*This is the first of a two-part essay; be sure to read the next instalment.
I WILL BE VERY FRANK with you here, and not try to bullshit you, in no way; during one of my examinations, many years ago, in my second semester of my Diploma in Law programme, I walked into the arena, as bold and poised as Don Corleone in the movie ‘The Godfather’. As far as I was concerned this particularly exam was already a walk-over, done and dusted and at a 100% grade. We were sitting for ‘Constitutional & Administrative Law’ by barrister Felix.
Few minutes into the exam my boldness and Don Corleone’s poise suddenly dissipated, my heart began beating faster than I could spell my own name; I began feeling like a smuggler who had wraps of cocaine concealed in his pants and here standing before the smart immigration officer who had detected and arrested the two others in front of me. The examination arena became uncomfortable and I had started sweating – like a Christmas goat. My God!
I looked at the exam papers before me, seeing that I was ‘familiar’ with every question in it was no consolation – it rather made me feel worse. I looked at the answers booklet, it was empty – I hadn’t written a single word on it except my examination credentials.
Something significant had happened the night before; at about 10:PM, I had picked up the course materials. As I opened the books I instantly and ‘miraculously’ began feeling like Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from Jehovah on Mount Sinai – I mean, I was getting strong inspirations and conviction on some particular topics – my spirit and mind and all my body language were in sync, saying to me (sort of) “Jack, read these places. Don’t dull now. They’re coming out for the exam tomorrow.” For some inexplicable reason I chose to not heed the ministration of that still voice; instead I cut out tiny pieces of paper and copied out these topics that were ‘jumping’ at me.
The lecturer for this course was a jovial personality until he chooses to really get serious. We liked him more when he was jovial. The morning of the exam, in my socks, and under the lining of my belt and wallet were tucked different pieces of tiny papers containing possible answers to anticipated questions, so that I knew where to touch for each item.
So that as soon as I starred at my question paper and to my uttermost amazement, they were as exactly as I had written them out in these tiny pieces of paper I now had on me. With these tiny pieces, all I had to do was root them out one after another and literally ‘pour’ them unto my answers booklet and then the examination would be over and I would walk out of the arena feeling cooler than Morpheus in the movie ‘The Matrix.’
Then I got the biggest shock; five minutes into the examination, two of my course mates had been apprehended cheating, with ‘exhibits’ – to nail them, their scripts torn apart, and disgracefully they were thrown out of the examination arena. We all knew what that meant – automatic failure and ‘carry-over’. Not only that, if they got charged to the Examination Disciplinary Committee, they were facing expulsion. What an embarrassment.
Now, there I sat, paralyzed with fear and inaction. I kept thinking how in the world was he able to pick out the two smartest cheats, in the whole of the arena, in just five minutes of start time? How? Was he using some supernatural influence? I couldn’t understand it. Would I get caught if cheated too? I couldn’t tell.
A very simple examination, this was, yet I couldn’t write a word on paper because I didn’t do what I was supposed to do the night before – I didn’t read. And now, I couldn’t bring out my ‘bullets’.
To be continued…
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Stanley G. Jack is the author of “Who Took My Job?”(@WhoTookMyJob) and his next book “GOOD TO GO: How To Succeed In Life & Work After NYSC”, out in June 2014.