Dear Mr. Bright Adawisi: Three things…(3)

This is the final part of this 3-part letter. Read the first part HERE (1) and the second part HERE (2)

The third event was in SS 2, my penultimate year in secondary school. A bunch of us were going to the Nigerian International Secondary Schools Model United Nations (NISSMUN) conference and you were our designated chaperone. I was 15 at the time and the ‘juices’ were on a high, rebellion was knocking at the gates.

We had spent many weeks preparing for our different roles as model delegates of different countries to the model UN, but when we got to the city of Abuja and I found myself with a little change in my pocket, hotel lodging and amongst all those pretty girls from far-flung parts of the country, my focus changed. I decided that the NISSMUN conference business would be secondary while I spent most of the trip having fun.

And so when there was a call for interested candidates to contest leadership positions, my hand stayed down. I was on vacation, remember? Errr…no, not on your watch!

Just before the window for candidacy submissions ended, you assembled our school entourage at the back of that massive hall in the International Conference Centre and you proceeded to give us a vivid tongue-lashing. IK was the only one who had indicated interest in running for Secretary General (that guy never lost focus for even a minute in this life) so he was exempt; the rest of us got a scolding so bad that I called myself before the parole board of “Me, Myself and I”. Immediately after, I threw my hat in to contest for Chairman of the Security Council of the Model United Nations.

This picture was taken during my manifesto speech; I remember using my words to paint a picture of a future that we could all be proud to say we were part of making. I remember looking out at the crowd and feeling completely in my elements, even while butterflies ran amok in my belly. I remember feeling grateful for even the chance to stand there and talk to all those brilliant people.

We won the election and under my Chairmanship, the Security Council did exceptionally well. We did so well that I was specially celebrated after the conference ended. When my name was called as ‘Best Male Delegate’ on the award night, I remember walking up to the podium wearing Kenechukwu Okudo’s shoes. Kene had come with a spare pair and even though it was a few sizes too large for me, the shoes felt better than mine which had been too tight and almost crippled me. Shuffling through the crowd of applauding people, towards the stage to claim my award, I had whispered thanks to you under my breath. For pushing me.

Three major people had made sacrifices for me to go on that NISSMUN trip: both my parents had made a sacrifice to pay the hefty entrance amount; and my sister who was in SS 3 at the time and should have gone (since the folks could only pay for one) had given up her spot for me to go. Even knowing all of this, I had forgotten what a privilege I’d been given and I needed a sharp kick in the butt to remind me. Thank you for being that foot. That conference, the things I learnt there, and the people I met have not stopped blessing me till date.

Oh, guess what else I won from that trip…a girlfriend! You probably don’t want to hear it; heck, the word ‘girlfriend’ for a 15-year old surely has you cringing but I can’t help you there, sir. 😊 It was a good TRIP…all of it. 😉

P.S. I went digging and found this picture on a website. Some of my friends will kill me for digging this up but I wanted you to see. You look so young here that you could have been mistaken for another student…except for that big folder in your hand.😁

I shared this letter on social media in three parts (a part per day) and by day 1, many of your former students with whom I’m still in touch reached out to share their stories and fond memories of you. Some of the attributes their stories bestowed on you are strict, funny, patriotic, passionate, intelligent and the most recurrent of them all – fair. You were a fair man. Seeing as you were quite the disciplinarian, I bet you don’t get to hear a lot of these testimonies. The way I see it, you had choices and instead of going for ‘most loved’, you elected to be the strong arm of the law we needed. I surely needed that strength – the rebukes, the punishments, the whippings – all of it.

I am still quite the distance from being the man I was meant to be but if I have ever steered the right way on this ongoing journey, I hope you know that you were – are – one of the key reasons why. I hope that the life I have lived, am living and will live, proves to be a worthy ambassador of the best parts of you.

I may never attempt teaching as a profession because experience has taught me that behind its FAÇADE (read /FA’KAYD/) of ease lies high degrees of toil and sacrifice. You – and all your colleagues – are simply heroes for taking it on, for taking us on.

I will still call you from time to time, so you can holler ‘OOOO-JH-UKWU!’ and guffaw in my ear 😊. If I ever get the chance though, I shall like the opportunity to tell your children how their father with the squinty stare and seemingly perpetual bunch of jangling keys in one hand, impacted my life.

Thank you, sir.


OJUKWU, Martin.



