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.

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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/

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/

Inverse Proportions- Beyond the Mathematical Perspective

 

What seemed to be an unending struggle with comprehending proportions dates as far back as my fourth year in primary school. I occasionally came across them in algebra but never knew them for what they really were.

Evidently, this math concept wasn’t done haunting me. It surfaced once again during my third year in secondary school. But this time around, it looked meaner than usual and it managed to carve out a topic for itself — Variations. Since only little had changed about me since elementary school; I only took a superficial approach to its understanding.

Allow me say that I come from an educational system where one progresses to one of  three fields upon completion of the first phase of secondary school education. But for some reason which I find unclear till date, I opted to go into the sciences. Probably because I felt science was much cooler or my initial distaste for the arts got the better of me .

Few weeks into my Chemistry class, my teacher walked into the class and introduced the “Gas Laws”- eight of them; which basically discussed the various relationships and proportions between the properties of gases. During the lesson, some voice at the back of my head made it clear that proportion was like a shadow i could not hide from. Surprisingly though, I still managed to scale through without really comprehending what proportions really signified.

Fast forward to first year in college while I was burrowing into my soul as well as watching tender snowflakes drop on the ground far below- It was then I struck gold. I was eventually able to conceptualize the very meaning of proportions—Inverse Proportions. I finally was able to see through the confined horizons of mathematics and perceive it for what it truly meant. I see inverse relations to mean the relationship between 2 quantities where they pest on each other for survival; where an increase in one quantity will evoke a corresponding decrease in the other and where one quantity wants the best for itself without caring whose ox is gored in the process.

I initially tried to explain simple situations with it; but surprisingly, this system jibed with every possible scenario I threw at it. But the first thing I did was to borrow the notorious Law of Conservation from science which states that there is no such thing as creation or destruction; everything merely shifts from phase to phase. Things also got less tedious when I decided to view occurrences as a Universal Set with just two large subsets without intersections or mutual compliments.

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Inverse proportions

My thoughts were mainly about happiness and sadness, time management and time wastage, love and hate, and a host of other scenarios I thought are in tandem with each other. Even most of the issues that plague our society can be exemplified through this very concept. Talk about power structures among nations, climate change versus industrialization, resurgence of imperialism and what not.

It is totally fine should this come off as rather basic; but major flaws are born not only because we decide to depart from the rudiments but also because we tend to treat potential mistakes as insignificant.

And speaking of rudimentary mistakes, what better example to cite than the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. Wikipedia tells me that a mere 4 degree angular deviation at the base made a 3.9 meter offset at the top of the tower. This means that the top of the tower is about 4 meters from where it would stand if it were totally vertical.

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Yeah, that’s the power of  only 4 degrees

 

 

Over time, Mathematics- in its finite mercies- has provided us with the luxury of expressing ourselves in more ways than one.  For instance:

      You = 1 / Your misery      and         You * Your misery =1   

The concept of cross-multiplication shows that these above expressions preach the same gospel. But a lot of people err in thinking that this mathematical model bears semblance to the real world. I am afraid this is one of the few places where math will come off as rather disappointing. My little insight as to why our world has degenerated to such levels is because we refuse to create a fine line between ourselves and our stumbling blocks. We always try to co-exist with our respective albatrosses because we come up with this self-imposed delusion that we are in control. We never are. If anything, we should be wise enough not to place “what we are” and “what we are not” on the same side of the equation.

Choosing a preferred side always seems to be easy; but the crux of the matter lies in keeping each side in its domain. But now that I think about it, isn’t that what the equality sign was destined for in the first place?

But then again, like every article of this kind that floods the cyberspace, I believe the bigger problem here is not one of comprehension but one of application.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credits:

www.gettyimages.com

http://www.scoop.it/t/cad-design-and-drafting-solutions-in-india

 

 

 

 

   Left Handedness: The Unsung Struggles of a major Minority

Truth Rating: 98.24%

With regards to the origin of man, two schools of thoughts come to bear. One could choose to align with the religious school which says God did it all with no questions asked. We could also choose to follow the relatively objective scientific  school conjured by the likes of Darwin and Lamarck which concludes that we are descendants of an ape-like dude called Australopithecus. Wherever you decide to pitch your tent on this issue, frankly, is no concern of mine.

