On the Sixth Sense and Other Things

Smile

I.

“That’s how they behave, those hundred level students.”

The speaker holds off your stare as if he expects a retort but is certain you can’t offer one due to the years between you. Four years, you recall. Four freaking ones between you and the speaker who has more wrinkles on his face than wisdom in his brain, and suddenly, you wish he didn’t make the statement.

Later, you told Debbie. “The best he could have said was freshmen.”

“Freshmen?” A small laugh. “Why? What difference does it make?”

You shrug, certain she can’t see your shoulders lift. “There’s something about the word. Freshmen, kind of hedges you into a box in which some certain attitude are expected of you. No one blames a freshman who discovers, a minute to class, that he neither knows what course he’s having nor the venue. Hundred level student means, ‘you are now a part of us.’ Like you’ve been accepted into the pack and have matured from the box.”

“I assume this is purely objective? Not relative?”

“Simple words, Debbie.”

Another small laugh. “I mean, it’s your own opinion? Not a universal idea?”

“Not like they use hundred level student in the states,” you say.

“Wait, you didn’t say what you did.”

“What?”

“What’s what? You had to have done something wrong.”

“Well…”

“Well?”

“Get to school first,” you say.

“Cheeky.”

“I’m serious. When are you coming?”

“Soon.”

“Could be –”

“Anytime. You are a writer and a science geek. Draw an estimate of when soon would be.”

“That’s not –”

“Talk to you later,” Debbie says. A tone chirps. Call ends.

You set the phone at the edge of the bunk and set your arms parallel to each other, your eyes glazing over the textbook, your breath as even as the pace of a brakeless sedan. You begin to hyperventilate. I’m hyperventilating. I’m gonna have a heart attack. Not that sweat is breaking off your face or you are twitching, but you just know. It’s something the writing maestros call…

The sixth sense.

Goes like, Jack could swear he heard the door hush open as he poured a glass of drink or when the boy woke, he knew tragedy had struck. Yes, his roommates were all asleep, their snores a symphonic melody, and his fingers had not been chopped off, but he knew something terrible had happened. He just knew. Said boy then climbs off his bed, lands with one palm facedown, lifts the palm to see it’s soaked up blood, bulges his eyes as he spots a trail of blood coming from the window, holds back a scream, and checks his nearest roommate to find a pool of blood around his neck.

When said boy would be asked how he knew someone had died, he wouldn’t say, “I just knew.” Instead, he would say, “I woke like it was a normal day, got down, yawned, whispered a few prayers, made a mental note to call my class rep, noticed a pen was on the floor, bent to pick it, and lifted blood.”

It is so easy to lie, to twist statements in reported speech. It is so easy to dodge out the sixth sense.

II.

It’s half an hour since you started thinking of the sixth sense. Half an hour since you denied your MTS textbook a touch. Half an hour since you called Debbie and told her about the curmudgeon final year brother.

Your phone chirps. You know it’s Mother. You just know.

“Hello.”

“Something bad happened.”

“Ma?”

“How are you doing?” she asks.

“I’m alive. You were saying –”

“Are you in a class?”

“No ma,” you say.

“How’s school, fellowship, friends…?”

“They are all good. Ma.”

Only when she keeps the questions rolling do you realize something bad did not happen. It was just a play on your mind.

“I’m feeling a bit somnolent,” says Mother. “Can I call back?”

“Yes,” you say and end the call.

You climb down the bed like the fictional boy would have done. Inside your backpack is a book. A higher education note. It’s filled with over five hundred words, dating back to the days you never assumed you’d be a hundred level student, days when you didn’t know zilch about writing and Debbie. You slap a page open, then another, until you arrive at the word.

Somnolent. A bit of drowsiness. Whoa. A surprised air settles into the room. You trace down, to curmudgeon. A crusty, irascible cantankerous old person full of stubborn idea.

Not allowed. You hold the book and silently say, not allowed, because you’ve read a few many blog posts by professional editors who often speak about writing in simple, comprehensible terms. They normally end with, “the adverb – and adjective – is not your friend. Except you intend producing a potboiler.”