By Chisom Ojukwu



By Chisom Ojukwu

Dear Mr. Bright Adawisi: Three things…(2)

This is the second part of this 3-part letter. Read the first part HERE


The second event was still in JSS 1, it was maybe the second or third term, just after I joined the Debate team. I can’t remember the name of the opposition school now but they were one of the few key ‘competitors’ we had. The debate was also slated to show on NTA, so major stakes!

You shared all the debate club members into Speaker groups – first, second and third – and whomever performed the best in each group would represent the school as the first, second, or third speaker. I was the youngest and newest member of the club so I was in the third speaker group. That group also had one SS 3 student so I didn’t even fancy my chances – heck, nobody fancied my chances; we all just assumed I was there to ‘earn my stripes’ and be prepared to represent the school in later debates.

The first thing you did that impacted me was insisting that we all write our arguments. I had been in a few debates in primary school but we never wrote our arguments; instead, all we did was cram scripts that had been written by our teachers. Because you insisted however, I was forced to research and write it down – not bullet points – all of it. And when we submitted our arguments, you led us in point distillation sessions and eventually, you edited and supplied us with final drafts of the arguments…for ALL 3 speaker groups. Even for you, that was a LOT of work. This was my first taste of speech preparation and it taught me the vital skill of writing it all down; a skill that since then, has seen me ace countless debates, speeches, and MC/Hosting gigs.

Then you picked me as third speaker!

I remember the tension in the Physics (or was it Chemistry?) lab after we each presented, on the day final speaker selections were slated to happen. I knew I had done a good job but I was not the popular choice – I was too new, too young and too small. Tope was in SS 3 and there were weighty reasons to give him the slot, even if I had performed better – it was his last year in school and that was his last shot, whereas I still had six years to do many more debates.

But for a man who flogged us incessantly for not abiding by the rules, you, Mr. Adawisi, didn’t play by the ‘rules’. You picked me. You also handled the unconventional decision so well there was no bad blood between Tope and me. As I exited the recording booth at the NTA studios after we lost the debate, I was in near-tears; I felt we had been robbed of our victory and I was scared the blame would fall on me – the unconventional 3rd speaker – even though I had done my lines perfectly. It was Tope who first came up to me and wrapped me in a bear hug so soothing that till today, I remember the itchy texture and perfumed scent of his sweater. He told me, “I am so proud of you!”; it meant everything.

Tope is a good man (I have run into him in Lagos a couple of times) but you helped him be good in that moment because of how delicately you handled the whole selection business. Apart from slapping on another layer of reinforced concrete on my self-confidence, that entire experience helped point out something I was – am – exceptional at – speaking. Too many people today live out their lives and die without ever discovering their special gifts; you helped me find mine at age 11. A gift I could never repay.

P.S. Do you remember this line from the third speaker script: “…but behind the façade of their religiosity lies a high degree of hypocrisy…”? It has been 19 years and I still remember your ‘big big’ grammar!

Speaking of, how come you never told me the word is pronounced /fəˈsɑːd/? You allowed me to be shouting /FA’KAYD/ up and down. On National Television! Smh. Just know that the two of us will share the embarrassment…in fact, no, the embarrassment is all yours. My excuse? I was a minor. 😊


This is the second of a 3-part letter. To be continued…


By Chisom Ojukwu

Dear Mr. Bright Adawisi: Three things…

Dear Mr. Bright Adawisi,

I am writing this letter because I have wanted to do so for the longest time. To thank you for the influence you had on me through six years of secondary school – arguably my most formative years – but particularly, for three events that I have never forgotten.

I wanted to thank you publicly too, because our teachers are just never celebrated enough and you were a bloody good one. I will try my best to write this as prim and properly tucked as your shirts and trousers used to be back in the day. But seeing as I already used ‘bloody good’…tsk tsk tsk. Also kindly ignore all misspellings and grammatical blunders, I know you see them all.

The first event I have never forgotten was my first personal encounter with you in JSS 1. It was our first day in school, I believe, and we had just written the placement test that would determine who ended up in the ‘first class’ and the ‘second class’ (we should talk about the logic behind this separation though, I have some interesting arguments against it). I had submitted my paper and was already packing up to go home when I remembered that I hadn’t written my name on the answer sheet I turned in! I dashed out and caught up with you at the landing of the staff staircase…do you remember?

