Growing up I’ve always had a lesson teacher/tutor whichever you prefer, to help me through the academic year. And believe me they came in different shapes, sizes and personalities. But the most memorable and probably loved – largely because I spent the bulk of my formative years with him – was my Ghanaian lesson teacher; Mr. Patrick. I don’t mean to exaggerate but he was awesome. He was an awesome teacher, mean flogger, and somewhat friend, and encourager. He was one of those people that never saw a reason to stop believing in you; and by God it got exhausting
Mr. Patrick taught me for 5 years, Nursery 2 – Primary 4. And from nursery 2 – primary 1 I pretty much excelled in school. When I got to primary 2, there was a new girl in class named Rachel. Rachel was smart, very smart and she was Efik. She became my biggest competition in class for the 1st position. I was geared up, I wasn’t ready to relinquish superiority over my home turf to a newbie. It was an interesting fight, the constant struggle for topmost position and the constant disappointment that came from having clinched second. I remember the beginning of every school year, Mr. Patrick and I would sit at the dinning table and discuss our aim, our collective goal and how to get it. It was funny because he’d offer me incentives like money or a new storybook, there was always something to offer just to motivate me.
He’d say “Are we getting the first position this term?”
Followed by my very emphatic response “Yes!”
As the terms rolled by and the report cards topped with “2nd position” piled up, the eagerness dwindled and the “yes” became a “maybe”, then “hopefully”, then “I don’t know”. But through it all, the quiet conviction behind his question never faded or dwindled. It remained, patient, unwavering and never doubting. At a point I stopped getting disappointed that I came second, but disappointed because I’d let him down once more. In the two years I spent with Rachel as a classmate (I left the school after primary 3), I never did surpass her in class.
I grew up realizing that probably one of the most exhausting things is people’s faith in you, in the fact that you are able most especially when you don’t think you are.
I also grew up to realize that my class teacher in primary 2 and 3 (same person) was tribalistically biased, and that I more than deserved the first place.
I can’t ever forget Mr. Patrick not just because he believed in me, but because he gave me hope when I needed it the most and helped me believe in myself too. Mr. Patrick doesn’t teach me anymore and he isn’t a part of my life anymore but I do miss him, his Ghanaian accent, and his impeccable English.
Sometimes, I’d wish I was still little and I had Mr. Patrick to believe in me once more when I can’t. But then, I’m not little anymore and I have to learn to stop relying on people to help me believe in myself. I have to grow up and be my own Mr. Patrick and exhaust myself with vehement belief even when I just can’t.