Campus Saunters

When the loud meaningless sound on the corrugated roof subsided, I knew that the bullish rain had finally heard the acrimonious cries of the inhabitants of the earth. It had been raining all day with thunders that threatened to tear the sky apart.The heavy downpour held everybody back. We were imprisoned in our respective rooms.
Everywhere was cold and darkness had successfully settled on the surface of the earth. I could not believed it. If I had earlier been told that I would spent a whole day behind the door of my room. I gladly would have protested. I peered through the small window like those criminals in the black maria, watched the day grew older and older.
“Damn the rain!” I cursed.
White beans was the favourite food on Ekehuan campus especially in the boys hostel. It aroma could be perceived in every room and almost every minute of the day. It was our favourite because it was cheap and could be cooked easily. As usual, I ate the beans I cooked in the morning and climbed on my bed to say goodbye to the world. I said some prayers and I prepared myself for sleep. But sleep wasn’t just coming. The more I tried to close my eyes, the wider it forced itself open. The night seemed unnecessarily long. I got tired of laying down so I sat. I looked at my reading table hoping to find something to get me busy. Not even a pen was there. I remembered that I packed all my books inside a big Ghana-must-go bag getting ready to go home. I had finished my final year exams and I was waiting to defend my project before I said cheerio to Uniben. I stared at the bag for some time. The thought of opening the bag came to my mind but I sharply decided against it when I remembered what I went through packing it.
“Let me look round” I said to myself. Looking round was my hobby especially at odd hours. I liked the sight of Ekehuan campus when it was night. Lights of different colours and sizes luminated everywhere. The sculpted works that laced everywhere would assumed imaginary lives. I liked to visit mama Ekehuan. Every Ekehuan students liked her. It was a sculpted work of a woman who made pots. Also, in some secret locations, sons and daughters of Jezebel would be seen having fun. Yes! As in having real fun. Uniben was such a wonderful institution that everybody wanted to be. I climbed down from my bunk bed and reached for my slippers. I walked out of the room.
Everywhere was grave quiet. For the first time in a long while, the boys hostel was without its usual vibes. Block C used to be the baddest of all the blocks in the Nelson Mandela residence. And that was where I stayed. When I was posted to the block at the beginning of the session, I had fears. Friends taunted me. They told me how some bad boys would come into my room and made away with my foods and clothes and I dare not challenge them. This made me to want to change the block. I actually made the move, but the strict portals would not allow me so I left everything in the hands of God. As time passed, I fell in love with the block. The people there were lively. There was never a dull moment. There were students who would make noise from morning to night discussing frivolous issues.
The rain had stopped the noisy students from making their noise. The iron bars used for gym were laying helplessly on the ground. I walked up the deserted building into the long road that connected the hostel that was located at the rear end of the mini campus to where lecture halls were . Ekehuan campus was an unsong hero of the University of Benin. History had it that the prestigious institution started from that small campus. The campus was so small that all the students knew themselves facially and the few gifted students sometimes boosted of knowing everybody’s name. Theatre Arts, Mass Communication and Fine Art were the courses offered there.
The main road in the boys’ hostel was untarred. Flood covered it surface. I gently manoeuvred my way. Frogs croaked. The horrible croaks seemed to be emanating everywhere. I hated the sounds but certainly not this night. It occurred to me that the frogs croaked rhythmically as if choreographed. I hesitated to hear more of the croaks. I loved it. “Who else could have done that if not God”. Hmmm! “God is awesome” I concluded. I passed the gate that demarcated the hostel. The Boys’ common room was nearby, also deserted. I shook my head in amazement. I had never seen the common room in this desolated state before. There was no need to go inside it. So I kept on walking. Lighting flashed in the distant sky, behind the Almond trees in front of the popular cafeteria. The sight of it was so beautiful.
Without wasting time, I got to the front of girls’ hostel. The front of girls hostel usually had more crowd in the night than it was in the day. You would either see students in twos, a boy and a girl laughing and some worried looking faces of young men waiting for their babes to come out in their skimpy clothes. I used to be part of them anyway. Nobody holy pass according to my brother Tuface. This night was however different. Nobody was in front of the hostel. Such was the adverse effect of the rain that fell from morning till night.
“Aremo…Nwokwoma” A person called under the guise of the night from somewhere around the T-junction. This flattery words pierced my ears and brought me back to life. All these while, I had been mesmerized by the beauties of nature.
“Aremo…Nwokwoma.” The person called again. I needed not be told who the caller was. His rich Igbo accent said it all. Besides, he was the only one on campus that appelled me using that words.