I remember that while I stuttered through my pleading for a chance to write my name on my script, you just stood there, piercing me with your customary slit-glare, all the test papers in one hand and your bunch of keys dangling from the other. “My friend, that’s your business…” or something like that was your answer before walking away.

It was a Friday and results were expected on Monday. I knew I had done well in the test but of what use is a good grade without my name to identify my script? That weekend, I died many times. I could barely concentrate on anything else. Now I think about it, I am amazed at how important it was to me to pass into the ‘first class’, it felt like life or death. I blame you and the other teachers for selling the ‘first class’ dream so well. 🤣

Anyway, I got to school on Monday and true to fashion, results had been posted on the notice board. I checked and of course, I didn’t see my name on either list. But in the list of names that had made it into the ‘first class’, there was a line with no name and a score – a high score. I can’t say that I thought about what I did next because I don’t remember thinking it through, but I picked my bag, walked into ‘first class’, and took a seat. And waited.

If it was your intention to torture me throughout that day, you succeeded because I was a mess the entire day; every flash of movement outside the window caught my eye. Is it time for my ultimate disgrace? Have they come for me? Will I be kicked out now?

You eventually came just before the last period in evening lessons; swaggered into the class with your arms swinging and – “Where is Ojukwu, Martin?”

Dang! I died one last die…then I raised my hand.

“My friend, follow me.”

I followed you outside to the corridor where you asked me what I was doing in the ‘first class’ when my name wasn’t on the list. I tried to explain, at least I think I must have tried. But I have no idea what I said because the whole time, I was replaying a script in my head where I would go back in that class, pack up my stuff and be escorted, by you, to the ‘second class’. The thought would have been easier to bear if it had been earlier in the day, but alas, I had carried my big head to the ‘first class’ and had just spent most of the day sitting and learning there. What a way to start out in a new school!

I stopped explaining and waited; I remember vividly how my legs shook violently hidden by my trousers. The next time my legs shook that viciously, was five years later at a police checkpoint when I got flagged down while driving without a license and in a car with expired registration papers.

Then your verdict came. Sternly, you gave me a small speech about being careful and allowed me go back in the class. Just like that.

You also never brought up the matter again. Ever.

Why did you do it, sir? I wish I knew. I hope you tell me sometime, but even if you never do, you should know that that incident taught me a big lesson in perseverance and self-assurance.

You will be disappointed to learn that I made that mistake again – I know! 😒 In first year of university, I wrote Math 101 and submitted the script without shading ‘Paper Option II’. I remember it was Paper Option II because for the next two years, I wrote a ton of letters trying to get my paper graded with the right answer scheme, and the F reversed. Perhaps it was the perseverance and self-assurance you taught me that sustained my drive to get that paper remarked, even after having to rewrite the course. After marking, the F became a B; B for Bright. 😉

This is the first of a 3-part letter. To be continued…


By Chisom Ojukwu

Full of Sh*t

**Disclaimer: Some elements of this post might gross you out, especially if you’ve got an auto-generate imagination like mine. So, you know…you are welcome 🙂

Shaftesbury road, Watford.

27 April, 2019.

It’s weird the things that humble me these days. Like the other day after taking a dump, I happened to look in the toilet bowl just before flushing. Looking at my shit, it occurred to me that the previous day, while I’d been Rayban-clad, shod up in cool thermal gear and striking badass poses in Edinburgh with Muele, Barbara, Martha and Tolu, this piece of shit had been there the whole time. Literally, I’d been full of shit. My friend, it was a humbling moment.

Another time I got momentarily lost at London St. Pancras International station. I stopped in the middle of that large hall, and spun around. So many screens, so many people, so many things…it struck me how little I mattered in the grand scheme of things. Nobody cared – nobody would know – if I was lost or if I was penniless or had no place to go for the night. It was a humbling moment.

Again when I arrived Watford and Zero wasn’t taking his calls – he’d slept off! I had nobody else to call, there was no wifi at the station and my cash was near depleted. I watched buses drop people off, pick others up and move on; I watched people sitting by the rails, reading a paperback, waiting for their train; I watched the train come, take some away, drop some off who them hurried off to the idling bus. Repeat. It dawned on me that my immediate homeless status didn’t affect the fact that all those people were having a regular – maybe even great – day. It was a humbling moment.

