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Facing The Starting Line: A Short Story.

Facing The Starting Line: A Short Story.

Giant 1

Laurel was a tall, dark, and handsome young man with glittering eyes and shaped lips, his ability to comfort himself with his looks whenever he was down earned him the title of a narcissist. Laurel was an extrovert, a “hundred words per minute” kind of person. A lover of quality native food, but sadly he couldn’t cook and it cost him a lot. Laurel was a people person, he loved social gatherings and parties. He gave his life to Christ in 2008- two years before he got his supposed breakthrough job.

Laurel had the experience, that’s what he tells himself every time. At least, he had been teaching for the past five years. So, to say he has experience in the profession at a young age of twenty five is not that bad. Laurel is a Literature teacher, he was trained to teach English Language and Performing Arts at Stamford College of Education. Though his college days weren’t a smooth experience worthy of telling, Laurel managed to leave the teacher training institution a brilliant student and teacher without the grades. His college story is simple and short. He lived a reckless life in college, and he suffered the consequences, or should I say he was still suffering the consequences.

It was in the first week of September, Laurel was without a job. He resigned from his previous place of assignment due to poor learning and teaching environment, delay of payment, poor administration and a confirmation from God. The 2011/2012 academic season was about to kick off, and he- a star teacher, had not signed up for any team yet. He strongly considered teaching on loan, but concluded it was no good for him. It was a life full of activities with less impact on lives. Laurel doesn’t want that.

He wanted to be known with a group, progress and success. He had overcome the denial that teaching wasn’t his calling, he learnt that there is a demand God placed on his life, and that role could not be fulfilled outside the educational system. Following the salvation of Laurel’s soul, God had confirmed his presence, plan, and purpose in various ways. Under God, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, here was his mission statement for life;

“To communicate effectively by the help of the Holy Spirit, with all kinds of persons, irrespective but according to their intellectual capabilities, to help them realize that which is their God giving talents, gifts and purposes in life.”

If surviving without a job was the only thing Laurel had to worry about, then his burden was light. But the daily doses of “gbas gbos” he was getting from his  Mom and Dad was enough reason to fast and pray for a God given job. His prayer was answered. He got a call on a sacred day (to him). He had been graciously recommended for a role. One that suits him, he was given a crucial place in the starting XI. The pay was huge, and he was to resume or start training on a Monday.

Laurel was still not comfortable. Though the call was an assuring one, he was faced with the reality of getting back to a daily stressful and tedious routine. He had to be sincere with himself. Was he really in need of a job? Was he ready to end the luxurious, stress-free and irresponsible life of idleness he had been enjoying for twenty one days? Did I mention that the pay was double his former wages? So, why was he contemplating? It is obvious, he was faced with a big destiny threatening giant – “idleness” or “laziness”.

Giant 2

It was the said Monday, and Laurel was at Kloud College that morning. Yes! He overcame it. The daily doses of “gbas gbos” from his Mom and Dad were effective. He was given a dose the night before. So, there was definitely no room for idleness, and trust me, Laurel was not lazy. He got there at exactly 7:55 am, and was met by a grumpy, well dressed but disorganized fellow (the principal).

 “Are you the Literature teacher we are expecting”, he said after murmuring an answer to Laurel’s greeting.

 “Yes”, Laurel responded almost immediately and confidently. “Follow me”, Mr Tubory ordered.

“I am not your house boy guy! Be polite”, Laurel thought silently as he obeyed.

He was led into a hallway and was given a seat outside the first room, by the left side of the door. He sat down quietly watching students take turns to peep at him. “ What would they be thinking?”, he thought. Mr Tubory was quick to put an end to that thought as he ordered “Follow me” again.

“Mr Man nah soldier you suppose to be, you just dey give orders. No introduction, poor communication with your evil facial expressions. You need slap ooo” Laurel scolded the imaginary Mr Tubory he had created in his mind, giving the innocent visual imagery a rabbit punch.

“We are going to JS3 class now”, Mr Tubory continued. “ They have English now and I don’t want them to be idle, don’t worry oga will soon discuss with you , but for now just engage them please”, Mr Tubory explained.

