The cheat that changed my life for good

Ikeola Bodunde is one of the cool-headed people I know. Reading through this piece made me appreciate her more because her journey, no doubt is an interesting one. This piece though lengthy but engaging and enlightening. Enjoy!

This is somewhat a testimony from one of my misbehaviours. I don’t share it often. I don’t know if it’s because I’m still ashamed of the event or I haven’t properly healed from the disappointment or the fact that my present profession frowns at what I’m about to share with TemmyFlorah and to the World (LOOOL). Anyways, my ponderings have thus led me to realize that most of us don’t share our flaws and falls because we feel we will get judged, and in our bid to become acceptable, we forget that our wholeness- even our wholeheartedness actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls.

Now to the super story… 

Growing up

I have not always been the brightest girl, pupil or friend while growing up. In fact, amongst my group of friends, I always had one of the poorest result cards. After the compulsory common entrance examination for primary schools, twelve pupils were selected and their names were written on the blackboard in the order of how well each performed. To my surprise and everyone else’s, my name was the 12th on the list. I remember telling my mum that afternoon, oh! the joy that engulfed her countenance that she called me FAVOUR- because anyone who knew IKEOLA then probably didn’t expect so much good to come from her. It wasn’t their fault though; she was one hell of a child! As little as she was, she had lots of vices up her sleeves. And as big as her head was, so were her troubles.

Boarding School

As events unfolded, my parents decided that I go to a private boarding school due to the fact that my elder sister couldn’t stand my presence. She will beat me mercilessly that one would wonder if we were really siblings from the same parents and I would, in turn, rumple her dresses and dip them in the Water Closet just because I was angry at the chores allocated to me. 

This decision changed my life in some ways. It was a catholic school with stringent rules and regulations. Non-compliance either meant expulsion or hard labour. Due to the fact that it was a tug of war getting into that particular school based on my obviously poor pedigree, I was forewarned to be on my best behaviour and shun all the “iwa ku wa” (negative behaviour) that I was doing at home. Not like their words made so much meaning to me at the time, I didn’t just want to do anything that will make them send me back to my house. As the days went by, I started becoming coolheaded. Not like I stopped all I was doing but there’s just something ‘Catholic school’ does to you if you let the discipline of the system pass through you. I started doing relatively better than I used to. I also gave my life to Christ during those times. One funny experience too. 

The cheat! 

Fast forward to my last year in secondary school. It was time for our mock examination. And on this fateful day, we had Computer Science. Having read all I could, it was one of the easy subjects though; I came into the examination hall confident of the fact that I had something in my brain to dish out. But at the point where I was to drop my note in front of the hall and enter to take my seat, I had a thought for some seconds “why not take this note along with you, you might forget what you have read”. Please note, cheating at examinations was not one of my exuberances. In fact, I had grown so well behaved (at least) that I was made the Assistant Senior Prefect of the school. So I had my “leadership by example” game going on, well, so I thought. 

The Slap

I took the note to my seat, opened my locker, and as if that was not enough, just like my village people were chasing me, I placed the note with its pages opened and closed the locker. Time for the exam. The invigilator said all the norms and we proceeded. Concluding the paper, I got stuck at a point. Then Voilà! I remembered that my note was with me. As I looked sideways to check if no one was coming like a pro cheat, I gently opened my locker to peep the answer. Lo and Behold, (I know this statement sounds cliché, but it was really a mesmerizing moment) my guardian, Master Valentine just walked to me. I didn’t know when or how he saw me. My God! I was filled with so much fear that I almost sank to the floor. I had not even copied what I intended. After his screams of “What! What are you doing Ike?” came a resounding slap. The slap was so hot that it feels like I can still feel the pain as I type this.

I was disappointed and drained with guilt. A few of my classmates then backbit with the news and I still remember the look of disgust on a particular girl’s face when she was telling another girl about the event. In time, people soon forgot about the occurrence and we went on with our normal lives. But I didn’t. For a while, before we wrote our final exams and graduated, I felt people still saw me as the girl who cheated and got slapped. 

However, I made a resolve that never again will I be involved in such. On gaining admission to the University, my elder sisters recounted their experiences, gave their two cents about doing well in school and told me about examination malpractice (by the way, my elder sisters and I are the best of friends now.). I didn’t tell them my experience in secondary school but I guess they felt they were gisitng with me generally. They told me that an even mere whispering an answer to someone in the exam hall was a form of malpractice. 

I went to school with the resolve and that knowledge, that throughout my days in school, I was not for once involved in any form of malpractice. 

Some of my classmates were very angry with me because I had a no talking, no telling during exam policy. They judged me without knowing my story. Some even said it’s because I always wanted to be seen as the best. Well, their prophecy came to pass; by working hard and chiefly by the grace of God I graduated as the best student in my department.  

It might look like a mundane story, like who doesn’t cheat right? But coming from the background I laid at the beginning of the story, I have had to rise above multiple failures, comparisons, identity struggles to a relatively better place, where I was resolute to do greater things even as a teenager. So it was a pain in my heart when I fell again. However, I learnt from my mistakes and some others that I have made. I felt guilty but I didn’t let the guilt deter me from moving forward. God became my very help. And this one resilience to prove to myself that I can work better, do better and be better has helped my journey and is still helping me. 

My mistakes in this regard will not make me condone it from another person. I have learnt and I now know what is right. My part now as a teacher is to guide others to what is right in the way I can and with God’s help they are guided to do the right thing.

Once you fall short of standards God has set for you and the ones you have set for yourself, just remember that they don’t define who you are, it is what you do after that makes all the difference.

ABOUT THE WRITER…

Ikeola Bodunde is a Lecturer in the Media and Communication studies department with interests in health and organisational communication. A lover of music and everything pastry who believes in finding and leveraging on opportunities for learning and growth.

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