During the time my parents were preparing for my coming to school, there was one detail they had so carefully taken care of, that I’m very marveled as to why I hadn’t mentioned it by now. As you well know (or have probably guessed), I am different. My difference stems from many things, but primarily because of my legs. I do not walk well, I use crutches. If you have read my story, The Accidental Beggar, you would understand what I mean.
My point is, my parents made arrangements so that I would have a special keke (tricycle) man who will convey me anywhere I wanted to go to. His name is Oga Okwy (+). We’d gotten his contact through a friend of Chidimma’s who has assured us he was a good man. Now, I’m not trying to malign his name (as he might be reading this story), but I’m trying to say things as they are—were.
Initially, when we had met him during the first time I came to Our Lady’s Hostel, my dad had explained everything to him, and by virtue of the fact that he came from Imo State, my state, we thought things would be a little easier for us. How wrong we were! He told us that what we would be paying him every month would be twenty-five thousand naira.
Immediately he had said that, my eyes almost popped out of their sockets in shock. 25K, for what? My dad had asked him to reduce it, explaining to him that they had made a lot of expenses of recent, but he was adamant, saying that the reason the cost was like that was because of me, that he saw me as his younger brother and wanted to do the best for me. Well Dad told him that he would get back to him.
Suffice it to say that in the end, we hired him. There were two main factors behind that decision; the first one was the fact that I needed to resume as quickly as possible so as to be able to catch up with academic activities; another reason was simply the fact we knew no one in Awka, and we had no way of knowing whether his price was exorbitantly high or not. But time showed me something about him, and about humans too.
Back to my story. There was no other word that would best describe how I felt on my first day in school other than confusion. I felt like a fish out of water. Before then, I’d managed to get my course rep’s number, and had asked him where the day’s lectures would hold. He told me that we had ICH 101 at the then MPH (Multi Purpose Hall).
I got to the MPH and gaped at the sea of students who were there for the lecture. We tried getting inside the lecture hall, but there was no way of getting inside, as the entire hall was filled to the brim, with hundreds of students outside the hall still attending the same lecture. I nearly told Oga Okwy to take me back home, but I reasoned that it would be somehow behaving like that one your first day in school. So I waited in his keke for the class to finish (which was around 10am).
After the class, I called my course rep, Kenneth again, and he told me that our next class would also be at the same MPH. Luckily for me, the crowd had dissipated a bit, so I managed to get inside and secure a seat at the back of the hall. What an achievement!
Five minutes after Oga Okwy (who I will be referring to as Okwy henceforth) left, I heard a man shout, “First semester exam na February 26th oo! MAT 101 no be beans, ICH 101 no be akamu. Get your past questions now and get ready oo!”
Those who studied or are still studying any science course in Unizik would know that I am talking about Mr. Ohms. Immediately I heard what he was shouting, my had snapped towards the direction of his voice, in three seconds, I’d located him. I shouted and signaled above the noise in the hall so he would see me. He later noticed me and came over. I ended up buying past questions in all the courses we were to do that semester, the cost of which amounted to… I don’t remember again, but I’m sure it was up to three thousand naira! On my first day at school.
When it was noon, I called Kenneth again to know if we and another lecture, since the one I’d been waiting for didn’t hold. He told me that we had one class in Science Village.
Now, listen to me, carefully. If you intend to go to the Science Village in Unizik, at least in the next four years, do not make the same terrible mistake I made in thinking that it was a place where robots were built and all manner of scientific marvels are unravelled. I’d imagined that at least, I would see a place filled with beauty and aesthetics. A lot of people made the same mistake too. In Science Village, as I’d come to realise, the only robots there are robotic humans, those students who are only fixated on their academic lives to the negligence of other aspects of their lives, including their health.
My spirits were deflated like a pinprick to a balloon when I arrived at Science Village. I was so shocked that I asked Okwy, “Is this the place?”
“Yes,” he answered, perhaps noting that I’d made the common mistake.
“But I thought…” That sentence was never finished as I resigned myself to the fact that I live in a country of disappointments. By the time I arrived at the lecture hall, I couldn’t find any seat close to the front where I could hear the lecturer. But I was luckier than at MPH, I had gotten a seat at the back of the class. Since I couldn’t hear what was being said, I brought out the BIO 101 past questions and busied myself.
Shortly someone tapped me. I looked up to see a very beautiful girl smiling at me. And before I knew it, I smiled back.
“Hi,” she said, “which past question is that?”
I looked at the front cover again, as if I didn’t know the course I was reading. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to make any mistake with this damsel and fall my hand.
“BIO 101,” I replied.
“OK. Do you have any others so I can keep myself busy?”
I don’t know what made me to lie in that instance. OK, I know. I didn’t want to stop talking to her, she was beautiful damn it!
“I have, but they’re not here, they’re at home,” I lied, hoping that my plan would work.
“What’s your name?”
“Adaora, and you?”
“Somtoo,” I replied, and realized that something was wrong, horribly wrong.
I hadn’t brushed in the morning when I was coming out.
To be continued…