Her Eyes

Heat swarmed him. His body felt like a grill. He pulled the curtains up and took three long breaths. He didn’t roll his cuffs. He didn’t kneel and sing five worships – mandatory before any service in his fellowship. He didn’t recall a bunch of scenarios where Jesus healed. He just breathed in and out and spoke.

eye

“HI,” he would say to her.

“Hello,” she would say.

“There’s something I have to tell you.”

The lecturer would tap on his microphone, calling the students to attention. “I believe you understand why we’re having a mixed level class.”

A yell of “yes.”

“Say it now,” she would say.

“Can we be friends?”

She would look him in the eye, transporting him with the softness in her eyes. He would remember he once told her, “I have seen the depth of the oceans in your eyes.” He would remember her smile, her teeth shining through her lips, like a flower displaying pollen grains.

He would remember so many things…

 

CLASS ended early the day they met. He left the workshop with his bag, dirty from being flipped by the supervisor, as he took to the sidewalks. He wasn’t taking the commute today. Some days you just had to pause from everything and think.

It was the message of the banner hanging from a tree. Think, Learn, Do. How that slotted in as the theme of a power-packed revival he could not figure. Another print hung a bit above, the white inches of the material shielding the fellowship hosting the TLD program. This one was a street selfie something. There were too many things to do.

He walked slowly, taking his time, checking his watch for each passing bus. He was checking the fourth time when her voice cut into his brooding.

“Six pages to all these nonsensical philosophies, and just a paragraph for Theism. Imagine that.”

“It’s getting to you,” another said. Had be a friend.

“It should, Debbie It’s frustrating. And to think the textbook is mandatory is just…”

“Just what?”

He had spoken before he knew. Four soles screeched on the concrete walkway as two necks made a half-circle rotation. Saving himself, he said, “Sorry. The school’s just like that.” Befuddled looks kissed their faces. “Hmm, I assume you guys are freshmen.” Debbie just contorted her nose in the ‘who asked you’ manner.

“We are,” she said. Her voice reminded him of someone. He’d assume so at first, but now, it came back strongly, like the scent of brandy.

“Your voice reminds me of someone,” he said.

“Hmm,” she said. Her expression suggested more words, but Debbie’s fingers settled in her palm at that moment.

“I guess…” He walked some paces, then said, “Please, buy the manual.”

 

SHE bought it. She did not register it.

“That’s the point of the purchase,” he told her. They stood outside the wooden structure of his fellowship, staring at the inside as dim as a cave. He’d spotted her while transcribing unto the projector.

“How long –”

“Six months,” she said. “I’ve always watched you.”

“What!”

“It’s hard not to notice your group,” she said. The blush on her cheeks faded. “I hope you aren’t thinking, ‘what type of girl is this?’”

“No, what, no.”

“Good.”

He stood behind the fence as she stepped beyond, waved and walked away.

They saw again on Monday, and for Bible Study two days following. She was early for the Study, as usual. “I skipped tutorials,” she said when he later asked her. He noticed her face was fixed on the teacher – not the way a lady watches the pastor as she plots his seduction, but the way a daughter watches her mother and takes note while she prepares dinner. She would occasionally jot, or say deep, or nod along. Once, he projected a wrong verse. She whispered. He corrected himself.

When service ended, he sneaked outside before unit meeting and thanked her.

“Slip me some skin,” she said.

He swallowed for lack of words to express his wide-eyed surprise.

“It’s something I picked in a book.” Then she offered her hand for a shake. He mumbled “Oh” as they shook. At first, he associated it with the church. Had to be because of the church. But then, when he shook hands with his unit head, and with the vice president, he did not feel the same tingle. And no, bolts weren’t loosening in his head. This girl, whoever she was, possessed something he needed, something being involved in too much activities was depriving him.

And get it he did. Every Friday. They gathered in the park – the park with machines abandoned long before World War Two, the park with holes that caved in to the pressure of praying knees, the park with shrubs whittling with each passing day. She chose an open space and wore skirt for each meeting.

“It’s dangerous enough that it’s just you and me, male and female,” she replied to his probing. “God gave us a new heart, but he didn’t take away our brain.” He began to learn other things about her – how she prayed for everyone she’d ever come across, – she’d say, “Lord, give hope to the woman who sells zobo at ETF” – how she took time with Scripture. “Rush through the word, and it’d rush through you.” She shared and he shared. She believed being full and being empty weren’t opposite, that the latter could stir a longing for the former. As hours ticked into weeks, she invited Debbie.

