When the invigilator announced what was left of the three hours allotted for the paper, I knew it was the last time I was going to be pressured to finish a Demand and Supply question within fifteen minutes. The past two hours 45 minutes meant little to me. I had chewed the plastic cover of my pen out of its seams. It no longer resembled what Bic had intended it to do. It was at best, the remains of a dog’s chew toy.
Five minutes into what time was left and the sweat continued to drop profusely. The wall clock read 6 pm, it was not sweltering earlier on in the day and the fan was on full blast. I was in a tank top, the type spring breakers wore in Cancun. But my body was drenched in what little urea it had left.
STOP WORK, PASS YOUR PAPERS FORWARD AND STAY SEATED! At this point, little else mattered. All the grades I had accumulated over the years was all society was going to judge me with. Or so I had been told to believe. Job advertisements always ended with “second class or better” and if my dream of finding Khadija and knocking on her father’s door before 2018 was going to come to fruition, I either had to be part of the better or settle for the upper.
In reality, nothing could be done about my situation at that moment. I had the best part of four years to make any material adjustment to my grades. I probably should have spent more time poring over Applied Statistics for Economists instead of arguing the night away with friends at the “base”. But what ifs were not going to change my situation now. I knew then and there, the only thing left to do was to be Muslim about it and offer as many Tahajjud as possible.
The mid night prayer was the Muslim’s go to whenever he was in a quandary. When the US embassy bounced my visa application in 2014, Tahajjud was my soothing cave. Standing up in prayer in the darkness of the night, I cried my wish to eat Chipotle to God. Three mornings later, the hologram stamp found its way into my passport and Mexican food was suddenly a possibility for me.
This time, decimal points and if possible, an entire unit was what I was praying for. Making a leap in grade points is a herculean task which needs way more than the spinach Popeye munches on. It takes hours spent literally facing tomes of paperbacks and several pages of power-points to get to a desirable level. That was no longer within the gamut of options available to me. All I could do about it now was to pray. Pray fervently till the Economics Theory lecturer marks my paper with drowsy eyes and a gracious red pen.
Prayer could make that jump from wherever my grade point average was currently ensconced to a 3.9 possible. Is our Lord not capable of making the servers on the hills of Legon experience a glitch which magically tweaks the algorithm feeding the MIS page to change my horrendous to a marvelous? This same Being who parted seas, rose the dead and sent nourishment from the heavens!!! Changing numbers should not be a biggie for Him?
But what is the worth of a first class if every other believer in this deity prayed and got what I wished for? If we all lined up in front of Tullow Oil with first class scribbled across our parchment of honor, what makes any of us stand out academically? This God, I heard is a just one. Where then is the justice in making me stand on the same podium with the same ribbon as the guy next door who sacrificed sleeping hours for time in the reading room? All in all, I’m going to pray and ask for everything I so desire. Overthinking it does not cut it when you are dealing with an omnipotent God.
A few months after I make this prayer, I have been told I would wish I had made a much better prayer. A prayer which does not assume getting good grades lands me a good job. You see, there is this monster called Graduate Unemployment. It is a fancy word used to describe the situation of adults who spent four or more years learning big English and other stuff with little use in the real world only to find themselves still living in the homes of their parents as couch potatoes asking for breakfast money. It is quite a scary monster. It emasculates men in a society which values the male body only when it can provide for himself and family. Females also do get bitten but culturally, they can get immune to it for reasons best explained by this thing people call patriarchy.
The right prayer should have taken cognizance of the “whom you know” phenomenon. The HR of Kosmos should be a friend of my father who has a favor to pay back. Vodafone might be in the market for people with a fair understanding of its market and eloquence in rhetoric but of what use is all that if you do not know a single person on the interview panel? You did not even go to Ashesi but you want to work at a top tier firm?
“Charley what you get for question 3B?” I knew I had to zone out of my environment immediately I heard that question. The shuffling of feet, moving of desks and creaking sounds made by the metallic legs of the chairs made it easier to not hear the response to that question. If the answer that dude had was different from mine, the months after were going to be very unpleasant. I had to maintain whatever modicum of sanity I could over the next few days. There was nothing I could do about my fate but to pray. Worrying over a wrong answer was the last thing on my list of To Do things over the summer break.
That summer was the calm before the storm. It was probably going to be the last time I had time to myself in a long time to come. An overbearing 9-5 life was staring me in the face but first I had to get those grades which someway somehow informs employers of your ability to flourish at the work place.
As I briskly moved out of NNB with my exam papers already crumbled in my pocket, filling my external hard drive with back to back episodes of everything watchable was my next biggest concern. It was about to be three months of sleeping-in and wearing pajamas late into the afternoon. Why not do it comforted by the sarcasm of Sheldon Cooper?