2017: Her year in review

By:  Leambivert

‘Which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?’

‘2017, I have a very terrible feeling about you but I still hope you go as planned’ was the last sentence in my 2016 review. 365 days after, I wonder what I was scared of. I was able to effectively convert all the lemons the year threw at me into lemonade and I feel like I succeeded in bending 2017 to my will because so far, it has gone as planned. With an Electrical & Electronic Engineering Bachelor’s degree in the bag, relieved is how I rode into 2017. I took a vacation to England where I met friends I made off Twitter,

old trafford

That fellow symmetrically placed between the exit doors and underneath Sir Alex Ferguson. Yeah, that’s me.

visited places I had read about, shopped impulsively, and ate junk to my heart’s content. I also appeased the god of graduate admissions by visiting a couple of universities including one of my dream schools. I made the most of my 21 day holiday which made up for all the stress I went through planning my trip.

‘Endure patiently with beautiful patience’

I got mobilized this year to obey Nigeria’s clarion call and the period during which I was in NYSC camp is easily the worst 21 days of my life. I often reflect on how I made it out alive and disease free. I always give myself credit for being very adaptable but I do not know which was worst among the smell of humanity, the horrible routines, the soldiers, or the male humans who though could not communicate properly attempted to strike conversations with me.

nysc

The floor is ‘NYSC camp is fun’

I kept to myself a lot and maintained very minimal human interaction. People did seem to enjoy camp and someone even hoped our stay would be extended to 3 months. If that had happened, I may have been taken out on the 25th day in a body bag.

 ‘Do people think they’ll be left to say they believe and not be tested?’

Verily, with every difficulty, there is relief.’

2017 decided I did not suffer enough in camp and decide to throw me bags of distress during my search for a place of primary assignment (PPA). I redeployed to Lagos immediately after camp and although, I had 2 offers, I just was not satisfied with them. After about a month, some sprinkles of worry, a handful of sadness, a dash of compromise, I finally got settled in my current place of work. So far, excluding the stress at the weekly Community Development Scheme (CDS) it has been a great experience, I have had a chance to meet and interact with really amazing humans.

‘…increase me in knowledge’

2017 travelled with the speed of light and it did not leave room for me to write anything. I blame it on the fact that unlike other years, I was very emotionally stable this year. If you however let me regard my graduate studies application and funding essays, then I wrote about 30 things this year. For all the things I did not write, I made up for by reading.

2017 books

E-books because they have no weight but occupy space

 

The book club I joined last year did not make it past the first quarter of this year and so, I had to latch onto self-motivation. As at the time of writing this essay, I had read 54 books in 2017. I know 2018 will be pale compared to 2017 in this regard because I envisage a busy year ahead.

 ‘Be patient over what befalls you’

I hit new levels of low in 2017 when I struggled with my weight and my skin. This will sound funny to those who know me because in the real sense of it, I am slim and I don’t understand why I felt so insecure. After tubs of salad, series of jogs, intense portion control, NYSC camp, Ramadan fast, and gross reduction of carbohydrates, I went down 6kg to 59kg (to put it in perspective, my height is about 5ft 8”). Due to the intense exposure to the sun at NYSC camp, my face got ruined. It got so dark and rough which made me look like I had a charcoal bath while scrubbing my face with stones. I became a product junkie and spent regrettable amount of resources on skin care products. It is now way better than it was and I am just here hoping the lord of glo up deems my face worthy of a visit in 2018.

 ‘And whoever puts his trust in God, He will be enough for him’

The last quarter of this year was a mentally and emotionally tortuous one. I had so much to do and it just felt like deadlines were taking turns to laugh at me. When I wasn’t freaking out, I was either worried, or editing essays. All these happened because I was applying for graduate studies and funding. A lot of times during this process, I cried and wondered why I am not from a more privileged background. I was weary and sick of trying because I was struggling to get what some others get on a diamond platter but somehow, I found peace and rolled along. In retrospect, I learnt a lot from the whole process and so far, I have celebrated little wins and little victories. I am writing this paragraph with the hope that the god of rejection mails does not locate me in the coming year.

And we have created you in pairs’

Things got a little serious on the relationship front this year. I finally met my ‘internet’ crush from 2016 when I went to England and it has been long distance for almost a year. If I were to take the long walk now, I would choose to walk with this human who has been supportive in unbelievable proportions and is easily the best thing that happened to me this year. Together, we have celebrated little wins and grieved over losses and I find it amazing that we recognize we are best friends before anything else. If this person was not in the picture, I honestly do not know who would have been at the receiving end of catching flaks and listening to my everyday rants. In my yearly reviews, this is the part where I hint about finding the loml. Concisely put, for now, that search has been put on hold because I have found an almost perfect fit.

