First Bank Lecture Theatre was just where Simon loved to spend his evenings. Many times he had tried to find palpable reasons for the sensation he felt anytime he sat on one the wooden seats in this building, all to no avail. Today was like every other day, or so he thought.
There he sat again on his favourite seat, somewhere that could pass well to be regarded as the centre of the hall, having both his legs spread out on the long bench before him like two friends that have fought and sworn never to be reconciled.
Simon was twenty-two years old, at least, so he always said. For a moment, he raised his neck and let out a big yawn with his mouth as wide as an African pot of soup – a neglected one.
Simon was tired. If he was told to make a written depiction of himself as he sat on that seat, he would never have gotten a right word to describe this fatigue that overwhelmed his flesh.
He was very happy there would be no more lectures in this hall for the rest of the day, so he could seat and relax for as long as he wanted. But of course he would have to say a prayer that a bunch of students don’t come around soon to disturb him in the name of group discussion, extracurricular undertaking, coaching, or a combination of these.
Simon sneezed at the thought of it, and then shook his head subsequently.
What more can a man do when he is tired than to think about how he had spent his day? This was the same lecture theatre in which Simon had had his first lecture that day. And for a second, he imagined how students had filled up the whole place that morning.
If the vice chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University had accidentally walked by that morning, he would possibly have considered approving the commencement of teeming labour in order to erect a bigger lecture theatre in that part of the university. Of course, undergraduates didn’t just turn up en masse for any lecture, even if it’s the last to exams, let alone attend one held in the morning so crowdedly.
But everyone could testify that Prof.Kikikono’s classes were profusely different from any they’ve seen, together with his technique of organizing impromptu tests as often as possible. Older students could swear he was different few years before, but ever since he returned from Sierra Leone, things were never to be the same again.
Simon rose to his feet slowly, stepping on the floor with his right foot before the other, after he had pleasingly swung both legs from their former position. His legs ached somehow, and he really didn’t understood why, neither did he care so much about it.
He merely guessed the manner he had sat could have blocked some flow of blood in the veins in his legs. Resting on the fact that he would soon be relieved of the pain, he wondered why he should know its specific cause. Why should he worry so much about scientific doctrines, when he was almost a graduate of the Faculty of Law – a promising one at that?
He began to pick his way towards one of the exits of the hall, still feeling the quake at his legs. He stopped for a second and turned to look at his bag, which was on the immediate chair to the right of the one he had risen. He wondered if he should take his phone along on his short trip to the toilet.
“No, it’s not necessary. I would hurry and come back as soon as I can,” he mumbled to himself.
Before he left the hall, he glanced through again from one end to the other to make sure he wasn’t oblivious of anyone’s presence. Not at all, he was still alone.
Simon did hurry, even though a peep at his mind would prove otherwise. He thought of the heavy rainfall that left him disorganized. He thought of the little boy he had met before Odudua Hall, and his appearance that loudly spoke more of poverty than the begging hands.
He thought of how bad he had willed to give, if only he had had some money with him. He thought of the stationery merchant he owed some hundreds of naira, and the okada man that shouted at him for crossing the road while the green light shone on the traffic-light board.
He wondered why his day had been so much of a jigsaw. Why couldn’t he get to do many things he wanted? Why did his dreams and expectations seem far beyond him? And now, the day was running to an end.
He would just sit in his favourite hall still he felt like going to his hostel. Then, he would have to stand before his roommates and explain why he had left the windows opened. What a mess!
Simon walked back to the hall, slower than he had left, perhaps dew to the heavy weight of the thoughts he was engaged in. The tremor at his feet was gone completely now, just as he had guessed.
Simon sighed. For once, something was working right in his day. But then, his prolonged outbreath disappeared suddenly and completely when he got back to the exit from which he had left the hall a few seconds before.
He stood agape at the opened door as he looked into the hall. By now, there were three groups of students sitting at different locations in the hall. And the serene environment he had left behind was now a factory of silent noise. Simon was dumbfounded.
How on earth could he sit peacefully here now? To worsen matters, members of one of the groups were sitting very close to where he had placed his bag. He closed his eyes for a moment and almost let out a curse.
When Simon opened his eyes, a lady he hadn’t really seen before he closed his sight was walking towards the door at which he stood.
He couldn’t just keep standing there, or else someone would start to ask him questions. So, he summoned his consciousness and was ready to move. But then, the walking lady, who was now very close to him, hit her left foot against a raised part of the concrete floor before the door, lost her balance and was at the risk of a severe fall. Simon did it as if he had planned for it.
He spread out his hands instantaneously and grabbed her right before she could have stumbled. Verily, it was a great safe.
The whole hall was perfectly silent for a minute, all eyes staring at the guys at the door. The lady didn’t recover from the shock very quickly, she had her head hung over Simon’s shoulder the whole time.
Simon made sure she was balance before he again suddenly withdrew his hands. He wondered if he should be ashamed or proud for his act. The lady didn’t give him the chance to think for long.
“Thank you -very much.” She said appreciatively, while still trying to catch her breath.
“Don’t Mention You are welcome.” Simon replied abruptly, wondering if he should have used the two statements together afterwards. He looked at her sharply, trying to keep his eyes off her as much as he could.
Then, at the sight of the staring occupants of the hall who were more interested in getting the full gist than in facing their businesses, he began to walk away from the door. The lady stood and watched him leave for some seconds, after which she also left the hall, thanking God she hadn’t just had that fall.
As Simon reclined on his bed that night, after a long talk with his roommates about the rain, the opened window, and the absolutely dry mattresses, he could hardly remember any of his struggles that day.
But one thing he did remember, and this he wished he would never forget – the face of the girl he saved at First Bank Lecture Theatre. The picture stuck right to his mind, the memory right to his heart. He could barely control how rapidly, proudly, and graciously he thought about the incident.
Never had he found such affection in anything like he did in this now. He searched his intellect for the right word to describe his feelings, and then gave up when he couldn’t find any. What a sensation! He wondered why he had found so little interest in telling his friends and roommates about it.
Simon rolled to a side of his bed and picked up his Bible from a stool, and the jotter he had kept beside it. After checking some pages of his jotter, he concluded he had to read three chapters of the book of Ezra that night.
He placed the jotter back on the stool and opened the Bible, while considering the possibility of sitting up. He kept reading for a while and then he was lost in his thoughts again.
‘I will get to see her again one of these days, yea! Just one of these days – somewheresomeway,’ he concluded, placed his Bible back on the stool, pulled his blanket over him and dozed off.
He woke up few minutes later, having had a dream that could serve as a prototype of the incident at the hall, perhaps, in a more self-defined way.