Pride, foolishness, ignorance and shame

I walked to the front of the classroom beaming with excitement and pride. I had finally been chosen to read my English composition to my classmates, for the first time in a long time. For several months, I had clenched my jaw and gnashed my teeth while the new girl received all the praise that was mine before.

I walked to the front of the classroom beaming with excitement and pride. I had finally been chosen to read my English composition to my classmates, for the first time in a long time. For several months, I had clenched my jaw and gnashed my teeth while the new girl received all the praise that was mine before.

From the moment she arrived, I stopped being Mr. Muheki’s favourite student. He stopped relying on me for correct answers, he stopped asking me to collect all the books to take them to the staffroom, and he stopped saying “Excellent! Clap for her!” to the answers I gave. It didn’t matter how hard I tried, Laura Kiconco was just better than I was.

Lesson after lesson, I put my best foot forward and lesson after lesson, Laura beat me effortlessly. It was as though English was her first language. Inwardly, I cried with anguish and outwardly, I cried foul countless times when I thought my composition was better but hers got a better grade. After a while, I started dreading the thought of attending English lessons because a permanent  “second place” had stopped being my worst nightmare; it was now my reality. You see, “second best” has never, and will never be good enough for me. I am a sore loser.

I started feigning sickness to avoid attending English lessons and if I attended, I refused to participate and deliberately refused to take notes or learn anything. Yes, I was a very foolish child. Naturally, my grades went down the drain. So I was genuinely surprised to have been chosen on that day because that privilege was reserved only for crème de la crème and needless to say, I was hardly it anymore.

When I finished reading my composition, Mr. Muheki asked the class, “What is wrong with this composition?” It turns out; my composition hadn’t been chosen for its excellence but its lack thereof. While I refused to study, everyone else learnt the idioms by heart.  And when we were instructed to write a story ending with, “...biting off more than I can chew,” I wrote about the time I put so much food in my mouth that I chocked on it.

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