We plan, God also plans but God is the best of planners.

Adulting hit me a little hard this year. I moved out of my parent’s house just so I could be close to work and let’s just say I have not quite explored the full range of the freedom I now possess. As planned, I started off this year trying to meet more people off Twitter but that did not go past March because social interactions truly stress me out. Also in line with my plans, I started voluntarily teaching Mathematics to young girls in public secondary schools to kick-start my long-term goal of increasing the number of women in STEM. So far, it has been a great experience and has made me reflect on the depth of rot in our education sector and if Nigeria can ever get to Canaan. 2017 is not nearly as eventful as 2016, I had a quiet year and which I achieved almost all I planned to.

‘Indeed, what is to come is better than what has gone by’

Hopefully, 2018 is the year where I kick some more ass by completing my NYSC, getting a job, taking my coding and Qur’an memorization more seriously, starting my Master’s degree (hopefully in my dream school) and following through with all the other plans I have rolled out in my head.

Here are a few lessons I picked up over the last 365 days:

 

  • Sometimes, revenge is more effective than forgiveness
  • I can achieve anything as long as I put my mind to it
  • It is okay to stand your ground sometimes even with all the odds against you
  • Usually, something has to give
  • Acknowledge your privilege and be grateful for it

Will it not be rather wrong of me to end this review without some form of acknowledgement?

Unadulterated thanks to God for the little wins, victories and mercies this year.

Grateful to my family for solicited and unsolicited support.

Raheemah and Salamah, we have evolved from being friends to sisters. I hope the bond strengthens with time and 2018 is kind to you both. Sending you love and light.

Gabriella, Idu, and Ope, thank you for lighting up lunch time with amazing conversations.

Ladi Williams, you are my favourite person of 2017. Thank you for coming through on days I was too scared to live. For all you’ve been, all you are, and all you will be, words cannot do justice.

Uncle Suleiman, you are the elder brother we all never had. I am rooting for you and hoping America treats you well. Greatness awaits.

Jibola, I owe you one for all the support and words of encouragement.

Nazira, Kosi, Loveth, Blessing, Chinenye, and Wole, thank you for helping me stay sane in NYSC camp.

Lape Arojo, you went out of your way to be nice to me though you barely know me. May you always find help whenever you seek.

Abdulrahman, Aisha, Toun, and Muqhtar, I hope you all win.

Quora, thank you for been there all these years.

 

2017, it has been quite a ride. 2018, bring it on.

 

 

Cover Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

 

 

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THE THIRD WORST DAY OF MY LIFE

This could as well have been the worst day of my life but I’m reserving the top two spots out of respect either for worst days I have long forgotten or for those worst days I soon would experience by virtue of me being Nigerian. I know it sounds a lot like it but this is not pessimism.

It began like every random Friday, gloomy skies with alternating periods of sunlight. In fact, I was in high spirits for reasons I do not want to concern you with until around 11 am when the clouds collectively decided they needed to cry.

It rained heavily through noon and by 3pm, the skies were clear thus ushering a mild wind that did good to our skins. But my problems were just about to begin. I worked at the mines assembly workshop where the large expanse of land was road to heavy-duty machines like dumpers, excavators and regular 22-tyred trailers. They claimed there was no point fixing the road because these vehicles do well on any terrain. However, they forgot. They forgot that humans do not walk on all fours (at least not by default). They forgot to remember that we are at the complete mercy on the ground on which we walk. Hell! They forgot that we are not designed for all terrains. So what we basically had was a large expanse of land, sparsely beautified with two buildings, some abandoned heavy-duty machines and chiefly the large tyre tracks of dumper trucks.

The soil was a dangerous mix of clay and limestone – with both brutally notorious for retaining a lot of water. As if this was not bad enough, we had an inexistent drainage system so the excess water could not properly run off. It was as though the water was waiting on some kind of queue—to replace the next molecule of water to vaporize.

So yes, the water just pooled on the surface with a slippery and unstable ground just below. This was the 370-metre ground on which I was to walk before even think of getting a bus to take me home. And oh! I had no boots. Boots were available but none was my size. I did try a few on thinking they’d expand in a few hours but I was wrong. I had to take them off eventually because of the hardship and compression it brought to my largest left toe. But I would have gladly worn these if only I knew in advance, what awaited me a few minutes later.

