From Primary To Tertiary, Here Is My Diary (Part 34)

From Primary To Tertiary, Here Is My Diary (Part 34)

22nd June 2024, NewsOrient
Books, Arts, Culture, News
By Dapo Thomas

Three weeks in secondary school, I still didn’t think I was serious. The “omo’ta swags” were still there. I tried to change my style but I realized that I was just doing rebranding and repackaging.

I was simply upgrading the local content. I stopped walking the Mushin way but even the one I invented as substitute was just an upgrade version. For the Mushin version, it was my right arm that was bending. For the “Benevolent version” that I just invented, it was my left arm that was bending. It was a matter of “arm-relocation”.

Everything was just complete rebranding. When I attempted to start walking differently, my steppings were exactly like those of the “Witnesses” that usually knocked on our doors with “Watch Tower”. I moved from “jwa-jwa” to “sme-sme” movement. You can see that it was all about repackaging.

The truth was that I needed to restructure my life completely. The damage done to my humanity in two years could only be “fixed” by a redemptive therapy. Everything about me required salvation. Even my voice needed immediate deliverance. For the Choirmaster to suggest that I should be drinking two raw eggs everyday before attending choir practice showed the extent of vandalization that my vocal chords had
suffered in the gym of Oga Dara.

Despite the fact that I had stopped smoking, my eyes were always bloodshot without reason. However, something happened that made me to have a quick dialogue with my brain and face reality. Something that changed my life utterly.

When we were in primary five, my gang and I were discussing general issues about life. It was Bidemi, the gang leader who started it. He was the first born of his parents. Dada was the first born of his parents while I was just the first born of Senior. It was during our discussion that Bidemi told us that he was going to inherit his father’s properties when he died. I must confess that even though I understood the drift of his statement, I didn’t really feel comfortable that children of 11 and 12 years old would be discussing the death of their parents because of inheritance.

But psychologically, it had registered in my subconscious. So, when I got to Senior’s house, I was using style to look for what to inherit when he died. I looked for car, he didn’t have. He only had an official car which was a whole bus. That bus belonged to the government. You can only appropriate government vehicles, you cannot inherit them. House, he didn’t have. I knew this because I was the one going to LEDB’s office at Gbaja, Surulere, to pay our monthly rent of N2:50k. The Lagos Executive Development Board (LEDB) was our landlord then. I was the one washing his clothes and polishing his shoes everyday.

Yes, everyday I would wash the clothes he wore to the office or party the previous day. Yes, everyday I would polish his shoes whether he wore them or not. It was Senior’s strategem to keep me busy every day. So, noticing that he had plenty of them, both clothes and shoes, I said to myself, finally I had something to inherit.

On this particular day before washing his agbada, I decided to see how fitting it would look on me on inheritance day. He was not at home. I was trying it in his room. As soon as I put it on, I looked at myself in the mirror in the room, I looked exactly like “Ara orun kẹkẹ”, a popular masquerade in those days. First, the trousers were like bean sac. I couldn’t even see my legs at all. After covering my two legs, the leftover of the extra, extra, extra large trousers was enough to sew another agbada for me.

I removed the trousers and decided to try the agbada. Ahhhhh, that one was worse. Coincidentally, it was a white garment I was trying. Here comes Woli Tanku. When I tried the cap I wanted to inherit, it covered my face, my neck and some part of my chest. I moved from garment to shoes. It was the slippers I first tried. As soon as I moved with them in the room, I was hearing “pra, pra”. That was the sound of oversize. Then, the shoes. When I wore one of his famous shoes, I padded them with tissues and newspapers. As soon as I moved like this, all the paper packaging would collapse. That was the day I realized the folly of inheritance.

On that very day, I made up my mind to be serious with my education so that I could buy clothes and shoes that would be my exact sizes. Aside from this dramatic inspiration, there was another inspiration from our neighbours. The Foresythes were our neighbours. Lolu and Wole Foresythes were not just Lagos socialites, they were influential members of the Nigerian elite. They were well educated and rich. It was their mother and younger brother, Ladi that were living at 4, Western Avenue, Surulere. Ours is number 16.

Any time one of these two people came visiting their mother, you would see the glamour of literacy in their poise and the beauty of wealth in their glitz. There was no time they would come that they would not attract crowd of admirers and “token expectants”. Their mother was always proud of them. Which mother wouldn’t be proud of a successful lawyer in the country and the CEO of a prominent Chemical Industry. Lolu was the lawyer and Wole was the CEO of Wolex Chemical industries limited.

Each time they held a party in the area, it was always with class and charm. All the creme de la creme of the society were always in attendance. If Chief Ebenezer Obey was not on the band stand it would be King Sunny Ade. This family was another inspiration for me.

