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  • Andrew Park

A Normal Boy With a Heart

By Andrew Park


A child prodigy. A once in a lifetime genius. Uncanny god given talent. Rehan felt these words digging deeper into his heart as he walked up to the podium to receive the MacArthur Fellowship for his exemplary contribution to the field of math. Those words didn’t describe him, he thought. Still, he pulled the corners of his lips upward into a smile for his photo. He looked off to the side to see his lifetime hero: Manuelo Banchez. Banchez stared back with a proud grin on his face. 'Only he knows how I got here,' thought Rehan.


In fact, Banchez was the very man that encouraged him to take that first step. By garnering profound knowledge and dedicating himself to his career, Rehan had managed to elevate himself to a level closer to Banchez. But that was not enough for Rehan. He had to be better than him. He needed to. He had long exceeded the already high expectations, and now, what was left was a battle against himself.


Rehan was finally making his way to the top of the staircase to the podium. Before receiving the award, the bustling reporters eagerly tripped over one another, clamoring around Rehan, trying to ask a question.


“How did you become a self-made genius?”


Genius? A genius does not need to desperately work as hard as Rehan. Geniuses are ones simply born with the gift to succeed. It comes to them naturally. In truth, Rehan was no genius. Among his 4 older siblings, Rehan had always felt like he was falling behind. Only when Rehan consistently put his life on the line to get desirable results did he ever feel like he was succeeding.


Rehan could not accept that it was merely luck that he got where he was. He recalled the countless times when he would feel like his head was going to explode from constantly trying to fathom complex scientific equations inside his brain.


He glanced back at the hundreds of people gathered around to see him receive the award. The flashing lights of cameras clicking blinded him to the extent where he could only see his father. He remembered his father extricating Rehan from the angst of being a failure when he was growing up. His father alleviated the incessant criticisms in his head with his words of encouragement and support. His father would hold his shivering hands and inject confidence into his quivering voice. All this time, Rehan had diminished the influence of his parents.


With a genuine smile, Rehan ascribed his success to his parents this time, not his efforts. To Rehan, he was still that small boy struggling to beat his brothers to attain academic success. Rehan was just another boy, but with a lot more dedication and desperation.


Rehan confidently refused the award. He couldn’t accept it. Afterall, he wasn’t a child prodigy, a lifetime genius, nor was he someone born with innategod given talent. It shouldn’t be him receiving the award, but rather his parents that shaped the ideal environment for him to thrive in. Rehan knew the awards were only reserved for geniuses. Rehan wasno genius.


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