I charged right into the mud with four things: a pair of stockings, copious amounts of determination, a black pair of perm slippers and what can be understood as a prayer to the Almighty. But twenty metres into the mud was when reality met me. And the first thing it did was to ensure I took off my socks. Why I even wore it in the first place had been genuinely lost on me. Took a few more steps with great difficulty that I had to pull off my black perms to protect me; to protect them.

In five minutes, about eighty metres in, the mud already took from me, three of the four items I started with. What was left was my fast-depleting determination and a wind that brought with it panic, pain and sadness. I was walking bare-footed, sinking a few centimetres with each step; battling stability with the inconsistent ground. I made it to the gate—completing less than half of my journey.

Outside the gate was either slightly worse or almost the same as what I had faced at the other side of the fence. It basically was a wider expanse of land dotted with patches of weed and a cluster of shrubs. I chose to follow the path over the official road for the sole reason of expediency. It had shrubs on both sides and plenty of mud in between. Plenty of mud. Choosing to follow this path was the second bad decision I made in the space of twenty minutes.

I did manage to not slip and fall on my rear. But I had already taken so many steps in the mud that the white of my toenails were not visible anymore. What was apparent as I looked downwards was a dull shade of red earth, tears almost in my eyes and desperation wafting along the air.

After crossing a moribund plank, which served as a bridge, I got to the third phase of my journey. It was a stretch of bad road but with elevated and distinct blocks of concrete. It was uneven, unsmooth and ugly but it was solid ground nonetheless; less slippery too. With care, I motioned forward. The only way was forward.

All these while, workers in the plant passed by me. Some passed by me and left me with hums and nods intended to identify with my struggle. In fact, some were silently displeased that I was taking too much time on the concrete block. The staff shuttle was leaving in a few minutes. I would be fine, at the end of the day, they must have thought. However, they thought wrong. Because words cannot put into perspective what came a few moments after.

There was this little steep hill I had to ascend before I got to the 2 metre long bridge that connected the muddy path to civilization. This hill was unimpressive and even dauntless when dry but it fast turned into a hostile terrain the moment it made contact with water (it had just rained, heavily!). Here I was: bare-footed, perm slippers in my hands, stockings in my pocket, an empty resolve with a hill to climb.

This hill had to be approached with great tact and uncommon skill for any slight misplacement of my feet could land me on my rear, on my head, or worse. The problem was that I had no clue or plan that did not involve hitting the ground a couple times. I spent quality time trying to map out an ascension plan when I decided that the best thing to do was to crawl. Yes, I had to get down on all fours. It made perfect sense to be as close to the ground as logically possible to reduce any damage from slipping, tripping or backsliding. And yes, people were still passing by me—with only few humming and waving in my direction. You see what made this experience particularly gruelling was not even the physical strife i had to deal with, it had more to do with the idea of being alone. Alone in this sad world. It thus became clear to me that there are only a few things capable of breaking a man faster than loneliness– in the face of adversity

I had already begun crawling when an acquaintance, Kunle, passed by me and gave me his hand. He had his boots on so he walked with much more confidence and even held and supported me up the hill and beyond. I thanked him sufficiently. I then got to a pool of brown stagnant water at the side of the road where I got to remove a decent amount of mud from my shoes, my toes and my soul. I then finalized the cleaning process with sachet water I got from across the road.

I took a cab. Off I went to Abeokuta, the state capital – with a few grams of mud stuck between my toes—to visit my grandmother.

Time and Time again

We used to journey down the stairs
To what looked like a garage
Found a little crevice in the cemented ground
And sowed two seeds of beans
The daily shower of love
And the helplessness that contorted our faces
the moment its green began to yellow
Triple our initial investment, it did give
Mother could not have been prouder

Etched into my memory
Are the days of fetching water two blocks away
How horribly we tied our ‘osukas’
The struggle for hydro-equilibrium
And how we got home with half the amount
No matter how hard we tried

Recall the time we had tuberculosis
Or whooping cough
Or a strain of both
How injections brought no relief
And ‘alabukun’ felt like bants
The combined disappointment on our faces
knowing that the elixir we so fiercely sought
lay in the urethra of a cow

In what has been two decades
you have been a constant
a stubborn constant
that puts the derivative to shame
Time and time again

To you, my first friend

_aJibola

 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Her Fiery Majesty

 

Above the furnace
A differential hell- fire
Bursting forth in her fury
Tonnes of metals having lost their way
wait in line for the molten salvation
With fifteen hundred degrees of correction

Below the furnace literally sang horrors
Something the elders call the Hum of Death
Thirty four thousand volts of unfiltered baritone
featuring souls of metals beyond correction
seeking the ultimate forgiveness