See, these were weird moments for me who had grown up in a family where I knew I was loved. My mother gets melodramatic over the slightest news of some hurt coming my way; my father acts tough but it’s easy to see through to how much he cares for me; my siblings love me to pieces; Fiona doesn’t say it often but I know she’d be devastated if something were to happen to me; my friends and even occasional strangers over the years, have done or said things to show me that I matter. I am a big deal, you see, so it was weird to get hit with an “Oh, really?”

But you know what is weirder? What happens next…

A few hours after I’d flushed down that piece of shit, I was sitting in a conference room discussing sales and distribution with managers of one of the world’s best tech inventors. While full of shit (sorry, I couldn’t resist this last one. LOL).

Just to my right at St. Pancras, was this smiling lad who looked at my tickets and gave me precise directions how to get to where I needed to be. He was so helpful that I got there on time enough to get an earlier train – saved me 20 minutes of sitting around in the cold.

Whenever I am at a loss like I was at the Watford train station, I like to sit and be calm, then I begin talking myself through possible solutions. I was already in the talking-to-myself part when to my left, I suddenly heard Yoruba! Almost afraid that I was imagining things, I turned to see this pretty Yoruba girl deep in conversation with her mother in their local tongue. Never in my life, have I been so happy to hear Yoruba. She shared her internet with me so I could access the map and her mother took me in a nearby store to help me get an Oyster card.

As I now prepare to leave Watford, I have shared meals with Fr. Joseph, my new priest-friend and I’ve had great company in him and in my AirBnB hosts, Nikki and Tomas. And so it’s that kind of moment for me right now, where I RE-realize that I am little in the grand scheme of things, honestly tiny…but somehow, I still matter.

It is always a humbling moment.



Photo credit: @muelewilcox

So I met a girl…

I was recently the host on a TV competition show for people aged 8 – 13 and there, I met Zara.

I remember the first time I saw her. She is pretty with her Fulani long limbs, nose and beautiful eyes, but it wasn’t any of that; what struck me was the defiance, almost anger, that I sensed in this 13-year old. She always wore sneakers and leggings/jeans with her hijab; while discussing with her peers, she would sit thug-mode – you know, that pose where you hunch over with your elbows perched on your knees, legs spread firmly and widely apart – and gesticulate like a rapper. Occasionally she’d laugh, displaying white happy teeth, and only in these rare moments did the child in her shine through. Almost as soon as such a moment happened however, Zara would tighten her lips, brush a thumb over her nose and resume thugging.

One time I was feeling lucky, I told her to smile, because didn’t she see the cameras were on her? Brothers and sisters in solidarity, without so much as a glance my way or even the twitch of a muscle, Zara replied, “I don’t like smiling”. End of matter. Ozugo. As my friend Nike would say, Opari! lol.

Zara is smart; she would answer her questions correctly while playing with the edges of her hijab in a manner that drawled, are we done here? And when she ran into a tight spot, when she didn’t know the right answer, she would give up instantly. Hands still stuck in hijab, she would shift her weight from one spindly leg to the other, and amidst a train of hisses (yes, into the microphone!), she’d set her face in a scowl so visibly irritated that you’d be forced to sniff your armpits – like, is it me? Am I stinking? Then she’d throw an answer at you – because she expects it’s the wrong answer and wants to be left the hell alone – but she’d get it right and qualify for the next round. And then would she permit herself a tiny smile.

This happened over and over, and it irked me quite a bit. I wanted to conk her head and say, in my father’s voice, “Mai fren, dunn be sillay!” At the same time, I wanted to hug her tight and say, “Princess, can’t you see how great you are?!”

I saw through Zara. I saw this smart girl who could win, who wanted to win, but who was so afraid to try because if she didn’t win eventually, it’d hurt too much to hear someone gloat over it. So it was safer to feign disinterest and only try halfheartedly – get the logic? Me neither. 🙂

I didn’t get the logic, but I knew that the weight on this child’s shoulders shouldn’t be borne by even a full-grown adult. I knew that her former attitude (because that’s in the past now, Zara, isn’t it?) would only lead to a dark place in life, a dank bottomless pit in which regardless of how much money, accolades or relationships she garnered, joy would perpetually evade her. I knew that it wouldn’t matter the sad story she came from, life, self-acclaimed Themis that she is, would deal with her justly. And because I knew all these, I knew that I had to teach her a lesson, she and the rest of the children.