Laurel spent hundred minutes teaching and gisting with the students of JSS3. It was like he had been teaching in the school for years. After a beautiful introductory class, Laurel left the class and was ushered to the staff room. The first person he saw was a good reason to smile. Dayo was his old friend. They used to work together at a biscuit producing company. Seeing Dayo was a motivation for Laurel, at least there is someone to hear him out, and direct him on how they operate. He lost half of that motivation the moment Dayo informed him that he was just resuming on that day like him. He braced himself and was ready to begin the life of a full-time teacher once again.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, Laurel understood experientially what Kofi Awoonor meant by “ Caught between the anvil and the hammer/ In the forging house of a new life…” in his poem “The Anvil and the Hammer”. He resumed on Tuesday morning drenched by the rain, and was met with the news that Dayo had stopped coming. He lost the remaining motivation he had sustained from the previous day. Immediately, doubt started to cloud his mind. “Should I just stop too?” “Can I cope?” These were the kind of thoughts he was battling with. The heavier rain that fell on Wednesday morning was another discouragement, but definitely not for Laurel.

He was determined and knew by experience that the beginning is always the hardest. “Beginning” was the giant he was faced with at the time, and by continually showing up, he would overcome the giant before him. He would continue from the beginning and make progress. He wasn’t going to chicken out like Dayo. Laurel was ready to face the giant of “The Beginning”.

Giant 3

It has been a month since Laurel resumed as a teacher at Kloud College. He was struggling to adapt to the school mode of operation. He was struggling to blend in. Most of the old staff glory in high service and hypocrisy. Laurel hated such a lifestyle, and was determined to stand out. He did things the way he would normally do them, whether the Director was around or not. The heat worsened when Laurel’s communication skill was noticed by the management, and he was saddled with the responsibility of drafting all broadcast messages of the school. This earned him enemies among other staff, especially Mr Tubory.

Laurel had issues with submitting to Mr Tubory’s authority. He hated his way of communication, and felt like he was always disrespecting his staffs, and scolded them unnecessarily like they were students. Laurel’s observation was right, but his way of fighting against it was without wisdom, which earned him a spot in Mr Tubory’s black book. If anyone should question Mr Tubory’s manner of approach, it definitely shouldn’t be Laurel. He had too many loopholes. Let’s start with the fact that he was a consistent latecomer. For a teacher, it was a terrible habit; one that he needed to quit as soon as possible. Mr Tubory was quick to use Laurel’ loopholes against him. Laurel answered his first query barely five weeks into his new role as a teacher and of course, it was for late coming.

Late coming wasn’t his only shortcoming. Procrastination was his major one. Laurel was quick to identify his duties and mistakes, but very slow to correct his mistakes and get the work done. He was easily distracted by friends, pleasure, food and money. Laurel wasn’t able to meet up with deadlines, and that was Mr Tubory’s major hold against him. He casually told his boss he would submit a crucial assignment two weeks after the deadline. Who does that?!

On a Friday afternoon, the Director had called for a short staff meeting. He went straight to the point and scolded Laurel using harsh words, but with a polite tone. Words like “disappointed”, “rebellious” and “suspension” coming from the director pierced Laurel’ soul. The meeting was brief and resolute. He was given another deadline and failure to comply by then will cost him his role in the school. Laurel was sure he would be fine without the job financially, but that wasn’t guaranteed spiritually and family. He would have to endure the daily “gbas gbos” from Mom and Dad, but worst, he would have to deal with the condemnation that will linger in his mind for months that he failed where God had placed him. Laurel knew without any doubt, that all was his fault. The devil only amplified the whole thing through Mr Tubory, he created the foothold. 

Laurel left the meeting with two thoughts running through his mind simultaneously; why was he struggling with keeping his job and doing what was right? Why was everything going against him? As these questions lay quietly in his mind, he brought out his Samsung android phone, plugged in his earphones, and as he clicked the screen to life he was met with the music floating notification of his phone carrying CalledOut Music’Walking On Me”. He smiled and clicked on play. 

It was a clear sign, in all of his struggles, challenges, “gbas gbos”, disappointment and inconsistency, God was working on him and God is still working on him. That was just a phase of his life. Like every human face that comes our way – IT WILL PASS.

He deepen both hands into his pockets as he walked home humming the melodious music.

To be continued…

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