A distant peep reveals
turgid wires made of pure copper sagging
In obedience to gravity and heat
Bearing water and power to nourish her
This is a woman
who clearly does not joke with her rations

She possesses a temper so great
some call her The Consumer
Not of metals but of men
For on a spot not far away
Seven men met their end
With many more to come
… … …
We definitely know how
We just do not know when

Her job, she takes to heart
Correcting metals of their impurities
And she is darn good at it
She loves to feel in absolute control
– a fifth wave feminist if you will
But we silently pray she never knows
the true extent of her power
For she could make so easily
that which only exists in our religious books
a thermal reality

_aJibola

2016. Her Year in view

By: Leambivert

We plan, God also plans but God is the best of planners.

I ended by 2015 review with ‘2016, cheers to you. Please, be lit’ and now that 2016 is almost ending, I realize that it was actually a positively and negatively lit year. I refer to the statement ‘There are years that ask questions and there are years that answer’. 2016 for me answered a lot of questions and asked even much more.

I started my 2016 on a vessel off the shores of the country as part of my 6 months internship experience

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The Akpo FPSO where 2016 met me. The  waters make room for unwarranted reflection.

and at the same time, I was nursing a heartbreak I saw coming. It’s safe to say my 2016 started out as very average because the 2 events mentioned earlier cancelled out and gifted me an average beginning to the year. I rounded up the internship, returned to school to complete the final lap of my university education.

‘Certainly, we have created man to toil (in order to achieve a marvelous goal)’

The normal school struggle started coupled with issues of finding a final year project topic. I particularly had issues because my project supervisor was away for the whole of first semester but after a lot of struggle and bouts of lows and worrying sick, I was finally able to come up with a topic my supervisor and I agreed on. Asides project, there was also the pressure to keep up with my grades. I had heard that final year was relaxing but I couldn’t even relax because a lot was at stake.  A whole lot.

‘Verily, with every hardship, there is ease’

This year was a particularly interesting one for us as a class. It was like people broke out of their cocoons and more perverted jokes flew around the class every day. I also cannot leave out the fact that by the beginning of the second semester (our tenth and final semester), we had all lost the drive for school and classes. As usual, there were tests (and examinations) that were unfortunate in epic proportions but we moved still. It all seems like yesterday when we started this journey but it’s actually been five years and all I can say is we really have come a long way from where we began.

‘And say: My Lord, increase me in knowledge’

I told myself at the end of last year that 2016 was going to be the year of increased self-development which I think I did to the best of my abilities. At different times this year, I joined a Qur’an memorization group, a book club and I started learning to play tennis. Although, I am not where I hoped to be as regards the Qur’an but baby steps are greater than no steps at all. Prior to joining the book club, I had already read a lot of non-school books on my own but joining made me read even more.

img-20161230-wa0004

Physical books because e-books cannot be stacked atop each other.

I know that there are weeks this year I went without reading a book but if my memory serves me right, I read more than 30 books this year and they have gone a long way in widening my horizon and even make me eligible to join in more conversations. I had never been the sporty kind of person so people especially family were very surprised when I decided to take on tennis. To be honest, I am very surprised that I have been very consistent with it and I actually enjoy and look forward to playing it every weekend. Also, I indulged in leisure writing a lot more this year. In all, I think I surpassed my expectations as regards personal development in 2016.

‘Is God not the best of judges?’

I also learnt this year not to judge people by my own standards. I have come to realize that we have different realities and I have stopped expecting people to reason or do things the way I do. I had a roommate this year who is the complete opposite of me with almost different ideals. I thought I was going to have issues living with her but she turned out to be an extremely amazing person. Though very different from me, we still found common grounds and objects of banter every single day.

And he found you lost and guided you’

On the religious front, this year was a rollercoaster ride. It was quite an undulating year in that regard but never for once did I feel rejected by God. It was like anytime I felt lost and needed to find Him, He was always there to dump all my problems on. On days of tiny and huge worries, God always came through in vast amounts. 2016 also made me realize that I don’t talk about my major life problems with people except in extreme cases and that I am not as open as I think I am. For someone who talks a lot when she wants to, I think I have perfected the fine art of saying a whole lot yet so little. The only problems I speak of are probably my boy issues because they are usually the least of my worries.

‘…and We have made you tribes and sub-tribes so you may recognise one another’

‘…All of you are descended from Adam and Adam has been created from dust.’

