Volte-Face: Dilantiating Dilemmas


It started like this: I had just gone back to school after the Christmas break and I wasn’t really excited to be in that toxic environment again. So, you could imagine my joy when the school authorities told us that we were to come back home because of the increase in the stupid Covid-19 cases; only it wasn’t stupid anymore; it was a good thing for me. 

Not letting a day pass, I packed my bags and took the first available bus from Ogun State back to Lagos. The indefinite holiday we had been given surely meant going out to party and having fun with all of my friends without actually worrying about classes. I suddenly wanted the pandemic to last for a while. I needed a break, and I was finally getting one.

A few weeks passed and I could have sworn that God sent the pandemic just for me and I was going to use it to my advantage. I was going to have fun; I had even made out a list of my plans for the days to come. My list didn’t come in handy though, and I couldn’t carry out my ‘year-long’ plan because we were going on lockdown.

While I was unhappy about the lockdown, I tried to be positive, at least I was still at home. Besides, just two weeks and I would be back on the ‘streets’ with Bisola, doing whatever I wanted. Till then, I was just going to take a break from fun (if there was anything like that) and I was going to keep up with the outside world with my phone. It couldn’t be that bad.

My new plan was to stay at home and do nothing but then I saw the different pictures and videos that Bisola posted of her flexing and enjoying life. It was then I realised that nobody was really following the rules of the lockdown and there was nothing stopping me from going out.  

On a Tuesday, I dressed up, picked up my bag and was about to head outside when my mother stopped me.

“Where are you going?” She eyed me, taking in my outfit.

“I’m going to see Bisola.”

“To do what?” At this time, she set the beans she was picking aside.

“We are going out.”

“See this girl oh. You didn’t hear that there is a lockdown?” 

“Mummy, nobody is really following this lockdown stuff and…” I stopped my sentence when she stood up from her seat and gave me a stern look.

“You are not nobody, you are my daughter and my daughter will have to follow the law. Oya go inside osiso! You won’t bring corona to my house.

“But mummy!!” I found myself rushing back inside after my statement when she bent down to pick up her slippers.

I was never one to sit and stay; I liked having that sense of freedom and the lockdown was taking it away from me. Suddenly, the pandemic seemed stupid again. I had tried different ways to escape from the house, to leave the house and just go see a friend or two, but my mother wasn’t having it.

I tried sneaking out when she was asleep, but even the gateman had been given instructions to not let me out. I felt like I was going crazy. I had no siblings to keep me company, and I needed to communicate physically with people my age. Communicating over the internet didn’t seem to suffice any longer and my mother just didn’t want to understand.

I thought it couldn’t get any worse, nothing could have possibly gotten worse than the government continuously elongating the lockdown but it did, it got worse. Three weeks into the lockdown and I discovered that there was probably no chance of me going out to flex even after the lockdown because my school decided to have a virtual semester. 

I had no idea what to feel about that at first; it was either good because I didn’t have to run around in the toxic school environment, going from one building to another, or it was bad because it meant having no chance to do the things I wanted to do without worrying about grades.

The first week of the semester, nothing really happened, same with the second week. Hardly any lecturer held any classes; the online school activities that took place were almost to a zero. I thought it was going to be like that for the rest of the semester, but the third week came and all hell broke loose. 

The lecturers stormed our lives with a lot of work, trying to make up for the two weeks they had wasted and it didn’t help that the remote learning was something we weren’t used to. Neither of us (lecturers nor students) were good with the whole remote learning thing, but that didn’t stop them from throwing an even bigger workload on us, a workload that even when given during physical classes, we would have crumbled under it.

On Zoom, I got into trouble with Mr Akere who penalised me for annotating. I had no idea how I was doing that, but I still had to beg knowing the man would have done more than logging me out of the meeting.

To me, the virtual semester was supposed to be easy; easier than the physical classes. But then, opening my book last week Saturday made me realise just how lost I was. The lecturers barely brushed the surface of what we were meant to be treating, and when I tried to make sense of whatever was going on, it wasn’t making any sense. 

Reading doesn’t come as easy as it came when we had physical classes; I’ve been inconsistent with my reading. Maybe it’s because I was at ease at home and so I didn’t really put much into reading. Whenever I try to read, it’s then my mother would want me to do this or that for her or when Bisola would think it right to call me.

Today, I opened my book with the determination to read, and then came the splitting headache. We had gone far with the syllabus, yet what I was seeing in my book was foreign to me. The first tear dropped, and the second, and then, I became a crying mess. Nothing was making sense to me. It felt like the exams were the next day and I knew nothing. Everything seemed scattered at that point; nothing seemed right. I felt like I was going crazy, if not because of being cooped up inside, then surely because of the school work. I had deadlines to meet, yet I had no idea where to start from. 

The remote learning is something I wasn’t used to, and I had no structure or routine for it. I know I need a structure, but I have no idea how to go about it. 

As I cried, my mum came in to ask for something, initially oblivious to my dilemma. When she saw me crying, she panicked and came to sit beside me on the floor.

“Ada! What is it?” 

Her eyes were wide like saucers, her hands clutching unto my shoulders.

“Mummy, I don’t know,” was my weak response.

“You are crying and you are telling me you don’t know why. Answer me joor!” She was getting agitated, and I knew there was no way I was getting out of that situation without telling her.

I told her everything: how I was feeling suffocated in the house and by my books. I thought she would brush me off and make me feel like I was being dramatic and crying for no just cause, but then, there was really no harm in telling her. Truly there was no harm. Upon hearing about my dilemma, she agreed to let me go out the next day for a breath of fresh air.

I didn’t really think my outing the next day or the day after did anything to make me feel better, but I wanted to be grateful to my mother and so I told her I was okay.

Three weeks later, and it was time for the virtual exams. I still hadn’t fully gotten my structure; I didn’t fully have my routine but at least I had gotten somewhere. I had read to some extent and had gotten some insights into what we were dealing with. I had that, and Bisola, who sat away from my webcam during my exams. Maybe I did not do exceedingly well, but I must have done well and it was all that mattered. Besides, there was not going to be a repeat of the virtual semester, I won’t have to go through the stress of the remote learning again; that was another thing that mattered.

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