The point here is that right from when we became sensible enough to have organized societies, various divides came up. Gender, strength and height being the most used yardsticks. But there came one which manifested much later—Handedness. Who knows, the human population probably started off with one set of people—The Right-ies.

Handedness refers to the more preferred hand of an individual, usually the better skilled hand. Society made me believe that there exist two groups: Right and Left handers. But I have been around long enough to know that this classification is nothing but a scam; at least in the part of the world where I come from. To tell the truth, there includes just one group and a bunch of ‘un-usuals’ who constitute a minority—A major minority.

At the time of drafting this piece, I did not know what the closed books of history had to say. Sensing history could be a potential ally, I sought her take on the issue. But after six papers and various internet articles, I figured that history already made her stance pretty clear centuries, if not millennia ago; and it was not in my favour.

As bad as it seems today, the situation was much worse then. There seemed to be a unanimous consensus among world cultures and languages as regards to the very definitions of right and left. The word left takes origin from lyft meaning weak. In French, droite translates to straight or right and gauche which depicts left means awkwardness. Middle Eastern languages like Turkish seemed not to differ as sağ (right) means alive while sol (left) translates to illness or death. Throughout history, as Wikipedia put it; left handedness was meant to embody shame, a metaphor to depict misfortune and a representative of fundamental evil. Even my indigenous language, Yoruba, seemed to accentuate this fact as osi (oshi- left) directly signified uselessness or nonsense of some sorts.

I wake up every morning to a world where my kind is less than 10% of the population. Ten percent seems pretty overrated considering the amount of people who make the cross to the other side of the divide on a daily basis by virtue of family and society. I happen to have a belt of sentimental value which I wear on Wednesdays with ‘MY VALENTINO’ aggressively engraved on it. Great! But ‘MY VALENTINO’ only appears readable when the belt is worn in an anti-clockwise manner—which is the right way to go.

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My default way of wearing a belt

On many occasions, I had to go adjust in the restrooms some hours after I left my dormitory.

I am also told that my wrist watch has to be worn on my left hand. This must have been a clever attempt to relieve the right hand– which has been configured by the society– of having to write and engage in daily activities with a heavy piece of metal dangling on the wrist. But here we are, strapping dense time pieces to our wrists. And anytime we question, we are consistently met with the scornful reply:  that’s how the society does it.

A first hand struggle usually occurs in the classroom. Lecture halls in my school are mainly of two types: One with single pieces of furniture in small halls and joint-pieces found in big classrooms and amphitheaters. Each inherently laden with its problems. The former had a combination of desks for both the right and left-handed. At least it did in theory. I have wandered into a class a couple of times to find none of the left desks and had to settle for the right-handed ones. Believe me; you do not want to be in a history class for three straight hours without a platform on which your hand can rest. The latter comes with even bigger issues. Combined desks meant less personal space.

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And space is very key especially to a leftie who writes from left to right on a book (as in English and most European languages). To avoid ink smudges and to enhance my handwriting, I usually tilt my books at an angle between 30 and 45 degrees to the horizontal. But this previous sentence, my friend, could be terribly difficult to explain to someone who is not me.

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Photo Credit: Faizan

And as such, series of arguments had ensued between classmates because I impinged on their personal space for no direct fault of mine.

Years of consistent practice made me master the art of shaking hands. I must say though that it took some time not to raise my left hand up when someone’s hand was stretched towards mine. In fact, there usually was a split-second decision making before eventually motioning my right hand.

Showcasing strength through arm wrestling was also grossly impeded by my choice of hand. My right hand, being relatively weaker than my left, was what my friends preferred. I endured a streak of losses even from those I could have pinned down effortlessly with my active hand. On the bright side though, this activity made me develop almost equal strength on my right hand. It seems fair to say that I have, over the years, turned out to be an ambidextrous arm-wrestler.

