The next morning, Paul woke up very relaxed and peaceful. He dressed up for school with a new zeal. Mrs. Roland asked him to come to her office at break time and as he got there, she told him that the solution to his problem was ENCOURAGEMENT. Paul did not understand and told her so. She explained that it was the title of a story about life, and that he needed to know that life was a big struggle where everyone strived to survive.
The story was about a boy named Dara. He was born an encouragement to his parents and mostly other married couples because Mr. and Mrs. Alabi had been married for six years with no children. Mr. Alabi’s friends and family members even advised him to marry another wife since his wife could not conceive but he refused. Mr. and Mrs. Alabi trusted God to give them a child at his own time so they went about their lives normally and were happy together. Their faith in God paid off and to everyone’s surprise, Mrs. Alabi conceived and gave birth to a bouncing baby boy just one week to their seventh marriage anniversary. His parents named him “Asiko Oluwa lo dara’ meaning “God’s time is the best.” But everyone called him Dara, for short. Dara’s parents were very hard-working and shared the same vocation of farming and trading.
They were large scale farmers involving livestock as well as arable farming. They produced goats, pigs, chicken, eggs, yams, potatoes, cassava tubers and vegetables. Mr. Alabi managed the farming aspect while Mrs. Alabi was in charge of trading. They were dedicated to their duties and happy working together.
Dara grew up to be very handsome and hardworking. When he was of age, his parents enrolled him in school and one could hardly find him idle. During free periods in school, he did exercises from his textbook without his teacher telling him to do so and when he went home, he rested a little, revised what he learnt in class that day, carried out his take-home assignment and helped his mother with some errands. As he grew up and being a friendly fellow, his numerous friends made demands on him to go out and play.
Answering all the calls meant less time for his studies. He knew that his parents were proud of his performance in school and did not want to disappoint them. At the same time, he wanted to be able to play with his friends so that they would not feel bad and he would also find time to rest. He resolved to make a timetable and also get an alarm clock to remind him of the time. So he asked his parents to buy him the clock. Mr. and Mrs. Alabi not being learned could not understand what role the alarm clock would play but because they trusted their son, they obliged him. Dara was grateful for the clock and also thanked them for trusting him. He drew his timetable and used it religiously.

In class, Dara continued to excel because he studied most times. He was hard-working and always took first position in his class. This made him popular among pupils and teachers. The pupils in lower classes revered him, teachers loved him and some of his classmates respected him but this generated dislike and jealousy from many of his classmates. These boys wasted their emotions detesting Dara and plotting his downfall instead of relating with him positively to learn the secret of his success. Dara was not just brilliant, he was equally friendly, generous, ready to answer questions or teach anybody who wanted to learn from him what they did not understand well in class.
The bad boys continued to gather at the slightest opportunity to discuss their evil plans; and they were always quick to stop talking or change the topic when another member of their class came towards them. Dara, being an intelligent boy suspected those gatherings and decided to find out what it was all about. He planned with his best friend, Femi, to have a pretended quarrel so as to make it possible for Femi to join this group and find out what they were up to. The face-off between Dara and Femi was so real that their classmates, who knew them as inseparable actually believed it. Their friendship was the envy of everyone, so the group was happy and quick to welcome Femi to their group in order to spite Dara. They planned on how, when and where to get Dara in trouble to disgrace him before the entire school so as to turn the positive affections the teachers and pupils lavished on him to disappointment. While the meetings went on, Femi took notes and secretly passed them to Dara,who made counter plans. On the day of reckoning, Dara put the boys to shame because he was smarter and they realized that he and Femi were still the best of friends. Their bad behavior earned them serious reprimand from the Head Teacher and also the public disgrace they planned for Dara was averted.

From this story, Dara had fought a great, good fight and did not allow any of his jealous classmates in that group to pull him down. He was studious, hardworking and never acted unwisely. Instead, he studied a situation very well and made good out of it. Also he loved to carry people along but would not allow the III mannered ones to putting into trouble and these helped to make him a very successful pupil. Besides, every time he sat to watch his parents do their job, his thought was that he could be as successful as his parents but in a different way and they inspired him to work harder.
After Mrs. Roland had finished reading the story to Paul, there was a moment of total silence in the office.
“If only I could do what Dara did, I would be great”, Paul thought.
“Paul, you can be what you want to be only if you try. It is one thing to thing to make a move for it. I can only advise you and help where I can but the decision is yours’ Mrs. Roland said, breaking the silence. “If you desire success, plan for it, ask for God’s help and then take the first step towards achieving it and it will be yours,” She concluded.
“May I have a picture with the book, please?” Paul asked.
“With Encouragement? In fact, you can have a picture with the book, and keep the book itself”, Mrs. Roland said, smilingly.
When Paul heard this, he was overjoyed and thanked her for the book and her advice before leaving her office.

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