Totally exhausted after a long day, I dragged myself all the way up to the third floor of Block 1, Awolowo Hall.
I perceived the scent of dried-up urine mixed with the stink of soapy mud water. I overheard the ranting of excited Awo boys as they played aro* on an innocent girl passing by. I didn’t stand to watch them on this particular day. I felt my shirt glued firmly to my skin by the dense sweat oozing from my body. But the least of my concern was looking good.
I threw open the door to the last room on floor 3. With the last breath I had, l crashed on the jagged, iron bed in my corner of the overcrowded room. My heavy bag pounced on the floor. My feet cried for fresh air but I was too weak to take the shoes off. The loose tie on my neck threatened to strangle me at every slight turn I made. Yet, I was too spent to hassle about health and safety. I just laid on my jagged iron bed.
I had gone through the most strenuous day of my life yet, simply because I was striving to preserve my empty integrity as a punctual, front-desk student. I was in Ajose Lecture Theater by 6:30 AM. Then off I was to Amphi Theater by 9:30 for the 10:00 AM class. On and on and on, by evening, I joined the ever-conscious Students’ Union on a rigorous walk from the senate building, through the halls of residence and then the 2-kilometer march to the school gate and back. By 8:00 PM, I was at the religious ground raining down fire on my enemies. Little did I know I was my own enemy.
My comfort was this little jagged, iron bed. Though on an empty stomach, I still laid, knowing strongly that if I made any attempt to prepare a meal, I’d be dead by the time it was ready. So, I whispered to God, “I’ll be wiser next time. I promise. Right now, Give me just a little something to eat.”
I picked up my plate and joined the short line waiting to be served from a steamy pot of ewa (beans).
“You are number 5,” the woman with the serving spoon bawled at me.
“Yes, number 5,” I nodded, “Number 5,” I repeated, trying not to forget. Number 5 meant there were four people before me. One has been served. Three more. I was brewing in excitement when a hand struck my thigh trice, rapidly, bringing me back to reality, sluggishly.
A tall figure appeared before me, with amplified bass voice and said to me, “Ogbeni, this na my bed space. I wan sleep, stand up!” Waving a paper at my face.
As I rolled out of the bed for its legal occupant, I overhead the voice of one of the numerous squatters in the room say, “Yea, na bed number 5 be that.”
Emmanuel is a final year student of geography from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He is a writer with a unique style.