So, silently, you remind yourself that you cannot, in any event, slot in the word curmudgeon in a piece of writing because it has three strange qualifiers in it.

Slowly, you return the book and crawl back to the bed, suddenly moody, and totally not intending to wash it off.

A minute later, you count the number of adverbs you used. Five. Very good, writer.

III.

When Debbie picks, you say, “You are on your way.”

A pause. “How do you figure?”

“Sixth sense.” You can be honest with Debbie.

A small laugh. “Hmm.”

“Seems you plucked off a habit during the strike period.”

“Which is?”

“Small laughs.”

“Hmm. I’d mull on it.”

“Mull.”

“Means meditate. Can’t believe you don’t know the word, a writer.”

“I’m a writer, not a litterateur.”

Silence. Static air creeps into the call. “A writer of literary works,” Debbie says.

“You cheated,” you retort. “You checked the word on your phone.”

Another small laugh. Guilty, guilty.

“How about excogitate?”

“No idea,” she says.

“Means meditate. Mull.”

“Touché,” says Debbie. “Sacrilegious.”

“Synonym of blasphemous. Cretin?”

“Idiot. Arcane?”

“Meant to be secretive. Same as –”

“Esoteric,” Debbie says. Her voice drops. “I think we should stop. I’m beginning to get this weird looks from passengers, like I’m Soyinka’s distant niece.”

“Uncanny would be a suitable word.”

“Yeah, definitely. Creepy. Uncanny. Weird. Outré. Gotta go,” she says.

“Yeah. See you in a trice.”

“Get off,” she says. She laughs.

You end the call and start laughing. A roommate pokes his head and watches you, his eyes twisted in a way that suggests uncanny. Yeah, definitely uncanny.

P.S: Thank you very much for reading. What do you think about the picture? Does the emoji justify the absent M in smile? There’s a micro post on my Instagram page where something’s said about it. You can check it out here

Advertisements

How You Know You Are Busy 

The beep-beep comes again. Softer this time, because it’s WhatsApp. Your mum. She wants to know if you’ve completed the research she asked of you. Your fingers fly off the keypad and unto the phone as you punch a harried response.

I.

You wake with cramps in your biceps. You feel like you just pulled a freight train across a field stretching 1,000 miles. You lift your neck to turn at the window and hear a crack, like the nerve connecting your torso to your head just snapped. You run your hand slowly over the back of your head and bring it away wet. And clean.

No blood.

A sigh escapes you. You notice the wetness extends down the front of your arm, slipping over to your open palm. You shrug and roll off the bed and stop at the last second, just before you fall four feet. You remember then that you aren’t in the king-size bed at home, but a hand-me-down, please-manage foam, and you’d have landed with your head had you not halted.

You remember a lot of things too.

You remember that your tutorial manual is squeezed against the wall, the way a man’s face might be wrinkled if slapped by a door. You remember that the tick-tick-tick reaching you is coming from a clock your roommate found at the physics lab. He’d placed it over the slab above your closet to alert you when morning breaks. You squint through the glass panes and catch the sun scudding across a clear sky.

You jump.

You land with your palm facedown and breathe. Breath. You remember that you need to breathe often, that a pile of clothes is squeezed under the wooden doors of your closet, that the smell wafting into your nostrils is from the clothes, that you just sent a pot flying when you jumped, and the pot contained oil-stained water, that you still haven’t attended your assignment, that…

Breathe. You are remembering too much. You shut your eyes and breathe. Breath.

II.

You stare at the screen in shock. Two messages glow. The first is an alert. A credit alert. You know the fee just zoomed into your account, somehow. The whole shebang you charged the man. He surely crossed the border of your agreement. His words dilute with your thoughts: 60 percent upfront, the balance later. And here, he’s sent everything.

You scroll to the other text. You see the man’s name: Mr. Adebayo, and forget to breathe. Or maybe the room is drained of air. Maybe the woman hovering at the marker board has evaporated the gaseous content of the room with her incoherent explanation.

