Diary Of A Shy College Kid – Episode 13
By Kayode Odusanya
The Rubber Band Effect (Part 1)
There was a UBA branch opposite the Art Block building on campus. It was next to the bookshop- a mesh fence cutting it off from the bookshop car park. Any time I had to pass through the place, I always prayed nothing would ever make me have to go in there, as there was always a long queue from inside the bank, all the way outside to the main entrance of the bank premises. The sight was always nightmarish.
This was 2002, not now where you had ATMs on every corner, and also had the option of mobile and Internet banking. Bank then, if you wanted to withdraw money, needed to send money to someone, or pay your school fees, you had to go into the banking hall. There was no way around it.
This particular Monday, I was rushing for a class I was already late for. From the famous Moremi Hall car park, I walked past the brown colored Bungalow QSS buildling to the sweet smell of freshly baked confectionaries, and then the smell of fresh paper hit me when I walked past the bookshop. I got to the main campus road, about to cross to the art block building when I heard a woman call my name. I turned around and saw it was my aunt. I cursed under my breath before I smiled and walked back to meet her by the UBA car park. My aunt Tayo was a nice old lady in her 60s that had worked at the admin section of University of Lagos’s Science Department since before I was born. She had tried unsuccessfully to get me into Unilag multiple times over the years, before my dad’s best friend at the time had gotten me in. This made her feel guilty, and she always wanted to know if there was anything I needed on campus. “Kunle, how are you? Bawo ni studies e.” She always mixed Yoruba and English whenever she was relating with me. She was wearing a grey coloured gown that looked great on her fit slender body.
“Studies are fine ma.” I replied with a forced smile on my face.
“I want to ask you some questions about your department.” She said, looking up at me from behind her thick glasses. She had a faraway look in her eyes, like she was trying to gather her thoughts.
“Okay ma.” I answered, wondering what she wanted to ask about.
“Come. I want to quickly do something in the bank. Hostel yen ko? Hope no problem?” She asked with her smile. She had worked out my accommodation for me, and was happy she could at least do something for me.
“No problem ma.” I followed her inside the bank, hoping she wasn’t going to join the long queue.
“Ehen, tell me the names of the lecturers in your department. I’m trying to work someone’s transfer from sciences to your department.” She said as we walked into the crowded banking hall.
“I’m coming.” She said and hurried after a short-stocky man in black suit heading towards the restricted part of the banking hall. A green rubber band fell from the pile of documents she was holding, and I assumed a squatting position to pick it up. I didn’t know if it was of any real significance, but I held on to it while she chatted with the man. There were no vacant seats so I leaned on the wall, and watched the gloomy looks on the faces of all the people on the long queue happy I wasn’t one of them.
A few minutes later, my aunt walked up to me and we headed out of the bank. I guess the short man had helped with what she came to do at the bank.
I was naming the lecturers in my department as we walked out of the bank’s gate when she shouted out a name. A black VW Golf slowly came to a halt on the other side of the road and she ran off, saying she would see me another time. I watched her get into the car before I crossed the road, and hurried to class.
Students from another department were taking this course with us, and the lecture hall was filled by the time I got there. Sope, fair Kunle, Dare, and the rest of my friends were in front row seats. They had reserved a seat for me, and were waving me over, but I declined the offer. The place they were seated was quite tight, and I didn’t want to discomfort people trying to get to the seat. I moved to the back of the hall, got a good sitting position by the window, and dropped my bag on the table.
I sat in the noisy class, playing with the rubber band in my hand while we waited on the lecturer. I was so bored and restless that I tour out a sheet of paper from my exercise book and made a couple of paper ammunition for a rubber band catapult like I used to do as a kid. Then I stretched out the green rubber band with my thumb and index, placed the thick rolled paper ammunition on the rubber band and pulled back. I started moving my projectile around, looking for a target. Up ahead, I saw Bisi Sanmi smiling at me, wondering what I was doing. She was about 5 meters in front of me. I would position my hand like I was going to fire the projectile at her, and then I would pull away. She was smiling all through. Then I focused on her for a few seconds, seeing my missile hitting her left cheek. I held on to this position and was tempted to fire, but I held back. And then, I moved my hand about six inches from my target, and let go. Like in the movie Matrix, I watched my paper missile travel in slow motion, going off target at first, and then for some crazy reason, at the last meter stretch before Bisi, it changed course, heading directly for her. And then it hit her smack on the cheek.
She held on to her cheek as her smile disappeared, replaced by a frown. Just as I was about to get up and go apologize to her, the lecturer walked into the class.
To be continued