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Tuesday, 8 December 2015


Chapter Two: Along Came Three

Like every new environment one finds himself, the natural urge to explore is often inevitable. Here on campus, what was required seemed more than mere exploration. The primary need here was adjustment and adaptation. My God! I was almost certain there were a million students in this school and at least half a million things to learn and adapt to. Everywhere was busy and full of faces-unfamiliar faces, some gathering in small groups or going about separate businesses. Everyone minded his own business and controlled his affairs in this small community. Nobody came to tell you that your haircut was unkempt and rough or that the waist level of your trousers was knee-low or that your skirt was too skimpy or that your breasts were spilling out of your spaghetti top, or that your make-up was adorably whorish. There was no bell boy to alert you that lecture time was on. The lecturers didn’t care if you took down notes or failed a test. In fact, they often looked pleased while announcing the poorness of performance. It was a free man’s land, though nothing has ever been free in life.

Asides the brutal rush for seats in lecture halls during general courses, there were a couple other conditions I found unbearable in my first year. Payment of fees and registration process was semi hell. If you weren’t on a noisy and dense queue as the 87th person to pay fees in the bank, then you were in another scorching and closely-packed queue saturated with sweaty body odours as probably the 56th individual to change the bank slip to school receipt. The line was always falling forward or backward, depending on where the struggle was coming from.

Collection of course forms was similar to circumcision at age 80. It was more painful and frustrating than all. The fat, grumpy, middle-aged woman with a godforsaken granny’s wig who issued the course forms was a huge pain in the neck. I despised her at once. She was always seen either taking moi-moi with Sprite or complaining and cursing about students crowding her office or in a loud conversation with her colleagues in the office or doing almost all at once. It was better if she was eating moi-moi because if she wasn’t, she would be chewing a thick and heavy gum lousily. Her mouth had to be busy. The most unpleasant part of it was; while many fresh students and other students waited for their turns for hours, few other returning students could bypass the line and meet her directly. Each time they approach her like that, they would smile and say some few words in low tone, then the fat woman would set a crooked face and pull out her top desk drawer. All the student did was to drop his token inside discretely and go with copies of the forms. Welcome to WSU.

My first year was swallowed by need for adaptation, adjustment and academics. I was hard working so I became successful in academics and no matter how I tried to hide that fact; it was always visible thereby making it easier to attract friends. I hooked up with some of my college guys I met but it wasn’t like secondary school days anymore. Some were in 200 and 300 levels already. Every one of them was engrossed in his affairs and our rapport wasn’t strong as before. They all had new friends and new cliques so it seemed like old-things-have-passed-away-new-things-have-come portion of the Christian book. I made a couple of male friends too and it was becoming tougher to barricade female encroachments. Campus was enjoyable but not as I anticipated.

In my second year, a lot more started happening. Aunt Mabel had to move down home in the south. She was no longer going to stay in the west because her fiancĂ© was about tying the nuptial knot and wanted her to relocate down home so they could live together. Obviously, Mom and Dad had little choices than to let me stay in the hostel. That was when I applied for a hostel space and obtained an allocation and that was when exploitation of campus gradually crept into my activities. Hostel life was amazing and daring but it wasn’t just the hostel.  It was my room specifically.

Going into the details of my roommates could form another story entirely. There were three other guys—better put; two other guys plus a broomstick—making us four in the room (you’ll understand soon). Four different people from different homes and different tribes living together for the purpose of academics would be expected to have lots of differences but to my surprise, it was just more than differences as I later found out.

In few words, my room was a cinema to an onlooker or a war zone or probably an abandoned psychiatry. I mean, it was my second year in school and I had no idea that people like my roommates existed. I had never tasted this aspect of school; the hostel life, the freedom, all alone in no man’s land. Not that I never stayed in the dormitory back then to have a mental sketch of what a hostel should look like. It was beyond looks here. Nobody rang a lousy bell in my ear at 5:30am or gave me a portion of grass to cut, or inspect my room on weekends or lived crazy like my roommates. Fate threw me into this mesmerizing room occupied by the craziest combination of nature’s creation. My roommates were nothing to write home about. You’ll get a clearer mental picture of my roomies after a brief rundown on each. Pay particular attention to their characteristics and don’t mix them up with each other. I’ll use their regular names: Pascal, Element and Ade the Giraffe (all in200 level).

I think he took JAMB plus UME like four times or so before he finally gained admission into Physics department. He was 25 and a few centimetres shorter than me. Pascal often claimed he had gone through a lot in life before gaining admission and so he was often busy trying to prove himself more knowledgeable, experienced and matured than most of us; the ITK. He ‘knew’ everything about football, rap music, latest gadgets, political system, black entertainment industry, Christianity and anything you could think of outside the Physics he studied. Sometimes, he could be very loud and noisy. He could argue for hours that a pin is longer than a needle and if there was anyone who had enough energy to argue with him, it wasn’t me. Another thing about this dude was his outrageous and hysterical laughter when some laughable jokes were spilled. Pascal’s laughter was purely annoying and irritating but other times, it could stir up another round of wild laughter. In the process of laughing, he was so agape you’d wonder if a doctor was examining his larynx and he sure sounded like an old cassava-grinding diesel engine.
At first, I saw Pascal as a sick pig that needed nothing else than the butcher’s knife. He could piss off everyone in the room in a matter of seconds. I imagined what the society would welcome as a graduate in 2 years time. Sometimes, I unconsciously wished he never gained admission and still sold beer in his uncle’s drinking parlour for the country’s good. Other times, I overlooked his idiotic ways and laughed with him, all depending on my mood but as time went by, to my surprise, we gradually went along fine and became buddies.