She’s saying something like, “Boltzmann’s constant is…” You lose the rest of the sentence. Her name is Laide. But you call her Dr. Laide, with the doctor boomed over the Laide. You are used to it, the weight tied to titles on this side of the globe. Your heart goes icy when she walks towards you. Her eyes are on you, as if she’s the mind-reader in X-men. She smiles, a grin that says, “I’d get you.” She walks straight past you like you are just a molecule.

You don’t blame her. There are over 500 in the lecture theatre. She probably would be incapable to place your face. You love it that way – the unknown student.

A beep explodes from your phone. Your reaction is reflex. Your left hand bolts and slams down on the speaker. You freeze in that posture. No one turns your way. Heaving, you review the text. It’s from Mr. Adebayo. He’s awaiting your response. But you can’t think up one. You don’t know how to reply this notification.

I need the design in three hours.

III.

The second finger of your left wrist is dead. Feels dead. You drag it across the mouse embedded in your laptop as you modify a circle. Get an external mouse, your friends had advised. You’d refused, the way a fly refuses to heed instruction before it ends up in the liver of a monkey.

The beep-beep comes again. Softer this time, because it’s WhatsApp. Your mum. She wants to know if you’ve completed the research she asked of you. Your fingers fly off the keypad and unto the phone as you punch a harried response. You are barely done when another one chirps. Class rep.

“Emmanuel, where are you? I’d be submitting the assignment by four.”

Your brain bursts.

Your eyes flit to the analog clock embedded in the top right corner of the laptop. 03:28. Thirty-two minutes before you mail the design. Exactly the same time you have to complete your assignment and get it across to the rep.

You race to your closet, grab the manual, rummage for a pen. You settle down by your workspace and scribble through. The answers come to you the way a newly-wed would go to her husband. You are done in seven minutes, saving three. You call a colleague and meet him at your doorway. He disappears with the assignment.

The time is 03:44. You work like a mad, irritated tiger. Another beep. You do not check. You flip your mouse to the pentagon tool and draw a star. You paint it with colors. You are still amazed at the wonder of graphic design and Corel Draw. You complete the flier design just as the last second dips into four pm.

Your phone beeps. It’s angry. Like a boxer losing control. You slide to receive. Mr. Adebayo rushes through his words, as if he’s in a mental institution and cannot be caught. You nod and close Corel Draw. A dialog box pops up and you press, ‘no’, absently.

Mr. Adebayo says, “Is it ready?”

“Yes. I’m forwarding it to your mail –”

A chirps ends your sentence. You scroll to the file containing a few designs and click the most recent one. A blue circle swirling informs you it is loading. You breathe. It feels so good to breathe again.

The page loads. Your eyes bulge. The design is incomplete. Your brain jogs down the last few minutes. And then, like the finger of God taking a peek at you in a stormy night, you remember…

You did not save the design.

****

P.S 1: This kinda reads like my typical day, save I still get a gob of things done. 

P.S 2: There’s no image. More on that in future posts. 

Knowledge,… Huh,… Fear 

Walk to a library or bookshop. Skim a section you wouldn’t stumble upon if you were in blindfolds. Pick a book. Read in a posture unfamiliar to you.

​”He who reads lives a thousand times. The non-reader lives a measly one.” – Paraphrase of a famous quote. 

Today, I called at the library. It was not a first.  The sun had resumed and a passive wind blew about. Outside, students wandered in flocks, throats gurgling with anticipation, with zeal, with a certain fear of the unknown.

Two buildings towered opposite the library – a techie theatre and a computer center. (Notice the alliteration)? The theatre, a gray edifice seated on an uneven patch of grass, drew few heads. The center did. Once a while, a pinch of undergrads would trip out from the north side and would immediately be buried in a sea of students-turned-reporters. The question? “What came out in your exam?”
Can we ever avoid fear? Not all the inquisitive students were unprepared. I can testify of a twin who read till they misplaced each other. Yet, they panicked. Noticing the unpleasant trend, I slipped into the library. 