So, I got to work. Every time I saw her at camp, I talked to her, validated her; every time I saw a hijab bowed over, I told her to chin up then I smiled at her; every time she stumbled during the competition, I re-validated her. You’ve come this far, Zara, why give up now? Give it your best shot, so that win or lose, you won already. If you give up now, don’t even bother waiting for the results because yours got called already – fail. Be strong, you can do this, you’re beautiful, you’re good, you’re smart…DJ Khaled would’ve been proud of me.

In the end, Zara came in second place nationwide. She won some money, a medal and a trophy for her school. She says she also won a mentor and “an uncle who got my back” (I denied the mentor part, I’m not that old biko). Most importantly though, she won herself confidence and a lifelong supply of precious tenacity.

Now here’s the juice. Zara told me that but for her mother, she wouldn’t even be in school. Having married at 13 herself with zero education, her mother was determined that her daughter would live different. But it was just her; Father Zara and everyone else in Zara’s family and immediate community thought it was a waste of time having my young friend in school. Her mother constantly fought, negotiated, schemed and scraped, to keep her child in school. And so, coming for the competition, Zara wanted to show everybody that she was worth it. She wanted to prove to her father and her people that girls should be allowed to go to school.

“Well, look at you now,” I told her as we sat gisting afterwards, “you did all of that. Killed it!”

She beamed. I asked if she had plans to attend the university and her nods reassured me. She said she would become a medical doctor, an actor and a TV host, and then she would build a big school in her community where girls can go for free.

“I wish my mother was here,” Zara sighed, “I told her not to come because I was afraid I’d fail her.”

“It’s okay, now you know better. You’ll never again let fear rob you of a potentially priceless moment, like this one.” I consoled her. “As for your mother, look in the mirror…she is here.”

I meant it.

When the winners lined up for pictures, Zara held her trophy up the highest, her smile the brightest…so bright I couldn’t help mine.

It was the proudest in your face moment I have ever seen.


P.S: Zara is a fictitious name used here to protect my friend. Haba, if iss you nko, will you use her real name?


How to transfer your voter’s registration

vote02Following my Monday post about a certain protagonist’s experience while attempting to retrieve his PCV, I got some feedback. Many of us liked the story, and identified with it – thank you, always; a good number of us however did not, still do not know that it is possible for one to transfer one’s PVC from the centre where one registered to any centre in the country.

This wan no be hear-yarn, bros…I did it myself.

I registered to vote in Abia state and like the percentage of Nigerians who had relocated in four years, I was heavily vexing with INEC. Not only were they clearly intent on disenfranchising me, they were also in collabo with my village people to hinder my progress. Why else would they expect that in four years, I wouldn’t have moved to the big city?!

I was furious and made sure everyone knew who cared to listen. And it was while spreading this venom that a friend casually mentioned that one could actually transfer registration. He mentioned it very flippantly, I guffawed at it. Guy, go siddon jare, for this Naija?

But he insisted. He said that I could find the information on the official INEC website. INEC website is not as imirimious as NSCDC website nah, so I checked it out. This is what I found.

Procedure for Transfer:-

  • Step 1:

The person who intends to transfer his registration will write an application to  INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner of the State  where he is currently residing.

Updated (April 19, 2018)

NO APPLICATION IS REQUIRED ANY MORE. According to my sources, all you need do is go to the INEC polling center closest to your residence (which is where you’ll cast your vote on election day) and obtain the transfer form.

  • Step 2:

The applicant will attach his voters card to the application.

Updated (April 19, 2018)

My sources confirmed that even without your voters card, you can still obtain, fill and submit the form. You only need to remember the details of your card, such as your card number, registered polling unit number, etc.

You don’t know/remember your details? Easy peezy…click this INEC Voter Verification Platform link. There’s an option to Check Status using your Date of Birth, as long as you remember the state where you originally registered, your surname and first name, and your date of birth, your details will pop up. See pictures below:

  • Step 3:

The applicant must apply to the Resident Electoral Commissioner not later than 30 days before the date of an election in the constituency where he is residing.

INEC will do the rest, you just wait for the text that will tell you your voter’s card is ready for collection.


Does it really work?

Testimonial from Oby Azubuike

Hey familia,

Today I began the process of getting my PVC, it wasn’t stressful at all, took about 30mins.