If you were talking about a lover boy, a party freak, a drinking lord, and a broke guy, then you meant Element. This free spirit was almost all the dangers your Dad and Mom always warned you about when you visited home. To him, his lifestyle was a way of “being yourself” because he believed in being free to do anything as one pleased and he lived what he believed. He never took life or academics or any other affair as a big deal, well, except his affairs with girls. “I can’t understand you guys. Life is so damn generous but you all seem blind. Why do you scoop with just a cup from an ocean? Who’s gonna scoop the rest? Meet Element, the guy who lives to the fullest!” He was the most carefree and most careless of my roommates. His lecture notes or phone charger or receipts and documents were always missing. One good thing about Element was that he was the cook in the room. He never took last in preparing food for the room in the evening, especially, his favourite—beans (with overdose onions). He was also rich in gist and stories.
There’s something common about broke guys like Element; they lived on other people’s items. Element was a big borrowing fan, an addicted borrower. It was so normal to him that even when you refused giving an item he requested of you, he would still get it without your permission, probably in you absence. All we could do was to hide our items. It didn’t take a sweat from Element to decode were we hid our bathing soaps, toothpastes, toilet rolls, body sprays, leather slip-ons, beverages, and garri bags. Sometimes, he wore Pascal’s designer t-shirts and Toms to lectures.
Academically, Element was surprisingly a little above average as much as I knew. He was on 2.7/5.0. This is a fella who sleeps into the late hours of morning almost every day and only wakes up to photocopy the handouts of the classes he missed (that is, if he found someone to borrow money from).
I didn’t hate Element, no. He was full of life, activity and fun so it didn’t take much time before I liked him. We went along fine too. In spite all the ugly names we called him and all we yelled at him (when parading naked in the room), we were fond of him.

Ade looked like an imbecile. He was very tall, lean and slightly bent. He was somewhere around the red bar on the scale of handsomeness. When I first met him I seriously thought he was an alien. His neck was unusually longer (like a giraffe’s) and his facial features were like the work of an apprentice sculptor. To wrap up his amazing looks, he never allowed a millimetre of hair on his oblong head.
 The beautiful part of it, Ade was one of the best students in his department. His CGPA last session was 4.7/5.0 though he wasn’t the read-till-your-head-smoke type like some of us. All he needed was a couple of lectures and handbooks for a semester. Sometimes, I suspected his bald head and giraffe neck helped him receive strange intellectual radiation from outer space. He was more of a comedian than a 2nd year geography student. If you watched him dance to the beats of “Personally” by P-Square, you would probably laugh louder than Pascal. He was always in good and happy spirit and it seemed nothing could ever annoy or vex him; even the loud and noisy Pascal rarely annoyed him. With Ade around, the room was never dull or boring. He had a great sense of humour and the ‘baddest’ mouth in the room.
Initially, I found it difficult and somewhat embarrassing to walk with Giraffe publicly even though we related fine in the room. I had some preferences when it came to the looks of dudes I walked with. To walk with a long human-like creature wasn’t my style. Well, as it turned out, I realised how popular he was fast becoming and the attention he attracted from both sexes. Everyone loves to identify with some sort of icon and so I tried to stop seeing Giraffe as a long creature.

Let me start with how we lived in the room, what we said, how we reasoned, what we did. Some days were like “Brothers’ Day”. We lived like real brothers; ate from one big pot in the evening, shared jokes, played cards or ludo. I mean, everyone’s flaws and bad sides were totally overlooked and tell you what; we played real loud music and just locked the door to keep off any protester from the other rooms. Other days, this six letter word could describe things well; mayhem. Ranging from direct verbal attack, extreme jesting (we called that “slaughter”), wild jeering, loud and long pointless arguments to near-fight situations. On such days, there usually was always a “common prey” or “the victim” or “the recipient” who serves as the target of abuse and jest. This could be anyone of us, depending on who did something foolish, stupid or unreasonable-all simply phrased into a local slang—kpelenke.
It was the fourth week in the second semester of 200 level. By then, Pascal, Element and Ade were back from vac and after all the initial excitements and welcome-back enjoyments, everything chilled to normalcy. When I say normalcy, I mean the regular nature of the room - chaos.  These periods of my second year were the most thrilling and exciting moments in my university life and probably the most awful moments. I can’t hold back sharing few yarns of what we passed through individually or as one big kick-ass room. Let me start with Princess Ella of 2go.
(...to be continued)


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