Some days ago, the country awoke to the sad news of the 16-year-old OAU microbiology undergraduate, Mercy Afolaranmi, who allegedly committed suicide due to poor grades.
How tragic! The poor teenage girl reportedly took her own life by consuming rat poison mixed with battery extract because she had an “E ” in a first year chemistry course. She didn’t even fail. She only performed woefully. This particularly sad story resonates with me because I was in those same shoes some 10-11 years ago.
I was a fresher, young, excited and filled with extremely high hopes for a bright future. Unfortunately, life has a way of dealing us with crappy hands. My results in my first semester of university were the most terrible I had ever had. I FAILED one white house course, PHY 105 and barely managed to escape the other one in Chemistry with a mere pass. It didn’t help that my room that year was in Block F of Angola Hall. F7, merely two rooms away from F9, the hallmark of failure in the Nigerian higher education grading system. The ill omen hung in the air stifling me and threatening to rid me of my foolishly sanguine aspirations.
I was devastated. I couldn’t hold my head high on campus. I walked around morose, shoulders slumped and perpetually dejected. I became withdrawn and unable to associate with people. I felt like my own was absolutely finished. In my mind, I was the poster child for failure. I had no idea who I could talk to. I went to sports centre and cried bitter tears at the wailing wall, that white washed fence by the lawn tennis court adjacent to the squash court. I prayed, wept and prayed some more.
Even though our results were released with matriculation numbers only and I didn’t tell anyone my grade, the commiserations started pouring in. Friends from other faculties called me to console me and to offer their best wishes. Instead of raising my hopes, this show of comradeship served to dampen my spirits further. I imagined I had become a laughing stock among friends and enemies – the subject of malicious gossip and the unfortunate victim of warped testimonies to God’s might. You know na? How several people had failed in your department but God in his infinite mercies ensured that you, his beloved, were spared while he watched as his other less deserving children got the axe. Smh.
Anyways I think that was the point at which I decided to snap out of my misery. I was not going to allow myself become a subject of ridicule, in public or in secret. I had failed and there was no going back about that. No use crying over spilt milk. Acceptance proved indeed to be the first step towards healing. For as soon as I accepted my lot, I began to heal. My shoulders straightened, the spring returned to my step, my heart was filled with light and I immersed myself further in extracurricular activities while bracing up ahead of the next session when I would have to attend incredibly rowdy and inconvenient Physics classes alongside my juniors. Dang!
Why did I type all these this superbly sunny Sunday morning? I admit that no one has the right to judge another for their choices and that we cannot police how people decide to grief or react to grievous issues. BUT SUICIDE IS NOT THE ANSWER. I failed PHY 105 but here I am today still standing. I didn’t graduate top of my class or with any remarkable fanfare but I finished in time and with my set. I could do better than I am doing now but I am not doing poorly. I am happy. My life is good. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you make out of it. It takes a great deal of the wrong kind of courage to take one’s life but that it is not the best course of action to take.
A failed course, a failed test, a failed marriage, a failed interview, terrible finances, nonexistent social life, inability to conceive, lack of spouse, and whatever dire circumstance you might be passing through now doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Yours is not the worst out there. It’s not the end of your life. Remember the night is said to be darkest just before dawn. Peace!!!
~ ‘Wole Olujimi
Wole is a graduate of Microbiology from the Obafemi Awolowo University. He currently works with one of the leading international financial institutions in Nigeria.
We all at wastesmart.org commiserate with the family of the deceased. May God heal your wounds and grant you the fortitude to bear this loss.
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