The sun is so hot it makes me wonder perhaps today is the rapture and the saints will be going to heaven as barbecues. Trekking the length and breadth of Agbowo has left my feet caked in dust; some has found its way to my spectacles, settling on the glasses like infants in their cradle bed. But hey, I can still see and my legs are not yet too heavy to be moved, so, Aluta Continua – victory is definitely not for today.
I decided to get a refuel max from this shop close to Libra Kitchen: two sachets of water. I gulped down the first and sucked the second to a half. I started sipping what was left as I scrolled through my phone. Which of these agents have I not called today? Agent No-Inspection, Agent No-Negotiation, Agent I-Have-Not-Even-Seen-The-House-Before, Agent I-Know-The-Agent-That-Knows-The-Main-Agent, and so the list goes on and on. If I got stopped by SARS, I am sure going to have a hard time convincing them I don’t work for the FBI.
Thinking about the terrible things I have seen during the course of this house hunting though, I wonder if I have made wise choices so far: what if I had just stayed back home; free accommodation and food, but trust my family to disturb my studies with errands and obligations. Moreover, what if the school eventually found a way to conduct the practical classes physically, do I start shuttling between Benue and Oyo states? Where would I rest my head? I had these thoughts in my head as I made my way to my friend’s place, where I hoped to get shelter over my head and perhaps grab something to eat. This friend’s name is World Best.
I met the door to World Best’s room locked and I knocked. He asked who it is and I mentioned my name. He asked me to show my face at his window, I walked there wondering what he is up to.
“Oh, it’s you. I can’t allow you to enter oh.”
“Ahn ahn! World Best, why nah?”
“You have not heard that COVID-19 is outside?”
“But I have my mask on and I have been taking precautions.”
“No oh, you can’t enter. I am sorry. They even say that a new variant has entered the country.”
“World Best, not even for old time’s sake? I just need a shade to relax a-“
His phone rang and he gestured to be excused. He picked the call and put his phone on loudspeaker for some reasons best known to him. The following conversation ensued and I was forced to be the audience right there in the sun.
World Best: Recte, Prof.!
Prof: Sapere Fons, World Best.
World Best: Good afternoon. Long time no see.
Prof: Good afternoon. Why have you not resumed academic activities like your colleagues?
World Best: Prof., with all due respect, I am bit offended that you are starting this conversation with that. I am still the best thing you can find around here; didn’t you hear that I have been recently recognized among the top 1% with the best scientific minds of the decade? What about those students I tutored last year that 46 of them had a first-class CGPA? Don’t you feel you should at least congratulate me for all these, Prof.?
Prof: Oh, sorry about that. Is that why you have decided not to come to school?
World Best: Well, not resuming doesn’t change my status as the best but I will resume soon.
Prof: If you knew you were not ready for resumption, why did you inform us that you are? Many of your lecturers are set despite the pandemic; some have even been sleeping in the lecture theatres, expecting you to show up.
World Best: There are protocols that need to be followed ma’am. I can’t just wake up in the middle of the night to resume.
Prof: Middle of the night? But you had a whole year free of any academic activities to yourself…
World Best: But we were in the middle of a pandemic, ma’am. I was also on strike…
Prof: So you had no plans of resuming when you went on strike?
World Best: There is a new reality now ma’am, things are not what they used to be. My parents have refused to send allawee for the COVID-19 safety measures and I need to set things in place to adjust to the changes the pandemic had caused.
Prof: Hold on a second, did you not say you have been recently recognized among the top 1% with brilliant scientific minds? All that knowledge, yet it is taking you forever to come up with plans for resumption while your colleagues have started academic activities in full gear?
World Best: Good things take time, ma’am.
Prof: World Best! Do you know if you had taken my advice on investing in your digital skills and taking your activities online, you would have prevented this waste of time?
World Best: As a woman of culture, I didn’t expect you to say that. You should know that all these online things can’t beat the feel of paper and pen on your fingers, but we just have to adapt and as I had said; I am working on the modalities. I am going to come up with nothing but the best.
Prof: Despite the hike in the cost of accommodation, some of us have rented an apartment in Agbowo and its environs just to make sure we are ready for you but you are wasting our precious time and your colleagues have moved on.
World Best: I will get back to you when I am done planning all that needs to be planned.
He dropped the call and I shouted World Best with the partial hope that he will open his door and save me from the life-threatening heat. He simply winked at me and drew down his curtains.