In 2003, I was in SS2 in Kings College, Lagos, and as things stood, I was definitely not the student or individual my parents, peers or progeny could be very proud of.
In my set were very many young boys who had fast mastered their act as reflected in excellent grades, strategic interpersonal relations, and immaculate school uniforms; I could boast of no such image or advantage.
But survive I did, day in, day out, keeping a low profile, and going through the motions of school for a goal I hardly understood, to be quite honest.
In Literature class one day, I was being me, and doing what I knew how to do best, having gained at least five years of such experience in the good old school; keeping a low profile in class, being absent-minded, reading a good (non-recommended) novel, drawing elaborate sketches of cartoon characters, animals, sports logos, places, or superheroes.
Some kid with a bright future read aloud from a Shakespeare text, while others, hell-bent on truncating their own glorious destinies faffed loudly at the back of the class where I was unfortunately seated.
Suddenly, our teacher got up.
"Who is the silly boy that made that sound? That hissed, just like a snake?"
The unfolding drama was none of my business, but it was enough to stall whatever time-wasting activity I was engaged in, so I raised my head to watch.
And then it became my business as an agent of Satan in White-and-White pointed. At me.
I was livid. And reacted quite naturally, by hissing.
"That's it! That's the exact sound! Come out here!" Mrs Ladipo ordered.
I was indignant, and upset at being falsely accused. But obey Mrs Ladipo, I had to. Because, well, it was Mrs Ladipo.
Now, let me tell you a little about Mrs Ladipo.
Mrs Ladipo was FINE. Oh my Lord, Jesus! She was so beautiful, and so svelte. Not in the mold of the average (dowdy) Civil Servant/Teacher, she looked better suited as a Wall Street Partner, and had a pedigree that was unimpeachable, and a style that was both effortless and on point. The good woman was as classy as they came, and was for that reason envied by many, admired by most, but respected by all.
So even as she ignored my righteous appeals, and punished me for an infringement I was innocent of, I could only comply, knowing that the world was unfair, and could do nothing about it except accept my fate, and wait, to exact my quasi-violent revenge on whoever accused me falsely.
I had been kneeling down with raised hands for some minutes when Mrs Ladipo thought it best to perhaps embarrass me or prove just how much of a nitwit needing reorientation I was, because she asked me to take over the reading aloud of our recommended Shakespeare text.
I did. And as I read from Macbeth, the recently irritated teacher turned to me in admiration, interrupting my effort to commend my impeccable reading style.
What? The GREAT Mrs Ladipo praising me? No! I turned it UP!!!
"Et tu, Brutus?", I vocalized, with proper inflection and unparalleled gusto, every text coming alive with the appropriate undulations necessary to complement every word, sentence and paragraph I read out.
My classmates looked on in seething envy as I received the greatest validation in mine and the school's history, from a personality so revered; the near-equivalent of a golden handshake from THE PKC himself, S.I. Balogun (God rest his glorious soul). Ah! I milked it for all it was worth!
But all too soon, the class was over, and I had to stop reading (much to the dismay of Mrs Ladipo, and the relief of my jealous, "less talented" classmates).
Mrs Ladipo asked me to carry her books and follow her. We went to her office, where I was uncharacteristically offered a seat.
"Who are your parents? What do they do? How did you learn to read with such confidence? I have never been so impressed before."
I answered as best as I could, hardly believing Mrs Ladipo had a genuine interest in me. You see, she had always been posh, and it seemed she had no time for anyone from less than a stellar background. So for this myth to be dispelled, with me no-less-a-subject, it was almost surreal.
"If you need, anything, Uzo, you come straight to my office and see me at anytime. And I mean it, okay? Your parents must be absolutely proud of you, you have a bright future ahead of you."
Lol! Me? Bright future? Me? With my dirty uniform? Me, parents proud of me with my C-parallel grades? Hian! I mused, eyeing the delicious-looking can of coca-cola on her table.
I left her office, without the refreshing can of processed sugar, but with a renewed sense of worth, a new-found peace with myself, and a heart of forgiveness for the "angel of God" who had falsely accused me simply to set me up for my glory. Bless his oblong head in whatever prison he most likely is in right now.
I only took her up on her offer once, when I needed an urgent exeat to leave the school. But every opportunity to court her grace, and to hear a kind word from her, I took eagerly, and it became a regular thing to carry her books to either her Mercedes Benz or Coupe.
That encounter never left my head, and it is with all honesty I can credit that paragon of beauty with being a factor in any level of success attained in future, I think I can honestly say Mrs M.O.A Ladipo ignoring my outer wretch and identifying the inner gold in 2003 was one of the most important experiences of my life.
She went on to be the Principal of Queens College, Yaba, but unfortunately passed on very recently. I have only the deepest sense of gratitude and good thoughts for her. She definitely made her impact in this life and the lives of many. Glory lasts forever.
Was there a "Julius Caesar" in Macbeth?
Wetin Brutus de find for Macbeth?
Someone help me out!!!!