Believe me, getting ready for school when the session was already half way isn’t fun. We had to come to Awka for the physical clearance. Of course, dad came with me, my brother too. We went to the admissions office, where we saw that the day scheduled for those admitted into the faculty of Biosciences was Tuesday—and we came on a Thursday. Journey wasted.
When we got home, my uncle suggested that I live at Holy Family Youth Village, Amansea. There are a few facts I had about the place and each successive one was worse than the previous one. Firstly, it was owned by the Catholic Church, Onitsha Archdiocese precisely. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the Church, but when you’ve spent six years in a pseudo-seminary, you needed a breather, right? Yeah, you would also tell me that I wasn’t a boarder, but then, that’s not the point.
Another reason I was averse to the idea of staying at Holy Family was the rules they had. Like, who needs such rules in a university? Among their numerous rules is the one about the opposite sex not coming into your room. Really?
And then as if the spirits of my fatherland were against me, my mother started considering the idea.
“It’s owned by the Church. That means that all these immoralities that are rampant in the university will be curtailed,” she’d said, while discussing with my father. I had quickly retorted, and made mention of the one fact that I knew was my trump card—the hostel’s distance from the school grounds. As usual, consideration for my comfort won over… whatever it is they were considering.
So my mom had contacted Chidimma to help her look for a suitable accommodation close to the school. Chidimma called in the evening with a recommendation—Our Lady’s Hostel. Oh God! What kind of badluck is this?
I didn’t make any comments as my mom had said that I would go with my dad the next Tuesday to see how the lodge was after my physical clearance at the admissions office.
On Tuesday, after the rigorous physical clearance, we headed for Our Lady’s Hostel. As I discovered, the lodge was located in Yahoo Junction. I remember wondering if the people living there were yahoo boys and girls, and if so, why did Chidimma recommend a place in such a vicinity?
As we got to the lodge’s gate, I was marveled at its beauty. OK, maybe ‘beauty’ is a strong word, but then, the lodge was fine. More than the others I’d seen. We met with the caretaker, Maureen, who informed us of the cost of accommodation there. The first payment was one hundred and fifty thousand naira, plus an agent fee of twenty-five thousand naira, making it a total of one hundred and seventy-five thousand naira! I knew how tough things were at home, and as we went back that day, I thought, there goes my chance of living at a place I would be free.
But my parents had a surprise in waiting for me. Three days later, my dad gave me a bank teller and asked me to make sure I kept it safe. I looked at it and my mouth fell open. They had paid for the lodge. It was beyond incredible. I’d hugged my dad’s thick neck so tightly that he had a hard time breathing.
The next week went in a blur of preparations for my resumption the next year, as the school had gone on Christmas break. A lot of things were bought—clothes, shoes, a foam, cooking utensils, foodstuffs, just name it. I was the first child of the family who was going to the university, it had to be special (that’s what I thought anyway).
Finally, January 5th, 2015 arrived. It was the day I left for Awka, as a student of the prestigious Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. My parents had hired a bus to convey me and my properties to my lodge, and I also went with my brother and Chibuike my friend (who I’ll be referring to as Sam to avoid confusing him with my brother). Sam would be living with me, as he had started diploma programme in Unizik too when he couldn’t get admission.
The journey to Awka was uneventful and pretty soon, we were inside my room, Room 6 of Block E in Our Lady’s Hostel 2. The stress of unpacking and arranging the room took us about four hours to complete. But my mom had gone back to Onitsha after two hours of arriving with us. When we were done with arranging the room, we ate the rice my mother had specially prepared with a lot of blockages inside.
Finally, I was on my own. What a feeling!
After eating, I’d gone into the bathroom to freshen up when I met my first problem in Our Lady’s Hostel. A problem that still is there, till today, in Room 6.
It had happened in a flash. I had wanted to switch on the tap so as to fetch some water I would use to wash my underwear, when the tap flew out of the wall. Of course, water spurted out like… I don’t even know what to compare it with, and in the small bathroom, I didn’t know what to do.
I called Sam to help me out, and he’d tried to fix it back, but then it was as if the wall was bent on rejecting what it ejected. And in the effort to stem the water flow, Sam got drenched, so was our tissue. In the end, we’d managed to make it to stop spurting water, but it wasn’t fixed, water was still dripping a lot.
That was when we discovered the second problem—the bathroom was waterlogged! As it was, the outlet for water in the bathroom was closed or blocked. And as such, we were in a mini river. I used a container and scooped most of the water into the toilet before heading back into the room. We then slept off as we both had classes the next day.
Luckily for us, I woke up in the middle of the night to ease myself and found out that our room was filled with water. The bathroom! We used the two mops we had but the water was just too much. Too add to it all, our foam was half soaked. We had to sacrifice some of our clothes in cleaning the water and holding it at bay so we could sleep. Even at that, I slept with eyes half closed, hoping for daybreak so that we could report to the lodge management.
As I slept off, I prayed that my class the next day would be very good. Hopefully, it would.
To be continued…