‘And we have created you in pairs’

This year was a pretty eventful one on the relationship front. I think my mother’s prayers got answered this year because I stopped meeting doctors and started meeting fellow engineers, a whole lot of them. I learnt this year that sometimes you need to make your parents understand that some decisions are mostly yours to make. I met someone this year that is from a tribe different from mine and my parents told me in a diplomatic manner to discontinue the relationship. This sort of thing had never happened to me so I was both clueless and shocked as per how to handle the situation. After a lot of struggle, I summoned courage to tell them I was going to do what I was going to do in the most polite and diplomatic manner. I bet my mum was taken aback because in the words of my brother, I had always been the golden child that always listened to them. But I had to do some things for posterity and for the records.

Well, I think in the end my parents won because though we had tribe issues that got settled, timing still reared its head and we had to discontinue what we had. It was pretty painful saying goodbye majorly because of timing, the normal me would have cried about it for like a year but I got past it faster than I thought I would. Now, I am tabula rasa and back to square one, I am not emotionally tethered to anyone and right now, all I have left are crushes and admiration on and for people.

‘…and He has induced mutual love and tenderness between you…’

I cannot end this this aspect of my 2016 without mentioning my major crush. Yes, I liked him at first “sight” (sight in quotation marks because it was on the internet) and it’s been on for like 6 months now. We talk very often, he is aware that I like him, he likes me also but I am not sure how to deal with anything so I have been taking it a day at a time without harbouring any expectations in my head. I don’t even know if it is still a crush and frankly, I am too lazy to start figuring it out. Perhaps, it is more than a crush. The previous me would have started thinking of all the things that can be but I guess I have grown up a little and I have come to understand that things can go south pretty fast.

At this point, I’d have said I am still waiting for the love of my life and anyone who finds him should bring him to me but I will not. If by chance, anyone of you meets the love of my life, tell him I will not be ready to entertain him until December 2017 except he can overly impress me before then of course.

Will I even be doing justice to 2016 if I don’t mention that I met loads and loads of amazing people on Twitter whose names I can’t begin to pen down in this review. Do I start with Abubakar Sambo that makes me feel better when I am down without him realizing it himself? Or with Adetoun Alamutu that is many shades of amazing? Where do I even place Abdulrahman that makes me laugh effortlessly? Or Farida, the IPS baby girl?

‘And when you have made a decision, put your trust in God’

I bagged my first degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering this year. 2017 is going to be the most defining year yet of my life and so I did a lot of critical thinking and planning ahead this year most of which entailed where to undergo my NYSC, what to do during said period, where and what to do my Master’s Degree in. Last year, I was totally clueless about what to pursue for my MSc but 2016 provided answers which are of course subject to change.

Hopefully by August 2019, I should have bagged my Masters in Control Engineering. All things being equal, 2017 is the year I tick the NYSC box amongst other things. I intend to meet more people, go out more often, do more volunteering and probably teach pro bono. Of course, all these are highly dependent on where I undergo my NYSC. I have really high hopes for 2017 and I hope that in 365 days from now, I’ll be writing a happier piece than my previous yearly reviews.

Give glad tidings to the patiently persevering.’

2016 has been the year of learning huge loads of life lessons, realizing things, becoming a better person, adulting in unanticipated proportions, making huge life decisions, getting answers to questions asked by previous years. In comparison with 2015, it was an average year but I sure learnt a lot. I like to refer to this year as the most realistic year I have had. Truly, this was the year of breaking out of my cocoon. I made compromises and did things I could have sworn I wouldn’t do. It helped me realize that if I truly care for someone, I can go miles just to make the person comfortable. I almost made decisions this year that may have greatly changed the course of my life but I am very glad I didn’t.

Here are a few things I picked up from 2016:

  • Stercus accidit.
  • The world will never stop for you to grieve because your problems are minute in the grand scheme of things.
  • You never know how to react until you find yourself in certain shoes.
  • Don’t expect everyone to live their lives the way you live yours.
  • Parents mostly want the best for you but they may not know what is best for you.
  • Most of the time, if you stand your ground, your parents will begin to reason with you.

Won’t it be inappropriate of me to end my review without mentioning names?

Cliché as it may seem, I am extremely grateful to God for a realistic and well spent year.

Jibola, Bisola and Temilade I couldn’t have asked for better siblings.

Mum and Dad, thanks for always coming through.

Brother Suleiman, you are my favourite person of 2016. You were amazing in epic ways this year. I can’t thank you enough for being there every single step of the way. I still hate that you are always right.

Raheemah and Salamah, God bless you for being sisters to me.

Samuel, I am not sure I’d have had a memorable year without you.

Oyinda and my other ladies in Engineering, I hope we all meet at the acme.