Nothing had changed since the last time. Not the porter’s desk that curved like a sharp arrow. Not the male cloakroom littered with a gob of black bags as if they contained secret documents. The man behind the desk was bent on a recent newspaper. He acknowledged me and… 
I was in. The air in the general reading room was redolent of a ghostly silence, like God demanded it. I paused for seconds, then ventured in, two steps, before veering left. A leather chair smiled at me and I smiled back. “No, thank you. I would not be tempted to sit and doze away while my mates are writing exams.” The space allotted for books were stuffed with mahogany shelves, the distance between each allowing room for one athletic body to weave his way. I went past the first two as if they did not exist. Then, on the fifth, and with a lot of zigzag motion, I discovered a treasure. 
Are your eyes popping? They should. The treasure was not the typical chestnut gleaming with coins, but a paperback coated with Spring dust. I walked to the carrel and picked a specific chapter. And my brain opened as if in a cooling system. I read about genes. I saw the 46 chromosomes in every human. I studied the soft blue eyes of a patient suffering Downs Syndrome. I exchanged words with Genghis Khan, the famous – maybe infamous – Indian warrior. 

If you haven’t attempted this, do. Walk to a library or bookshop. Skim a section you wouldn’t stumble upon if you were in blindfolds. Pick a book. Read in a posture unfamiliar to you. Read, letting each letter bloom, as if you don’t need the knowledge. What happens is that your head and heart synchronize like you’re witnessing the rapture, and your eyes soak in data at a rate the fastest computer can’t match. Don’t think about the subject being absorbed. Try to yield to those unexpected burps. Laugh and shriek like Brad Pitt stopped by your house. 
It was awesome. It was riveting. Really, we’ve deprived ourselves of so much by turning away from books, or grabbing them for the sake of examinations. While I boast many more e-books than the printed stuffs, nothing matches the pleasure of holding a book. 
I would eventually leave, but those moments are wedged in the unknown places of my subconscious. I returned two hours later and surveyed three chapters of No-Tech Hacking by Johnny Long. The information would come in handy, I know. 
It’s evening as I punch these words. An uncertain, calming breeze lifts nylons on a baked pavement. I concluded the rereading of Divergent (e-book, as hoped) some minutes back. I still have exams this week, and I’m not in the top ten Dazzling Minds yet. 
However, this I’ve learned – we can not avoid fear. But we can overcome it. It’s a running theme in the Divergent series. And besides, we can do this in Christ. It’s always a simple step of coming to Him. 
P.S: I intended writing about knowledge, but, huh, fear poked its face. So, it’s two tastes in one serving. Think about knowledge. Think about conquering your fear. 

My phone didn’t tag along, so the picture credit goes to Ted Dekker’s Facebook page. Thank you for reading. 

Block F 

​Ugh. 

Exclamation expressing disgust, horror or recoil, says Wordweb. Disgust is not what I feel. Neither is it recoil or horror. Perhaps ‘ugh’ covers it best. It’s like having prayed and prayed till the point of being drained of words and all you utter is a full sigh. Like fetching bucket after bucket into a plastic barrel and then heaving at the last pour. Like punching keys away through the night then hitting the nearest couch for four hours – waking and giving a long druggy yawn. 


