To a secondary school graduate, the university is a place he looks up to with eagerness. He hears about the unlimited freedom it has to offer and the first real chance of doing as one wills: party, skip classes, visit friends late at night et al. But then there is this huge barrier that stands between a secondary school leaver and the university- UTME
During my days, it was popularly called JAMB. They it was written without the aid of calculators, and you had to use a four figure table to check those logarithm and antilogarithm values for calculations. And there was the time too: two hours forty five minutes. The time was pretty short for the questions provided; four papers in two and half hours. Not forgetting negative marking too. It was really awful.
You should be able to quantify my joy when I checked my JAMB result a week after the exams, to see that I scored over 200. I had one hurdle more to scale before I access the unlimited freedom the university had to offer: Post-JAMB.
The Post JAMB wasn’t usually as hard as JAMB, and it was very easy to pass. All one need do was to study averagely for it, and then sit for the exam. My school of choice was very thoughtful: LAUTECH. It was a state university and I was an indigene.
Passing the post-JAMB was one thing, gaining admission was another. I thought my being an indigene of the state would boost my chances of gaining an admission into LAUTECH. Admission was rough and nepotism-filled, but in the end, I gained an admission to study a course I never dreamt about.
I bought the Post JAMB form when it opened for sale, studied hard for it (I didn’t want to play with chances, and I wanted to study Medicine and Surgery). Everything else was set except for my accommodation. LAUTECH is a non- residential school. Fortunately, one of my closest friend’s elder brother, Tobi, was running a pre-degree program then, so I decided to stay with him. Even though I felt convinced about the directions he gave me, my mother wouldn’t agree and she actually escorted me to school till I met him before she turned back. I was really a mummy’s pet then.
Brother Tobi took me to his hostel. It was one of those hostels that resembled an herbalist house. The corrugated roofing sheet was so rusty that I thought the slightest of wind would carry it off. The walls were made vibrated blocks, but they looked old and weak. I was scared, and seriously, I was dejected when he told me it was his hostel.
So I am going to sleep in this hut for a whole week? No way
I followed him inside the house. He was showing how caring he was by helping carry my luggage. I suggested we carry it together, but he insisted on carrying it alone. The luggage made his walk slow as he sort of dragged along like a cripple. The passage was dark. I mean dark like a moonless night. I followed him slowly in the back, fearful.
“Br Tobi, are you there?” I asked, my voice beginning to shake.
“Don’t tell me you are scared,” he said, giggling as he opened a door. Lights filled the ambiance immediately. The hostel was a simple house with four rooms, two on each side, and a passage with two doors. The back door was shut, hence the darkness. Br Tobi opened his room, the last door by the left. It was very simple. A table with overload of books on it; a hanger with few T-shirts suspended from it; a huge bed with a mosquito net suspended above it. The floor was bare, cracked in several spots, and it had lost it custom grey colour.
“Do you want to rest, or should I show you around?” he asked me.
“I’m still filled with energy, show me around.”
There wasn’t much to see. The best of the sights was the field behind the hostel where students played soccer in the evenings and on Saturday mornings. We strolled back to the hostel.
“I hope the hostel isn’t far cos I want to pee.”
“Oops, I didn’t tell you. My Hostel doesn’t have a toilet.”
“You don’t mean it.”
“Seriously, we don’t have. We just throw shot put”
“Shot put like the Olympics?” I asked, levelling my gaze on him, “Do you have that kind of field?”
He started laughing. At first it was light, and then the intensity got higher. I was startled.
“What is it Br Tobi? I don’t understand all of these.”
He stopped laughing.
“The shot put I meant wasn’t the Olympics. It means we throw shot put.” He saw that I was still confused. “Okay, let me explain better. When we feel like defecating, we do it in nylon, and we fling it over the fence like a shot put,”
“What,” I cried. “That’s illegal and barbaric,” I shouted.
“What is illegal, barbaric? Hmm, stay there. By the time the faeces hook you to stupor, you will collect nylon and throw shot put.”
“That’s awful. So where do you defecate? Your room?”
“No. we do it outside, at the back of the compound.”
“But anyone in the hostel can see you then.”
“Not if we use an umbrella.”
I squeezed my face with disapproval. “I won’t defecate till I get home,” I boasted.
“You’re always welcome when you change your mind.”
I smiled, and we walked to the hostel.
PS: Even though I disapproved the shot put of a thing, and I boasted I would hold myself till I got home. It turned out that I threw the shot pot everyday till I wrote my Post JAMB. That was the first and last time I threw shot put, but I can’t ever forget it.
Kay Greins… ©2014