There is only one thing I trust in the world – my heart. Anyone who grew up with a mother like mine would have been taught well about such a mystery the human heart is. It is the most unrivaled engine room of man, working as a machine to test either true or otherwise the sincerity of his actions, the accurate rationale behind every step. Unfortunately, not many have been properly guided on how to sincerely consult this natural machine and so not many have had the privileges of exploring the stark advantages of this wonderful part of the human making.
That day, I was in the Patience Jonathan Girls’ hostel, to post my special article against our pernicious Students’ Union Executives, who have turned the whole affairs of our union into a business venture, rather than facing squarely the practical plans they promised during their Manifestos night. The write up was a two A4 paged note with letterings scribbled in Garamond Font of size 12, titled boldly “THE SUFFERINGS OF THE PRINCES” expressing my bitterness against the union executives and their ignoble actions so far in the semester. As I pasted, my mind ruminated on their various misdeeds and then the negligence of the general students concerning the matter. Of all things that hurt, the students’ dead consciousness topped the list. Why on earth should students be this quiet concerning issues that are very obviously bad? This doesn’t seem to me like the same school I walked into some two years back, with the most meticulous consciousness that was very enough to chase the slightest corrupt fly, a school that was too hot to bear the sights of obvious cheats, embezzling our money and flaunting high with new cars and exotic lifestyles. If the good old times would be brought back, comrades like myself must be very alert, up and doing through the activities such as the pasting of different releases, and the bold acts of publicly addressing students, inciting them about how the school used to be and how it has now gone bad.
I had pasted earlier at the notice board at SUB and some other strategic places near there, doing it very carefully, so that those who were enemies-of-progress like the union executives would not catch me and report me to their paymasters.
I was at the Patience Jonathan’s hall, posting my write up on one of the big black tanks behind the Block E toilet, experience had taught me that any write up posted on that tank would not go unnoticed by the several students who always walked by, and as such, it appeared to be a very strategic place to inform the students about the situation on ground. It was while applying wet starch mixture to the back of the paper that my eyes suddenly caught the sight of a lady walking by, she wore a short gown, it was obviously made of soft silk, and swished side by side as she walked, making every eyes bend helplessly in her direction, so it was not at utmost surprise for anyone to be caught intently staring continuously at her. Her laps were tempting to behold, even in that dark evening, the illumination from the fluorescents at the entrance of every door and the dimly lit sky reflected on her laps, and made it obvious.
She walked towards me, and stared at the content of whatever I was posting on their tank. I pasted the first page first, since it would be above the next page. I withdrew a little to observe if I hadn’t shifted hands while pasting and made it slant. Although, I also shifted because I wanted her to see.
‘Politics!’ She yelled disagreeably as she swallowed the content of my write.
‘Is it bad?’ I asked quietly, as if I was choosing my words. ‘Is it not obvious that this present union executives have failed us?’ I requested
She winced before giving a reply, ‘I have no interest in politics.’ She muttered and walked away, toward the tank, she went round the tank and I could hear her making a bending sound as if to take a pee.
Soon the sound I heard from the other side of the tank confirmed my guess, this damsel was not doing any other thing but taking a pee right behind the tank in between us. “Why on earth did she decide to do that right behind the tank? Was she deliberately trying to tempt me into peeping? Nooo, I have never been a peeping tom so there was no way I could attempt that, and besides, it was in a girls’ hostel, anybody could be watching me from afar and shout.”
My thought didn’t linger much before hitting conclusion – there was no way I could peep. I was pasting the second paper and trying to align it perfectly beneath the first, so that anybody reading would have no problem reading both pages as one piece coherently. My bottle of starch suddenly tripped from the tank top and crashed into the ground. I reached for it impulsively, so as to save the white liquid from spilling away wastefully, because I still had more than fifty posts to paste in the other halls. The bottle stubbornly rolled towards the gutter beneath the tank, and my hands raced towards it too, to save as much content as I could.
I must have been hell bent on getting that bottle, because when I heard the shouts of ‘You Pervert!!!’ It didn’t occur to me for some moments that it was against anyone around me. I stretched further to pick the bottle, and before I could look back into the clouds behind my head. I saw more than ten ladies already behind me. All staring repulsively violent.
‘Pervert!’ One of them kept shouting.
I stumbled up from my bending position starkly confused. The bottle of starch was now almost empty; I had retrieved it finally, but I had failed at saving the content, it now stayed faithfully glued to my hand like a faithful drink in the hands of his drunk or like it had never dropped from the tank’s top in the first place.
‘He was peeping at Toke, when she was urinating!’ One girl said in haste, followed by several supportive murmurs.
I was smiling at the misconception; I was in fact confused at how to coherently put my words together verbally so as to clear the air, but the more I tried, the more confused I get at seeing them charging violently more and more towards me.
‘Ma…ma…you need to…’ Maybe I was going to say, “calm down.”
A slap hit my head, and that was just the beginning. I was trying to figure out who among the ladies did that…but I heard different other violent sounds quickly, all in my direction and then I felt great pain, soon the great pain gave way to greater pain. Hands kept hitting me at irregular intervals. No one cared to listen to anything I said. In a flash, I saw myself on the floor, reeling in pain, and getting pitilessly kicked at every part of my body. I tried to imagine it, “Me? Peeping? – Never. I have never had the weakness for girls. Maybe drinking, yes, but girls? So no!”
I later didn’t feel pain, until whenever there was another kick or fist thrusting into a wound, then I’ll yell suddenly. But whatever I did or said in defense didn’t seem to work against the mob. They were a desperate set, I saw myself dying. I couldn’t escape death.
Whatever they’d do to me next, when they observed that I wasn’t moving anymore will not matter, in that dangerously quiet moment I heard my heart saying something quietly; ‘Josh, you are guilty of the crime.’ I felt mad at myself, could it be true? My bottle fell and I tried to save it, but could I have as well deliberately tried to stare at the girls’ thing. I tried to fight it, but this was my heart, “It wouldn’t tell you a lie, if you allowed yourself to listen to it.” – my mother’s words.
I was starting to reason along with my heart when my mind suddenly revealed the picture of me to me. A picture of some few minutes back, a picture which I’ll never have the courage to accept in the open. In it, I saw myself deliberately trying to shake the tank, so that the bottle would trip. I remembered clearly that I had been pretending to straighten the piece against the tank, but deep inside, I was hoping the bottle would just trip from the tank top and race into the gutter, and it did!
I had in between my pasting and bending tried to push the tank, so the fall of the bottle was deliberate, because I alongside hungered to see her – curious and hungry to see the careless girl. Now that was one sincerity that no one else in the world could tell me about myself. I was indeed guilty. It was a small, slightly unintentional impulsive guilt, but yes it was it. I was indeed guilty.
Maybe tomorrow, other students would speak in my defense. Who knows, maybe they’d consider the mob a violent chauvinist sect who still believe in the illiterate mentality of jungle justice, maybe they’d blame them for beating life out of an innocent student. But the real truth will always remain, I was guilty.
I wish everyone would sincerely check their minds concerning every matter, and face the truth, no matter how hard it is to swallow.