We're kicking the weekend off with another great story from Adewunmi Adekanmbi's Kool Story blog. Writers, send your short fiction, poetry, opinion pieces and book reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured on the ZODML blog. Ephesians 4:31 - “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice…” “Your paper is almost worthless.” I was in Dr. Ejike’s office standing with my hands behind my back, a sign of false obeisance. He couldn’t see the fist my right hand had formed as he spoke. He tossed my project on his table and it slid to the floor with a smack. I bent and held on to it, doing all within my power to keep my expression clear and unchanging. I hated the man. Hated him deeply.
“What exactly is wrong with it…sir?” “Everything. The premise is not properly constructed. You used 'impact' where 'effect' would have been appropriate. Your case studies are weak. The questionnaires did not capture the appropriate sample population.” He reeled off the reasons as though he had had them at the back of his mind waiting for when he could throw them out one after the other in my face. “But sir, I showed you all of this before I went ahead and you did not say anything.” “Because you are arrogant,” he said, nodding. “Very arrogant. Any time you come to get approval for a chapter, your demeanor is set with arrogance.” He shifted his slight frame and shrugged, “I cannot teach someone who believes he knows everything.” I looked at him for a long time saying nothing. He glanced at me once and turned his attention to files on his table. He knew I was still standing there but ignored my presence. I held on to my project and walked out fuming. I lay on my bed surrounded by my three roommates, each one expressing anger on my behalf. I wanted to ask them to shut up and let me think but was too lethargic to do that much. “I will go to the HOD tomorrow,” I said, silencing them. There was no other option. I couldn’t afford to get less than an A on my project; my CGPA was on a precipice and every single grade counted. I spoke to the HOD the next day and he told me there was nothing he could do. “You should have come earlier. There’s no way I can override your supervisor this close to your defense. Sort it out with him or better yet, find someone else to do a quick review of your work.” Somehow, Dr. Ejike found out. “How dare you report me to the HOD?” “Sir, I wasn’t reporting I was merely trying to find out if there was a way to salvage-” “SHUT UP!” he roared, spitting saliva. My mouth opened of its own accord, wondering how and when I had wronged this man to make him dislike me so much. “You will not get more than a C on your work,” he said, saliva hanging onto the corners of his lips, “I will ensure you don’t get more than a C. Mark my words!” “Sir, please,” I said desperately wanting to prostrate but refusing to. “I am very sorry for going to the HOD. I did not mean to belittle your authority or anything like that, I just-” “Get out of my office right now, you no good truant. You will never amount to anything good. Bloody nincompoop. Get out!” My heart was thumping very loudly as I went out of his office. Several students waiting outside to see him averted their gazes from mine, embarrassed to have heard all that they did. I moved away from the office on autopilot trying to unscramble the various things going round my head. I received a C for my project and finished with a 2.2. On graduation day, I did not smile for any of the pictures my brothers, friends and well wishers took. I looked round for Ejike in the hall and found him next to his family, smiling and enjoying the ceremony. I went up to him afterwards. “Good afternoon, sir,” I said, removing the ugly graduation gown. His face was smug. “Good afternoon.” “You are a very bitter unhappy man who takes out his anger on other people.” “How dare you-” “Please shut up - I am not done talking. I will show you. You made things very difficult for me. You dropped me from a very sure 2.1 for no reason than the fact that you are an old has-been who hates people that seem better than you could ever be. This grade will not stop me. You will be hearing from me over the years, Christopher,” I said, watching his face mottle with rage. I was already walking away when he began to howl after me. “Come back here! Come back here!” The anger stayed with me. It was a deep seating resentment that wouldn’t let go of me. Whenever I thought of what had happened, I would get even angrier. The bastard had shortchanged me for no reason whatsoever. I was determined to not be sucked down by it. It was that thought that propelled me, I took jobs with small organisations and learned all I could. I absorbed information and developed myself. Whenever I got tired or dissatisfied or wanted to just quit, I would remember Christopher Ejike and work even harder. Fifteen years later I had achieved a large part of what I always dreamed about. My environmental impact firm was raking in reasonable amounts and I received speaking offers from many key organisations. At the back of my mind, for all of those years, I planned many ways in which I would run into Ejike to show him what I had done, how far I had come. The opportunity came one unremarkable month. I was invited to speak at the University by the department I finished from. I gleefully looked up the department and noticed with morbid pleasure that Ejike was still at the school and he still wasn’t HOD. I planned the speech I was to give meticulously; it had to be flawless. The night before the presentation, I couldn’t sleep. I constructed many scenarios and the things that I would say to him. I imagined the conversation and the words I would use; I changed sentences, deciding which one would do the most damage. I nursed my almost triumph. The presentation was perfect. I had feared my eagerness to get it over with would mar it but I nailed it perfectly. I fixed my gaze on Ejike the minute I stepped down from the podium and walked towards him. Several people came to congratulate me and I briefly allowed myself to be greeted before zooming in on him. “Good afternoon, Christopher,” I said, smiling coldly. He smiled back at me warmly, with no hint of recognition on his face. “Don’t you remember me?” He shook his head, bemused. “I was your student. Class of 1998. Don’t you remember?” “No,” he replied, smiling and shaking his head. He wasn’t lying; he really couldn’t remember me. I felt a slight panic. “Dele Obe - I was your supervisee. You told me my paper was worthless that I could never-” “Look, Mr Obe, I really don’t-” “On my graduation day I called you an old has-been-” “Mr Obe! Really, I don’t remember you.” He looked at me like I was crazy when he was the crazy stupid one who couldn’t remember me. “Have a good day. Your presentation really was very great.” I stood for a long time after he left. In all of the scenarios I imagined, there was none in which he did not remember me.Hebrews 12:15 -“ See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no 'root of bitterness' springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”