Final semester in FUTO, I was on my project writing which involved a lot of researches. I had to visit several libraries and nearby higher institutions to get materials for my project. I choose a fresh topic for my project, and as such I have a lot of inputs to make.
The strain in my relationship with Chioma deepened and after several visits to make her see reasons proved abortive, I had to focus more on other things. Moreover, Katty and Tessy were taking her space. She said I was uncaring and selfish; she accused me of being stingy and lots more.
Well, my relationship with Tessy started on one of the days I went to plead with her. She was not at home, but Tessy attended to me. I explained my position on our issue to Tessy, and she saw reasons with me. She said I should move on with my life and get another girl that would be more appreciative and understanding, a girl that could give me double of the attention and care Chioma was giving me, a girl that does not want my money, a girl like her!
I was not surprised. DJ Slam had prophesied it. She slept in my room that night, and it was one hell of a night!
The next morning was a Saturday, and we were cleaning the hotel premises when I gave Slam the gist of who slept my room the previous night. He laughed and jumped about, and then he came and gave me a handshake and said, “Welcome to Owerri” the “O” town! Na now you dey do like a guy! Just dey wire dem de go! BJ, the bad guy! Now, na Amara remain o! You got to wire Amara so that the equations go complete!”
“Which yeye equation be that?” I asked.
“Omo, my Man!” He saw Emeka walking by, and he called him. “Mekus “lekwa”! Omo Yoruba a bukwa a very bad nigga! You are here selling beer while Omo is here eating all the meat!” He laughed hysterically and hugged me. I grunted.
“Nna, men! You have made me proud today omo.”
“Ogini k’a, Omo mere? What did he do?” Emeka asked.
“Look at you! So you want to know? Jew man! Common get away from here! Go and bring your sister so Omo can show you what he did!” He rebuked Emeka.
“DJ Slam, please stop insulting me! You were the one that called my attention to your gist!” Emeka said.
“Who is insulting you? Have you been drinking soured beer so early in the day? Or don’t you know your mates again? Common si ebe a puta kita! Get out from here! Small boy! I invited you to a senior joke, and you are already feeling like a senior boy!”
“Is that why you said I should give him my sister?” Emeka countered
“Oh! Is that your problem? Okay, don’t give him your sister! Give him your mother!” DJ Slam said.
“Chineke mee! Mma m? My mother? DJ, Mmam? I will report you to manager today! Emeka ran off, crying towards Oga Dan’s room upstairs. He did not know that Oga Dan had travelled to Enugu the previous evening.
“Look at him, whining like a baby!” Slam said after him. “Small boy!”
He was so happy, and I could not help feeling like I did something heroic though I don’t revel in such things.
I defended my project on the 17th of October 1986. I was twenty-seven. It was a memorable day. As I came out of the project defence hall to the open field where students were gathered rejoicing, I was immediately picked up by my friends. I was raised up high and carried to the centre of the field, where DJ Slam was waiting with his instrument in his car boot blaring aloud. I was stripped to my boxers alone and bathed with wine, water, and beer. Some guys pulled off their belts and whipped me. It was the ritual and was fun. Every other student that defended their project joined the party as they came out of the hall.
Amara was around to congratulate me. Katty left her school to FUTO to rejoice with me. Chioma was invited by Slam, but she did not turn up. She was the one that told her friends, and Katty alone came.
We moved the party from the school arena only to join another party being arranged in my honour by Oga Dan and the management of Vita Logistics and Construction Company. It was crazy; I was bathed over and over with alcohol. There was enough to eat and drink. I woke up the next morning in DJ Slams’ bed with Katty and Tessy by my side. We were stark unclad. Till date, I cannot remember how that happened, but one thing I know for sure was that it was one hell of a night.
Two weeks after my project defence, I was summoned by the school’s senate board to defend my result. I got a cumulative average of 4.68- First class. It was not difficult defending my result because I worked hard for it. I demonstrated complete theoretical and practical competence expected of an electrical engineering graduate, and I impressed all the academic professors and Doctors on the board. I was adjudged the overall best graduating student, and I set a new record in the department of electrical electronics engineering. I left the office walking in the air.
I wrote a letter to my mentor and gave him an update of happenings in my life. I continued working at the hotel as an all-rounder. By this time, my proficiency in Igbo language had improved tremendously. Katty and Tessy were still friends, and they shared my bed individually. I still wondered what they did to me on my project defence night. Chioma had finally abandoned me because I refused to part with a huge sum of money and buy her a car.
Amara, on the other hand, was still crazy over me. I do not love her. Even Tessy and Katty were mere bed mates with a mutual understanding of the limits of our relationship. My hand was full already, and I was not ready to add Amara to the mix. This was the scenario I painted to DJ Slam inside his cubicle on a certain night while he was entertaining our guests at the Bush Bar.
“Why you no just wire Amara so that her body go calm down?” He asked
“Haba! Slam!” I protested. “Why your own no dey pass to wire? You mean I should take advantage of the girl’s love for me?” I asked
“Who tell you say she love you? He asked. “Ever heard of the word infatuation? She just wants to wire you! So, wire her!”
“How you take sabi say na wire she wan wire me?” I asked.
“Listen, BJ! She knows you and Chioma have issues now and she is not happy that Chioma’s friends are closing in on you. It would have been her opportunity to get you! Look! Don’t be a Jew! Wire her! You don’t even need to toast her. Just grab her hand and say; Amara follow me! And you will see how she will follow you like mumu to your room! The girl dey melt for you my guy!”
“Slam, abeg, my hand don full already! I no want any more girls! I said
“Stupid Jew man! So all these your muscle and six-packs na for fashion! I beg, come wear headphone biko make I go ease myself!” He handed the headphone to me and left the cubicle while I took over the wheel of steel mixing sounds to the people’s delight.
Luckily, I got another letter from Mr Goke, and that helped me to retrace my steps. He wrote in his letter that I have graduated with the prospect of a good job at sight. He said I should not rest on my oars. He wrote that I should not forget where I came from. He reminded me of my home town, of my mother whom I do not know, of my house in the village and of the need for a serious relationship with a responsible girl, who would love me for who I am and not for what I would become. He reminded me of Modupe and her mother. His letter took me back through memory lane as I reflected back on my secondary school days when Modupe made school unbearable for me.
I remembered my dog, Pharaoh that was beheaded in his sleep. What a way to die! I reflected on the adventures I had with Pharaoh as a partner, how we had scavenged, how we hunted together and slept on the same mat back then. I remember the house on the hilltop, Alabi and his family, and the encounter with Baba Oloro. I remembered my village in the suburb of Ekiti land.
So many years had passed. I left the village a seventeen-year-old lad, and now I am twenty-seven. A full-grown man with prospects. I could now fluently speak English and Igbo languages and I am an Engineer. I really have weathered the storm and all thanks to my mentor that brought out the best in me by didactic words of encouragement! He challenged me years back! He dared me to change my life situation and make a name for myself. I smiled as I imagined that I, Bolaji will now be referred to as Engineer Bolaji. I went through school and of course school went through me. It felt good, but I felt a vacuum still needed to be filled in my life. My mother was still aloof. I never knew my father or his background. Am I biologically Yoruba? Where is the man that impregnated my mother from? How absurd it would be if I finally find out that I am not a Yoruba boy? There are some tribes I never wished to come from. I could even be from one of these small neighbouring countries.