It was a few weeks to the end of the second semester. Everyone and everything was in a frenzy of activity. Everything was on fire brigade mode; from students rushing to tidy up loose ends on their final year projects to indolent lecturers who suddenly awakened from their long deep slumber to realize that they were far from covering all their topics and therefore resorted to scheduling insane hours of extra lectures at all kinds of insane hours of the day. The frenetic and breathless pace of everything on campus was so palpable you could just reach out and touch the tension with your bare hands.
And so it was one Thursday afternoon, the chapel service had just been concluded, and the crowd began to disperse in small groups and cliques. I, together with my classmates in the Management and Science department, were headed towards an empty class which I had earlier chosen on the instructions of our lecturer. We were scheduled to have a few hours of extra classes in a bid to cover the semester’s scheme of work for Communication Skills II. I was halfway there when I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to carry my notebook along with me to the chapel. I turned and made a quick dash towards the hostel to pick up the notebook, leaving my roomie who I was earlier walking and chatting with.
After a breathless and exhausting sprint under the scorching August sun to and from the hostel, I returned to the class with my notebook in hand. I felt like I had received a two week dose of melanin within the seven minutes it took to make the sprint.
I walked into the class to find Mr. Ego, the Communication Skills lecturer droning and rattling on about “Minute Writing”, as the students struggled to suppress their boredom and focus on his monologue while battling the stifling heat of the poorly ventilated classroom. Apparently, a lot of them had failed in this enterprise which was evident by the vast number who simply turned to chat with neighbouring classmates or tapped away at their smartphones.
I found a seat in a far corner of the class and joined the futile struggle to stay focused on the mind numbing lecture. Even as I settled into my seat, I could already feel my attention drifting far, far away from the class. My mind settled on more urgent problems like: How on earth am I going to find money to cover my already spent tuition fees… How do I cope with my new health status…
I turned to the girl beside me and it was clear that she would much rather be anywhere else than in that class at that time, her boredom and frustration was clearly etched all over her face. In a frustrated whisper, I began, “I can’t believe Mr. Ego fixed a class on this baking hot afternoon.”
“Can you imagine that? After that incomprehensible Cost Accounting class with Deacon Efosa…” she grumbled back.
“I only came here to ensure that my name is entered into the attendance list. After all, I am very certain that no substantial question will come from this topic during the exams.”
“Are you serious? Did he say that?” Her eyes lit up.
“Yes, he did, when I went to see him in his office to ask him for a repeat of his explanation of the qualities of a good minute.”
I recounted my earlier encounter with our lecturer to her.
Me: Sir, can you come again with the qualities of a good minute?”
Mr. Ego: How many times will I have to tell you that you should either say ‘pardon’ or ‘please repeat’ and not ‘come again’?
Oh well, there he goes again, I thought as I mentally rolled my eyes from Evbuobanosa to the Kalahari Desert and back.
With a jolt, I was pulled back to the class when I realized that Mr. Ego had noticed my animated chat with my female classmate and had come straight for me.
Mr. Ego: Andrevn, weren’t you the one who said I should explain in detail the qualities of a minute? Now that I’m doing that, you’re not paying attention, you’re instead gisting with a woman.
Me: Sorry Sir, its Linda who has been distracting me.
I turned to look at my friend, whose eyes and mouth had widened in shock and anger. I silently apologized with my eyes as I wasn’t ready for the scene she would create once the class was over.
Mr. Ego: (now addressing the class) Do you guys know that Andrevn was in my office today?
My heart instantly sank into my belly to be replaced by a feeling of cold dread. I sensed that the next few minutes might be catastrophic for me.
He continued, “When he came into my office, he sat on the arm of my chair and cuddled me right there in the presence of your Miss Campus – what’s her name again?”
“Pretty,” someone in the class supplied the name of the recently crowned Campus beauty queen.
“Ah Yes, Pretty. So Andrevn came into my office and cuddled me. Pretty asked him if he was gay, because only homosexuals can sit that close to and cuddle a man. You should have seen the sarcasm and anger with which he replied her when he said, ‘Please, that question is insulting.’”
With a sinking feeling, I thought, Oh dear, look where my fondness for bearish, fatherly men has landed me. My face burned with shame and I desperately wished that I could be like Toph Beifong in the Avatar: Last Airbender franchise; I could earthbend and vanish into the depths of the earth, never to be seen again for cock’s sake. I forced onto my face a careless expression of nonchalance, occasionally forcing out a fake chuckle as Mr. Ego did an imitation of my gesticulation and body language. With a feeling of dread, I imagined how I would henceforth become the talk of the entire campus. Mine was a small neighbourhood-y campus and I had roommates and coursemates who had for long been quizzical and suspicious of my sexuality.
“He is one,” someone called out from the back of the class.
“Girl-boy,” another chipped in.
I could hear whispered taunts and murmurs begin to erupt quietly from different parts of the class. I steeled myself with a supreme effort not to turn around and seek out my tormentors. I however strongly suspected that one of them was one midget called William who had been junior to me in Secondary School and who felt that he knew enough about my life history to tell my best friend about my Secondary School days.
I am thankful to God that somehow, for the next three weeks during which time I finished my final exams and left the campus, the entire story did not go beyond the walls of that class. I held no grudges against Mr. Ego for nearly crafting what would have been my own personal Kito Story, he was known as a great talker and joker on the polytechnic campus and since he always gave me my beloved As in his course, I have only fond memories of him.
Written by Andrevn