My name is John Kasie. I am a 26-year-old boy. The people around me honestly liked me, even more than I did like myself. Now the likeness is all gone and I do not even like myself a single bit any longer because of the mistakes I have made in life. Although, voices in my head still whisper that I can have the tomorrow I dreamed, as the downfall of a man is not the end of his life.
Of course, like every other youths and teenagers out there, I dreamed of a beautiful tomorrow. I dreamed that I could sit in the balcony in a Penthouse looking out to the beautiful cars in my garage with a glass of champagne in my hand. I never stopped dreaming, as days go by so do my dreams add up. I dreamed I could have a well-shaped beautiful girl, whom I will marry and go for our honeymoon in Dubai, and I will love and cherish her, and shower her with luxury gifts for the rest of our lives. I wanted just two kids, a boy and a girl, David and Ella respectively. David could become a medical doctor and Ella, a lawyer. In fact, I dreamed of a tomorrow that I could look at my life and scream, “I made it!”
At a point, I started getting scared of tomorrow. It got scarier as I got older. I was curious of that stage in my life when I would take my responsibilities all by myself, that stage that people will have to depend on me for their survival, that stage that if I don’t have, I won’t eat and people around me would starve as well, because they depend on me. The thought of all these at 19 weakened my self-confidence. I became a positive person in a negative way. It seemed it would be unachievable if I do not take actions quickly. Therefore, I had to quit school at my 300 level, to strive for a brighter tomorrow; the same reason that my mother had to send me to school at the first place.
Undoubtedly, I was one of those privileged brilliant “Jambites” that were admitted into the prestigious University of Nigeria Nsukka in a single trial. The people around me felt very proud of me, and I could still recall the smile in my mother’s face on the picture she took with me on my matriculation day. Why didn’t I think about all these before calling it a quit in that almighty school? It was a privilege ruined!
I regret that a lot. Quitting school was a stupid decision that I made in my life. However, it was not just my idea. A few people influenced it, mostly my friend Gideon. He had always called the four academic years “wasted four years”. He made sure I saw education from his perspective as being “useless”. I wish I never listened to Gideon. Gideon is a trader in the popular Onitsha main market; he deals on motor spare parts. He could be successful in the business, I did not know, but he always told me so. He was a schoolmate back in primary school, and that was how he became a childhood friend. Gideon was the only pupil then who was not scared of the term results, because he knew no one dragged the last position with him. He was the dumbest pupil back then. He only managed to ascend the next classes with a “pity promotion” because the headmaster was his maternal uncle. After primary school, majority of us forged ahead to secondary schools, and Gideon and few others dropped out. He was particularly sent to serve a master who dealt on motor spare parts in Onitsha. Ten years later, a primary school dropout convinced me that education is useless. I accept whole-heartedly that I was stupid!
I thought the hardest part of my dropping out would be making the decision, but after deciding, I learnt it was even the easiest part. How was I going to tell my mother I was no longer in school after all she went through to keep me in school for 3 years? I cried for the first time in 6 years, because apparently the bad news would cause my mother a heart attack. It was too late to return to school; I was only left with ten thousand naira from the sixty thousand naira I was given for my third year tuition, I already vacated my hostel room and someone was already occupying my corner, and worst of all, I skipped the entire first semester examinations. It has been done and I had to forge ahead. I decided I would not let my mother nor any of my relatives know about it.
I went into the labour market. Like Gideon used to motivate me, “leave school and get down into the street to hustle”. It sounded easier than what I was seeing. The available labour for me was not what I could consider doing even in my next world. That was when I knew the value of the certificate I forfeited; there were plenty good work opportunities to start with at least to earn something and have some savings, but they weren’t for me, because even the least of them wanted a Diploma or Degree as a qualification. Worse still, I never admitted I lost hope.
I spent just 5 months thinking of the way forward, and it seemed like 5 years to me. I was squatting with Ubong- my course mate who lived off campus. He is a native of Akwa-Ibom. He was one of the few nice friends I had in school, but not without a fault. Everything I hoped on crashed almost at the same time. However, I had two options, my mother and Gideon. I was sure my mother could only help a little, and Gideon would certainly put me through since he was already successful in his business. As I was thinking, I was hearing guitar strings playing in my tommy; it was hunger. I had nothing to eat and no money to buy. It is true I was squatting with someone, but Ubong is someone that would rather stay starved than share his food with you. He ate only when I had gone out, I come back to meet empty pots every day. His likeness for me diminished by the day as I stayed with him, to a point that we hardly had informal conversation together. I would not say I did not know why. Ubong was one of the few people that was bold enough to stand against me quitting school, which I neglected. I was surprised he could even let me stay in his room. He was nice to me but his attitudes lately was nothing but an indirect message to me to leave his room. However, I neglected those signs from Ubong because I had no other place to go aside home and Gideon’s house, which are not options for the moment. I needed to get back Ubong’s friendship and I knew a way to do it. I planned to get many foodstuffs that would be enough to feed the both of us for a while. That was a great idea, I admitted but I had no such money. An idea hit me; I called my mum and demanded money for a particular entrepreneurship project in school of about twenty thousand naira. Her response was easy and assuring. She said I should come over to the house. Maybe she wanted to give me the money in cash, I thought. Ubong was nice enough to lend me three hundred naira for my transport, and then I left.
I got home late, our parlour was dark but I was able to notice that there were no more cushions and electronics set in there, not even the standing fan that used to save us in heat periods. My little sister; Dera who happens to be our last-born told me that armed robbers stole them when she was asleep. It sounded weird because I would not take those outdated cushions and electronics sets if I was an armed robber. However, that was what our mother told her. The truth was that she sold out those things to raise the third year tuition fee that I had spent on nothing worthwhile. I hide in my room and cried for the second time in a month……
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