It was in senior secondary level 1 (SS1) in a literature class where I first tried to cheat in school.
Mrs Orji's class was hard. Quiz after quiz, I got Cs and Ds. A few more, and I wouldn’t pass the class if I continued like that. I got back another test result. Yet another C.
I got most of the answers wrong. I scored 5/15 and I was pained. She came to the class and did corrections. I didn't want anyone to see my score, so I quickly tore it out, rewrote it and scored myself 12/15.
I kept the 12/15 inside my locker had a beaming smile on my face. Little did I know luck wasn’t on my side. After a few minutes, she came back in a hurry and asked that we resubmit the test books. My brain started to panic. I almost collapsed. I had already scattered the pieces of the 5/15 mark into the trashcan. I was in a big mess. Mrs Orji? You can't fool her. She was super smart and hot with her British accent.
I handed in my test with the others and rushed outside the classroom to rehearse my defence if I was called back.
“Favour, Mrs Orji is calling you,” another student called.
I felt a sharp movement in my tummy and an intense urge to urinate. Approaching her office, my body was visibly shaking.
“What happened to the test I marked, who wrote 12/15 here?”
I came close to have a look like I didn’t know what she was talking about. “You marked it, ma.”
“I did”? she asked calmly.
I beamed with a smile thinking that I had won.
“I'm disappointed,” she said disrupting my thoughts.
“Shut up,” she said looking straight into my face. “How dare you make a mockery of my intelligence?”
I went down on my knees and confessed. She looked down at my expertly-crafted trick...and looked at me square in the eyes and laughed incredulously for the whole staff to hear. “Now, take a seat.”
My cheeks burned as I did the walk of shame to the seat.
“You can do better than this. You're a very smart kid. Why did you do this? “What's the problem”?
“I don't like literature. It's too hard and confusing. I always get low marks in it.”
“Literature is not hard. If it was, I wouldn't be this good at it. You can do better than me, and we aren’t debating it.”
“I'm sorry, ma. I will never do it again.”
“I'll forgive you on one condition. Get As in literature henceforth. Mind you, I'll critically screen your papers and I'll do that without mercy. Now take these books, sit down and read them. If you don't understand anything, come and ask and we will fix it.
It was at that moment that I learned a hard lesson: There are no shortcuts. There and then, I knew I was onto something big. I started reading literature like my life depended on it.
By the end of the term, I got an A in literature and continued afterwards.
Written by Favour Nwabueze
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org