in Prose Unthethered: Memoirs of a retired nerd ~ read.

Reaping Happiness

I've always considered happiness as the planting - the active state where company and fun coalesces into joy but in the course of picking the most memorable moment in my life for this memoir, I began to have doubts about the veracity of such opinion.

To fully understand my doubts, I'll have to tell you the story of the much younger me in Primary school.

Going through nursery and primary school, except for one time which you will get to see, I took first position in everything that had to do with books - test, quizzes, midterms, terminals and the only reason I didn't come out top in every class question was because the teachers sometimes would deliberately ignore my raised hand(s) in order to allow other pupils to participate.

When Radio Nigeria held a state-wide competition for all primary schools in Akwa Ibom state, it was a no-brainer, I was the first choice to lead the team that would represent my school. When we got to the venue, we were given the rules.A student from each school would step up and pick a question number from the face down cards. When the question had been read out to him, he would then have a few minutes to provide the answer.

Fast forward to my school's turn, I stepped up and my question was; ‘What is photosynthesis?’

You would expect the nerdy me to reel out the perfect answer, because at that point in my life I knew exactly what photosynthesis was but for the next few minutes, with excess confidence and conviction, here is how my answer went:

Photosynthesis is the process whereby organisms change from one form to another during their life cycle for example insects move from egg to larva, from larva to pupa and from pupa to adult...

Immediately when the bell rang to indicate time-up, I was sucked back into reality from an alternate universe and didn't need anybody to tell me I had made a mess of things. We did crash out of the competition and I spent half of the term hiding from my shame. It wasn't until I had ended up at second place during the midterm that I began to put the episode behind me because I resolved never to go home again to explain to my parents that I had been beaten to the first position by a girl.

Everytime I look back at this moment, and see that young boy with so much confidence talking about metamorphosis instead of photosynthesis, i'm always taken by uncontrollable laughter. I am insanely happy in this moment, happy for his confidence, happy for this seed of happiness which he unknowingly planted. In this moment I begin to see happiness as the non-seasonal fruitful tree which offers one unlimited opportunities to reap from a moment.

Whenever I cannot shake off the cloak of sadness, I go back to that stage and that young boy makes me happy all over again.