I glowed as he showered words of commendation upon me. I vaguely remember most of what my unit leader said, and four years have passed, but I can explicitly remember him saying almost speechlessly, “Chinazar, you are such an asset.” I remember because he said it more than once with the same sincere and grateful expression on his face that made me smile broadly and want to do more.

I stood obediently before my project supervisor only to hear him out as he told me what a lazy and unserious student I was! He was so furious I could see he couldn’t unleash his venom as dangerously as he wanted to. I felt the righteous anger begin to rise inwardly and the need to suppress it overpowered me. Amongst all three students assigned to him to supervise, I was the most committed, not because I was zealous for working with rats, or because I had a crush for Pharmacognosy, but simply because I passionately hate delayed work. It has a wonderful way of tugging mercilessly at my heart and preventing me from doing the other things I really love to do. And secondly, he’s acquainted with my dad!

“How dare you go home for a whole weekend?” he accused truthfully (anyway, that was my number 3 charge), and to whom had I left my work?

“Aaarggghhh,” I winced inwardly as he glowered at me, expecting me to defend myself. Mr. Deko was such a telltale, and after I had begged him too! I made sure to tag him ‘houseboy’ in my heart, before returning my attention to my supervisor who was now asking me to take my liver tissues and ‘gerrout’ of his office…

Because of my principles, I’ve been described as very wicked by some people; and some others have said I have a large heart (not cardiomegaly), and not surprisingly, also by some who earlier described me as wicked.

The point’s not that hard to miss. You are qualified by the attribute you exhibit to a person or to a group of people. That’s why a financial donor to an organization would be termed ‘generous’ whether or not his family is getting their basic needs met. That’s why a mistress would sincerely think her lover is ‘sooo caring’ when he leaves his pregnant wife and 2-year old child at 10.00p.m to celebrate her 21st birthday. And that’s why the wife who won’t give in to divorce because she wants an ideal home for her kids is seen as weak.

You really can’t fault the conclusions people arrive at as to who we are, because for the most part they have no idea where we are coming from or what we’ve been through. All they can see is the proverbial tip of the iceberg- only a part of multifaceted you; and they should be forgiven because they are not omniscient.

Backed by this knowledge, it’s not so hard to be modest when applauded for good works. Really, there’s nothing to be so excited over because merely pushing the wrong button could elicit a volte-face. I still carry with me, the words of my once-upon-a-time unit leader, “Shut your ears to the applaud of men”. Doesn’t that just make sense?

I am not intelligent because you think I am. Otherwise, Albert Einstein would think I was a complete ignoramus, and then I’d be that too!!! You see, who people think we are is not the crux of the matter. No one’s idea of me defines who I really am.

He knew the wrong things I’d do, yet chose to love me. He knew I’d deny and betray Him, but that didn’t change anything either. When I was on fire for Him, He didn’t love me more. While I was smeared with filth, He concluded I was worth dying for.

I choose to believe Jesus Christ about who He says I really am.

Chinazar Okoro©2011