Inspiration to pencil down this piece rained upon me when I stumbled upon a makeshift fact book which stated in shouty capitals: LEFT HANDED PEOPLE LIVE AVERAGELY 8 YEARS LESS THAN THEIR RIGHT COUNTERPARTS. What nonsense! A voice inside of me barked. I understand that I might be taking this issue more personally than I should. But with what choice do you leave a man who comes from a country where the life expectancy is a good number of years below fifty-five?

There comes some consolation with being left handed or left-legged though. They say we excel in sports. Rafael Nadal, Arjen Robben and Lionel Messi are veritable examples. Some also indicate a possibility of us having an increased cerebral activity which translates to higher intelligence; the likes of Albert Einstein, Sir Newton and my old friend Leonardo Da Vinci.  These sayings, I will not verify; for I might suffer the same fate as I did with history some paragraphs before.

Most southpaws out there, like me, might not have the talent of tearing through football team’s defenses; neither may we be blessed with the mind to invent Calculus. We also might not be that fortunate to have a couple of Wimbledon wins to our respective names or paint a till-date masterpiece—The Mona Lisa. But make no mistake, we are heroes; heroes in our own rights. And we demand to be treated as such. Because in addition to confronting various personal obstacles, each and every one of us has had a fair share of the struggles imposed by humanity and the right society. No other definition of heroism, in my opinion, comes close to this.

My Summer Sojourn – a Personal anecdote

Truth Rating: 87.75%

These last couple of months have been pretty remarkable for me. Apart from the fact that I became more accommodating towards not reaching personal expectations; I learnt to reverse my line of thought on very fundamental issues and most especially had to accede to the fact that being juvenile comes with a little (just a little) touch of stupidity.

I clearly recall from unguarded comments I uttered yesteryears where I openly belittled the very idea of summer school. In my defense though, the rough idea I had about summer school was one that was run by some private universities in my country and I was made to believe students usually bought their way through. But I guess karma didn’t see it from my perspective at all; and as such, it didn’t take her too long to locate me in my freshman year at college.

My conclusion to remain for summer school was not one I hurriedly came to reach. Aside from the fact that most of my friends ran home as soon as exams finished, Ramadan was gonna fall in that period. One interesting thing about Ramadan here is the awkward times the sun rose and the times it decided to go back to sleep. In my home country, fasting lasted for 13 hours, but here, I had to endure 5 more hours for 29 straight days. Various legends also posited that the summer sun was a little parody of hell. Even worse: clouds, which usually provided a momentary escape from the sun were virtually non-existent. All one had was a vast stretch of blue and no running from the sun which sometimes peaked at 38 degree celsius.

But it sure takes more than Ramadan and some terrible weather condition to daunt someone whose GPA needed a desperate surge. I ultimately stayed back with some friends whom I guess offended karma like I did. I still had that one friend though, Zan, who for no valid reason decided to waste 9 weeks for a course he could have conveniently taken during the third semester.

Summer school was designed to be after a three-week break from the regular session and Ramadan started about that time. Aside from the time I left the dormitory (which I rarely did anyway), I was either mostly in bed, cooking, engaging in some spiritual upliftment, watching series or ultimately playing FIFA 15 with my awesome temporary roommate, Jad.

Just before summer school began, I got myself a proper pair of Ray Ban shades. Not that the sun affected my eyes in any way, it was my way of bowing to convention and to leave my eyes to the “goodies” of summer. It is common knowledge that shades have a way of reducing societal guilt to almost zero (if you get what i mean).

Two weeks into summer school, Ramadan ended and life pretty much got back to normal. I was taking two summer courses and tests were fast approaching but my confidence was still a few feet under. Some days later, we had first exams and I somehow managed to get enveloped by the gentle feel of inner peace. The “I m gonna ace this exam” kinda feeling. Everything was looking much easier and I occasionally cringed at how stupid I was some months back. Perhaps my diligence was starting to pay off? Or was it the influence of my friends Kif and Riz? Oh no, it probably was karma who took pity on me.

