We arrived at the front door of Valerie’s home. The house was not grand, only big enough for an average family.
“M-Mom, I’m home! And I brought a, um, s-someone from school!..”
“Please excuse me.”
We took off our shoes and Valerie signaled for me to put my bag down next to a counter next to the door.
When we took a couple of steps, a woman appeared from the side and stood in front of us. I assume this is Valerie’s mom because she looks like an older version of her — black eyes, brown skin, long brown hair, but braided. She was only slightly taller than Valerie, and she was wearing a purple hoodie as loungewear.
“Oh, welcome home sweetie. Um… Who’s this?”
She signaled at me so I stepped forward and bowed in introduction.
“Hello, I am Ren Morales. I am a classmate of Valerie. Nice to meet you.”
“Oh, how polite… Well, welcome, and make yourself at home…”
As Mrs Boateng began to walk away, Valerie raised her arm to stop her.
“A-Actually Mom, um… I want to talk to you about something…”
“So, what do you want?”
Valerie and I were sitting on a sofa in her living room, and Mrs Boateng was sitting in another one in front of us. I looked around and saw that there were many portraits of people all over the walls — I assume that they are Valerie’s relatives. There were also landscapes that are not common in this area.
I see… Mrs Boateng is attached to her birthplace...
I looked over at Valerie beside me. And although she seemed really confident earlier, she was slightly shaking now. Small droplets were forming on her face. Her legs and arms were marginally trembling. She was looking down and she was breathing slightly deeper than usual. She is scared… Scared? Or worried?
I put my hand on her leg.
She raised her head and looked at me. Her face was clear to me — the black spots under her red eyes and her slightly unclean face was clear to me.
After a few seconds, she smiled and nodded in confidence. She then turned her head towards her mother in a similar manner.
“M-Mom, I need to talk to you about school… Um… I… I want to change!”
Mrs Boateng raised her eyebrow at her.
“Oh? Valerie, what do you mean?”
Mrs Boateng’s voice was harsh and serious, and I could tell that she was growing impatient.
“See, it’s about the courses that I’m taking. I… I want to ch-change them…”
“B-Because… It’s because I…”
Valerie firmly closed her fists.
“It’s because I don’t want to enter the medical field… I don’t want to be a doctor!”
I did it… I told Mom my opinion. But I know she just won't accept it — I’ll have to explain my view to her. I can’t handle the workload, and I won't ever because I’m just not interested in what it’ll lead to. But how do I explain it clearly to her?
Mom looked at me in disbelief and question — and anger.
“What did you say? Valerie, what did you say?”
Her fury was growing.
“I don’t want to become a doctor...”
Mom was steadily getting angry, but I continued — I must continue… Ren said that he’d help anytime, but I don’t want him to trouble himself with that.
“There are a lot of courses that I’m taking. I’m sorry, but I just can’t handle the workload. I’m just so stressed out…”
Mom leaned forward, but I did not falter.
“Like, with all of these courses, I’m just so stressed out. All of these new concepts just blend together into one and I’m constantly confused. And, um… I feel pressured.”
She leaned more forward, but I continued speaking calmly.
“Pressured… I… I don’t want to say it’s by you, but I’m feeling pressured. Pressured because most post-secondary institutions require high marks to get into them. See, I’m so focused on these marks that I think I’m losing the true reason why I attend school — to learn.”
She angrily stood up straight. It was intimidating and a bit harder to keep my composure.
Mom promptly stood up — the towering figure over me made me seem small...
What does this mean? I think… I think she’s heard enough. But it’s the truth! What will be her reaction?.. I can tell that it will probably be one that I find unfavorable, but…
“Excuses, Valerie, those are just excuses!”
She pointed at me as I braced myself.
“You’re just slacking! The only reason you’re being pressured is that you aren’t doing good enough! And what’s the reason you’re not doing good enough? It’s because you’re growing lazier!”
Mom made a face as if a realization came to her.
“Oh, I see… Today is the day you’re supposed to get midterm marks, isn’t it? Are you acting up because you got poor marks!? Yeah, you’re just acting up as a sorry excuse for your laziness!”
I am not lying… This is not an excuse… And I need to tell her that!
I also got up from my seat.
“Mom, these aren’t excuses! Really, I’m being crushed by the neverending workload — it’s too much!”
“No, it’s because I hate this!”
...I think that just provoked Mom even more. But it’s the truth!