My classmates, the Ohmie$, it’s been an amazing 5 years. I hope we all find what we are looking for.

To the junkies in ABH, it’s really hard to forget how thoughtful you guys were on my birthday. I hope you all win.

My Hifz sisters, Aminah and Fola, you made a difference in my 2016 life.

Ridwan Oladipupo, I am surprised I started off this year loathing you but now, you’re one of the closest people to me. Thank you for being a friend on days I could no longer pretend to hold it together anymore.

Quadri Adewale, you were a huge part of my final year project and by extension, my 2016. I really appreciate everything.

Aisha Salaudeen and Fu‘ad Lawal, thank you for being there on days when things were pitch dark this year.

Ladi Williams, thank you for being an inspiration. I hope you keep knowing things.

Suleman Aneru, you were a significant part of my year. I hope you keep winning.

Abdulrahman and Abubakar, you guys will never understand how much I value you both. Stay amazing.

Adetoun Alamutu and Lamide Bello, I hope you both find happiness.

To everyone else, thank you very much for being a part of my year.

2017, I have a very terrible feeling about you but I still hope you go as planned.

LeAmbivert.

The Unheard Orator …3 of 3

She is being told to speak singly
Rush not those words
And take deep breaths
But the reality, by God,
is as depressing as it is saddening.
Because over this,
She almost has no control

Many of these battles he loses
Some he wins
Draining his lungs of air in the process
But whatever you do
Never look away when he speaks
During that vocal battle
A moment that characterised by closed eyes
May be accentuated by gaped mouths, clenched fists
And probably downward glances and tramped feet
He is aware
But do not look away.

He wants your attention
She silently begs for eye contact
at that lowest moment
In the heat of battle
When the words make their exit
That victorious moment
When those words make it out in one piece

O-or   t-two    pp-pieces

_aJibola

* Stammering affects more than seventy million people worldwide.

 

photo credits

: http://suburbanprepping.com/the-sound-of-silence-by-disturbed/

Adedolapo

The city is Lagos. The time is nine. The sun shone differently that day. The wind also ate the humble pie. I innately felt something was in store. Then she walked into the class and by extension-into my life. I was ten; but the boy in me knew what beauty represented at such age. Was it how she effortlessly rocked the checkered uniform? Or how her cute little cheeks parted to reveal an even cuter smile? My little boy fantasies were cut short by a tap from my then sit partner, Deji. Twenty minutes into her entry to the class; it was clear I was not gonna let go anytime soon.
Fast forward nine years later, separated my continents, I hold on to my promise. My promise of not letting go.
Happy birthday sweetheart. May your remaining days be your best. It is not too late to have a nice time. Have fun.

 

photo credits: http://www.mystudycorner.net/

The Unheard Orator…2 of 3

That young man possesses a mind
perfectly engineered for humour
He guards a brain
functionally destined for satire
But his is the case where
all is literally lost in transmission

They call him humourless
He is being termed a melancholic introvert
Because he onlooks
when his friends chatter
And rehearses
when his friends laugh
He eventually drops a line or two
to maintain his relevance

He is blamed for speaking too fast
The hot-yam-in-mouth analogy
He feigns a smile and whisks it off
But you lot know not
What it feels having to prep for war
the moment those vocal cords begin to vibrate
The uncertainty of success
And the vivid discomfort of the person
On the other side of his face

_aJibola

 

photo credits: suburbanprepping.com/the-sound-of-silence-by-disturbed/

The Unheard Orator …1 of 3

First, she thinks, or maybe not
Like everyone else whose thoughts don’t have to rot
Words repeated in her cerebral
Before vented through her buccal

A consistent battle between within and without
Almost like a caged bird with no out
Wanting to man the skies higher
But for a red muscular barrier

She silently hopes her tongue and vocal cords
Have reached a ceasefire as regards their discords
So many jokes and words and clapbacks
Consigned to the bins of her mind in black sacks.

Without being told
“I live to speak another day” was a motto she grew to hold

_aJibola

photo credits: http://suburbanprepping.com/the-sound-of-silence-by-disturbed/

That B*tch : Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics (thermo for short) was a course I took in my sophomore year in college. I made zero inquiries about the course beforehand. So I had just two things in my mental arsenal in my first thermo class: basic SAT physics and whatever I had left from my secondary school.