If anything mattered in my school, it was consistency. I know of someone who was well above the 90th percentile in a midterm exam and ended up with a DC in the course. So acing one test outta six wasn’t particularly worth the jubilation. But it was good news for my confidence. Even greater news was that none of my friends, Riz and Kif, was left behind. Our respective scores were way higher than the class average. Second exams were even better; we virtually had the same answer as the solutions released some hours later. We did it finally; being above the 90th percentile was a feat most gratifying. And doing it with Kif made it exponentially remarkable.

Another thing summer left me with was this bond I made with people I once termed acquaintances. I, who was a fan of solitude, started hanging out with them in their room just for the heck of it or for the internet router which they possessed. We also engaged in some kind of violent sarcasm; sarcasm so strong it could earn one direct punches if uttered to someone else. By extension, I also bonded with capricious Meban who never failed to objectively criticize whatever I write. Fate also made me meet Erda, a nice blend of beauty and brain who was in the same department as Kif and Riz.

The month of august was my month of firsts. I found out how much I didn’t suck at bowling. Clinching second place at two different games with three self-acclaimed experts is no small feat. I also got to use chop-sticks to eat sushi (rice, fish, avocados with an array of liquid sauces) with Ebru, a wonderful being in my department. I don’t know if it was my natural prowess or if she was just good at explaining how to hold the sticks.

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I got the hang of it relatively quickly (after 8 tries I guess). At least I was told I represented a few number of people who didn’t veer off in frustration after failed attempts at it.

But just like the famous conservation law or better still Newton’s third law which concisely discusses action and reaction; with all the series of good things that had happened to me for the past 6 weeks, it is only normal for it to be counter-balanced by a not-so-good stuff. Not to bore you with the details but I lost my phone in the mall when I went to shop for my family. After a decent search, I decided to let go. The phone already developed some fundamental problems so much so that my friend Riz termed it “the brick” whenever he wanted to get to me. I almost always wanted to respond with a punch to his face but the thought of him not having a face again was one I didn’t want to be responsible for.

Zan and I inadvertently booked the same flight to Doha. We found ourselves pelting hot sarcasms at each other all through the way to Doha. I eventually got to check our final grades right there in the airport and it was nothing short of awesome. After exploring whatever there was to explore at the airport, it was already time for Zan to board his flight. We shook hands and sealed it off with a warm embrace. Till September!!

                                                       WHAT A SUMMER!

Crimson Sunsets- A Look at Juvenile Infatuation In Hindsight

Truth Rating: 63.83%

As I sat on my student-sized mattress, once again spiraled in the labyrinths of my thoughts; taking a retrospective glance at my juvenile years. I plunged deeper, allowing a sudden feel of uneasiness lance through my body. I intuitively knew I had struck that cord and exhumed that memory. I had exceeded the threshold and there sure as hell was no turning back. All I could see was her face fast-fading into the far horizons.

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Our paths intersected in my first secondary school and I got to know her barely after few weeks of my resumption. Of course, we were in different classes initially but after the first terminal examinations, the class order was rearranged by function of intelligence and we got to be in the same class.

By raw instincts, I knew she was gonna make it to my class. Apart from the fact that she had a resume which spoke volumes, she had a charm which I thought was enough to magically transform her grades and push her up the ranks. In my first year, as expected, I was just a lad trying to shatter his sibling’s academic records and soar to the acme of excellence. For this reason, I wasn’t ready to dine with distractions.

But things started taking a different turn when I reached my second year; I felt I could simultaneously kindle the embers of distractions and tend to my academics. It took a while to see that person that was worth it as well as satisfy my steep benchmarks. But then, I didn’t have to look so far for she was just a seat due east from me, I went for her and it didn’t take too long before my heart fell in sync with the fast moving pendulums of affection. “I must have really scouted well “, I said to myself. She was intelligent, friendly, possessed a kind of smile that obliterated sorrow from ones heart; and most especially she was a paragon of beauty. Although I was (emphasis on was) one very shy person; I started out with establishing a friendly connection between us.

