FICTION - It was just two weeks before the Grade 10 national exams and everyone was freaking out, especially those like me who weren’t prepared.
Some students collected as many notes as possible and left school three weeks before the exams to study at home.
They said they would study day and night and, come exam week, they would walk into the room, kill the paper, crush it between their fingers, put it into their mouths, swallow it and excrete it.
Their level of confidence made me question whether I was ready for this. I wished I had their confidence, I’d walk into the exam room and wipe my bottom with the exam paper too, instead I was shaking with fright.
During lunch I called my gang over to discuss the situation. We brainstormed what questions to expect by looking over previous exam papers.
We decided there was a high probability that questions that appeared consecutively on exam papers from different years were most likely to appear again on this year’s exam papers.
I prayed that the government with all its power and might would pass a bill that would abolish Grade 10 exams and allow us to proceed to Year 11 without having to sit for the exams.
When I heard these words, I knew I was sure to fail because I ate lamb flaps and sausage meat almost every day at the Goroka main market and the Kakaruk market.
While I was contemplating my predicament, the same dude said, “Tasol igat rot stap, sapos you kaikai planti ginger, bai yu kamap clever”.
It was like a reverse Pandora’s box, instead of releasing evil it offered hope. I still had two weeks left to boost my IQ with ginger.
I wish I’d known this information earlier. And, yes, we believed him. His elder sister was a scientist with the Institute of Medical Research.
So for the two weeks before the exams, ginger was my main diet.
I avoided the barbeque stands in case I was tempted to grab some yummy Wasa stick meat.
Every morning, the crew and I would walk into the market, buy a huge one kina bunch of ginger and munch on it.
Nobody complained about the ginger burning their mouths and throats and making their eyes water. It was a sacrifice we were all willing to make.
At home, I ate every food with ginger. Kaukau with ginger. Banana with ginger. Kumu with ginger. Rice with ginger.
For breakfast, I even ate bread with ginger. Call me the Ginger Bread Man.
I dug up mom’s ginger in the backyard and ate it all in one sitting. I ate it with the red dirt still on it.
My funny brain told me eating ginger with dirt on it fresh from the earth would boost my IQ more than the washed ginger at the market.
I would throw threw a bunch of ginger into the juice maker to make a strong juice which I drank every morning.
When mom asked why I was eating lots of ginger, I told her I had toothache and ginger was the best remedy.
On the day of the first exam, my crew and I walked into the exam room feeling ten times smarter than we were two weeks before.
As my mates and I were about to take our seats, we looked at each other and mimed the word ‘ginger’.
EWhen the exams were over, the dude who told us ginger would boost our IQ confessed he had lied to us. He said he didn’t think we would actually do what he told us to do.
In those weeks after the exams, his words made me depressed as hell. I knew I was definitely going to fail. The ginger had failed me totally.
In my disheartened state, I took to Goroka’s finest local brew to make me feel better.
I bought a two litre Live Lave Ginger Wine. But instead of making me feel better, it tasted awful.
Its taste brought back all the questions on the exam papers, highlighting those I got wrong.
Anyway, I’d bought it so I kept drinking it, feeling greater hopelessness and doom with each soreh cup of the wine.
When the results came out at the end of the year, I found I would be progressing to Year 11.
The ginger seller at the market saw me and said, “Mi tok wanem, ginger ba mekim you clever ya”.
I wanted to punch him in the face.
I hated that I had to forgo my favorite lamb flaps and sausage to eat ginger for two weeks.