So, my alarm beeped again and again and I never stopped snoozing it five minutes away from every beep.
The sleep was something else, I read throughout last night, so I felt very weak and the last thing I could remember about last night was setting alarm to wake me up by 6:30am so that I can attend Mr. Okpata’s lecture by 8:00am.
I had to be there thirty minutes before the time to avoid the usual sassy words of the learned professor along the lines of “Get back you serious student, you think making first class is by letting your lecturer come into the lecture room minutes before you. Get lost before I change my mind…” He would call the person a serious student, ironically meaning an unserious student.
But, then I’ve forgotten all this, right on my bed my legs were very weak to carry me. I will have to skip my breakfast; maybe I’ll go to Bamboo at the back of MPH and eat beans and plantain after lectures. I was giving myself this excuse in order to buy more time and sleep. I kept snoozing the alarm.
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“Tonio, please can you help me with your matches” a tingling female voice broke in from my door.
I know it was Pamela my neighbour; her voice is one I couldn’t fail to recognize. What has she woken up this early morning to cook again and why this critical time of stolen sleeps?
“Sorry for disturbing your sleep can I come in and get it to save you the stress” she said before I could finish.
She came in and I stood up trying to hold down my south region. That organ down there doesn’t have respect especially every morning. I was really shy doing that, but I managed to get the matchbox with other hand and gave it to her. By that time she has already flogged me over and over with her eyes. I couldn’t do anything than to slump back to my bed as she left the room.
“Yeah, thank you” she said softly and left.
I looked at the time and it was 7:28am. God, that’s two minutes to the time I supposed to have left for School bus stand. I sprang up, brushed my teeth with my towel around my neck, after which I took a quick shower. Water splashed from my head to my face, dripped down my back and then raised its temperature when it landed on my legs. I rushed out, rubbed my Conet Deodorant in my armpit, combed through my afro hair and walked into my dress forgetting to rub cream.
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“Hey, Tonio, thanks. Here’s the matchbox”
“Alright, drop it there”
“Can I have your broom please, my own got worn out yest…”
“Take it at the back of my door. Pam, sorry I’m in a haste, I got a lecture by 8”
“Oh! You’re late already. See your collar it’s not turning well” she said helping me to fix my collar.
“Thanks. Till I’m back” I muttered locking my door as she followed me as though she was my wife and I’m locking her out or perhaps sending her packing.
“Ok naa. Fine boy kill them girls for school” she said looking me through.
“Haha, Pam I don’t have that time, see you”
“Aiiit. Ba bai” she said waving her hands.
I trekked to the Bus stand and hopped into a shuttle pressing myself against a very plump, soft body.
“Oh! Sorry, I hope you don’t mind”
“No, no it’s nothing, I understand. I know it’s eight o’clock lecture seeing how hasty you look” she said smiling at me. She was a girl of about 19 years or perhaps 20. All this fresh babes in Art faculty, I thought. We are less opportune to see fine girls in our faculty not to talk of department. Any girl who decide to study engineering related courses must be a tough one. They’re not there for beauty, they’re in for business, real one.
“Yeah, something like that” I said showing my dentition and trying to feign a smile back to her.
“Alright” she said staring at me.
I looked away and figured out some questions this man might set in case he decided to take us on a quiz. Something rang in my memory and I reached for my back pocket; lo and behold my wallet was not there. I opened my mouth agape, and a tingling sensation ran down my spine. All this drivers in Ifite that smile at you when yelling ‘engineering bus stand, bank, utility, MPH’ but becomes very rude when they will collect money from you saying ‘I hope you’re with your change maka enwerokwa m change o’.
Today my case was worse I don’t even have my transport fare not to talk of balance or the so-called ‘change’. Begging the next person for T.fair gives me a kind of feeling. I hate to feel that way.
“Hy! Any problem?” She said bringing me back from my adventure of thoughts.
“No, there’s none” I said quickly and returned my gaze.
“Well, I’m Helen, from Psychology, how about you?”
“Oh, Tonio… Surveying” I stuttered. My mind wasn’t there and even if it was, I’m not just in the goddamn mood.
“You look nervous, what is it?”
“Or don’t you like me?” She said cutting me short.
“Whoa whoa, how can you say that, I don’t know you before”
“Is that why you don’t wanna interact, it takes a day for people to know each other, remember.” She said looking over the window of the shuttle.
“Bus stand! Bus stand!” The driver yelled.
“Stop I’ll come down here” she replied in a tone that seem more like a song.
She alighted and disappeared. I can’t bear the feeling of telling the mean-faced guy beside me stuffs like ‘Bros, I forgot my wallet for house, abeg you fit pay my T.fair?’
No, no, no! I don’t have such a liver that morning, no. We soon reached the last bus stop and the driver was busy collecting money and giving balance to due persons as I walked to the driver in a pathetic way to explain my fate. Maybe he’ll consider, maybe not, I don’t know. All I knew was that if the worse comes to worst, he won’t kill me; I’ll just be bathed with a sponge of disgrace and a shower of embarrassment.
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“Oh! A girl just paid for you. You can go”
“Ok alright” I zoomed off as though I would’ve paid if she hadn’t.
Damn, I know it was Helen, why did she pay for me? Did she figure out my situation or something? Were parts of the thoughts hovering in my brain. I wanted to make sure who really paid my fair but the shuttle has already gone, so I gave up the wild goose chase and headed to my department. It was 8:16am, sixteen minutes late. I was imagining how this professor would look at me through the space above his spectacle and utter some ill words. I brushed my face with my hand and scratched the little beards that were beginning to sprout below my chin. I reached the lecture room and the man was there already teaching and gesticulating like a choirmaster.
I and three other guys were standing outside because of lateness. I stood there for fifteen minutes or thereabouts before I got a tap on my shoulders. I turned.
Behold, it was Helen standing behind me and smiling like someone who stumbled on a British pound in a certain Buhari regime.
…To be continued
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