Were (the mad) 11/08/1992

Throwback thursday and I am sharing a short written 2014-10-02 20.13.24in 1992…

Displaced thoughts reshape the events of the other day. Sitting under mango shade, chewing, tanning. Dew – splashed wind irritates the goose bumps on leathery skin. One more beard hair to pull out. He shivers as the cold green water washes off the sleep. Pulls on pants, the best he has. Tops it off with his bus – corner shirts, you know the one with Michael Jackson singing ‘Thriller’ or is it ‘Beat it’? Any way the high heeled runners complete the picture, he has to be dressed his best. After all he is not a small child and he has a date. A date with his JAMB examination.
No, you think it is poly-JAMB? I am sure it is JAMB, the year was 1983 and the business of poly-JAMB had not begun. I digress, OK let me stick with my story. School walls welcomed him at 7am for the 9am papers. The big policeman seemed a necessary fixture looking through students in front of him and growled “Dem don cancel the papers, dem say thief steal something and fit leak am sef.” The poster behind his balding pot confirmed words and the laughing shoes reversed direction homebound till further notice.
Same morning ritual, yes including the tannin stick that I forgot to mention before. The footfalls entered the hall. This time no cheat or thief intervened and he sat poised to regurgitate. 5 years, 8 months and 29 days of work in 5 hours less a 30 minute break. The shading took shape forming an interesting pattern on the official answer sheet. 10 more questions to go and only a few minutes left, rush, read, hurry, time’s out. Dejected, he gets up grabs his cap and walks home. Reflecting, wondering what could have been done better and how? His chance?
Words pour from his barely open lips, incoherent babbles, a child’s first attempts at speech? Laughter, then quite rapidly it subsides and he greets the folks at the compound edge. Life follows its predictable pace, silence, errands, boredom, more unsaid, unheard words, serious dialogues with self. And then the clear voice from the little toothpaste radio,”JAMB results are out.”
He repeats his cleansing ritual at the appointed time and approaches the result center. Pauses, eyes shut and prays intensely before attempting to peek at the results. His eyes open and examine his scores, laughter falls from his lips and the crowds revive a fainted man. He rises and runs. I saw him five days later, naked and roaming refusing to be caught by the expressway. Nine years later, he has more mileage than a 10 year old taxi cab.


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