That’s how the past few weeks have left me. Without syllables. Imagine that predicament for a writer (and we all are writers, we don’t just face the work). I’d go through each routine while humming, “I’m going to sit my butt and write. Really am,” like the grasshopper making mental notes to gather food against winter only to find itself starved then. 
Over the weekend, something happened. So many things. And one of the results is this – blogging. No, I didn’t forget the need to blog, or how to write. Neither was I deprived time. I just couldn’t put together a blog. Well, not anymore. This one is called Block F. 
The block has no entrance or exit, bordered by intertwined steel wires with holes tiny enough to swallow a newborn’s fist. It has to its left Block C and Block D as rearguard. A trail of white paint runs on all four corners of the block.
A boy comes out of Block D, wearing dark shorts. His face, hidden in the darkness, is pressed into wrinkles. His shirtless tummy is as flat as the decrepit land before him. He takes a step and coughs. He spits loudly into the gutter, taking in the splash. Another fellow grouches, “you people are the ones keeping this hostel dirty.”
The boy closes up to the guy, one hand balled, the other balancing a bundle. The grouch quickly looks away and retreat, bread and beancakes in both hands. He must have had too much, the boy concludes, while he is in dire need. The boy watches him disappear and hisses, then clears his throat and spits again. It’s a missed shot. The boy steps over the pavement supporting the walkway and is hit with an overdose of howling wind. He doesn’t shield his chest. 
He takes another lazy step. A mass of white light blinds him. Sheathing his eyes, he gathers his bundle closer. The lampbearer is now at him. He mutters a weak, lifeless, “sorry” and is in Block B in an instant. The boy considers trailing him, dragging him by the neck and beating him to excitement. He lets the thought fade. Wind picks intensity, accompanied by rumblings in the sky, like a kettledrum cadence. 
The boy smells rain. 
He hastens steps, crossing patches of grass before arriving at the concrete floor. He unties his bundle and retrieves a thick cotton which he spreads slowly. He picks the only other item in the bundle and lays atop the cotton. The boy steps back, assessing, like a mason supervising a project. He smiles. He steps on one end, facing his entry point, and goes on his knees, as if participating in a liturgy. He utters no words of reverence. 
He doesn’t know when he sleeps off. His last thought is the rain been like drops from an Alaskan river. 

Monday Morning… 

​ 

 I remember Monday morning precisely as Ben Carson recalls the day he separated the Binder twins. I remember it like Ted Dekker cannot forget the day Black was published, like Science cannot forget the day Newton’s laws were postulated, like Music cannot forget the day Hallelujah chorus entered our world, like a prude recalls with clarity the place where she had her first sex. 
  Monday morning did not start at 12am or 6am. Perhaps the time is of no importance, for time is a subject of perception. Nine minutes and eight seconds to a grammarian wouldn’t be defined the way a physicist would define it. 
  It was three forty-seven in the morning, second hand ticking twenty when my eyes, heavy as a detached leg of an elephant, shifted from the clock to the sheet spread before me. My eyes weren’t heavy because I lacked sleep. They weren’t heavy because I had the previous evening. 
  They were heavy because I had worked them. 
  The entrance to the room was steeped slightly upward. I stared at the vast of black sheltering the compound. To the left were decrepit structures with jutted roofs. These structures displayed wares for fourteen hours as students trooped in tiny flocks to see to their needs. These structures fed families of twos and fours, and the woman with child. 
  Ahead, a field coated with dry cement swallowed a respectable segment of the floor. Invisible white lines bordered all sides of the field. A pole swayed in the center of the field, bearing a halogen lamp. The lamp was not functioning. 
  The sky was stuffed with stars impossible to count. I buttoned up to prevent an onrush of wind slamming against the exterior of the room. A tag scribbled in bold fonts spelled READING ROOM. 
  Movement behind had me turning. None of the fourteen students – all male – had changed positions. The boy with the KEEP CALM shirt was still lost in his letters. Two rows ahead, another sat with mouth so wide it’d swallow a basketball. Spittle hung on his lower lip. 
  I walked over to my wrinkled drawing sheet and smoothened the tuft. Though disturbed by the howl, the beauties constructed in thin lines, thirteen of them, held my gaze. As I considered, I spotter angles that had required patches and manipulations. 
  I recall all these for it was Monday morning. Monday morning was the moment you dragged a bag to the floor, not minding the scattered contents. Monday morning was the moment for sorting out assignments from notes, like the Shepherd does sheep from goats. 
  Monday morning was the beginning of five days of intense, choky learning. 
  This Monday morning, I couldn’t help but not be afraid. I had, after all, spent 25% of a day working constructions. The week would be windy, a stretch, but I’d survive. My fingers would not bleed and my eyes would not fall out of my head. I wouldn’t call black grey or label a banana as cereal. 
  So I believed. 
  It is Thursday now. The sky is overcast with mournful colors. I watch a Camry teach a bus lessons on road swiftness. I’m walking along the concrete pavement that extends the length of the tarred road, thinking about the day before. I cannot recall in staggering details the things which have shaped me these last days. I cannot begin to tell of the habits, the irritations, the lad who plays flute at a quarter to midnight…
  I do know with all assurance that my eyes, heavy still, are yet to fall off my head. In this do I delight. 

