“Delight!” screamed my mother, “you’re going to join your father at the farm this morning. I need some cocoyams for my soup”. “Coming Mum”, I responded. “and don’t play with your friends until you have finished harvesting the cocoyam”, Mum continued.
I quickly went to the kitchen to get the basket and the cutlass because I knew my dad always forgot to bring the cutlass to cut the weed and grass. It was the first time I would go to the farm and I smiled to myself thinking that this could never get any better. I skipped out of the room, delighted to be going to the farm, finally.
On the way out the door, my mother Chukwudinma Nwachukwu, came out holding papa’s breakfast and lunch. She put it in a nylon bag and joined me on my way to the farm.
Mother was a beautiful woman and although she was no longer as young as she was when father won her heart by defeating the renowned village champion, people still turned to stare at her when she passed. She and dad was a handsome pair because papa was still the village champion.
Mama and I set out for the farm. When we got there, papa was weeding. I gave him the cutlass I had brought and mama greeted him and left to go back home. I was eager to start work and when I asked papa what I should do, he said I should help him weed the farm before we could start harvesting. I started weeding with my dad, I was so happy I was helping dad. After a while, dad said it was time to start harvesting the cocoyam.
Out of nowhere, came Chidera. I did not like Chidera very much because she was a jealous and malicious child. She was always trying her best to put someone down and it required a lot of inner strength to keep from quarreling with her. She was always planning evil on an unsuspecting person. It was quite easy to dislike her. Of all Chidera’s friends, there was one I really liked because she was different from the others. She was Chibunma. Chibunma was a loyal friend but that was not enough for Chidera. She would twist everything Chibunma did so it would look like she was a fool. Chibunma was a timid girl and could hardly defend herself. I decided that I would always fight for her whenever I could.
One day, Chidera wanted to make fun of Chibunma. Her plan was to make her fall so that everyone would laugh at her. She walked up to Chibunma and deliberately planted herself in her path. She stepped on Chibunma’s toes and she quickly turned to avoid her but she mistakenly tripped on a rock and the entire fruit juice she was holding poured all over Chidera. I started laughing. I knew it was a bad thing to do but I could not help myself. Chidera told me not to count my stars yet and that soon she would be the one laughing all over me.
“Chidera, I don’t want to burst your bubble but you know it’s never going to happen. I am smarter than you and there’s no prank you could pull on me that I wouldn’t know about”, I said.
“Oh, but I will win that scholarship, you know I am the smartest kid in this village. I don’t need to study because I am already smart. Remember this, you are just a loser like everyone else and you will always be last. Anyway, I need to get home and clean up so if you don’t mind, I need to prepare myself and look pretty for the day when I get the scholarship,” Chidera said and walked away.
I remembered all that as I stood looking at Chidera on our farm land. She jeered at me, calling me names and laughing at me. She reminded me of the upcoming scholarship, telling me that I would still be on the farm the day the examination would be written and she would get the scholarship because she was smarter.
After Chidera walked away, I became very sad and dad said, “Don’t believe what everyone tells you. You are still the intelligent, beautiful Delight I have always known, and nothing can change that.”
“What if Chidera is right?” I asked
“Delight, I know you are a strong and brave girl. So show me that hardworking girl I know.” Dad told me.
I smiled and asked that what we were waiting for to continue harvesting the cocoyam. When we were through with our work, we went to sit on the bench and eat our lunch. When we finished eating, we carried the baskets full of cocoyams and walked back home. On our way home, I made a decision. I decided I was going to study hard as I was aware my father didn’t have enough money to pay for my university education. I was so lost in thought that I didn’t know when we got home. I found myself standing in my back yard. I quickly went in and dropped the basket I was carrying and went into my room.
It was Sunday and I had decided to stay in my room all day to study since the next day was school. I threw all of my books on the bed and lay down to read. I had high hopes of winning the scholarship.
I finally fell asleep on my books but fortunately, I didn’t drool all over them. I woke up when I heard dad’s voice calling me to get up and brush my teeth.
When I was ready to go to school, I gathered my books and on my way out, I saw a letter on the floor. I picked it up and opened it to see who it was addressed to. “You useless human being, if you think you will win the scholarship, you must be a joker. See you at school, looser.” It was signed by Chidera.
I was shocked but I just shrugged it off and walked to school, pretending nothing had happened. When I got to school, I saw Chika and Chinwe my friends. We hugged each other and went to our different classes.
After the exam, I did excellently well. I was top in all my subjects, and my teachers were very proud of me. My principal was also very proud of my achievements and I got gifts almost every week. I kept doing well in school until the second to the last day of school. I was very proud of myself too. When I got home, I told my mum about all that had been happening.
My mum was so happy that she gave me roasted yam and smoked fish and asked me to eat it with sauce and pepper.
Days later, I was preparing for my graduation. I sorted out my attire which was Jorge and wrapper. I went to the market and bought some jewellery from the jeweller. That night I couldn’t sleep. I kept walking around the house. When I finally slept, it was a disturbing sleep and I woke up immediately I heard the cock crow.
My parents immediately opened the door and I groaned as I began to get ready because I didn’t get enough sleep. I waved goodbye to my parents when I was finally ready to go. My two friends Chika and Chinwe walked me to school. I quickly went to my locker and got my camera out. My father had bought it for me on one of his trips to the big city.
On my way back from the locker, I met Chidera and her group of evil minnows. “Oh, it’s you,” said Chidera. “You know, with that look on your face and that dress you’ve got on, you do not stand a chance against me, the prettiest girl around,” Chidera continued.
I ignored her and continued my walk down the hall to the event venue. I arrived as my parents were taking their seats. I walked to them and handed the camera over to my father so he could take some shots of us.
The program started and it was time to call and award the hardworking students. I was best in Craft, Math, Spelling, English, Science and Sports. Then it was time to announce the winner of the scholarship exam.
Chidera smoothed her skirt, adjusted her bow and sat up. She plastered a fake smile on her face and posed for her name to be called. And then the Principal said, “Can Miss. Delight Amaka Nwachukwu step out and receive the scholarship award?”
I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. My heart was pounding so loud I could hear it. As I walked to the Principal, I couldn’t believe that I would be going abroad to study and become a Chemical Engineer in future.
My parents were jumping up and screaming with joy. As I accepted the award, dad took a couple of shots with the camera and handed it over to one of the guests to snap all three of us. After that I took a bow and went off stage with my face glowing with pleasure.
When I walked past Chidera, her face was burning red; she turned scarlet as she walked out of the hall while I continued receiving hugs from my well-wishers.
Words to check up in the dictionary.