Sunday, 14 October 2012

Power of dreams

NB: The story is based on a true story but have been altered to protect the identity of the person who this story is about.

“Shut up,” our teacher shouted. A deafening silence followed. “Anything is possible, if you believe you can achieve it. There is no need for you to laugh at Mike. He can be a doctor if he believe and work hard to achieve it,” he continued. The teacher had asked a routine question, “When you grow up, what do you want be?” Mike (not real name), my close friend, had said he wanted to become a doctor. It was particularly fun considering that Mike was just an average student and even though at primary level everyone knew or thought average students don’t become doctors. Most of the people we knew who had become doctors were very intelligent and it made sense to think Mike was just fantasizing.
Although I did not laugh because Mike was my friend, I did not believe he would be eventually become a doctor. Firstly Mike’s parents were poor and did not afford to send him to a good school with a strong science background. Also Mike’s grades were just not good enough to earn him a place at such a school. Given all this, it was a good bet he was not going to become a doctor considering the type of secondary school that he will eventually go, without even mentioning his unimpressive performance in school.
“Munyuki, what is so funny about me wanting to become a doctor,” Mike quizzed me at break-time.”Don’t mind them, losers,” I offered him words of encouragement; even though deep down I didn’t think he would. “I will show them one day,” he finally said after a moment of silence. We just left it there and continued to enjoy our break-time, which was soon interrupted by the bell signaling the beginning of classes.
Time passed on and Mike would occasional fantasize about being a doctor; telling me how he would perform complex operations and how he would help save lives. I would listen attentively to him while he spoke his dreams and hearsay stories about medicine. I started to buy into his dreams even though I didn’t know how it would be possible.
We eventually wrote our grade seven exams. I passed with exceptional results, one of the best results around. Mike passed too, but his results were just average. He was a bit disappointed but still optimistic of his dreams. He enrolled at a local community secondary school. I went to a catholic mission school, St Anthony’s Musiso High School. Even if I hadn’t passed exceptionally well, I would still have gone to a better school than Mike. My father was and still a teacher; he afforded to send me to a good school. Mike’s parents didn’t work and the little they could get from subsistence farming was hardly enough to pay the fees at a local secondary, heavily subsidized by the government, he was attending.  Time came for us to attend our new schools and it was very hard as we had to separate for the first time since childhood.
Mike’s school didn’t have science laboratories and even a library. In addition to that their pupil per- book ratio was very high, sometimes 1 book per class on important ones. At my school all these things were no problem; it was just there. First term holidays soon arrived and we finally could exchange stories and play together. I had passed well but it was just average compared to other top students at my school; I really wanted to use the holiday to improve my grades. Mike had worked very hard and came out surprisingly the top student at his school. He still wanted to be a doctor and he told me that’s what drove him to work extra hard. We had a good time and the holiday wounded up with Mike being the one assisting me with the studies.
Years passed by and Mike consistently improved to a level where everyone was now regarding him as a genius. I also improved greatly but not like him. We soon approached ordinary level and Mike wasn’t slowing down. He took physics and chemistry on his own; his school did not offer those subjects. I would offer him my notes and help him understand these subjects, but most of the time he would be on his own. We eventually set for our o-level exams and the results would come after a couple of months. Mike had passed beyond anyone’s wildest expectations; he even set a record for the school. He had straight As including physics and chemistry save for English which he had a B. Myself, I did good, had a couple of As and Bs.
News traveled fast and he soon became everyone’s hero. Everywhere you go you would hear people, the young and old, talking of his achievements. Those who didn’t believe he would become a doctor were the one now wishing him to become one. He still wanted to become a doctor and unfortunately he couldn’t continue at his school, they did not afford science subjects at A-level, necessary for one to enroll into a medical school.
All hope seemed lost and Mike was very troubled and sad. For the first time, he felt like giving up and pursue something within his reach. He couldn’t ask his parents to send him to a boarding school; he knew they did not afford to do so. He had given up hope on his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. Just a few weeks before Form Five opening, his mother unexpectedly told him to go look for a place at a boarding school. He told me he even protested on how they were going to afford the feed but his mother just told him to worry about getting a place.
Together we embarked on a search for a school; I no longer wanted to go back to my previous school. I wanted a change of environment. We both got accepted at the same school. His mother had to brew and sell traditional beer in order to afford the fees. It was hard times for her but she couldn’t watch her son’s dream go up in a smoke.
He worked very very hard to excel in his studies; he didn’t want to disappoint his mother. He chose Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry; I chose Mathematics, Economics and Management of Business. We both did well in our studies and I must admit he was a driving force in my need to do well. We would compete for the top spot in Mathematics, which I must admit ended being an even battle with both of us taking turns to be the best Math student.
Our A-level continued smoothly, save for few struggles Mike faced in paying fees. Time for our final exams and soon the results would come out after a few months. I disappointed a bit, had 3 Bs. Mike was at it again, this time 2As and B. He was on the verge of realizing his dreams; these results were good enough for the University of Zimbabwe Medical School. He was very happy and again news of academic conquests traveled fast.
Personally I was not enthused by my own results but I was happy with Mike’s achievements. With both applied for university places and got accepted at different universities  Mike got accepted at the University of Zimbabwe to study medicine. I went Midlands State University of Zimbabwe to study Information Systems. Mike’s dream was just now half-way and almost certain to be fulfilled. We would see little of each other after that except for the occasional moments were we would happen to be both on holiday.
Our respective degree programmes progressed well and from what I heard he was doing fine.  He no longer had problem with fees, government paid them at university level. I finished my degree in 2010 with flying colors. A year later, Mike fulfilled his dream of being a medical doctor. He had overcome all the odds, he had dared dream and he had set an example for all to see. As I looked at his photos, in a white coat at work, I couldn’t help but smile at him and I just thought about that moment when everyone had laughed at his dreams. Indeed Mike had aimed and hit the moon , not the stars.

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