I requested a transfer because I registered about 6 years ago.

I printed my voters status from INEC’s website, took it to my local government, filled a form there and I was told to pick up my PVC in December.

It wasn’t as hard or stressful as I was expecting.

Thanks to @Chisom for sharing the post about it.

I just thought to encourage anyone here who has changed location and doesn’t know how to get their PVC. Please try it out, let’s do our best to change the status quo.

Thanks for reading 😘

Oby Azubuike

P.S: I also got my sister to transfer hers!


Testimonial from yours truly: How I transferred mine in 2015

I got this information in the first week of January, right on the brink of the deadline, and I followed the instructions to the latter. I printed out a simple three-paragraph application letter, procured three passport photographs, and made photocopies of both the letter and my temporary voter’s card.

I was very meticulous with my preparation because I was not going to give ‘them’ any wriggle-room. I wanted to be able to say afterwards, that INEC really did – for censorship sake – play me.

I entered the INEC office at Sabo, Yaba at 9am and by 10:30am, I was on the bus back, my new temporary voter’s card was in my pocket and I was now one of those Lagosians waiting to collect their permanent voter’s cards. There was no hassle; the INEC officials were beautiful, jolly, young women who literally held my hand through the whole process of filling a simple form and having my bio-data captured.

If I had any idea how uninformed other people were about the existence and workability of this process, I would have written this immediately after I got back. Alas, the process was too seamless, so smooth that I was sure it was just me who did not know that transfers were possible.

P.S: I now have my permanent voter’s card, as you can see…



We moved to

Yes, it’s EXACTLY what you’re thinking 🙂

In line with the dreams and desires of many of us (you inclusive) here at WordsAreWork, it is my pleasure to now announce that we have moved ship to a newer and fresher site.

It is new,

It is fresh,

It is better,

but it is still us.

So please, click here for the new experience. Follow us afresh for immediate mail alerts for new posts; also follow us on twitter @wordsarework and like our Facebook page ‘Words Are Work’.

See you on the other side 😉


Words Are Work, but we make them fun too!


This will just take a minute

Actually ehn, this will just take five minutes 😉

Emma Akaeze 20150609_063125

The dawn of a new era approaches on WordsAreWork. Calm down, soon all will be revealed but rest assured that this new era has you laying right in the very core of its nucleus.

baby in a shell

We want you – especially you on the left 🙂 – to stay warm and cozy right where you are, but we need you to tell us how. So click in the Comments below and sharperly answer the following:

  1. What have you enjoyed most about the blog, Words Are Work, so far? [Is it the nature of posts you read here? Any genres (fiction, non-fiction, opinion), columns (The Lectern, On Top D Matter, Winie Says …, TTC) or posts you particularly love(d)? Or you just fell for the blog’s general ‘housemosphere’?]
  2. What have you NOT liked? [No fear, we can handle it 😉]
  3. Any changes you would like to see? Other comments?

We were going to do a poll with simple options for voting but on second thoughts, this way you have room for unrestricted expression. Just let it flow exactly as you have felt, currently feel, and wish to feel.

Beautiful morning.

I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter

My Guidance Counsellor

Hi hi 🙂

To all of you who have called and texted, wanting to know why things have been very quiet around here lately, thank you very much for loving us and following so faithfully. To those who wondered quietly ;), we cherish you too for caring. The answer to your questions will soon be manifest, ceteris paribus. 

In the meantime, the story below is that kind that is both fiction and non-fiction, you know those greedy ones? Yes. It was inspired by a facebook post by one of my sisters from another mother. Please enjoy …

My counsellor

Years ago when I was in secondary school I went to the Guidance Counselor’s office to talk about my future. Two years earlier in SS 1, I had chosen the Science class over Arts without consulting anyone because at the time, it felt proper. And in the following two years, while things looked rosy on the outside, I agonizingly vacillated between my passion for the Arts and the career path I had chosen.

So when it was time to apply to universities, I thought ‘maybe … just maybe I can make it right’. I decided to do the first thing I had neglected earlier – seek coaching. And that was how I ended up in Miss Ugo’s office.

