Story: Undying Ambition

Ambitious man

He seemed to gaze at the skies, but he was not able to see anything. His bleary eyes were a picture of desolation. He sat quietly on the bus as though a bird was perched on his head.

All through his journey home, he still couldn't believe he was not among the top three writers in the essay competition from which prize-giving ceremony he was returning. He had entered for the competition few weeks earlier. Although he had recorded fifteen failures already, he was quite optimistic about it. Yes, he was...until he found himself leaving the ceremony with just a belly filled with jollof rice and fanta.

Still deep in thought, he leaned against the body of the bus with his head tilted to touch the window pane, and slowly, as if through someone else's eyes, he watched himself grow younger. He could see himself in his white and green secondary school uniform heading happily towards his English teacher, Mr. Akinpelu's office to flaunt one of the essays he had written.

Mr. Akinpelu was believed to be a grammarian. His expressions were faultless and his British accent attested this fact, or so it seemed. He was rumoured to have emerged winner of three major essay and poetry contests. To crown it all, he was a freelance writer for a popular magazine.

"I'm sure this is the best you could come up with... But for someone of your level to write something this mediocre, I doubt you will ever make it as a writer."

Those were the exact congratulatory remarks he got that day, and the very words that have kept him going despite his numerous failures. He had nursed the dream of becoming a celebrated writer since his secondary school days. Moreover, he desperately wanted to prove Mr. Akinpelu wrong...after all, opinions are subjective, and his is no different, regardless of his achievements as a writer.

The blare of a truck's horn jolted him out of his deep thoughts. Just then, his phone beeped to reveal a message notification. It was his friend, Ajayi who had messaged to inform him about the congratulatory text message he had received as one of the top ten winners of a poetry contest they had both entered the previous month.

He checked his phone to confirm if he had received any similar message. Sadness fell upon him like dew; his failure as impressive as always. But he was quick to recover from his gloom as nothing could be more painful than the disappointment he's had to deal with since he left the prize-giving ceremony.

He clicked his phone on and visited the site where he had submitted his poem to see for himself what others have done better than him. He scrolled up and down again and again, but very quickly. His eyes caught a line from one of the poems that he liked, and he wondered how beautiful the winning poem would be if the fifth could be that great. He scrolled more carefully to the top page and screamed on top of his voice. Of course, every passenger was startled and might have thought he had gone mad, but the beautiful poem sitting on top of the list was his; he won the contest. At that moment he realized he had registered with his other line and not the one he had in his phone.



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