I recall her being the narrator of ‘super-story’ series to me every Friday after she must have watched it the night before. Slowly, the quite solid foundation was built and I intuitively felt I had the green light to proceed. Day by day, the affection grew exponentially in my heart. We continued this way till third year and by then, the love bonds in my heart were already stronger than the foundation beams used for the Eiffel tower in France. I am not certain on how she felt about me all this while; but this was love in its unsullied form for me.

Throughout this period, her lifestyle became utopian to me. I happened to love everything about her. In fact, things got so bad that I started plummeting in my terminal grades that It took serious reprimands from my parents to put me back on track…I didn’t care anyways, all I wanted to do was be around her; to see her smile and see those pink lips and that beauty that even angels gathered to gossip about. While all these complex series of reactions were going on in my within, I surprisingly remained relatively stoic on the outside.

Some weeks later, we went on a terminal break and couldn’t let go of my thoughts for her not even for a second. She happened to be my all then. I eventually mustered enough courage to shyly ask her out one particular Thursday midnight. Although her reply wasn’t definite, the mere fact that she didn’t immediately hang up on me suggested great hope. Each time we spoke, I felt this unalloyed form of inner utility; the one no math textbook could give me. I know I was the personified version of ‘callow’, but one thing was as constant as the cardinality of the holy trinity; I was sinking in the quicksands of love and I knew it. Although no stone could depict how I truly valued her, I called her Azurite, an unconventional gem stone of copper origin.

I kept on this way and we became reasonably close and our closeness made its way round school in no time. I remember vividly how I feigned anger whenever I was teased with her name and how my heart felt the stark contrast. I also recall perfectly how we usually ‘browsed’ on the field every evening during holiday coaching and how her mere sight made my heart waft incessantly in its lonely place.

Few months later, we concluded our third year examinations and we had this very long break. On a blissful Friday, she eventually acceded to my request; and believe me, nothing was more important. I spontaneously began to radiate happiness at home and everyone thought I was overjoyed upon my completion of exams. I found this time really amazing because of how long we spoke on the phone; this also coincided with the time the “magic-number” promo was trending in my country (whereby you have unlimited time to call just one number). I am certain we were one of the reasons that promo was short-lived because the only time I remember hanging up was when my device got unbearably hot.

It was also during this period that I wanted to change my school; wanted to advance to greener pastures academically; but the mere thought of leaving her debilitated me to the very fabric I was composed of . The admission into my new school was pretty late so I still had an extra term to spend before moving finally.

For some reason, we practically avoided each other during this period because we both were unusually devoted to our books. We probably were too busy trying to make names for ourselves in senior school. However, during the Christmas holidays, we talked as usual and it was then that we promised to remain faithful to each other in spite distance. Some weeks later, I journeyed to the middle belt of the country to further my education.

Exactly seven hundred and fifty-nine kilometers from home and 55 minutes by flight was Abuja and my new school wasn’t too far. I adapted to the Northern environment relatively quickly, was not doing badly academically and of course, it was a co-educational school. During my first 2 terms, I used to look forward to going home where I would have time to share with her gists from the North.

Prior to then, I always went with the saying that distance made the hearts grow fonder; but distance in my case was tearing to shreds what remained of my affection for her. There was no more zeal to call her and the ebullience on my part seemed to have faded into oblivion. Not that I particularly preferred anyone there; none exceeded little crushes.

Day by day, the feelings were literally swept away until there was almost void in my heart. I tried consoling myself with those memories we had together; but it was like I got my brain formatted; I could only recall fragments and not a coherent whole. She tried to revamp the relationship during holidays but it turned out that I always had intensive home lessons which practically robbed me of time. Whenever I occasionally searched my soul as to why this was happening to me, two answers always showed up: I hadn’t seen her for close two years and that I might have been hypnotized by the girls of the north.