I remember walking into her ‘office’ and thinking that I just could not end up in one like that. It shamed me sometimes to think so lowly of my teacher but it was such an undignified workspace. It was probably 10ft by 5ft; a simple wooden table sat in the centre effectively dividing the space in two; two chairs on either side of the table and two shelves (of the same polished wood) were the only other furniture. Then there were books; makeshift mountains of books covering most of the table and floor, tomes that caused the wooden tiers of the shelves to curve, and were piled high along the cardboard wood walls, almost to the ceiling. She smiled when she saw me, and beckoned me in. I moved books aside to sit, trying not to think about how it felt like consulting a witchdoctor in a Nollywood clip.

As best as I could – and the words were not easy to find – I explained my dilemma to Miss Ugo. I told her that I was making very good grades in Science class and I even enjoyed some of the Physics and Biology classes, but I could not get past the feeling that I should be in the Arts; I told her how I loved my English and Literature classes to death, how I could swap my break-time for a debate on government and politics; I told her how this feeling grew steadily from SS 1 through SS 2 until the first term in SS 3 when I decided to make the move; I approached Ibechukwu in the Arts class and after listening to him and leafing through his Government and CRK notes (two large thick-covered notes worth of material EACH), I chickened out and stayed in the Science class. I told Miss Ugo that for the choice of a course to study at university, I wanted to find something which could leverage my sound Science background while allowing me explore my love for the Arts.

— Is that all? She asked.



Still seated, she swiveled to her right, plucked a hefty book from the shelf and dumped it with an oomf on the mountain of books that was her table. I picked out one word – Architecture – before she slammed yet another large one over it, and another, and another. From all over – behind the door, against the wall, over my shoulder, beneath the table – she pulled out books with multicolored backs, all thick as bibles, and piled them on top of each other.

When she was done, Miss Ugo shifted in her seat and looked at me – I scraped my seat to the right, because I could no longer see her face over the pile.

–See this book here, it is for those people that like Fine Arts, like Mr. Umunna, those that like to draw and paint.

She handed me a volume whose cover read ‘Fine The Arts – choose right for college!’ in flamboyant colors. There was a –

— And this one is for those people that like Mathematics, like Algebra and small small calculations.

This one was thicker than the fine arts book, but surprisingly lighter, I dropped it on top of the first book, in my lap.

— If you like engineering, those people that fly airplanes and build machines, sometimes they even go to space; if you like that kind of thing, look at this one.

She handed it over. I dropped it in my lap.

— This one is for medicine and medical sciences, doctors, pharmacists, lab scientists and those people that do research for diseases and cures in big hospitals. You will see those ones here.

Hand. Drop.

— Do you like to read novels? If you like storybooks and all those figures of speech in literature, or even English, or Law, you will see many of that here.

Hand. Drop.

This went on until the entire pile of books had been transferred from the table to my lap. Then she adjusted her spectacles and smiled a very reassuring smile. Unsure of what to do, I thanked her.

— No problem, my dear. Just make sure you return them soon so that other people can also use them.

I staggered a little under the weight. Balancing the stack of books on my hands in front of me, I used the door. The day was Friday.

First thing Monday morning, I returned the books to Miss Ugo’s office.

— I hope they helped?

— Yes, they did. Thank you very much, ma.

— You’re welcome, my dear.

She smiled, and I used the door.

If she had paid any attention, Miss Ugo might have noticed that the thin film of dust on some of the book covers remained undisturbed, and that the books were returned stacked in the same order she had given them to me. She would have known that I never read them.

Share with us below if you had any Guidance counsellor experiences … have a fabulous day!


The Wounded Soldier

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Paul felt an arm lift his shoulder, and another beneath his feet. He knew he was slipping in and out of consciousness; as a med student, he knew the theory but had never experienced it. Until now.

He tried to move, to stand up, to ask what was happening to him, but all his efforts were in vain.

Oh God what is happening to me, Paul tried to say. Blood sputtered from his mouth, his lips moved but no sound came out. All around him everything was getting dark and darker still. He tried to raise his left arm, but the pain was unbearable. Must be broken.

He tried to recall. There had been an explosion, a deafening one. That’s exactly when everything became dark. He tried to remember where he was and what must have caused the explosion but his memory was hazy.

People were talking all around him, “buddy … hold on …”, “hey … pull through …”, “hang on … c’mon bro …”

What is happening? Who are you? Where am I? He tried to ask all at the same time. Instead, he spit more blood.

Paul forced his eyes open; the surrounding light dazzled his eyes. He shut it immediately, and tried again after a few moments. With little effort, he began to recognize his surroundings. It was a village. And a war was on.

