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Monday, October 10, 2016

The Struggle: A Story part 4

Written by: Emelogu Godswill Chimaihe

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Part IV

“Good evening Chris”, your dad greets you.
You are shocked at the calmness of his voice. You had expected a venomous outpouring of an accumulated frustration precipitated by your near success syndrome. You didn’t respond because you think this might be a precursor to precipitancy.

“I heard these people refused to give you admission, notwithstanding the fact that you reached cut-off”; he continues.

He tells you to never mind, that your mum had suggested you apply to Abia State University because they just started a computer science department and is calling for supplementary application from those who passed JAMB.

It all appeared like a dream to you, you can’t believe your ears and your fortune. Your mum had done her magic, the magic that made your dad do almost everything for her. Only if you knew the formula she uses, you could have been controlling your dad like a sorcerer.

Your appetite becomes large and though you’d said you wouldn’t eat, you dashed into the kitchen, made a huge eba and ate up. You call Jane back and break the news to her, immediately you told her that you didn’t gain admission, she hung up and wouldn’t pick your calls henceforth.

This time around, your dad speaks to the registrar who was his classmate in Government College, and in the first list that was pasted on the admission board in ABSU, your name is number one on the Computer Science list.

You immediately call your dad to break the news. It isn’t news to him because the registrar had promised him that because your scores were high; your name would be on the list.

You make a last attempt to contact Jane to break the news; she wouldn’t pick your call. You text her and she wouldn’t respond, she read your 2go messages and still wouldn’t reply. You begin to wonder if everything was OK with her. But she updates her pictures and status from time to time, definitely she is OK.

In the night, you dream of your life in ABSU, in the dream, you were rushing to a lecture room, you hit your leg on a stone by the walkway and fall. People were running pass you and no one really cared to lift you up. You see Jane run pass and she wouldn’t even look your way. In the dream, your dad comes to you, looks you in the face and tells you “get up boy, no one cares about you here”. As he made to leave too, you wake up with a heavy panting.

Within this period, you are doing window shopping, awaiting the specified shopping day. Your mum insists she is going to shop with her only son. You think it is insulting to you to be shopped for by your mother. She comes with you anyway.

Dad wants you to stay in the hostel but you want to stay off campus so that you can enjoy the undergraduate life to its fullest. Dad tells you that for you to stay in an off campus facility, you would have to pair in a room with somebody because he wasn’t very buoyant at the moment.

He promises to put you up alone by the next session. Everything was agreeable to you as long as it overrode the idea of staying in the hostel. But because you resumed late, off campus accommodations are scarce. You continue to see leaflets and A4 fliers, advertising for roommates. They often drop their phone numbers so that interested parties could contact them.

You call a couple of them, they have been taken.

You are wondering why the hell they will not withdraw the goddamn posters when the rooms become occupied. You are sitting under the tree in the front of Lecture East, thinking what to do about accommodation; you have had to stay in Julius's room in the hostel since you started registration.

The dirtiness and odour of the hostel strengthens your resolve never to have anything to do with THE hostel.

Julius's room is one of the most decent. Double Two coached wooden beds with mattresses that could have been from before the Biafran War. These mattresses have maps drawn from whatever fluids their occupants had graciously deposited on them over the several decades they must have been used. Julius’ bed is old and rickety.

The ladder that is used to climb the upper bunk has two of its steps broken. To climb to the up bunk, you literally had to jump from the floor and launch yourself like a rocket into the bed. Julius would share this six springed bed with another person but either the bed-made had not been allocated or the person is yet to resume.

Before you launch yourself unto Julius’ old up bunk, you have to rattle the bed and this irritates Gabriel, one of the occupants of the down bed. His bed-mate travelled to have a surgery. For every attempt to launch, Gabby (as they called him) would hiss and curse, threatening to drag you down. There are six other illegal occupants of the room, you are the seventh. Seven of you, added to the eight original owners, makes up the room occupant to fifteen.

Everywhere is crowded. You had already lost your phone charger, your rechargeable lantern and your Bluetooth Headset. Julius jokingly tells you that you have to guard yourself well in their room or stand the risk of getting stolen. You are convinced that some occupants of that room or even one of them must have attended the “special pilfering course”.

As you make to leave, you hear one guy talk about wanting to go to the café to print an advertorial for a roommate. You confirm from him that he indeed needed a roommate who would preferable be from first year. That is you! He tells you to pay fifty thousand naira as part payment for the room which he claimed was rented at a hundred and ten thousand. Your dad sends the money and you pay. In a flash, you waved goodbye to the hostel and especially to Julius and his weird room.

The first week with Kalu your new roommate was uneventful. He was hardly around and you are beginning to enjoy his absence as it always gave you the peace of mind to retrospect.

Kalu featured as a carefree person who preferred to converse in pidgin. Your dad detested the pidgin English and barred your family from speaking pidgin and so your vocabulary was limited. You notice that he speaks in a certain way, something closer to what they use at the motor parks. But you want to believe that Kalu couldn’t possibly be a conductor.

He isn’t generally enthused by studying. He preferred to copy his assignments from others. He would always make calls to know which of his course mates had solved the assignment so he could copy.

Once, Kalu had come in late in the night, reeling of alcohol and cigarettes. He had quickly lain on the rug and in a jiffy was vomiting everywhere. He was overdosed. You mopped and cleaned. In the morning, he had apologized to you and asked you to join him once for the drinking spree.

They are free drinks. The drinking was every day and you could leave at will. The drinks were paid for in full. You wanted to know who pays for it and he asks you who pays for the rain that falls every day.

You had only tasted a beer twice and there was nothing special about the fuss around it; just a bottle of bitter liquid that made people silly and to misbehave. Kalu begins to tell you to mix around with people because the university was a strong place that required unity among friends with defined interests to succeed.

He tells you that no happening girl would come around you if you snooped around the school as a nerd. You had to be in vogue. You would want to have a decent girlfriend but not in the way Kalu presents it.

Then on Monday, you were just settling into the evening, writing your name on the books you received from the university’s General Studies Office. Kalu was on 2go, occasionally calling and laughing out to whatever was amusing him over the chat.

There was a loud bang on the door; you notice that the bang was systemic. Two large bangs and three drawn knocks. Normally, Kalu would keep quiet for about a minute, hushing you down, invariably trying to wear the visitor out into believing that no one was around and leaving.

Today, Kalu got startled and quickly hid his phone. He grabbed yours, removed your battery and hid it away too. He was about squeezing you into the bathroom when the door was opened. You forgot to lock the door. Three hefty guys were unmistakably escorting another smaller guy.

There was this sign of submission and terror on Kalu’s face as they came in. Their eyes were bloodshot with hatred and paranoia.
“Who be this”? The muscular one by the left asked Kalu, motioning towards you. You were about responding when you received a hot slap that sent you crashing to the bed.

Zig “Who be this”? He asked again, this time walking towards kalu. As he was walking towards Kalu, the one by the right grabs you by the waist and sends you crashing to the floor.

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