A couple of months after completing my final exams, one Wednesday afternoon, I received a message from her which she tagged as important. At night, she made it clear that she was fed up of everything and was wanted to call it off. My exact words were “sure, okay”. I made no effort to ask for her reasons before acquiescing to the request. There was obviously no point in trying to fight a lost battle, I thought.
For some weeks, I thought I could conceal the little sadness in me by trying to forget that she ever existed and this served the intended purpose but for a short period of time. When the effects wore out, I considered another relationship which only lasted few weeks and left me twice as depressed. I regrettably found out that I literally exhibited a circular motion with zero resultant displacement.

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It was only when I drank from the wells of wisdom that I yanked back to my senses and probably broke free from the massive hypnosis cast on me by the girls of the north. How would I have let such a gem slip from my hands? I had series of questions I personally couldn’t give answers to. This is probably medication after death; for I am almost sure she is happier with someone else. I equally have moved on; but sometimes, that forgotten corner of my heart finds a voice and my mind reverts to juvenile mode once more.

Jigsawed Origins

Truth Rating : 76.63%

Every fibre of her feeble being echoed songs of debilitation but she was utterly indifferent to their call. Her tired body was the least of her worries as she had just descended a flight of poorly-constructed steps and had been walking on a reddish-brown path for what seemed close to an hour. Her body was screaming “stop” but it seemed only her mind was with her on this; this in turn aggravated the deposition of lactic acid to her muscles.

It was February and the chilly dust-laden winds from the Sahara formed dense fogs on the road and blocked out visibility almost completely. The rustle of the leaves never failed to break the dying silence she needed to think. She just had an appointment with her doctor in effect to the issue with her husband whose last wish as at the time was another child. From his perspective, the timing of such an event was absolutely wrong because he just got retrenched from his workplace for a crime he knew nothing about. He depended solely on his meager savings and his wife’s paltry income to sustain the family.

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Myriads of thought raced through her mind as she moved slowly to the bus stop. To further worsen the situation, she already had a child who was only a few months old and still relied heavily on breast milk. They must have allowed the exuberance of nascent marital life lead them to such dead end. Left to her, she would have succumbed to abortion as clearly exuded by her husband’s actions; but it took the re-assuring words of the doctor to talk her out of such heinous crime. “I am going to have this baby” she said to herself.

Amidst the confusion, the chaos, and the pain, his estimated time of arrival was the last day of August but the reason he delayed for close to 48 hours still posed an enigma to most people. His birth wasn’t greeted with so much celebration like that of his elder sibling. In fact, the name given him by his parents further bolstered the fact that he wasn’t planned for and only God’s will was done

With his father’s seemingly large nuclear family and the burden of numerous dependent relatives, the pressure to secure another job intensified by the minute; but it appeared as though his cloud had no silver lining and his tunnel of hope had anything but light at its end. His wife never for once relented in supporting the family. She took to part-time teaching as a way to increase cash flow; but it takes more than one wing for an eagle to soar. Moreover, her position in her work place had been reeking in absolute stagnation for close to 5 years. All her contemporaries were way ahead of her in office rank; She instantly became an object of ridicule and an example in a prayer point people prayed against.

Then, his parents dreaded holidays because it reminded them of the school fees they were to pay in a couple of weeks to come. Most times, the minuscule fees were paid in installments and help had to be sought from supportive family friends and his mother’s colleagues at work. But in spite of being cocooned in the sticky webs of apparent hardship, the seed of contentment was sown in the hearts of these children for they seemed to understand the situation perfectly; they weren’t too overbearing.

Another thing which brought respite to their parents was the exceptional intellectual gift displayed by these children; Some owed it to the genetic transfer of intelligence from parents while others ascribed it as a way of consolation adopted by the children to their parents. They beamed like stars wherever they went. In fact, on some occasions, their parents had to change their schools to ascertain the children’s consistency upon hearing a lot of sinister words from jealous parents. Despite this, their positions in their respective classes never experienced an increase in ordinality; it was ever-constant like the density of mercury.