Oh God, please help, he prayed. Just like his Sunday school teacher had taught him all those years ago. At first his mum forced him to go but as time passed, he had started enjoying it. He still remembered the look on his mom’s face the evening he sauntered in grinning from ear to ear. The puzzled look on her face transformed to a radiating smile when he announced, “I just gave my life to Christ”. That was years ago, and remembering it now made him smile.

A sudden calm settled over him. He had given his life to a loving saviour, so even though he was in pain, Paul knew that he was in good hands. That assurance lulled him into a deep sleep.

The ‘deep’ sleep lasted all of two minutes before a jolt woke him again. Groggy with pain, Paul tilted leftward where a face hovered over him.

He recognized the face – Jack Rover. They were roommates and best friends right from their first year in the med school. In fact, Jack was the reason Paul chose to join the medical department of the defence academy. And together, they had opted for advanced military training so they could provide medical care on the war front.

Paul tried to speak, to ask Jack what happened. But his head protested. Jack smiled and extended a hand to soothe his chest. Paul couldn’t hear his words over all the noise but he saw the promise in his pal’s eyes: you will be fine.

Paul turned to his other side and saw more faces he recognized. He was on a stretcher being carried towards a chopper with whizzing blades. They walked fast, in spurts; severally, they stopped in a crouch behind a shrub or a shed, and crawled out again moments later. They were trying to avoid being detected. At the same time, they frequently glanced down at him with faces full of concern. They wanted to ensure their movement wasn’t causing him much pain.

A sludge of memories hit Paul, and he quickly shut his eyes as it all came back to him. The men – Jim, Cross, Jitsu and Dele; all of them infantry assigned to that regiment for a peace-keeping mission in Iraq.

They had been in Baghdad for three months, maintaining the order. That morning they had received report of an attack on a squadron in the neighbouring town of Karbala, and had set out immediately in a convoy of tanks, gun trucks and a medical Landrover van. But just as they were entering Karbala, an enemy jet fighter leaving Baghdad spotted them and dropped a ballistic missile. It missed them by a few feet, hitting a transmission pole instead. The pole fell on the medical van sending it somersaulting into a sandy ditch by the roadside. Paul was in the passenger seat.

Pain jolted him back to reality. Just then, Paul saw a figure that looked like … no, it was him. Col. Sanders. Driven by habit, Paul tried to lift his arm in a salute but pain crippled him and he yelped. The colonel touched his shoulder very lightly – at ease, soldier – the unmistakable glint of kindness in his eyes. The colonel was carrying him too? Paul looked around again, slowly.

Though his face stayed as stern as it did when he was supervising a parade, Col. Sanders indeed held on tight to one end of the stretcher Paul was on. How on earth could Col. Sanders suspend a mission to care for a wounded soldier?

Paul was puzzled.

Then he remembered. It was the colonel who taught them never to leave a wounded soldier behind. “No matter what, never leave a wounded soldier behind” Col. Sanders had made them yell it over and over again on their last day of training in Denver.

Impressive, Paul thought, that even the almighty Col. Sanders walked his talk. In fact, it was not just impressive, it was humiliating.

Guilt washed over Paul as he remembered his youth pastor referring to Christians as soldiers. While speaking to them from the second book of Timothy, the pastor had highlighted soldierly attributes that should be possessed by young Christians, like discipline, agility, sacrifice, etc. But he hadn’t said anything about wounded soldiers.

Paul remembered that time Sister Judy got pregnant, how he had quickly condemned her in his mind and never cared to visit her even after she delivered. He hadn’t seen her in church for months, but he never even asked about her. He also remembered when his fiancée told him of a church member that lived on her street who was dating two guys. They had laughed at her impending doom in his apartment that evening and written her off.

A warm tear escaped Paul’s shut eyelids. The more he remembered scores of other wounded soldiers he had left behind, the more freely the tears flowed.

Thoroughly ashamed, he cried out to God for mercy. With quivering soundless lips he prayed, “Lord Jesus, as long as I am a soldier in your army, I promise never to leave a wounded soldier behind again”.

And he drifted off to a deeper sleep.

By Toby Nwazor

Toby Nwazor

Toby Nwazor is a freelance writer, public speaker and personal development blogger. He is the co-founder of where he shares tips for living a more productive life. And he thoroughly believes in networking.