On the 19th of February, 2016, I was a participant in a debate competition, and this was one I looked forward to because it was my last debate in high school. However, my anticipation and optimism frizzled out after a mysterious incident occurred the night before the competition.
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The night of February 18, 2016, was a windy one. I left class to attend my debate rehearsals, which was taking place at the dining hall. My steps were brisk, but that didn’t stop the wind from swaying my dress. A few steps away from the hall, a particle fell into my right eye. I tried removing it, but my efforts proved futile. Once I got to the hall and narrated my predicament to my team, they jumped to my rescue. From blowing air into my eye; to helping me rinse my face with water, we soon got tired of our fruitless first aid methods, so we convinced ourselves that it was something minor, and hence, I would feel better the next morning.

How wrong we were! The pain was worse the next day. It was so excruciating that I got anxious and panicked ahead of the competition. I couldn’t go to the hospital either, because if I did, I would miss out on the competition which was in the morning, and more so because I was the only principal speaker from my school, prepped to debate “For the Motion” should we pick this position after balloting. While waiting for the bus to take us to the debate venue, our debate coach noticed my uneasiness. Hence, we bought an eye drop from a pharmacy, but that didn’t help either. To keep everyone from worrying, I lied that I was alright.

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The closer we got to the venue, the more the pain became unbearable and the less I could open my eyes. To make matters worse, the competition started late, hence; I wallowed in pain till the competition began two hours after the scheduled time. My school and another school were called to debate first. As the balloting began, I hoped my school would pick “Against the Motion”. Much to my dismay, we picked “For the Motion” meaning, I had to debate.

Feeling nervous, I assured my colleagues that I would do my best, and the encouragement from my coach also boosted my confidence. However, my confidence dwindled again when I was called to the pulpit, and my hand, which was wrapped around the microphone, couldn’t stop quivering.

I feared failing, and disappointing my team and coach since we worked hard towards the competition. When I tried to open my eyes, I began to tear up, however; I managed to open them narrowly and caught a glimpse of my team staring at me worriedly.

I made up my mind to give the best presentation I could, with or without the pain I was experiencing. I delivered my presentation and guess what? It wasn’t bad after all! I made no mistakes, neither did I break. My presentation went on smoothly, just as I had rehearsed previous days. This was one of the moments I felt happy and proud for memorizing a script.

My team was enthusiastic, but unfortunately, we didn’t win, but we did great and even won a prize. Given our circumstances that day, we were satisfied with that.

After the competition, my coach and some team members escorted me to the hospital. The doctor removed whatever it was with so much ease that I regretted not going to the hospital earlier that morning. I instantly felt relieved, and the pain disappeared like it never existed. The doctor showed me what it was, and I couldn’t believe a tiny stone caused my discomfort the entire day and the previous night.

I wished the debate competition would start all over again, so I could give my best devoid of any pain. But as we all know, wishes aren’t horses.

Certainly, my last debate in high school is one I will never forget.

Written by : Nasreen Zankawah

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