Mide crossed the road, it was as busy as always with cars racing and blasting their horns like in some kind of altar call. It irritated her a bit. It was 5pm, she was back again to this dry place after a hard day at school. ‘School’, the word rang a bell in her head and it turned her stomach, she saw right ahead of her as she entered the narrow street a huge truck with the words MAJEKODUNMI boldy written on it. E le yii dunmi ooh! She thought as she shook her head, bit her lips and wanted to cry. Anger and bitterness flooded her heart, it was hard looking for whom to blame, her school principal with his overbearing attitude, the exam board or even the University ruling house. She had no idea where that silly but costly mistake came from and it hurt her more whenever she just pondered on it.
First of all, she had waited two good years at home doing practically nothing but a wild goose chase called the American visa. Useless people! I really don’t know what’s wrong with all their paparazzi, she thought.
The first time she applied, the tongue twisted white woman asked her how old she was and she had replied with ‘ I am fine’ thinking she had asked ‘how are you’ oh silly me! She scolded herself.
Mide remembered demonstrating to Mama by holding her nose, trying to talk through it like the white woman, she let out a small painful laugh. Then after her secondary school education, just about the time Ma will return home, she had applied again, there were endless interviews and visits to the hospital, they didn’t want you bringing diseases into their beloved country and the bald head white man at the desk who thinks he is a psychic or something had eyes on all parts of her skin, like watching her every move as if wanting her to fret and make silly mistakes, as if she wasn’t already fretting inside and trying to hold her cool because she felt like knocking him on the head when he asked ‘ when was your mother born?’ Who ask such in this kind of condition? What if she don’t know or can’t remember?
Mide yelped out in pain, she had hit her toe on a stone and the pain sank deep into her bones and was as if it swarm through her veins and flowed right into her heart. She wanted to pick up the stone and break it into pieces but she moved on. ‘Good evening’ she greeted a familiar face as she opened the newly painted black gate, she could see Mama sitting on the pavement as usual praying with her tesuba. ‘Eku le’, she greeted in Yoruba and headed straight to the room. Mama would be expecting news, she had bad news and a bad mood, she knew she would snap at somebody soonest. ‘Ba woni’, she asked when she came inside, ‘well, it was fine but I have issues, ‘They said I am unregistrable. ‘I don’t understand’ she replied in Yoruba, Mide started getting irritated and her voice started to rise, she explained, a sign of an impending cry.
She had done so well in the post JAMB exams with a 73 score beating the cut off mark of 70 and had topped the merit list for Communication Arts, her joy knew no bounds when it came out in the newspaper, she hadn’t seen it but James her ex boyfriend had, she has collected the paper and kept it in joy. Everyone was happy for her, so she thought. When her dreams and hopes of schooling in America had been dashed, Mide found the courage to pick the pieces of her life back together by bracing up for JAMB. Aunty Ayo’s advice paid off, she had adviced her to go through a centre when Mide stubbornly wanted to study on her own.
The advantage of this centre according to the sweet mouth owner, Mr Samson was that they help secure admission into one’s choice university by making sure one pass examinations. At first, Mide didn’t see how that was possible except through cheating and paying people off, she was particularly concerned at the money Mr Samson’s centre requested, to her, it was just like thievery. What are they teaching? During her WAEC examinations, there were cheats everywhere and exchange of money, it got Mide so pissed she couldn’t concentrate when she hears
‘Number 1, A’
‘Number 2, D’
‘Number 3, C’
They call it giving help to their
candidates or school but Mide disliked the whole idea because it doesn’t challenge her nor test her capability, it doesn’t make her feel she merits her own scores and it doesn’t add any worthy impact on the student as a whole. Back in S.S 2, some of the girls termed Mide’s refusal to give them answers to questions in test or examinations as wickedness but she sees it as Examination malpractice and she would have none of that, infact, if she were an external examination officer, many students and their schools will be in trouble and they would hate her for it, she would care less because she knew she would be training them to become better. What is bad is bad and should be treated as bad and unacceptable. Funny enough, writing WAEC examination was tougher because whether one liked it or not, one would join in the malpractice by fire or by force and there was nothing to do about it.
Unfortunately in these days, she would have to cry more or be strong, after being declared unregistrable candidate due to lack of a particular subject amiss needed for the course ( looked like the WAEC people hated her guts and finally succeeded in eating up one of her subjects) along with Dora, a new Jambie friend she made, they had both cried until they were asked to write a letter for change of course to another suitable department to the University ruling house, writing the letter and submitting for feedback was another drawback experience as Mide kept going day after day checking if she had been fixed up in another department.
And while she did that, she went to offices of family friends who could help her predicament but that proved abortive. One particular Doctor of philosophy called the University ruling house admission office on her behalf to see if she could come to philosophy, whatever he called for, he later didn’t help, whatever reasons, only God knows, she thought. The registrar of technical school was even worse because he just kept sending her back and forth after wasting her time waiting hours for him at his priced office. It was more like a situation where nobody wanted to be indebted to anybody but none of them considered that their assistance may save a soul.
On the second week, the list finally came out and much to Mide’s chagrin, she couldn’t find her name. she was full of contempt for a girl who was delighted to have been given philosophy, she told the others it was ‘evidence of long legs’, she felt like giving her a slap, she couldn’t blame her, it’s her luck as people say, for everyone standing (except few), they saw their names and wore gloomy faces, Dora had been given Educational Administration, whatever that is and Mide called to inform her. Mide waited along with the few that didn’t see their names and later went home.
The next day, she waited again since they were told another list would be put up on the notice. While chatting up with others to liven up her spirits, she decided to go through the list again and to her utter disappointment and disbelief, Mide saw her name on the first page on the third row of put up prints, she was number one on the list and her name had been typed out in small letters, making it difficult to easily spot, she read and wiped her face to confirm,
Johnson Olamide, Faculty of Education, Department of Adult and Community Education.
Mide stepped back and fought the tears from dropping and told the others what she found out, they told her to accept it like that, it pricked her heart as she picked up the phone and called Ma, her voice trembled as she spoke, Ma says ‘don’t worry, just take it, you don’t know what God will use it to do, it’s okay’ her words nearly made Mide bang the phone on the wall. As she walked away to take the bus back home, Dee called, ‘it’s the system, it is all messed up! Don’t worry, next year, you will take JAMB again. Mide heaved a deep sigh, that was exactly what she wanted to hear and that’s it.
To be continued…