“Mum, I’m trying. I mean it.”
“With 5Cs and 4Ds, you say you’re trying?”
“But remember it was worse last term”
“So, are you asking me to congratulate you for this pathetic result? Your father is spending close to half a million naira on you every year and all you can bring back is this”
“Mum, I promise to get better”
“You had better do better”. Thinking fast, she added, “You know your dad is going for a one-year sabbatical lecturing at University of Oxford in August?”
“Yes mum. I had almost forgotten.”
“I don’t blame you. You have a really dense head. I wonder if you ever remember anything. Your father is a professor of Botany, I’m a SAN, and your elder sister is almost through with medical school, but you sit here and celebrate 5Cs. At times, I wonder if there was a chemical imbalance in my womb during and after your conception.”
“Will you shut up? Don’t I have every reason to think so?”
“Don’t you but me. Like I was saying before you unintelligently interrupted me, your father will be away throughout your next session in school. And I hope you have not forgotten as well that you’re going to your final class, SS3, come September.”
“Mum! How can I forget that? You’re insulting me.”
“Oh! Now you know how it feels to be insulted. Do you know how insulted and ashamed your father and I feel when we come for your Visiting day, only to see grades written with red biro?”
“I’m so sorry mum. You won’t see red anymore.”
“That’s what you’ve always said, son”
“This time is different; for real.”
“Please don’t give me that. Now I don’t want you to interrupt me until I finish what I want to say, okay?”
“Okay mum” he sighed.
Moving to sit directly opposite him on the stool in his room, she said “If you don’t step up your grades this third term, when your dad is away, I’ll withdraw you from your school and put you in Ondo grammar school.” She stopped and allowed the message to be well understood.
A smile spread reflexively across his face. “You cannot be serious, mum”
“Wait and see” she said. “You have this third term to prove yourself.”
Looking at his mum’s face, Dayo knew that she was serious, and the mere thought of the humiliation that will ensue sent shivers running down his spine. “Mum, I promise I’ll work so hard, you wouldn’t have to do that” he said hoping against hope that what his mum threatened will never happen.
“How do you hope to improve on your grades?” his mother asked.
“I don’t know yet, but I’ll do something.”
“You had better”, she said, stood up and walked out of his room.
Increasing the cool of the air conditioner, Dayo sat back on his bed but kept sweating. He could imagine his friends laughing at him. He was still wondering what to do when he remembered he had an assignment to do online.
Sitting at his reading table, he opened the Yahoo search engine. But before typing in his assignment topic, an advert at the top right corner of the page caught his attention. It had different captions flashing on and off. One of them was, ‘Do you need a quick miracle in your academics, click here’. He didn’t blink before clicking.
The site that opened up was a tutorial class site hosted by the Good Shepherd church. Dayo read through the online brochure and decided it was what he needed. He scrolled down the page to see how much it would cost. He knew he could afford to pay the fee from his pocket money. His classmate had told him about an expensive tutorial class that cost #40,000. He knew this could not be that expensive, and even if it was, he had enough money in his savings account to cover the cost.
Scrolling down, he was perplexed when he didn’t see any place indicating the fee. He went back to the home page and clicked on ‘Registration’. All he saw there was an invitation to the church’s Sunday service. ‘We’ll give you more information after the service’ was the only information there.
‘That’s fair enough’, he thought. He hadn’t been to church in a while but going to church wasn’t a repulsive idea. “Sunday it will be then”, he said out to himself. Dayo then proceeded to research his assignment topic.
The youth church of the Good Shepherd church was filled to capacity as usual. The 2,000 capacity auditorium was full of teenagers and young adults. Some had to sit outside and watch via a screen.
Pastor Francis, the 25 year old youth pastor preached a sermon on, ‘The God of All Possibilities’. He made them know that God could and would settle any challenges they were faced with but that they needed to repent of their sins first and surrender their lives to Him. The message cut across different categories of teenagers. The atmosphere was charged and there was dead silence except for some muffled sobs and cries scattered throughout the auditorium. Pastor Francis always made it a duty while preaching to look into the eyes of as many of the people seated in the congregation, as possible.
The guys who had been whistling initially were now quiet. Girls no longer passed notes. There was some saving anointing in the auditorium that day and every teenager, male and female alike felt it. The other youth ministers were visibly praying under their breaths, asking God to perfect what he had started.
In that congregation were two different teenagers who didn’t even know the other existed. They were there because of the same reason; they needed help. One was Febi, and the other was Dayo. ‘Will I find the help and transformation I have been seeking here?’ That was the silent question on their minds in the different seats they sat in the auditorium.