….written by Oyeoluwa
I woke up agitated, I was going to have the first test of the semester and I was still on my bed thirty minutes to the time. I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom, I remembered my dad telling me “A student that would fail starts failing from the beginning of the semester” I sometimes think of him and wish he never left, I am always tempted to think that if he didn’t die maybe life would have been rosier than how it was. I brushed my teeth and rinsed my face, there was no time for fine boy. I waved my mum goodbye and dashed out the house, she was in the kitchen trying to make breakfast and she yelled something that I did not hear, and it was neither my priority to know what she said. It was when I got to the bus stop that I realised I hadn’t combed my hair, I sunk my fingers into my hair and it felt like stone. At this point I didn’t care anymore, my only concern was how I would make sure my late hours of reading wasn’t a waste, it felt like everything I read through the night had vanished from my head. Just like that.
The bus from Ojuelegba to Yaba had started its journey and the bus conductor was busy collecting money from passengers when I dipped my hands into all of my pockets and realised that my fare was laying in my wallet on my bed. I looked at the conductor’s face and it was hard and hungry, he was busy arguing about a meagre amount with the passenger before me, and the way he raised his voice at that passenger only placed more emphasis on the doom I was about to face. I said to the passenger by my side “Please are you going to Unilag?” she smiled at me and nodded yes, and for a moment I was wondering why she was smiling, a stranger asks you where you are going and you just start to smile. I tried to relax by taking deep breaths in and out before I popped the question “Please can you pay my fare? I forgot my wallet at home while rushing out.” She just picked her purse and paid, she didn’t say anything, she didn’t even look surprised. I expected that she would be surprised and I took it as an insult that she wasn’t, it was until I tried to picture myself from outside my body that I figured I might actually look like someone that begged for fares on a regular basis.
I thanked her again after we dropped at Yaba. I let her walk ahead of me because I didn’t want it to seem like I wanted to talk to her even though I wanted to talk to her. She turned back and looked at me “Are you also going to Unilag?” “Yes” “How are you going to pay, I could help you” she said. The only thing I could think was Damn! This girl is an angel. I told her my name was Segun and she told me hers was Titi, and the rest of the conversation was just awkward.
I sat by her side in the university shuttle bus. I did not say much to her as I was occupied with trying to remember all that I had read. I thanked her again when I dropped from the Campus shuttle for paying my fare and waved her goodbye. When was the last time I ran? Was what I was thinking as I ran to the lecture hall. By the time I got to the lecture hall the test had started, and I was lucky I was able to sneak in without the lecturer noticing, but it didn’t make much difference as my test paper was the scantiest. I was only able to write my name and the question and submitted. I hastily left the class, I didn’t want to involve in all those ‘after test talks.’ I roamed the school for a long time and then decided to go home. As I walked home I tried to think of a worse day than that day, the only day that challenged it was the day I watched my dad take his last breath, and I knew deep down that no other day could be worse than that.
I walked down the streets of Yaba avoiding the hands of numerous sellers, the place was always rowdy with young sellers attempting to make you buy from them. I looked at one of them with angry eyes as he asked me if I wanted to buy gold, at least it is someone that wears gold that would most likely buy gold, and I wasn’t even wearing anything apart from a shirt and trouser. Ahead of me was a boy harassing a girl, I took my eyes away and then looked again and realised it was Titi. I could hear her repeatedly telling the Igbo boy to not touch and he kept touching her “I said I don’t want to buy” yelled Titi. I walked up to the young man and pushed him at his chest, he staggered backwards without falling and retaliated, and I fell flat to the floor. I rushed to my feet and watched the guy take to his fighting position, both of his fist stood defensively before him and I knew he was ready for a fight. I was in a deep mess, the last time I fought I was ten years old and that was twelve years ago. The wise part of me told to me not to fight that I had not eaten all day, but the primitive part of my masculinity was not ready to go down easy. I looked amongst the growing crowd for Titi so as to gain inspiration for the coming fight but she wasn’t there and at that point it was too late for me to back down, I tried to evade the first blow he threw at me, but the second punch was unavoidable and it made the walls of my belly to shake ferociously. I shrieked from the pain and fell to the floor. The Yaba boy was merciless, he just kept throwing punches at me and was saying “You think say you sabi fight, I go kill you today” I felt that if the crowd didn’t stop him he would have tried to kill me.
By the time the whole chaos was over I was the one crying, I had a swollen lip and a black eye, and the girl I was trying to defend had probably gotten home without any idea of the beating I took for her. I laid on my bed with ice block rolled in a towel resting on my lips and thinking about my day, if my dad was watching from the heavens would he have been ashamed of me, even though he was dead I lived with the consciousness to make him proud of me wherever he was. When I slept that night, Titi appeared to me in my dreams and came to thank me, she smiled cheerfully at me and hugged me and as she waved me goodbye I woke up from my sleep, and for the rest of that day, the only thing I thought about was how I was going to find and meet Titi.
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