There's days we tell ourselves we'll never forget, cos those days might have had some sort of impact on us. Well, I forgot one such day (I really don't know how I did). It wasn't until last week, when I watched a video of retired British athlete, Derek Redmond in the 1992 olympics that I remembered (you know, the 400m semi-final where he tore his hamstring, could have lay down on the ground in pain, but decided to finish the race anyways, and his dad came down to help him). Honestly, watching that video got me teary eyed (I have watched it before, but I still get that way whenever I see it).
So what am I talking about? No, I never tore a hamstring. Matter of fact, I doubt if I could do a 400m walk (just kidding :D )
In the 2nd year of my undergraduate programme at UG, I took a course in humanities (sociology). I was a science student (small class sizes) so it was a shock for me joining the arts students (huge class sizes). I made it through the first semester and then it was time for me to justify my inclusion (I've always wanted to use that phrase. I meant, it was time for exams). At the time, I was a non-resident student living in Dansoman. It is quite a distance from Dansoman to Legon (we dint have the George Walker Bush Motorway a.k.a. N1 at the time) so I made sure I left home 2 hours before the start of each paper. It had worked well for me since the exams started, and then it was time for the sociology paper. I left home and stood at my junction like I always did. I waited and waited and waited and waited, but all the buses (tro-tro) that came by were full (I guess no one was getting off between the station and my junction). After 40mins of waiting at my junction, I decided to pick a bus from my junction to the station where the buses loaded. I get there and there's a queue which I joined. Fortunately for me (or so I thought) a bus came right away and started loading. Just when it got to my turn, the bus was full and the mate (bus conductor) wouldn't let me take his seat. I wasn't too bothered (I probably should have been) cos at least I was first in line.
It was an hour to the start of the paper and I was still standing at the front of the queue, no bus in sight. I waited 5 more minutes and then I knew I had to do something. I could pick a taxi but then I dint have enough money to pay for it. Aha! Yep, I had a light bulb moment. My grandma also lived in Dansoman and I could go to her house and ask her for money to pay for the taxi.
I picked a taxi and gave the driver directions to my grandma's house. It was at this point that I started to panic. What if she wasn't home? It was 50mins to the start of the paper and it wouldn't take less than an hour to get to Legon (that would even be on an extremely good day).
Finally! Something actually went my way that day. My grandma was home and when I explained what was going on, she seemed even more panicky than I was (if that was even possible). She gave me the money for the taxi and I jumped right back into the cab and asked the driver to step on it. Told him to use all the short cuts he knew and get me as fast as possible to Legon. Unfortunately, it seemed all the short cuts the driver knew were the most traffic laden routes that day. I once saw this quote (I guess it was a joke) somewhere that said "a short cut is the longest route between two points", well, on that day, that quote made so much sense.
Eventually, I make it to the examination hall and it was 29mins after the start of the paper. The university rule says no student will be let into the exam hall 30mins after the paper has started. So yes, I did sprint from the taxi to the exam hall, but no, I dint tear a hamstring.
From that point, things seemed to go pretty good for me. Just when I entered the exam hall from the back entrance, one of the invigilators quickly ushered me to a seat close to the back. The norm was to look for your index number and sit at the table where your index number was written, but that would have wasted more time plus if the head invigilator had seen me, I'm sure I would have been kicked out of the exam hall cos though my watch said it was exactly 30mins after the start of the paper, the clock in the exam hall actually showed the paper had been going on for about 35mins.
This kind invigilator quickly got me a question paper and an answer booklet and I got right into it. But oh my. It was as though I hadn't studied at all. All the questions looked foreign and I knew I had not seen most of the stuff on the question paper before. At first I just thought it was nerves but I concluded the examiner was just a wicked person cos I knew I had studied hard for that paper. I tried to answer as many questions as I could but I knew most of the stuff I wrote dint even make any sense at all. For a second, I thought it would have even been better if I hadn't bothered to show up. At least then, I wouldn't be graded for a paper I was obviously going to fail.
After what seemed like forever, (time just seems to come to a stand still when you have a question paper in front of you that you can't even answer. Made me wonder where that "stand still time" was when I was running late for the paper) yh, so after what seemed like forever, the head invigilator announced "Group A you have 1 hour left and Group B you have 30mins left". OMG! I could have kicked myself at that point. Of course the questions looked foreign. That's cos I was answering Group A's question paper though I was in Group B. The sociology class was so large that we had been divided into two groups. Those whose index number ended with an odd number were in Group A while those of us whose index number ended with an even number were in Group B.
Each group had been taught by a different lecturer during the semester and we had constantly debated on whether or not we would answer different questions. That made a whole lot of sense since what one lecturer taught was totally different from what the other taught (I always wondered about that since it was supposed to be the same course. "What's the point then", I always asked myself). Cos I was late and in a hurry to just get into it, I dint take time to read the top of the question paper, which clearly said Group A. I just read the instructions on how many questions to answer. The lecturers also thought it wise not to officially announce to us that each group would be answering different questions prior to the start of the exams (I guess they figured we were literate enough to read Group A and Group B on the question papers. Besides I'm sure the invigilators asked each student what group they were in before handing them a question paper).
With 30mins left, I motioned for the kind invigilator (who was still for some reason but fortunately hovering) and told him I was in Group B. He was so apologetic and couldn't stop saying sorry (I actually almost felt bad for him. I tried not to be too mad at him. After all, he did me a favour by allowing me in).
So I spent 30mins on a one and a half hour paper and I honestly dint know I could write that fast. I wrote so fast and my handwriting was so bad that I couldn't even read what I'd written, and though I always made it a point to read through whenever I wrote a paper, I barely had enough time to answer the questions, forget the reading through bit. I submitted my answer booklet knowing it would take a miracle to get me anywhere near the pass mark.
This post has got real long already so let me wrap up. I won't go into the moral of this piece. I'll just let whoever reads it pick something from it on their own. All I can say is, I forgot just how much of a fighter I was (yeah, was).
The results came out the next semester and I was one of the few that had an A. Miracles do happen :)