“Our mouths are dry like the sand of the desert.”
Tonia fakes a smile and replies, “Deiz no money on gwaund.”
The next minute, she’s escaped to (or has been captured by) her thoughts. She wondered if her ruddy-cheeked roommate can really relate to the fact that there is really no money on ground. She’s been pondering the options available to her, which are quite limited. She has to get money one way or the other, or she’ll forfeit her studentship. She checked her WhatsApp group chats at intervals, only to discover that the deadline for payment of school fees has not been extended. She hopes it gets extended, despite the fact that it doesn’t seem like that will happen. She can only hope, though. She’s trying to fight the temptation to opt for “runs” as a means of getting money to pay her fees. She might have to do that if nothing is forthcoming, and the deadline is not extended. She regrets calling her parents the previous day to tell them about her situation. It’s not like they don’t know she has to pay fees, and they would have sent it if they have it. Her mum told her that her brother had been diagnosed with cancer, and they’ve been running around to get the money needed for his operation. They just didn’t want to tell her so that she’ll be able to focus on her studies.
Ben, as he is popularly called, is a bright student. He’s one of the “greatest four pointers” of his department. He’s not sure he’ll be able to maintain that reputation at the end of this “virtual punishment” of a thing, though. He’s been combining working with schooling in order to make ends meet. He would have saved up enough money to pay his school fees by now, if not for the additional expenses he had to battle with. He had to pay almost double of what used to be the usual as rent. What of the amount he has had to spend, and still has to spend on data? Ha! e choke! He’ll never be able to understand why the fess and bess had to adopt virtual learning, after resuming months later than other higher institutions. Such institutions that resumed when the Covik-19 was still in its proud season even had physical classes alongside virtual lectures. Premium wahala for who dey attend Premier University o!
Tonia scrolled through the numerous chats on her class group, trying to see if she had missed any important piece of information. As usual, two lectures have dropped a total of 70 slides, as well as 3 assignments to be submitted the next day.
“It’s like these lecturers just automatically assume that because we’re having virtual classes, we must have all the time in the world at our disposal. Someone can’t go offline in peace even for 10 minutes,” Tonia lamented.
She sighted a poem that one of the scribes in her class sent to the group. It reads:
Dare To Be
The strength to smile
in the midst of the storm
belongs to the gods alone;
To shed tears in the rain is
a gift by gods bestowed on
the most feeble of mankind.
The strong – they die young;
The weak live – the live long
to tell the tale of the strong.
Tonia wondered what she’ll dare to be: feeble-minded or strong? She didn’t have time to answer her question as she sighted a new broadcast: the payment deadline has been extended by two weeks. Whether she’s a deity or a weakling; the gods have decided to smile upon her.