“She was curious,” she told him. “Had to bring her.” The next week, he brought his friend. “Meet Bode,” he told her and winked.

At times, the quartet held hands – one male hand linked to one female hand to zap out any stray feeling – and tongued. He looked forward to each meeting like a baby anticipating suckling. Once, Bode asked if it was okay to tolerate problems.

“Spiritual terms,” he said.

“Since we have all authority in Jesus name, why do we still accept some challenges as God’s molding.”

He deferred the question to her with his eyebrow.

“Answer it,” she said.

“You’re the worker,” Debbie quipped.

He did. He talked about growth – the necessity – and how it was impossible to grow if something wasn’t stretching the skin. He quoted from 2 Corinthians, the fourth chapter. Though she did not smile and pump fists, he knew in his heart that he did well.

“We shouldn’t call down fire at every challenge,” he concluded. They all clapped. If only he’d known.

 

“SHE…” Debbie’s voice – thin as flakes of snow – broke again. He could hear his heart beat against the phone.

“Talk to me,” he said.

“She had an attack.”

His brain went off for an instant. Then he was jumping into jeans and a polo. Halfway to his house, he remembered he hadn’t asked where they were. He hit call history and dialed the last number.

“Don’t take her to the health center,” he said as Debbie picked.

“What?”

“I’m on her way,” he said. “We’d pray for her and she would be well.”

“What!” A higher pitch now.

He considered the absurdity of the statement and ended the call with one tap. He hit the road to be met by an empty park. Where were the buses when you needed them? Jogging now, he called Bode.

They met at her hostel. Not signing in, they hurried up the stairs, flew down Block A, B, and C, reached C128 and knocked. The door answered to their second rap.

“Are you sure –”

He dashed in, Bode close behind. “Shut the door,” he said. She lay on the bed, arms spread beside her, legs closely together, like a woman sleeping into the heavens. He didn’t have to lean to know she wasn’t breathing. Partial loss of consciousness. The third resident in the room was already by her side, muttering.

Thank God!

A heavy hand banged against the door.

“Don’t open,” Bode said before he could turn.

Heat swarmed him. His body felt like a grill. He pulled the curtains up and took three long breaths. He didn’t roll his cuffs. He didn’t kneel and sing five worships – mandatory before any service in his fellowship. He didn’t recall a bunch of scenarios where Jesus healed. He just breathed in and out and spoke.

“In the name of Jesus, rise. Your asthma is gone forever in the name of Jesus.”

His lips closed far slower than they’d parted. The silence in the room could scare a cadaver. It was as if Bode and the other girls had stopped breathing. Even the security man paused on his oddly-paced cadence and seemed to listen. Three seconds dragged into eternity.

“Are you –”

“Sing,” he said. He looked Bode in the eye. “Sing.”

They sang “Give Thanks.” He closed his eyes and followed the songs, his lips not moving. He knew it would happen, yet his heartbeat came faster, like the drumrolls before a martial arts fight. And now, let the weak say I am strong. Let the poor say I am rich. Because…

“Of what the Lord has done.”

“Whoop,” Debbie screamed.

He opened his eyes. She was upright in her bunk, her eyes straight on his, a smile etched into her face.

THERE were consequences. The committee responsible for hostel and its security wanted to know what could have provoked such audacity. Luckily, one of the men on the panel was a praying Pastor. Another woman, moral and friendly, asked, “How did a 300 level guy meet a 200 level lady?”

There were punishments at the fellowship too. For going into a female’s hostel, whatever the reason was. He had to skip projecting for one week and join the prayer department. Once, he would have complained, but now, his heart just hummed.

At their next meeting, they sang and gave thanks and Bode shared how he was actually believing Scriptures. When they held hands to pray, he felt another tingle, the type he felt at the fellowship that day.

 

“HI,” he would say to her.

“Hello,” she would say.

“There’s something I have to tell you.”

The lecturer would tap on his microphone, calling the kids from both level to attention. “I believe you understand why we’re having a mixed level class.”

A yell of “yes.”

“Say it now,” she would say.

“Can we be friends?”

She would look him in the eye. “I would surely pray about it.” Just as his head would focus on the board, she would quip, “But it’d be interesting.”

And he wouldn’t remember a thing from the lecture again.

How You Know You Are Busy – 2

There’s a way every human knows something. Intuition. It’s like when Bode sneaks out to call his sister and says, “Dad’s mistress is around again,” and she says, “Why do you think so?” and he says, “Because I can hear sounds from upstairs,” and she says, “And you’re certain it ain’t mum?” and he says, “Well, it isn’t mum. I just know.”

idd2

I.