A few minutes into the class when the camaraderie with friends phase expired, our professor walked in and everyone adjusted to the current reality. Merhabaler (Hello), he said. A few words of introduction and off he went. His name was Prof Abdullah Ulaş. A man whom legends had it that he situated his house between a turbine and an industrial compressor. His love for thermo knew no bounds. A smart man he was. He was on the other side of the class some twenty two years ago and graduated tops. Confidence (or cockiness if you may) was expected. Those unverified legends also opined that the sole purpose of his employment was to keep the class average colloquially termed ‘curve’ at a minimum. His exam questions could be spotted from a distance by their complexity. He had built a reputation around those killer questions. And nothing was going to stop that. Not even two hundred and sixty six second year mechanical engineering students.

So thermodynamics was meant to span the entire session. Thermo 1 in the fall semester and thermo 2 in spring. Thermo began on full throttle as expected. Sadly, the SAT/ high school knowledge expired after second week at best. I was in no-man’s land from week 3. As the weeks eased in, names like polytropic processes and steady-state devices began to surface. With little effort, I was able to get the hang of it. Common, everybody (okay, maybe not everybody) understands that the power generated by a turbine is the product of the difference of enthalpies and the mass flow rate of water or whatever fluid is used to drive it. (Ignoring kinetic and potential energy changes of course).

Sadly, these good days did not last for too long. Things began spiraling out of control when we began Entropy. As its definition suggested, it left my head in complete disarray. There were so many ways in which one’s mind could be messed up. And that was exactly what happened to me. On the bright side though, it was the last chapter of thermo 1 so it didn’t hurt much. I did not get the best of grades but it could have been worse. I hoped for a better spring semester.

Three weeks later, spring semester did come. But Entropy was still pretty fuzzy. Don’t think I took this entropy issue lying down. I actually made a conscious effort at understanding it. Read notes, consulted textbooks, met friends. But it just never clicked. So I basically crammed my way into thermo 1 final exam. It was the only way out. Don’t judge me.

Thermo 2 kicked in hot with a topic: Exergy. A completely new, completely stupid concept. Something having to deal with maximum achievable energy from a given system at some specified conditions. Yeah, that was me trying to make it sound cool. And it sure had connections with Entropy, a concept I mortally dreaded. Not wanting a repeat of the previous semester, I ate my pride and went back to that textbook: Fundamentals of Thermodynamics it was. This book, as I would later find out was a waste of 30 USD. Not sure if anyone can relate but with this book, I had to resort to reading singly (word after word) but it was as though the last word got lost in my head the moment I proceeded to the next. Yeah, it was that bad. Zero student friendliness, it was. I say this with every ounce of anger: NEVER USE THAT BOOK.

Days turned into weeks and midterms were approaching. I knew I had to go back to cram those Entropy/Exergy formula again and the mere thought made my skin crawl. Midterm 1 exam came and I was prepped to the best of my ability (or crammability if you like). In my defence though, I understood every other concept asides Entropy/Exergy. I received my question paper. Three questions from three professors. It was as though they were trying to run a survey on which professor could set the most difficult question and we were nothing but test subjects. Bloody guinea-pigs! Critical reflection made me agree more with the term ‘test-subjects’ and reduce the word ’students’ to nothing but a euphemism as well as a gross understatement.

While I was desperately trying to understand what I was to do with the first question, six to seven students left within the space of ten minutes. And I’m pretty certain this was the case, if not worse, in other exam halls. Call me a douchebag but there is some kind of positive feeling associated with a fellow leaving a 120 minute exam about 15 minutes in. Not that you are any better off but the faint idea that people are having the same exam worse than you is enough encouragement. I took my head off my paper and cast a leftward glance towards my friend Rabban. He probably did not know I caught him smirking almost internally. No need to judge; we are all wired that way.

On a personal side, the exam was bad for me too. But the worst was yet to come. I got to class that Thursday morning to find out that almost a fourth of the class was gone. Damn! I inadvertently exclaimed. They dropped the course. While I was glad the class would be less stuffy, it immediately hit me that the scores of students who dropped the course would not affect the average grade of the class. Tables had turned. And I clearly was on the wrong side.

We then got to the pretty cool stuff. Diesel cycles, Compression ignition engines, jet engines and all the associated topics I really do not want to bore you with. I really enjoyed these parts but I know not how affection for these topics could not translate into good grades. But I kept on going. It was too late to back out.

So there was this Thursday morning I got to class a few minutes late. Class had begun at the time. I saw a lad aged eight (nine at best) on the last seat on the first row. This must be the professor’s son. I muttered silently. My anger was not even because he displaced me from my much-coveted first row seat; I was more concerned with what wrong the lad must have done to warrant a two-hour thermo class as punishment. Cool kid though. He was with an iPad all through the class. Gaming away. For what it is worth: that is no way to inspire thermo in little children or anyone for that matter. Unless of course the kid gets inspired by lost and depressed faces. Having them paint a thermo-meter might be a good start.