Dear Young 

News of your admission to college came to me like a lover receives the proposal of her partner. To say it gave me great joy would be to repeat a quotidian phrase, but as you’d learn in the journey you are set to embark, nothing is absolutely wrong or perfectly correct.

Hello. For today’s post, I attempted writing to a younger me. As I’ve overtly suggested in the last two posts, I’m in school. So, I penned to a fictional me the things I’d have loved to know. 

Here it goes. 

********

  

Dear Young, 
  News of your admission to college came to me like a lover receives the proposal of her partner. To say it gave me great joy would be to repeat a quotidian phrase, but as you’d learn in the journey you are set to embark, nothing is absolutely wrong or perfectly correct. There are thick and thin black lines, white lines, gray lines, and brown ones. The play is yours. 
  You requested that I give you candid advices as you prepare for resumption, well aware I once maneuvered this road. Not so off, but I should warn you. Never engage this method with anyone. Now, the response. Your brows are arched, right? Your lips are knotted in a bewildered smile. I urge you, listen. 
  The ancient ones quipped, “Experience is the best teacher.” Without permission, I modify. “Experience is a masterful tutor, appropriate for some specific sessions.” One of such is being a Freshman with the intent of obtaining a degree. As you balance bags on both arms, your pocket jammed with bills, let thy head remain blank. 
  I know, I know, you’ve been choked with warnings and stories and rumors. “Remember the son of whom you are.” “Try as much to avoid relationships in your first year. The foundation must be solid.” “Discover what works best for you and stick to it like parasite to host.” “Cut frivolities.” And the one which always beg a grin. “Don’t join bad gangs.” All commendable instructions, but… 
  Dump them in the bin. Loll in the backseat as you’re driven to the park. You might be fortunate to leave late in the morning. Don’t struggle to catch an interstate bus – and you may if you wish. They say you don’t sleep when making your first trip. Please, do, like a baby overwhelmed with love. Get snacks and drink to satisfaction. Take a silent belch. Alight with grace, then take a deep breath. The first human you notice must enter your diary. 
  During your first week, you’d be hit with a streak of surprises. If you had taken the advices of elders to heart, your reaction would likely be irritation. If you didn’t, your reaction would be awful wonder. When you stumble into the hostel’s kitchen and meet the sink clogged with brown soapy water, strands of noodles and sachets of paste, shut your eyes and turn slowly. Try to stifle the grouse. Attimes, you’d be in a hurry, perhaps a mistimed class or a formalty meeting. Those are the moments you practice rinse-and-spray. You have no business with the bathroom on those days. These are the things experience alone teaches. 
  If you ever considered yourself an academician, prepare to be dwarfed. If you thought you weren’t dotty towards intense studying, know you’d meet more passive students. Lectures? Stab as much as doesn’t pile towards a negative effect. You might wake one hot afternoon and discover your ears were deaf to an assignment, cross the ocean if necessary, but get it done. 
  Last I remembered, you were pretty inclined towards fashion. Hmm. Snag your seatbelts, cause you’d be schooled on dressing. You will be out under the walkway at noon, bent over your dirty laundry. You’ll raise your head and notice two guys. The first will be clad in track pants, a gray vest defining his torso. He’d run a thick comb through his hair, sweeping every last tuft. He’d make a sideway spin, brushing his beards. As he observes every ritual, you will run your imagination loose. You’d note he cares more about the message he communicates than his outfit. Then, you’ll realize the other fellow is cloth-concerned, his black trousers a bit large and his baseball cap totally not it. 
  You’d have had a bout with envy prior to this new phase, but the form which awaits is the other side of envy. Here, you do not long for the branded belt of a roommate or an icy drink a classmate consumes after a stuffy class. Rather, you’d lust after mental things – the accuracy of a mate’s construction, the tongues of the midnight prayer warrior, the skill of the boy next door. Ever had an affair with worry? School would cleanse your blood of it. 
  I suppose I’m exceeding the expected length. There are a lot of things yet to be scraped. In one sentence, discard all Advice, including this. If there’s one thing I’d strongly recommend, it’s life. Get the life into your system before you set foot in the institution. With that, you might fall, but you’d not collapse. You’d be weary, but you’d faint not. And God-willing, you would read the second part of this letter when you complete the course. 
Till then, 

Your friend, 

Michael. 

