"Why is it always Phebe?" I ponder as I use my pen to draw the map of Africa on my clean sheet. I have been watching Mr. Koole as he pats her shoulder and whispers some 'only God knows what' into her ears. Her smiles infuriate me. She brags almost all the time as the most beautiful and intelligent; an ugly frog like her.
This is the voice I usually hear all the time when I am yet to think of anything, not to talk of writing. It is happening again. Is it true that I am the worst of them all? Will it be that Phebe is always right when she says I can never match up to her standard? Maybe mum was right when she said she has always regretted the day I was conceived. Am I that bad? People have submitted papers full of different printings of ink when I only have the map of Africa sticking on the top right corner of my paper. Perhaps, I'm good only at drawing out my ideas.
"You don't need to submit. It makes no difference." Mr. Koole says as he passes my seat.
"Please have it sir." I plead with mucus running down my throat. I try to swallow it when I stand to offer him the sheet.
"At least, it will mark your attendance." He says with disgust written all over his face.
"Sit right here beside me."
I have never heard my dad's voice as gentle as this in my life. His voice seems to comfort me. I squeeze my face like spoilt vegetable and wrap my two hands in-between my laps as I sit uncomfortably beside this man. I have known him as this man since I was small. But today, he sounds like this daddy.
"I have found a solution." He says rest-assuredly.
Aunty Bartz starts coming to my place every Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. She is my new lesson-teacher. She seems gentle by her looks but don't be deceived, she is the wildest lion one can ever imagine. She scolds me when I go wrong and beats me when I fail in any of her exercises. She trains me in English Language, Mathematics, and History. I wonder what kind of combination that would be in her brain. I became so scared of failing in any of her exercises that I would rather obey her than my parents. My dad understands, but my mum... I don't want to talk about her.
Finally, the fear disappears. The shame is now a thing of the past.
I walk down with my prize as these applauds are now getting frightening. Could this be me?
I had emerged second in the class out of twenty five students. Phebe emerged the first though, I know with time I can measure up, if not better than her. I can see the happiness written all over the faces of my parents. My dad feels fulfilled but for my mum, I can see her feeling of guilt stuck in the corners of her happiness.
This is the peace I have always longed for. I can now walk majestically down the street without the fear of people making silly jests of me. I can now speak back at Phebe when she raises her ugly face at me. Now, I can tell Mr. Koole that my paper is worth submitting.
I can dream of a bright future now that I am at ease.