Many weeks ago, I had an unsavoury experience. Before I narrate my ordeal, I forbid, on your behalf, that such should happen to you. Perhaps, when you are done reading this, you may have a different view from mine as regards this. Nevertheless, that is unlikely to change my perception of the whole issue. The very day this happened, I knew there was no way I could possibly do without writing about it.
I had a very strenuous time in school that day- something not so rare in our universities. Now, I wouldn’t like to bother you with details on the cause of the strain. It’s what most people know already. If you do not know, I would advise you to take the next UTME and apply to any Nigerian university. If God so blesses you and you are admitted, your travails start during the screening exercise and can only worsen as lectures begin. Partake in a practical or two, then you would know that hell may after all not be the worst place to be. Hearing a report is never as real as being a witness; only the one who beholds with his own eyes holds the fact. But then, I’m not complaining. Many have braved these odds already and succeeded. It would be only cowardly of me to seek for improvements. My father has not raised his first son to be a coward, so I shall hold my peace and suffer in silence. Complacency.
I walked out of the school gate at about 5.30pm on that day. Yes, I remember the date now. It was the seventh day of the seventh month of this year. How would I forget such a perfect day? Omojuwa even made the day somewhat memorable. Well, right outside the school gate were several fruit vendors, whose enticement I always fought hard to overcome. That day, I gave in to temptation again and stopped by the stand of the woman who sold bananas. I bought a bunch. A friend of mine with whom I was going to the hostel saw that and kept quiet. Then my nose caught the whiff of maizes being roasted. My head turned instinctively, and right beside me they were. Another irrepressible force drew me, so I bought a cob of roasted maize as well. I was about moving on, determined to resist other temptations, when my friend caught me by the arm and pleaded that I should buy for him too. I did. I felt my pocket and shook my head after buying for him. I was fast losing a lot of money. Poor me! “Never would I fall into this temptation again,” I said to myself. Deep down within me, I knew it was a vain utterance.
The walk down from the school gate to my hostel would take fifteen minutes. My friend must have thought that was too long a time for him to salivate while his hot roasted maize got cold. Therefore, he brought it out and started munching voraciously as we walked along the street, eliciting sounds of satisfaction as he devoured it. A cultured gentleman that I was, I knew it was wrong to eat while walking on the street, so I didn’t join him. Halfway home, he said something about how the maize was the most delicious he had ever eaten in recent days. That whetted my appetite. I threw manners to the wind and brought out my roasted maize. My first bite confirmed his words. Yum-yum, those roasted cobs of maize must have been the next sweet thing God created after bread and tea. I would patronize the seller the next day.
As I was savouring the delectable taste of my roasted maize, every other thing seemed inconsequential to me. In fact, I reluctantly moved out of the way of oncoming vehicles. I didn’t care if someone thought I was mannerless because I was eating corn along the road. Also, I was not in a hurry to finish mine like my friend. Such delicacy should be relished in no haste, for one might not come across a fresh and uniformly roasted ripe maize like that soon.
I was too busy with my maize that I hardly looked up, incredulous as it might seem. Then someone walked into me, or I walked into someone. It wasn’t so clear. It couldn’t have been. And up my sweet maize went, becoming a projectile, drawing an arc in the air and nosediving towards the tarred ground. My reflex went into action, hitting it back up just in time to save it from crashing. Gravitational force joined in the conspiracy to dispossess me of my delicacy as it pulled it downwards again. I swung into action one more time with renewed agility to save the maize, binding in my mind every demonic spirit that was bent on spoiling my pleasure. This time around, I caught the maize midair. I was about jubilating that I had triumphed over powers and principalities that attempted to snatch my roasted maize from me when it slipped off my hand, fell on the ground and rolled into dirt. Oh, my God!
I wanted to go after it, pick it up and blow away the dirt, but, as soon as I saw that all eyes were on me, I stood still and watched my maize roll lazily in the dust. I gnashed my teeth and clenched my fists. A lady walked past me with her hands covering her mouth, trying to suppress her laughter. I restrained myself from slapping her head and yelling at her that I actually bought that maize with my money.
Maybe if I had waited until I got home before I started eating my maize, maybe if I had ignored my friend’s mouthwatering comment about the maize, maybe if I had kept my manners, maybe… just maybe I wouldn’t have lost that maize, that sweet roasted maize that had cost me a fortune. Ah, I lost a lot of money!
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