The family’s ship eventually made it to the calm shores of the turbulent waters of life’s vicissitudes after 4 years of battle with the raging tides. His father got a job and alleviated the burden his wife had been shouldering for the better part of half a decade.

But as he grew up, he noticed that his elder sibling was his father’s favourite and almost similar action put up by them generated different reactions from his father. Perhaps, the circumstances around his birth, the father-daughter bond, his striking resemblance with his mother or his inability to spontaneously read his books were the most probable causes. He usually got scolded and compared to his sister occasionally and most times it served as an impregnable barrier between him and things he needed from his father. All these pained him to the very marrow of his bones but he usually found consolation in his mother. Then, his family got divided into 2 distinct teams. And as the obvious underdog, his mother had no choice than to root for him against the strong family opposition.

He didn’t only inherit superficial looks from his doting mother, he also made sure he got some resilience and determination from her. These were either lacking or not prioritized in his sister’s repertoire of virtues; these virtues gave him the fighting chance that enabled him narrow the gap despite his sister’s academic giant strides.

Meanwhile, the massive concrete wall that dammed his mother’s river of promotion had been fractured at the base and the river flowed almost without restraint. She got series of double promotions to compensate for the acrimonious years of stagnation. Some years later, the family relocated to its permanent residence in Lagos which took close to 5 years to build due to incessant financial hiccups. Everything was finding its place just like pieces in a giant jigsaw puzzle. Also worth mentioning is the fact that some being later came in not only to increase the family size but also to swim in the tranquil lake of relative luxury.

Time had a profound effect on his resilience as well as his determination; he not only mastered effectively the spontaneous reading culture, he also smashed most of his sibling’s academic record. Upon seeing the numerous achievements of Team Underdog, his father had no choice than to completely obliterate the family division and encourage the children equally. With assiduous studying by both the children, they made landmark achievements and unalloyed success in national competitions; nothing pleased their father more. This invariably made the already large shoes even more colossal for the last child who is also doing fine at her own pace.

Being someone who relishes nocturnal solitude, one chilly Thursday night, he took time to playback the memories of long gone days. He sure had a story to tell now that things were as normal as snow in December. There was so much to be thankful for. He muttered a silent ‘Thank you Lord’ and instantly obeyed his drowsy eyes into the dark confines of dreamland.

Meet Me

Just to be clear: I do not claim to be one who shines at writing essays about myself; in fact, it was something I never really liked and I obviously am not interested in spending the latter part of my teenage-hood doing so.

“Do whatever makes you happy”: was a statement I  never completely fully understood  until I found myself failing (by my standards) in first year at college.

One particular saturday morning,after my intellectual confidence hit a new low on a particular calculus exam, I honestly had virtually all kinds of thoughts except suicide traipsing through my mind. It was then that I came to the conclusion that there was more to life than “dy/dx” and that funny-looking “S” elongated out of proportion. I then decided to give writing a shot.

Well, this introductory piece isn’t scheduled to discuss  the bitter-sweet experience of my academic life neither will it be focusing on my life’s history. So let’s get to the basics:

I go by the name  Shodipo Ahmed Ajibola,

Temperament: 59.56% sanguine + 39.29% phlegmatic + trace amounts of melancholy.

Friends and acquaintances have only been right about me on one thing — my capriciousness.

At times, I am a son, a brother, a humourous lad, a boyfriend, a role model, an Arsenal fan and an objective critic.

But most times, I am a struggling student of Mechanical Engineering at some university outside the tropics.

Now I am gonna be telling you something most people wont be willing to acknowledge first hand: i lie (or better still ,i intentionally modify the truth). But if it makes you feel any better, my lies are never at your expense; it is always associated with some kinda big picture. As you know, I am an ardent advocate of the Greater-good Theory.

Er-mm…

I m actually impressed i made it this far with the intro; I never used to write past 5 lines a few years back.

I am afraid that is the little I can say about me without revealing my not-so-good side.

I will probably chip in little details of me in my subsequent (but occasional) write-ups.

Till then, I remain yours in the struggle.