Tales from the Den

I was beyond happy. It was written all over my forehead that even the blind could see it. I sprang up from my bed and dashed to the living room to announce to my parent the good news

“Dad! Mum!” I called out the moment I entered the living room, ” I just saw my name on the admission

list. UNN finally admitted me!” 

I announced, jumping up and down in celebration. They were happy for me; it was visible in their smile and subsequent hug.

“You made me proud!” Daddy said. I was glad I made him proud after so many years of disappointment.”

UNN here I come, medical laboratory science thanks for having me” 

I thought to myself as I walked back to my room smiling sheepishly back in my room, I flaunted my Facebook timeline and WhatsApp status with the news of my admission. My “frienemies” needed to see for themselves, that I wasn’t the failure they mistook me for. They will as well need to know that I will soon leave the “hood” and join the moving train, straight to campus. University campus at that!

That sunny thursday afternoon, uncertainty hovered around as fear gripped me and led me by the hand through tension as I walked into “crystal cyber”. It was my fourth time of coming to that centre to register for jamb. I had turned a regular customer, whom the staff and management expects to see
come register for the annual exams anytime the examination body opened their portal for application. Amidst stares and incoherent whispers, I held my head high and kept my cool, registered for the examination and left for home. I vowed that I would make it this time, come what may.

I sat for the exams and when the results was released I had scored an outstanding score of 286. I went to Jupiter and back. I felt on top of the world, everything at that moment was revolving around my bum-bum. That was my first time of dinning with success, after so many years of sitting on
the same table with failure, facing each other. Pride came in and sat with me and even when I went for UNN post utme examination two months later, it still stayed with me. However, when I came back from Nsukka for the post utme it had departed, failure was now sitting with me, smiling down at
me. I scored 243 and an average of 264! I was downcast. Fear made me pick up my rosary and soak it inside water. I had to go spiritual, and It did yield positive result!

The night before my departure to Nsukka, my cousin, Cindi arrived. She had  also gotten law in UNN and was on her way to Enugu from Zaria and was asked to stop by our house in Abuja so we will both go down to the east together.

We both sat at the varendah of of our house discussing until the bird chirpping at the far end of our street went to sleep. Our discussion sailed from the event of our childhood days, when we travelled to our hometown -Agulu – during the long vacation of 3rd term for “august vacation” and whenever it rained we would dash into the rain on our birthday suit with children of our age grade amidst threat from our grandmother that we’ll catch pneumonia,which we payed no listening ear to.

We laughed over this. We discussed our secondary school days and teachers who were not intelligent enough to teach but took up the job. She was about explaining to me what she had also gone through in the hands of jamb when mummy asked us to go to our respective rooms that it was late.

The next day, the sun sat dizzily in the sky that morning as though it had laboured itself the night before. I packed my clothes and other stuffs I felt will be of use to me in Nsukka and brought it outside and dropped it at the foot of daddy’s car. I helped Cindi with hers, too. In no time we were set.

Neighbours came around to wish me journey mercies and success in the university. Some young male folks in the “hood” came around to see for themselves, the beautiful girl, my cousin, who just arrived the “hood”. ” dem no de use ears hear say fine girl de hood”. We were done and almost set to leave when mummy drew Cindi aside. It took the continuous blaring of daddy’s car horn for mummy to release her.

As the bus that was taking us down to the east accelerated on, overtaking slower cars, Cindi faking a frown lamented over the series of boring sermon that streched into long hours she suffered in the hands of her parents and when she thought there’ll be no more of such, mummy came with hers. She narrated that in the early hours of the day, mummy came to her room advicing her on what an what not to do. 

“…Face your book!, don’t allow boys deceive you!” She said. 

“I’m like your mother, so listen to the word of my mouth and hearken to it”. 

She didn’t leave until when the first cock crowed.

“Were you subjected to such long ours of sermon? ” she asked, her almond-shaped eye searching me.

“No” I replied, dryly, looking away.

Why would parent choose to admonish their daughters and say nothing or some few words of admonishment to their son. This is segregation! Just likemummy – she only said to me when I was struggling with pulling my travelling bag 

“Tobi, when you get to school, don’t chase girls! Read your books!” And disappeared into the warm engulfment of the kitchen.

She couldn’t even wait to see my reaction.

We soon arrived Obollo were I was to alight and enter a bus that would take me to Nsukka. I waved Cindi goodbye as the bus zoomed off, headed to Enugu. In no time it was lost and swallowed by the far distance. I arrived the university hilly town of Nsukka when the sun was beating off the cloud aside and running lazily to the west so it would retire for the day. 

The park was filled with people, mostly freshmen struggling with their luggage. I looked up and across the road the school shuttle painted green with a touch of white were parked meticulously in their numbers with conductors shouting “campus! campus! campus!”. 

I dragged my luggage with me and managed to squeeze myself into the back seat of one of them. In no time, we were inside the campus. I was greeted with confusion the moment I alighted. I stood transfixed watching people walking up and down, everyone minding his/her own business.

“Where is the school’s boys hostel” I asked a boy who wore a smile on his face.

“It is close to GS building” He replied.

“GS building? Where is that?” I asked, with confusion evidently crisping the lines on my forehead.

“You see that road” he said pointing to a straight road lined with tall trees,

“You’ll see it down the road by your left” he instructed and then walked away.

I followed his directive only to get there to discover that the young man directed me the wrong way. I asked another person for directions. This time I made sure he wasn’t wearing a smile and he did direct me the right way.

When I arrived the hostel, my olfactory was embraced by an odour that would comfortably kill a goat. The building smelt of neglect and old age.I went straight to the room I was assigned. I was still greeting those I met in the room when my phone buzzed. I glanced at the screen of my phone and discovered It was Cindi. She had called to inform me that she had arrived Enugu.

After the call, feeling tired I lay on bed with my eyes moving about in it’s socket darting from one end of the room to the other. At the far end of the room, someone, certainly a former occupant had written on the wall 

“Oringo was here “. I smiled in my mind.

“I’ll do that, but not on the wall of my hostel. I’ll write my name in gold in the sand of time” I assured myself, and drifted into wonder land, thanking God for bringing me into the den of lions and lionesses.

FICTION

AZUBUIKE IMMANUEL

© November, 2019.

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