I flashed back as I saw the tall tower as it glowed brightly. You could not miss it. It was the tallest building in the school. The landmark that gave KFUPM its recognition. Am I really here? I ask myself and then those words come to the surface. Words I had written myself but now it seemed as though someone else did-Words that were inspired by God’s words.
‘For those who have learned to love chemistry despite all odds, for it is possible that one dislikes a thing which is good for oneself and that one loves a thing which is bad for one. But Allah knows and we know not’
Those were the words from my post- CROSSING THE BORDER LINE-The Beginning. Words that made me recall my mother’s words a few days before I left-‘Tolu, is this not the Chemistry you did not want to do and now you won a Scholarship with it’, I think she said. My wife and reminded me of how grateful I should be…after all I never expected to be chosen here… to be in one of the best schools in the region. I did not even meet the requirements. Yes! I did not and I was here, with some of the best brains across Africa and Asia as colleagues. ALHAMDULILLAH RABBIL ALAMIN.
In life there are some actions that serve as the initiation step for a great reaction…Sometimes these initiation step seems insignificant just like how insignificant Umar bn Khattab’s (may God be pleased with him) night walks lead to discovery of the sincere lady who gave Umar bn Abdul-Aziz birth. So was how Abass Afolabi Yahaya’s Facebook message to me in February, 2013 seemed. A message that served as the initiation step which led to many propagation steps for me. A message that facilitated my getting married (the greatest of all the reactions) and that was why when I got married last December, I acknowledged him then, for he was amongst those who encouraged me to do the bravest things have ever done in my life so far. A message that led me to King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. I will forever be grateful to Allah and then Abass Yahaya. For even till now I wonder why amongst all the people he knew how come he sent me a message to apply to KFUPM. We were not really close in LAUTECH just regular brothers that greeted each other. We did not finish from the same department. It was even later that I knew we lived close to each other in Sagamu. In life we all have people that will serve as a means by which good happens to one and also otherwise. These people one cannot forget them because what they did even though it might seem insignificant even to some of them you, the recipient knows that there seemingly insignificant action was not insignificant. In fact it is the actual opposite. I pray Allah sets right his affairs.
I recalled how hopeless I felt when I saw the CGPA requirement for KFUPM’s application 3.0 on a scale of 4…that was equivalent to 3.75 on a scale of 5. My CGPA, 3.62. I was the guy who crossed the border line in his final year. I did not even think my CGPA would get me admitted into the University of Ibadan for a master’s degree let alone WIN A SCHOLARSHIP to study in one of the top schools in Asia. Not even just any course… but CHEMISTRY. I did not need to be told that a course like CHEMISTRY would be very competitive in a school that had the words UNIVERSITY OF PETROLEUM & MINERALS in its name. Worst of all I had not even done TOEFL and GRE. I was tired of everything. I had tried so many things and failed in recent past from essay competitions to scholarship applications like TURKIYE and PTDF and I was going through a lot personally because my Mum was ill then and here I was in Darrul Haqq and was told to apply for a scholarship that logically I should not apply since the odds of me being chosen was almost negligible but Abass’s statement in that message...’IT DOESN’T COST YOU ANYTHING’. Exactly, it would not cost me anything after all I was no paying any application fee like PTDF so there was nothing to lose. In life when you are on the ground already why fear falling? And that is how I came to apply to KFUPM. Little did I know that the application process was going to be challenging. I never heard of the words Statement of purpose (SOP) till I applied to KFUPM worst of all the only Professor I had amongst my referees did not reply to the recommendation request sent by KFUPM so in the end I had only two referees. My chances of being chosen was already low and now it just got worse. Logically the only person who could increase my chances did not send a recommendation letter. When I wrote my SOP I had no one to help me read through and it was already close to the deadline. In fact the Dean of Graduate Studies (DGS) had sent me a mail requesting I submit my SOP as it was a mandatory document because the deadline was a few days left. So I submitted my application with practically no hope. I do not even think I prayed that I should be accepted at KFUPM because even though you hear about miracles sometimes you do not think it could happen to you.