The last inspiration for me came from three of my older cousins namely Dr Fredrick Fasehun Machado, a medical doctor, Dele Oyedele, a journalist and Babatunde Thomas aka Se Pep.

Being the first graduate I came in contact with in the family, Dr Machado, was not just good in medicine, he was a versatile enigma. He would discuss any subject under the sun with you as if he learned it in the university while studying medicine.

He taught me the philosophy of life and the sociology of national and family politics. Dele Oyedele taught me how to write and speak good English. As a journalist, he had zero tolerance for bad English written or spoken. He motivated me and his sister, Alero Atake, to write and speak good englísh. Then, Babatunde Thomas taught me how to read round the clock. He could read for 12 hours without standing up. He was not a restive character like me. But he coached me how to read .

Buoyed by these assorted motivations, I recorded above average scores in two tests- English and Yoruba . That was another motivation. The only demoralizing news in my form one was that the Principal got to know me as a bad boy because I used to make noise in the class. I was in an unfortunate class because we were neighbours to the Principal, Mr Alake whose office was adjacent my class. Mr Alake had a long cane which he carried along anytime he walked through the corridor. He was the second person to beat me after the death of iya Ibadan.

I was also the first student in the class to be known by most of the teachers not because I was brilliant but because I was an unrepentant noise maker.

I tried as much as possible to be of good behavior but it wasn’t easy. One day, I was making so much noise in the class and from nowhere I heard a female voice: “Fine boy, ye pariwo mo now” meaning “Fine boy, stop making noise “. Wow, immediately I heard that I knew one of the fine girls in my class was already crushing on me. Me, fine boy!!! I had never been blessed with such amorous compliments in my life. What that meant was that in addition to my “gra-gra” lifestyle, I would now have to add “unsolicited romance” because I must confess, I was captivated by the “sweet thin voice”. I didn’t say anything but I noted the girl for immediate action after closing.

In my class, there were so many beautiful girls but I didn’t show any interest until this particular incident. We had Toyin Taylor -Cole, Titilayo Obasa, Bola Adeniregun, Dora Ekpo, Doris Ekpo, Raliat Raji, Raliat Famosa, Biola Atinsola, Dewunmi Balogun, Tola Adesina, Dorcas and Alice Oyeleye, Molara Àjọṣe, Adenike Alugo, Afusat Areola, Taiwo and Kehinde Akínlàdé, Victoria Akpan, Margaret, Lanre Orímóògùnjẹ́, Bola Bada and Oyinade Anifowose.

I couldn’t concentrate in class again since I heard “fine boy”. I was waiting for the closing time so that I could “pluck my new flower”. Not just new flower but my first one in life.

Before they rang the bell, I had told my friends about my intended adventure. I spoke to Emeka, Yinusa, Kehinde Richard and Aderemi Adedeji. They all contributed their quota to the presentation I was preparing to make.

I was making jottings, taking notes, moving from desk to desk strategizing on the girl with a sweet voice as if that was what I promised iya Ibadan on her death bed.

Finally, the closing bell rang. I made sure that I didn’t stain my white uniform as I used to. As we moved out of the school gate, I saw that the girl and her friends too were stepping out. I adjusted the “polo” of my uniform by flying it full mast. I untucked my shirt. I “garrowed” along just to keep pace with her. Well, I was now with her, walking side by side with my two hands in my pockets trying to flow with the trending habits.

After several hours of rehearsals, I started following my script. I looked back to see if my friends were at my back as planned. Good, they were there. They were my elixir for “carry on”. I spoke: “Hi.” She replied with an “hi” as well. Then, I spoke again: “Thank you for cautioning me in class when I was making noise . I really appreciate your compliments (I didn’t say it smoothly as I have put it but I sha tried). Her reply was discourteous: “My friend, that was not a compliment in anyway. I was just being insolent in a nice way. The fine boy could mean Mr Man, stop making noise. By the way, why do you like talking too much and too loud?”

I was rattled by her response. I was completely dazed. I won’t say I didn’t understand her English but I couldn’t cope with the accent. Let me just say she spoke polished English like somebody who went to private Nursery and primary school.

By this time, I couldn’t gallivant again. My legs were wobbling. In a way, I was retreating from my collosal adventure which had turned to an oddesey.

I didn’t want her to have any feeling of triumphalism, I struggled to mutter a response: “we will see in class tomorrow. Thank you for your accomodation.”

With the way I was wobbling, my friends suspected that it was a long nail that my crush used to crush me.

Dr Dapo Thomas’ From Primary To Tertiary, Here Is My Diary Is Serialized Here Weekly Every Saturday

~ NewsOrient