The months of October and November ended up being a hectic time for my classmates and me. I had nine subjects and 25 papers to take. With my father’s warnings ringing in my ears, I was too focused on my studies.
I spent most my days reading and writing exams it seemed. Some exams we’re pleasant, mostly if they were subjects that you found easy. So, for example, Development Studies and History were a lot easier for me than say Physics and Biology.
Some subjects took me by surprise like Chemistry which I loved. I remember coming out of the exam so confused and feeling somewhat relieved that I wasn’t the only one tricked by the paper we had just written.
Geography was another paper where I felt lost, looking at some questions. I think I lost some minutes in that exam, where my mind went far away to another place. There were some parts of geography I found challenging, especially those parts where one had to measure things like rivers.
Of course, all work and no play makes Bethany, a dull girl. So I took the opportunity to hang out with my friends because the truth was in a few weeks we would be saying goodbye and who knew when next we would see each other again.
Before I knew it, November had arrived in all its glory. On the first Saturday, the 4th I woke up super early. Saturday’s were often the one day we got to sleep in for an extra hour or so. Yet on this morning, those of writing the SAT exams were getting ready so that we could reach the exam hall on time.
It was that morning it hit me that I was sitting for an important exam that would be part of the requirements I needed to get into my dream school. The truth was that I had not studied for the SAT as much as I should have done. My energy had been poured into my IGCSE’s. Also, it would be a lot easier to rewrite the SAT.
Still, when I entered the exam hall, the weight of the situation hit me so hard. I had to calm myself down by praying. It was just a few of us in that room, but I gave it my best shot.
The next morning I woke up with a smile because this was a day I had looked forward to since I had witnessed people getting baptised in the swimming pool two years prior. I was getting baptised.
I had been baptised as a toddler in the Anglican church we attended in Ndola. I vaguely remember walking down the aisle with my candle and going up to the front where Father Thomas and my parents stood waiting for me.
So when I announced to my father that I wanted to get baptised at age 17, it wasn’t an easy conversation. He was outside washing his car, and I was helping him like it had been our practice since I entered secondary school. I was so nervous, but I blurted it out anyway. You should have seen his face.
We had our first theological debate that day, and I was adamant that I believed this was a step I needed to take in my walk with God. He signed the document giving his permission but not without saying he would report me to my uncle, an Anglican priest in Nigeria.
That Sunday afternoon, as we walked to the grandstand, I felt bubbles in my tummy. I was excited and nervous. Water and I have a strange relationship. I had almost drowned my first week in school. I still had challenges learning to swim, and here I was volunteering to be dunked three times.
The moment finally came, and it was worth it. I felt so much joy afterwards. Then watching my sister get baptised immediately after my baptism made it even more special.