mom welcomed him as he arrived at home.
“I know you must be really stressed. Go take a shower and come to the dining table, I prepared your favorite dish: amala with ila alesepo and some crunchy, smoked catfish.”
“Thanks, mum, but…..”
“Kiloshele!!!!…but what!!!!????? What happened!!!????” It was the typical panic reaction you’d expect from a Yoruba mother. Dele’s mum swung to alarm mode and it let off a discomfort on Dele to even express himself – perhaps to even possibly tell his mum the exam didn’t go smoothly.
“Don’t worry mum, when I’m done refreshing we’ll talk about it. I wanted to gist you about this particular doctor that came to invigilate us.” Dele tried to extinguish his already panicking mom.
“Okay dear, you got me electrified. Phewww. I thought you wanted to say your exam didn’t go well, that would have been frightening. Don’t worry dear I’ve seen how hard you worked, this is definitely your last time taking a shot at this. Then you can finally be like your brothers.” Dele’s mom was being all dramatic, almost not realizing her son’s mood.
“Sure mom,” Dele said sharply as he turned to head for his room. His reaction had left his mom suspecting and also weary.
Dele was under the shower as he tried to relax his composure. It was his fourth attempt at the International Medical Common Entrance Examination: an examination that grants a certificate to any applicant who meets up the pass mark with the access to study at one of the almost 56 medical colleges that existed across the commonwealth nations. Sounds super right. Dele’s two brothers had used this gateway to access admission into medicine. His first brother was currently a fully inducted medical doctor and was practicing at New Zealand, his other brother was still in his fourth year of study in the U.K. Dele never intended to study medicine, he preferred astronomy and dreamed to be an astronaut or a space scientist. His dad, of course, had the money. Paying for the exam he took for the past three years cost him a whole lot.
There was a performative expectation on Dele to complete the family trend and his dad had made it known that he won’t settle for his son studying anything different.
Dele hated biology but apart from that, acquiring knowledge was never a problem. After failing his first and second trial, he was totally scorned by his dad. Even he had blamed himself for not taking the exam seriously during this time. But something seemed different when he took the exam the third time, something similar to what happened today – his fourth trial. It wasn’t a lack of knowledge. Something more.
Dele stood there as the shower stroked him water shots. He knew that failure in this fourth exam was imminent.
Why was he always failing and struck dumb whenever he took this exam?
How would his father react if he fails the fourth trial?
Would he be the outcast in the family? So as to say, his father apparently wanted all his sons to be medical doctors?
Was he a failure?
What was he going to do next?
Dele now felt something he never felt before – fear in all its existing cloaks.