It is eleven in the morning. You know this not because you are looking at the time on your laptop screen, but because you know. There’s a way every human knows something. Intuition. It’s like when Bode sneaks out to call his sister and says, “Dad’s mistress is around again,” and she says, “Why do you think so?” and he says, “Because I can hear sounds from upstairs,” and she says, “And you’re certain it ain’t mum?” and he says, “Well, it isn’t mum. I just know.”

You pause and think about the ‘sounds from upstairs’. A smile forms on your cheek, but it lasts only a seconds – all it takes for you to remember the class by twelve and the fact that you’re sending the document to your father by six. The staidness comes upon you again.

You complete the paragraph and save, then exit. You haven’t forgotten the last time you assumed you saved. That day, you should have submitted two designs. You completed them. You absently pressed no when the software asked if you wanted to save. You had to spend a thousand naira on call cards.

And you lost the next job too, because your client spread the bad news.

You close the lid and place the laptop in your bag. Your gaze drifts to the hooker in your wardrobe. The hooker is simply a nail – a piece of nail you hammered into the graffiti-ed wall for hanging your ID card. The hooker is empty presently because your card is missing. But you know you would find it. You just know.

And it isn’t intuition. It is faith.

II.

You are early to class, because the girl you’ve been running from closes her note and moves towards you as you enter. She does that only when you are early.

The lecturer is teaching on Mollusca and Annelida, how the latter evolved rapidly and became the first coelomates. Or is it acoelomates? Your head begins to buzz. You drop your torso on the table and press a finger against your temple. A chair folds and another slams open. You blink your eyes wide.

The girl is next to you.

“Have you found it?”

“No,” you whisper.

“Don’t let it get to you,” she says. She isn’t wearing makeup today. Her lips are baby pink and soft. You entertain a fleeting image of your lips on her lips. Immediately, something whips your heart. You shut your eyes and pray.

When you look again, your rep has his neck turned backwards. “Emmanuel, your assignment.”

You hear a bang. You know it’s your head again. The ringing persists, bang, bang, bang. It’s your phone, not your head. The lecturer has drawn a hiatus on his teaching. His eyes are trained in your direction now. He starts climbing, one step after the other, his gaze inscrutable, his steps not tentative, like a gladiator going for the final kill.

“Let me have it,” the lecturer says.

You draw one hand over your lap. Your body feels like it’s on Mercury.

“It was me,” someone says. You know the voice. It’s the girl. She looks past you towards the lecturer, “My phone rang sir. I’m sorry sir.”

A harrumph comes from nowhere. The lecturer looks at the girl, shakes his head in the manner of, “I don’t believe you,” and returns to his post.

You look at the girl. You say nothing, but your mind thinks, Why would you do a thing as such? What if he’d seized your phone?

She says nothing, but her face reads, You know what I want.

III.

Your phone rings. It’s your Unit Head. Not the one in fellowship, but the one at home. You let the six bangs fade, then lock the phone.

“You should change your ringtone.”

You look at the girl. She’s been with you three hours counting. Spread before you is the complete material for PHY 102. You’ve been pursuing the handout with the zeal of a slave seeking freedom, and here it is before you, like wine brought to the king. But this wine has a condition. The girl.

“Should we continue tomorrow?”

She shakes her head. “Saved you in class, remember?”

And so what! But, you recall the chat she showed you – the lecturer had told her to keep an eye on you. He didn’t like you, and he would be glad to throw you out of his class, and possibly, out of his GP system.

Your hands shoot up. “Alright,” you say. “One more hour.” You breathe.

“One hour,” she says, “then we’ll see.”

Your phone rings again.

IV.

It’s eleven pm. The wristwatch says so. Your Bible is opened to Exodus, the twenty-first chapter. You consider your study rate. You’ve been on the book for twenty-eight days, averaging three-quarter of a chapter per day. That’s like taking one cup of flakes every day. Your spirit must be crying.

You bow your head and pray, then move to open the Amplified version on your phone when the beast in it comes alive. It’s your class rep calling this time. He doesn’t call you except to pass information or demand help.

You slide the green receive button.

“Emmanuel –”

“The assignment,” you say. “I’d submit tomorrow.”

“It’s not the assignment, guy. We have a test by 8.”

And your heart goes, bang.

“Hello?”