I recalled that day in June. It was a few days to my NYSC passing out parade. My fellow corps members and I were relaxing on the field after hours of practicing. We stood there discussing about the future. The future that we did not worry about and in a few days, the reality that we feared would hit us. We would not be corps members anymore. The question of WHAT NEXT? Imaginary hung on our heads like a heavy load waiting to be dropped. We were all afraid because we knew in reality most of us could not answer that question. There would be no more alerts (I never even received an alert on my phone during my service year as the bank NYSC gave me was a ‘bank from the 70s’). Some of us talked about joining the military but we knew like most things in Nigeria you had to KNOW SOMEONE, some of us talked about furthering but the issue of finance came up. We also talked about the girls. We knew the same question that bugged us bugged them too. We knew most of them would be thinking of marriage. For most of us marriage was out of it for now. The reality of NIGERIA hit us. We worried about what would happen, when family members and friends starts asking the dreaded question- ‘So what are you doing now?’. Personally I think that question is rude except if you had an opportunity to offer someone. Why ask a question that would make one feel worse. I did not talk much during most of the discuss as I was still in stupefied by a mail I had received a few days ago. A mail that saved me from the REALITY, a mail that helped me answer the question WHAT NEXT?
May 25,2013,. My mum had just called me to encourage me that things would be better and prayed for me… she knew I was devastated. I had tried so many things and failed. Just a few weeks ago I was about to be retained at my Place of Primary Assignment, Kogi State Polytechnic until the school was shut down due to the killing of a lecturer by some students. Everything seemed to be topsy-turvy. Not long after we spoke my tablet gave a mail notification and then the miracle happened…
Name: ABDULMUJEEB ONAWOLE
Congratulations, your application for graduate studies at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
(KFUPM) has been provisionally approved with the following details:
Was this for real? Maybe the DGS made a mistake? What those provisionally approved mean?...I cannot explain how I felt that night. When I called my mum I am sure she must have felt that that was her fastest prayer answered. Some moments ago we were in tears and now I had called that I was given an offer in KFUPM. There’s something special about a Parent’s love, a Parent’s prayer or rather should I say a Mother’s love and prayer because when I told my Dad I think the first thing he asked was ”How much?’ ‘How much?’, I thought disappointedly…It was the monetary aspect he could think . I would not allow this man to kill my joy. I replied…’It is a scholarship’. I think I could sense a sigh of relief from him. You can’t just compare Fathers and Mothers I thought. However now that I am married I guess I can’t blame my Dad for asking me “How much’. It’s not easy to be a MAN, seriously speaking.
For the next few days I checked the dictionary a few times for the meaning of the words PROVISIONAL and APPROVED and I feared that the DGS would send me a mail saying that they made a mistake but All praise belongs to Allah they never did. My wife(though we were not married then) was elated more than I was…it was probably the best news we had both had in months. She was going through a lot too. When I called Abass I did not tell him on the phone the good news…I wanted him to see it. I just told him that I could now wait to see him when I get back to Sagamu. In his usual jovial self …he replied, ‘I am not your Hajia now’. I just smiled. It was not until mid-June before I saw the man who Allah used as the initiator in this positive free- radical reaction (I hope).
My mind drifted back to reality as I passed by the powerful beams of light at the bottom of the tower which gave the tower its light I looked at the Arabian dark blue Arabian sky. I was truly here in FLESH and BLOOD. I was here despite my background a border line CGPA. When I wrote two years ago in my post -CROSSING THE BORDER LINE-The Beginning-‘The most important thing is Allah’s blessings’ even I did not think of it like this. Upon arriving here I learnt of people with very good grades even some first class students who were not accepted. I knew how lucky I was. I know I am lucky but I am glad I was prepared when the opportunity came. I often think of it that if I did not apply to Univeristi Sains Malaysisa, I might not have had my transcript which I used for KFUPM’s application. I know getting here was a challenge but remaining here
Is a greater task. I know I have to do my best. Not just for me, but for people like me, people who believe Suli breaks statement- I WILL NOT LET AN EXAM RESULT DECIDE MY FATE. For them I must do my best and succeed here. May God help me.