*********

Comments? Opinions? 

On Being a Student 

Originally made for two, then converted to six, the room harbors ten bodies. They lay on mattresses as the sojourner makes his entry. His legs feel drained of blood, and a push from behind would have him tumbling. The sojourner is not so tall and less favored in body fatness

Hello Blog-world. Trust your weekdays were awesome. Mine had me pressed against the corner at a spreadeagle posture with my torso twined like a flexible mannequin. 

Anyway, weekend starts in an hour (as I assume) and what better way to part the grand curtain than a piece. 

I wrote this yesterday, pent up with fatigue. I attempted peeking into my thoughts – ever done that? – and penned the sights, sounds, and emotions. Stuff is, we don’t really see ourselves till we seek. Hence, God alone knows the heart… 

Thwack, thwack. Digression. The piece shoots off in the next paragraph. I also added a picture of me – I’m not big on them. From the best I can summon, I pray a rewarding weekend for you. Stay meek. 

***********

Office.

About sixteen boys are pushed in a random queue before the door. A blue plate is pinned on the door, with the occupier’s name chiseled in block fonts. A man appears and orders three in. The remaining boys scamper past wooden stools to a larger entrance. The man takes four steps. A week’s worth of stubble festoons his cheek. He’s telling the remnants the difference between university and secondary school. They are as silent as the dead. 
Class
The book lies at centerspread. With the tip of a blunt pen, the writer churns away. Her eyes do not shift from the figure manning the stage. The figure is draped in an oversize shirt. To say he’s thin would be calling a tornado a slight storm. The hem of his pants jump to reveal sun-beaten ankles. He drops the marker and steps off the dais. The girl with the book stops writing. She doesn’t raise her head. Just as the figure approaches the girl, a thunderbolt strikes. The room is ghostly quiet in one minute and awashed with surprise the next minute. Two students are at the stairs, panting. The door is still swinging from the outburst. No one says anything.

Walkway 

Bunches of bananas are arranged in semicircles on a rusted tray. The girl kneeling at the tray is only slightly bigger than a bunch. The senior walks past the fruits, takes a pause, and drops his head backward. He turns slowly and considers the forest-green fruits. The girl springs like an exploded canister. She grabs two bunches and draws the senior. A mate passes and urges the senior to purchase. His brows arch and his stomach grumbles. A hand goes into the pocket. The pocket swallows two-thirds of the arm before spewing out six ruined notes. The girl before to grin. 

Road

A pavement, solid concrete, extends the length of the tarred passage, cut off only occasionally, in the event there’s a roundabout. One of such is marked in black and white paints, like a zoomed zebra crossing. It runs behind foggy bushes, arriving at West Gate. The gate is controversial, choosing to stay closed some and part wide some. On the other side of the road, tall trees sway east to west at the smallest breeze. The trees stand in proximity to each other, forming a frontline attack and a rear guard. In between, all that is expected is present. 

Room 

Originally made for two, then converted to six, the room harbors ten bodies. They lay on mattresses as the sojourner makes his entry. His legs feel drained of blood, and a push from behind would have him tumbling. The sojourner is not so tall and less favored in body fatness. At times, he walks straight, like a parading soldier. Tonight is not one of those nights. Two of the occupants have mouths parted to exhale, the release filling the room like the grunt of a sow. The sojourner drops his items and slugs off. 

Participant  

It’s half past five in the morning. Before me are the rigid tasks for the day, not different from those undergone the previous day. I yawn, lift my lower leg, and sleep off.