Back then in my secondary school days. I hadn't been much of a storyteller, although, I was a first-class student, I always had poor grades in my exams and tests.
"Dumb ass", "witty-nitty", my mates gave me weird and humiliating nicknames. "Biggie, Elephant, Chimpanzee, Gorilla" and other wicked, ugly names weren't left out.
I was chubby, round, and plump, with a big sized lip which seemed too heavy for my mouth to bear, but, I'm all grown up now...it's been seven years since after secondary school.
I was called 'ugly' by my classmates and peers, no one wanted to associate with me. They said I looked like a 'zombie', too ugly to be in the midst of humans.
Days before the History day celebration in our school, I had suffered severe depression. The only people urging me on were my parents and homeroom teacher.
I had been dared and humiliated by my classmates who enviously had good grades than me to narrate a hilarious historical story or face public humiliation.
"Not like anything good's going to come out of her narration? Such a dumb ass!", Rosaline said, disgust written all over her face.
"Mom, I'm going to suffer public shame and humiliation!" I screamed as I got home. I was fully aware of what my mate could do and thus, I wasn't bidding to suffer their threats.
"Mommy, help me..." I cried as I went to lay on her laps, she was sitting on the living room's cushion chair.
She gave me a warm pat on the head, "it's ok, dear", she said soothingly.
"You are the best of your kind, you are better than you think you are, you are excellent and born for excellence", she said firmly, warmth spreading through her teary eyes to mine.
She was also trying to put up with everything. It was my sixth transfer to a sixth school since my junior high school grade 1.
I am a plus-size student and was made an object of mockery in almost every school I was transferred to, and this time, she was determined to help me gain my self-confidence and worth in this sixth school.
"Tell me what it is this time, Nelly?"
"Our History day is fast approaching, and I have been dared by my classmates to narrate a hilarious historical story that day, and I must be able to make them laugh or else, I'll face public humiliation"
"Hmmm. That's a piece of cake, Nelly. Go freshen up and come to have dinner. I'll tell you a story".
After dinner, mom sat me down to tell me a story, a story she said was the help I needed.
My ribs cracked hard, yet, my heart shook with pity to their ignorance as my mom narrated to me an old story of the native people of Amadoro community (original name withheld) from Eastern Nigeria.
I was born in Lagos, a Western part of Nigeria, and I scarcely ever visited our native town in Imo State, Eastern Nigeria, except once or twice.
Speaking our native dialect wasn't something either I picked interest in, although, my parents had put in so much effort to see that even if I was a Lagos bred, I would still fully understand our native dialect, culture, and traditions.
My mom told me the sad but hilarious story of the descendants of the Amanife clan, the Amadoro community, who had histories of suddenly fallen trees.
The Amadoro community was filled with concern as regards the sudden falling of the trees in their community, and thus, they called for a meeting of the council of elders. The meeting was aimed at controlling and stopping the sudden falling of trees in the future of their community.
They arrived at a very ignorant decision that seemed brave to them. It was decided that the next time any tree showed signs of falling, they were going to wrap clothes on their heads and stand in line, in a queue as long as the tree's height so that they were going to hold the tree as it was falling and to lift it and place it back in its original form.
A day came, and a very tall tree was about falling. These people, filled with so much aura of bravery. Anxious and excited to save their dearest community from another disaster of a sudden tree fall. Men and women, filled with positive vibes, and oh! How they were going to make a hero of themselves; heroes of Amadoro community.
They all stood in a long line, each person's hands placed on his head and ready to pick up the falling tree and to place it back in its original form and place.
The tree started to fall, falling with so much velocity and energy. It fell on them all, sending them into the deep earth, buried underneath the tree, deep into the ground. Amadoro's heroes were gone. They died and were buried in the same place by the same tree they sought to save. Such foolish bravery.
And till this day, the descendants of Amanife's clan are remembered for this ignorant act of foolish bravery. Bravery without skills or knowledge.
I was caught in between laughter and pity for the descendants of the Amanife clan, the Amadoro community. How on earth could anyone pick up a falling tree with their heads? They had good hearts, but very faulty brains...I laughed till tears as I raptly listened to my mom's story.
"This would surely be a good savior for me", I excitedly told my mom, as I hugged her in gratitude and hurried for bed.
Daily, I stood before the mirror and rehearsed my story's narration. I wasn't a good story-teller, neither was I bold nor confident.
History day finally came, I was publicly nominated by my classmates to make a hilarious historical narration. That day, I saw the disappointment clearly spelled on their faces as I passed my narration in full claps and cheers from other schoolmates and teachers.
"How on earth did she get that confidence?"
"How'd you do it, Nelly?
"Who taught you?
"What jazz did you use?"
"Nelly, gist us, what exactly did you do?"
The questions kept rolling in after my performance on History's day. And that day marked a turn around for me as I began to grow my self-confidence. I began to love myself afresh and my mom the more.
I became an icon and ambassador for self-confidence regaining in my secondary school. At twelve, I was already a figure to exhume strength and draw virtues and hopes for self-love, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
The story of the Amadoro's, their foolish act of bravery to save a falling tree with their heads brought me back to life and to regain my self-worth and stance.