“I’d call back,” you say. You end the call and collapse on the bed. The foam feels like hardwood. You can feel tears tease your eyes. You sniff. You sniff again.

The phone rings again.

“I said I would call –”

You choke on the last word as your head comes to its senses. Your class rep isn’t the caller. Your father is.

 

P.S 1: I have really been busy. I’m not liking it again. I think I should just forget everything and sit with the laptop all day, crafting out characters. Maybe I should, err, elope? What! I’m not a bride. Anyway, I’d be putting up short stories here soon.

P.S 2: The image before the post is a work some freshmen in Industrial Design did. Took the picture in the dark, plus my camera was blurry, hence the quality. But then, it had me stop and stare. Model of a fountain was what they call it. I still can’t loop my head around the thought.

P.S 3: Thank you very much for reading. I mean, with my inconsistencies, you still read. So, thank you. Thank you for being a part of this community.

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. 

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. 

A Story From A Story

“He’s there.”

I did a half-circle. The boy was present, alright, but lifeless at it. Had I not watched him earlier, I’d assume he was a joker, a mannequin. His size hadn’t reduced, though. I decided to play on.

“You see him now?”

Clap, clap, clap. Now’s the perfect time for clapping, because I’ve got novels. 

In Monday’s post, I mentioned not having any book to read and how empty that could make a writer feel. Well, not anymore. I have thirteen novels now, e-books, courtesy of a mate. And to make the icing more lip-smacking, it’s the Left Behind series. 

To celebrate, I wrote a story. Off-the-cuff. I was thinking about being able to describe negative emotions and the lines I wrote about doubt to a friend. The rest is below. 

But, I ignored the rule of editing, so all errors should be forgiven. 

Enjoy. 

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The first day I stumbled into the boy, I thought he was gauche. The third finger of his left hand was completely tucked in a nostril. He looked at me and picked out residue, then tapped it away. Next, he tiptoed to the nearest table and, with all the force he could draw from his belly, – which was a bucketload, given his stomach was like a gourd, like stretched wineskin – he guffawed. 
A lady slicing into chicken almost fell off her chair, serrated knife tipped towards the boy. The boy was already moving. He’d found a table with spaghetti as the main course. As his eyes rolled, I observed something strange.

His stomach kept increasing. The faster the roll, the larger the growth. It was surreal, like a Star Wars effect. 
The boy stopped by a bald server and swept off a glass of wine. If the server felt anything, his expression didn’t reveal. The lady with a knife had adjusted. No one seemed to notice. 
I pulled up. The boy was twice his size. He’d grown as tall as a basketball center guard, and a blow from his leg would knock out a pro wrestler, no doubts. Yet, he was searching, searching for more. It wasn’t just food. Gold bracelets, fabrics with intricate designs, keys kept in holders, he swooped them all. He had no bag or purse, no hidden wallet, much like the disciples sent out to witness. But except disciples left humans feeling queasy like the humans ate maggot, this was no disciple. 
I approached another observer at the north of the hall. A dirge of a countrysong warbled through the hall. 
“Hey.”
“Hello you,” the observer replied. He was fondling a bottle of water, sealed. Didn’t look like he’d had anything all day. 
“You’ve been watching since.”
“Is that a crime?”
“Didn’t say so.” I wasn’t calling for a fight. “See, I’ve noticed something. Wanna seek your opinion.”
He was looking past me. “Say what.”
“There’s this boy who’s been taking others stuffs and no one seems to know.”
“I don’t see no one.”
“He’s there.” 

I did a half-circle. The boy was present, alright, but lifeless at it. Had I not watched him earlier, I’d assume he was a joker, a mannequin. His size hadn’t reduced, though. I decided to play on. 
“You see him now?”
“Hey, guy,” observer called. His gaze was fixed on the boy. “I don’t know who’s nuts, you or me. I’m looking where you said and I only see a family of six at a table. No boy packing other people stuffs.”
My lips parted slowly. A drop of spittle hung on the lower lip. “But…”
“Look, I haven’t had nothing all day. The food here wouldn’t satisfy me. If anyone is doing the packing, that should be me.” He shook his head and squeezed the bottle. I looked away. “I’d sure love to meet the boy.”
I turned. 
He was gone. 
Something blazed by, like a bazooka travelling at neck-breaking speed, like a maniac groom pursuing his bride. 
The boy was gone too.

As I wrote, greed kept ringing. Do you suppose the story portrays greed? Dissatisfaction? Comment your opinion.