Rosie made her way past other commuters in the rowdy bus park back in her village. She had just returned from her trip to Benin and wasn’t particularly in a great mood.
She transferred her purple box from her hand to her head in a bid to ease the weight. She had no idea what her next course of action was going to be, having lost her money for the WACE registration. She drew inspiration from a popular saying which read “When there is life, there is hope”, and decided to remain positive.
“At least there’s something to be thankful about.” She thought to herself.
A friend she made in Benin during her stay in her uncle’s house had given her the money to transport herself back home. It would have been a lot worse for her if she was stuck in Benin in addition to her other problems.
The sound of her name interrupted her thoughts and she turned around in the direction of the call. It was Mr. Akpan, her mathematics teacher who was at the park to see his cousin off.
“What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be in school?” Akpan asked.
Rosie was in no mood for a reminder of her current situation but this conversation seemed unavoidable.
She explained to Mr. Akpan that she had gone to Benin in search of money for the upcoming WACE enrollment.
“Any luck?” He asked.
“No.” She replied, gritting her teeth to fight back the tears welling up in her eyes.
He looked at her with compassion in his eyes and asked her to come see him in his office the next day. She agreed and walked off in the direction of her house.
When Rosie got to Mr. Akpan’s office the next day, he told her the school had offered to pay for her WACE enrollment because she was the best student in her class and he believed she would top other students in the region if she took the exams.
Having the best student in the region was a great deal to secondary schools. It gave them a higher place in the ranking system, which opened the doors for more opportunities like government grants. It was also a thing of pride to Principals and other top management staff, if their institution could produce the regional best student.
In light of this, Mr. Akpan had gone to the school’s principal a while ago to make a case for Rosie. He tendered her results from all previous classes as evidence of his belief in her abilities. She always topped her class by a considerable margin and he was sure that would translate when she was up against students from other institutions.
“Three days ago, I received approval from the Principal for you to sit for the exams free of charge.” Mr. Akpan announced excitedly.
Rosie could not believe it.
“The gods be praised.” She thought to herself.
“That being said, you will have to pay the result collection fee to have a copy of the results once they are released. It’s only five shillings.” He added.
That sounded like a fair deal to Rosie and Rosie thanked him sincerely for his assistance.
She was really grateful for the chance he had given her and for the first time since she left Benin, a smile formed across her beautiful facial features.
“Thank you, sir.” She repeated, before taking her leave from his office.
The much anticipated WACE exams finally started and the general mood among the students of A.G.G.S was that of apprehension or as it was popularly called, “Exam Fever”.
This was not the case for Rosie who could not contain her happiness. The WACE exam would bring her one step closer to achieving her dreams of becoming a Professor someday.
The exam had a total of nine papers and Rosie had written two of the nine when she came down with a fever. The fever was so severe she had to be taken to the hospital.
Rosie cried all the way from the school to the hospital. Missing the exams meant she had to wait an entire year for the exams to come around again. Who was to say the school would be gracious enough to let her sit for it free then?
“This can’t be happening.” Rosie cried out loud, but the nurse advised her to rest.
The doctor said she had to be admitted in the hospital for a number of weeks before she would be allowed to go home.
It would have been easy to blame the witches for her predicament at this point, but she really didn’t believe in the supernatural. She knew they existed but she didn’t think they had power over her – at least that was what she was taught in church.
It was clear that there wasn’t much she could do about the situation, so she resigned herself to fate.
“What will be, will be.” She thought, as she drifted off to sleep.
That evening, her teacher. Mr. Akpan came to the hospital to visit her. He was with a man Rosie did not recognize. The other man was holding a sealed brown envelope in his hands and wearing straight pencil trousers that told Rosie he was in the educational profession.
“Good evening, sir.” Rosie greeted. “Thanks for coming to see me.”
Mr. Akpan responded to her greeting and inquired about her health.
After pleasantries had been exchanged, he introduced the man he came with as an external examiner sent to supervise the exams in her school.
He told her he had seen how much she had worked for the exams before falling ill, and asked if she would be able to write her exams there in the hospital. He explained that the examiner had come with the papers, after things were explained to him.
Rosie was super excited!
“Once again, the gods are smiling down at me.
She accepted the papers from him and wrote the exam for that day, after which the external examiner collected the papers and left the hospital.
Every day after that, Mr. Akpan made the trip to the hospital with the examiner and Rosie wrote all her outstanding papers from there.
Three weeks after the end of the WACE exams, she was discharged and allowed to go home.
Six months later, the results of the WACE exams were released.
Rosie could not go to collect hers immediately because she hadn’t gotten the 5 shillings for result collection.
After explaining the situation to her brother H, he gave her the money and she dashed off to her school.
Rosie was super excited when she arrived at the result collection center in her school. Firstly, the officer handing out the result was a friend of her brother H, who recognized her and gave her a copy of her result without payment.
Secondly, she had emerged the best student in her state. Yes, she knew she could emerge the best student in her school but the state was a whole different ball game. She didn’t see this coming and she was very happy with her achievement.
She ran home in excitement and broke the news to her brother, H. He lifted her into the air in celebration of the good news, and told her how proud of her he was.
Rosie thanked him profusely for his support through the years.
“I couldn’t have done this without you, H.” She stated, giving him another hug.