By Bada Yusuf Amoo
The weeds breeding into wilderness, harbouring little reptiles and giant insects behind each block and the next footstep from the last block is a forest demarcated from the hostel with iron-net. I am one of those that were just admitted as an undergraduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU. It seems that I am the last member of the room and the reception I get is a momentum of oneness. And rats come in and out as if inspecting new comers.
The roommates begin to make jokes, which they refer to as “Aro”. From the Aro, they seem to have been living together for over two years with their versatility on campus affairs. Ope is the first roommate name I easily memorized as he seems to be the Basket Mouth of the room, he ensures the Aro continues, he never hides his phobia as rats dart in and out. They talk of Snakes dilemma students encountered in their hostels, rats palaver as they torment the land owners, and how rats stand tall like monkey and peep into your soup while cooking.
It was not too late for me to realize that Ope has future political ambition on campus, as his ambition appears so obvious from his words like nine months pregnancy. In my internal solitude observation, I realized that many of them are Pre-Degree students of OAU Distant Learning Centre (DLC). “Moro Returnees” I said in my mind, I never know where the phrase comes from, but I have learnt from home that Moro is the place OAU has built her DLC. Then, series of thoughts begin to flood into my head as rats continue to dart in the corners of the room confidently.
Shortly, I realize that the Bed space offered me has no mattress; I ask if any of them knows where the mattress is? “See Mr. John, you paid for bed space not room or mattress. That is OAU for you…” Surprisingly, my mouth went agape as Ope snaps. Meanwhile, he is on the upper bunk of his bed, trying to open the upper side of his cupboard, as he opens, a rat jumped out as if it has wings. Ope summersaults wonderfully, the bed brakes and immediately, he lands on the lower bunk, we all laugh at fresh undergraduate scared by mere rat. “What if it is a snake?” .We chorused.
We feel Ope has come with another Aro when he says we should take him to the health centre that he cannot stand up; we considered him little bit serious when he says he just had surgery on his spinal cord few months back due to road accident on his way from Lagos to Ibadan. We stay late at the health centre that night and came back with solitary confusion. Learning that Ope spinal cord is broken, I share one-sided bed with another roommate called Supo, my eye opens all night with traffic of thoughts observing the freedom of the rats on OAU.