“Professor Chukwudike one of Abba. I domo you sir.” I greeted as I walked towards him. DOMO was a common Bini word for greeting. Students used it among themselves to jokingly revered one another. Some students would anglicized the word by saying DOMOS or DOMOED thereby adhering strictly to the grammatical rudiment of tense and number in English Language.
“Aremo… Nwokwoma” Chukwudike sang with the words and swayed his small body to the rhythm he created. He was such a talented young man. I smiled. He had a way of making me to smile. I met him in front of Girls’ hostel. He carried books of different sizes coupled with an office file he tucked under his armpit. He managed to shake hands with me. Broad smiles rented our countenances in the process.
“This one wey you carry books like page boy so. Wetin dey happen na?” I inquired jokingly.
“Aremo… Something dey happen o. Na my project I dey battle since morning.” He answered
“So how far have you gone?” I quizzed.
“hmm! My brother. The Kingdom of God suffereth violence.” He interlocuted in his usual sarcastic manner “na Chapter One I just finished”.
“Really-”
“My brother… No be small thing o.” He cut me. He sighed heavily as he added “But one thing is sure sha, I will be through before the deadline for submission”.
“Professor Chukwudike one of Aba. I trust you.” I lauded him. He chuckled.
“How far with your own na. Na which chapter you dey now?” He interrogated.
“The man still dey fire me o. But na God go win sha.” I told him. I didn’t want to tell him I had finished because I didn’t want his praises.
“God go help us o.k.” He prayed. “I dey go hostel now. I don try for today. Goo-”
“Ehn ehn. Una don hear”. Ruth interrupted him as she walked out from the Girls’ Hostel. She held CASOR umbrella to protect herself from the tiny drops of rain that had started falling again.
“Hear wetin again O” Chukwudike questioned. He was obviously fed up. Uniben and wahala cannot be separated.
“Them say our project defence na this week. Them say na one short man dem go bring come to dey question us” Ruth revealed.
“who short man don hep?” I rhetoricized.
“Short man? He must be my brother because me self short. Short men no they harm themselves. It is in our constitution.” Chukwudike joked. Ruth and I convulsed into laughter. “It is good to be short oo” he concluded and turned his body like okoso. One of the books he carried fell. Ruth helped him to pick it up.
“Thank you. I will tell that short man to consider you on that day” Chukwudike said smilingly.
“But na who tell una say na short man be the external examiner?” I demanded
“I no no o. Na wetin dem say be that o.” Ruth answered. Dem say would never stop in uniben. Every great event in the school used to start with dem say. The dem-says usually emanated from those long legged students.
“Rumour! A coward dies many times before his death.” I teased.
“I dey fear o. I no want am. Uniben should let go of me”. Ruth confessed.
The rain intensified. Thunder struck in the distance. Chukwudike ran as fast as his small feet could carry him towards the Boys hostel. Ruth and I took cover under the metallic awning of the notice board erected nearby.
“Where are you going to?” Ruth asked
“No place in particular. I got tired of staying indoor. I just want to stroll round” I responded
“In this rain?” she shouted
“It wasn’t raining when I left my room. I will stay here till the precipitation stop” I interlocuted.
Hmmm! She sighed.
“where are you off to?” I asked.
“I con see if the woman wey they sell food for here come.”
“come inside this rain?”
” she does sometimes” she announced.
“what will you now eat?”
“I don-” Trinitrotoluene of thunder cut her short. She trembled as the thunder rocked. Two ladies that just strolled out of the girls hostel with umbrellas flawlessly placed above their heads scampered in different directions only to come back laughing at their follies.
“sorry dear”I said to Ruth.
“The thunder scared life out of me.” she confessed. I smiled. I was frightened out too. I manned up. That Thunder was apparently the loudest I had heard in all my life.
“Please go inside” I begged her.
“I will o” She remarked faintly. I watched as she dodged the potholes in front of the hostel and disappeared behind the walls.
I stood rooted under the metallic awning for the rain to stop. Alas! It showed no sign of stopping.
“I’m trapped” I told myself softly.
The rain grew stronger and stronger. Ferocious wind blew. It blew rain waters on me. The metallic awning cried helplessly. The clustering electric poles and the roughly connected cables of the nearby transformer sparked that ember lights fell off. Some of the lights in the girls’ hostel went off. The girls shouted in loud voice. I needed not to be told that they were not happy that the light went off.
Thunder struck again and again.
“I’m trapped” I confessed. The wind blew stronger and stronger. The metallic awning could no longer protect me. It needed protection too. My mind raced. The wind kept bowing rain drops on me. I could not bore the waters that blew on me anymore. I was getting soaked so I ran back to my room.
The end.



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