Ali Toyin Abdul: Diary of a dreamer boy [Nigerian Voices]

by Ali Toyin Abdul

My life had been that of awe and grappling confusion. I found myself wobbling in fantasies – of illusion, complacency, and naivety. As a young man, I had been thrown at the crossroads of dilemma, surmounting the bumpy and thorny challenges of life. At age 7, I was growing up into a boy with an infatuated mind-set. I wanted to rekindle the spirit of influence in my immediate surrounding and reset a new tune in my family’s progression line. I swear down! I fell in love with this unnatural dream with the hope of gravitating it into reality some days.  I saw myself as a visionary young man who was ready to pick the gauntlet and challenge all oddity of life. Here goes my story!

I was birthed into the earth with no silver spoon in my tongue. I grew up in a convivial atmosphere that brews spontaneously, any kind of destiny one so desires. It would have been branded a glorious shantytown but for its heterogeneous blend – of the highly distinctive elites and the negligible unlearned ones. I mean; the stark professionals, the dogged business-minded fellows, the undaunted area boys, and of course, the trendy Aristo babes. Hence, you were left with two options of either trailing the already established legacies or you take a paradigm shift by following your heart. In my own case, I was not ready to be entrapped in any legacy neither was I taking a retreat in my heart. I wanted to take a relief in an entirely separate haven; a vacuum that had ever remained unfilled in my lineage for generations immemorial. I would never leave any stone unturned in accomplishing this dream. It was a fantasy; and at the same time, an illumination. This world was white; this world was awesome. It’s a world of the anointed ones; the highly revered minds committed to the dispensation and cleansing of human souls. Never guess it wrong; it’s the noble medical profession!

Becoming a medical doctor had always been the object of my infatuation; a dream that would only remain within the figment of my imagination. It was a burning passion that saw me scaling different hurdles back to back. Of course, I was a very intelligent pupil in my primary school, with a rare natural ability. I was one of the few envied ones taking the major lead in the class – of both academics and extra-curricular activities. I had always been a keen interest to my class master owing to my mastery of logics and quantitative aptitudes. I was also doing well in basic sciences and primary grammars. This was ingenious and had always endeared my dream to my teachers. In fact, there was this auspicious moment when my teacher summoned me to her desk and whispered in my ear: “you are a bright student and I would love you to study medicine.”  Only God knew how she studied me to discover what I wanted. My neighbors were not also left out; they believed in my astuteness and would do anything to support my ambition. In summary, I was intellectually fit and proper to embark on any exploit in my career trajectory. What a blessing!

On 9th of September 2002, I found myself sitting quietly in the four walls of a Secondary School classroom. Of course, I wasn’t there to observe gravity but as a new student basking in the euphoria of higher school admission. I was overwhelmed with the joy of being one of the very few bright students admitted into the prestigious school. The whole atmosphere was shrouded in camaraderie; as everyone kept networking and exchanging pleasantries in a rather subtle manner. We never knew ourselves before, except for the few ones who had been classmates in their respective basic schools. Interestingly, we had all been given intrinsic orientation about the school, given her exclusive patronage for the best brains within the environs.  Indeed, our joy knew no bound!

In a rare sense of candour, I must confess, I had a very competitive exploit throughout my sojourn in the school. It was a tough adventure that wasn’t short of the dreaded Boko-Haram warfare. I was overtly shaken and gripped in tumult that it became apparent that I was about to lose my bearing. I was doing extremely well but for a core discipline which became an albatross overnight. No thanks to mathematics for its overweighing blows. It dealt me big blows several times before I could retrace my way back to normalcy. I began to lose interest in the subject but for my inextinguishable dream. I walked my way so hard into passing it for the qualifying mock examinations. Thanks to the gods!

The story never ended there. My dream became knot-twisted when the school filtered me into the Arts division of the Senior Secondary School. Reasons: I had several distinctions in Arts. Story for the gods! I was evidently embattled and saw the world as a bed of gloom. How in hell would I live my world with a strange bedfellow? Yes! Strange bedfellow, I repeat. Never! I knocked down my shadow, reflecting about my destiny which was about capsizing. Where will I start again! What story would I narrate to those who believed in my dream? Well, I would never let go!

Like the dreamer boy, I saw myself writing an entrance exam into a highly-acclaimed neighbouring school. As usual, my cerebral ability paved the way for me, but this time around, in a bigger way.  Here I was the ever-dogged Science student. In a rather twist of event, I became the legendary Mohammed Ali, beating Mathematics hands down. I extended this gesture to other sciences with my special ability for Chemistry and Biology. Without mincing words, I was hugely respected by my colleagues. I became a bravo – the baddest guy!

Of course, as greatly anticipated, I came out well in my Ordinary Level Certificate Examinations. Meaning: I can proceed with my dream full-fledge. More interestingly, my dreamed school had always been the University of Ilorin; a stone throw to my neighbourhood. And I never hesitated to prepare well for my JAMB Exams. I wanted to surprise all and sundry by sweeping the floor clean. Guess what? I ended being surprised miraculously! The University showed me the red way when I was offered nothing. Well! I remained undaunted like President Jonathan. In my own case, I was a shoeless dreamer boy in search of the elusive wonder stars. I wouldn’t evade the rhythms of my conscience, and I wouldn’t let go my dream in a twinkle. Possibly, maybe, something lofty was forthcoming. The end would definitely justify the means!

My brother, sitting down at home for over a year wasn’t a joke. The fault wasn’t mine either. It was the call of destiny. It wanted to run a test on my naked heart. Anyway, I never doubted my moves for once. In the subsequent year, I procured my JAMB form with the hope that tomorrow would herald a new dawn. As usual, I threw in my bolts and spanners like a craftsman battling with a faulty rickety beetle. And you know what? I missed a point again! I pooled 239 out of the 240 scores required for medicine. What a life!

In the event of my roll-up, I was offered Biochemistry as a replacement to the Medicine I have always wanted. Eventually, I danced to the tune with nostalgia. I accepted my ugly fate, but would never kill my dream. I’m the destined boy; I was meant for a bigger picture. Who knows if I was going to become a great scientist other than medical personnel? Yes! This was my thought before my luggage was thrown into the Agricultural Science department. A medical doctor in the farm? What a damn disappointment!

Though slightly perturbed; I manoeuvred my way through the whole school session, nourishing my soul with a newly improvised hope. Yes! I’m going to shoot a trial once more, maybe my luck would hit this time around. This was the object of my conviction until I knocked the turning point of my life. It was my uncle! He wanted me to reflect on my inner self and ball out the real passion out of me. “Sit down, reflect on yourself, discover your real self and know what you want”, he whispered to me in a rather benign voice. He actually believed in me and knew I would come out with something authentic. Well! I embarked on the voyage of discovery for over a thousand hours, though hesitantly. I had to burrow through my nature with the flagellum on my head. You wouldn’t believe it! I was so fortunate; I was able to picture my passion through my creative childhood. I’m this oratory master; I’m this lover of books, with knacks for investigation and intellectual arguments. Before I could say Jack Robinson; I have already found myself amongst the learning minds – the student lawyers.

This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by

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