Final exam schedule was released and it was terror undiluted. I had three exams in one day. Last time this happened was in primary school and even then, I barely made it through. And please, spare me that time management bullcrap. Classes ended two days before my first exam. So there actually was no way I (we) could pull it off. It became the subject of discussion among students in the department. While we all laughed away on how miserable we all were; we internally succumbed to the fact that it wasn’t going to end well.

Life got super difficult that week and I fell sick. What this meant was that I would not be able to take the general exam. An arrangement would have to be made specially for I and other indisposed students. I thought the sickness was a good idea. I could give thermo one last shot. But the reality was different. The exam was hell! Never take a make-up exam unless you absolutely have to. It is a brain-strangling activity. Who asks a student to derive from scratch the Clapeyron equation in the exam? A topic so unimportant it was skipped in the class.

Grades were announced a couple of days later. I had to face the inevitable. Reluctance made me sleep all through the day. I then woke up afterwards to a waiting episode of Game of Thrones S06E09. Yeah. Karma did right by me that Monday. That killer episode. The combined effect of Daenerys’ dragons, the dexterity displayed by the unsullied guy, Sansa and the death of Ramsey Bolton drove me so high and even bad grades could not stop that. At least momentarily. Then I got bitch-slapped into reality. It could have been worse, I thought. I recently adopted that mantra because it confers a false sense of satisfaction with the status quo. It makes one seem grateful when the antithesis was eating up one’s within. A more dignified version of ‘fake it till you make it’ so to speak.

Yeah, I did do badly in thermo. Trying really hard not to use the word ‘fail’ here. I subsequently spiralled into depression. Almost clinical. I began binge-watching TV series I could lay my hands on. Twenty four really came in handy. I also automatically configured myself to get at least fourteen hours of sleep daily just to escape it all. I couldn’t even bring myself to cry. Those tear glands got disconnected from my academics the moment I began my second year.

After coming clean to my parents, I became overly defensive when it came to grades. I told no one else my grade breakdown. Friends, except Zan, who tried to guess/ tease me about it were met with my immediate anger. They probably already drew their correct conclusions. I personally had not come to grips with the result myself. I needed no one reminding me of something that until then had a permanent residence in my head .

But there was a way out of all this: Summer school. It was going to cost me six weeks and some cash. But I had a dignity to restore and a point to prove. After sulking for the better part of two weeks, I crawled out of depression. It was a long road home. And I have God to thank for that. ‘Past is past’. ‘This would make a compelling story eventually’. With these words, I reached for my flip-flops and bolted to the shower. That was all it took.

Salman was his name. Pakistan was his country. An acquaintance who would later elevate to being a bro. He was the beginning of my success story. And to him, I am eternally grateful. His singular act of introducing a new book to me was what did the magic. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had issues with the recommended text. Only that some people actually did something about it.

I started by paying my arch nemesis, entropy, a visit.  I did understand it this time. And by God, all thermo obstacles assumed the form of a perfectly ordered domino. From exergy through diesel cycles to air conditioning, I coasted on happy waves; solving, absorbing, retaining and unconsciously thanking Salman every step of the way. Summer classes were basically about reconciling what I had read previously. And it worked. Confidence was at its peak. It was a good time.

But karma thought I had it too rosy. I had to be put in check. First midterm grades were announced just after the second midterm exams. I was thrown into instant sadness. I knew I did not deserve such a score not after the amount of work I put in. I receded into a milder form of depression. Karma clearly took it too far this time.  I began binge-watching again. This time, it was Silicon Valley. Pretty awesome series. You should try it. My little ride with depression came to a halt after second midterm grades were announced. My initial rank was 19th but I moved up 12 steps. I was now 7th. Chances of a distinction began to surface. It wasn’t impossible after all. Finals were in a weeks’ time. Prepped enough to get my confidence back. I felt ready.

After 190 minutes of sweat, four extra sheets and thirst. I handed over my paper and walked out with a sigh that translated to ‘Thermo, go rot in hell where you rightly belong’. It was awesome. I eventually ranked 2nd in the course and had a wonderful grade at the end of it all.

It did make a good story after all. And I most definitely got my dignity back. Thermodynamics 2 amongst other things made me subject myself to uncharted terrains. You know: the other path never traveled till now. I don’t think I need more convincing on which field to pursue in my senior year. Because guess what?  Thermo and I just made it official.

Boeing, take note.

 

 

*photo credits: http://www.kellyfidel.com/4-reasons-prospects-go-cold/