IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
Diary of a Final Year Student 1
I had been longing to travel back to school before that day. 1st October was not officially the resumption date in school but everything at home had suddenly turned humdrum that I wished for no other thing but to leave. I suspended my driving lessons, packed my bags and left for Ilorin. Knowing fully well that there was no hostel to stay and nothing to do at school, I decided to put up with my aunty pending full resumption at school. At first, every day seemed interesting at her place but I soon got tired, adhering to the static everyday routine of waking up in the morning, saying my prayers, doing the house chores, getting the children ready for school and finally going to my aunt’s shop to spend the rest of the day till dusk. All I ever wanted was a holiday filled with fun but at the end of it all, disappointment was all that I got
School resumed on 8th October and I began looking out for the hostel accommodation portal online. The accommodation in the school was allocated on ‘first come first serve’ basis. So any lapse on my part automatically meant no accommodation for me. Each day found me staring at the screen of my laptop in order to apply for a bed space as soon as possible, but with every second that passed, nothing on accommodation seemed to appear on the portal. I thought to myself, “For how long am I going to keep staring at this silly laptop screen which seems devoid of any iota of hope or promise?”
Then the devil’s day came when I got a call from my friend, Halima. It was a very cool day and the weather seemed very favourable. As I pressed the green button, the voice I heard at the other end of the receiver was “Go online, the accommodation portal has been opened.” Within seconds, my perspiration level skyrocketed and I began to panic. I was a bit happy that I had my laptop with me at the shop and my modem too. But as I logged into the university portal, I almost began to shed tears as the server failed me. Nothing on the screen seemed to click. The smallest loading process took not less than half an hour. My aunty who was sitting an angle away stared at me with eyes full of pity, trying to calm me down. I then picked up the phone and began calling everyone I knew, asking them if they had been able to book a bed space. Most of them said they weren’t able to while only three of them told me they had successfully completed the process. As my hand slipped off the keyboard, I made them totally cover my face which was already tearing. How was I going to survive the whole session without an accommodation inside the school? This was the question I kept asking myself as I let the tears flow freely. I then took out a handkerchief and wiped the tears away, and as my eyes became clear, the corners of my mouth edged upwards with a beautiful smile as the sight before me, right there on the screen was telling me to make payment for accommodation. Immediately, I took out my bank debit card and began to punch in the required numbers to make payment. I continued the same process a number of times and each effort I made gave me the heartbreaking news that my card CVV number was invalid. Then i conceived another idea. Very swiftly, I picked up the phone, punched in my mummy’s number, dialed it and requested for her card details to make my accommodation payment with a promise to refund her as soon as possible. She instantly agreed, telling me to exercise patience as she was just going to load her card. I had no choice but to wait very patiently, silently praying to my creator to make the whole effort and trouble worthwhile. Eventually, I got the card details my mummy sent and tried using it to make payment, but lo and behold, it was too late. All the bed spaces had been taken. It was destiny. It was the perfect design of the Almighty Allah. I tried very much not to let the tears flow, but I failed. I continued to stare into nothing with a blank mind. This marked the beginning of my final year trauma.
Days soon passed very swiftly and I decided to for one moment put all my troubles behind me and make myself happy for a while. So I decided to go shopping, which is a very favourite pastime for me. I got bags, Jalabia, body products and beautiful pashminas and scarves. Around the corner was the grand conference of the Nigeria Association of Muslim Law Students which was going to hold at Lagos. As the association’s National Welfare Secretary and Member of the Conference planning committee. A very big task was ahead of me. I traveled down to Lagos just two days before the 1st of November in order to make necessary preparations for the conference as regards accommodation, venues and feeding. I put up with my lovely friend Zainab Anthony, who happened to be a student of the Lagos State University and I so much enjoyed my stay with her. We talked about things that we had both missed out on. She told me about her fiancé who just returned from the UK with many beautiful presents for her. She also made mention of a reading club, “Lag Muslimah Reads”, which she had started attending. I also shared my personal things with her except one which till this moment has caused a rift between us.
The conference soon began with the formal opening on 31st October and I found myself busier than ever, which as a result hindered me from participating actively at the programmes. It was fun. I met new friends and acquaintances amongst the delegates that came to represent their various universities from all over Nigeria; we wined and dined as well as slept and woke up together. We also visited beautiful places together, one of which was the sultan beach at Badagry. We went for evening shopping at the Ikeja city mall and did many other beautiful things together until the carpet was rolled back in on the 4th day of November.
On getting back to Ilorin, I found that there were piles of lectures I had missed and loads of requirements yet to be fulfilled. I had also just being appointed the chief Judge of the Faculty’s students’ court plus the fact that I urgently needed accommodation if not inside the school but someplace nearby. Going to school from my auntie’s place became way too unbearable and expensive for me as I had to get three cabs to and three cabs fro each day. And the peak of it all was that I was running out of cash. The stronger I professed myself to be, the weaker I became. I cried each night as I went to bed. I would stay out late, whiling away time with my dear friend, Ibrahim in whose company, I found happiness and comfort. My Auntie didn’t help matters at all as she displayed no sense of understanding. Each day found me forcing smiles out of my dejected face. Wouldn’t I have come prepared if I knew that a bag of troubles was waiting ahead of me?
My mum soon began to get worried about my accommodation. She told me that she was ready to pay any amount as she didn’t want anything to affect me negatively, especially considering the fact that it was my final year. The accommodations outside the school were quite expensive. The least expensive ones cost seventy thousand naira, so I chose one within this range. Mum was very supportive during these times and was also a great source of comfort for me. I didn’t pay for the house immediately as I needed to get some things like mattress, table and chair, foot mats, curtains and other miscellaneous things. In the line, I met a friend who showed interest in partnering with me to pay for the house in order to be my housemate. My mum consented to this and I comfortably started using the remaining half of the money to get some things for the house including personal things. When the time came to make payment, my friend declined, to my utmost dismay, telling me that she had found some other place. I was crushed to the ground. Everything seemed to be crashing right before me. I couldn’t bother my mummy this time around considering how much she had spent since I resumed the session. All these weren’t too much of a problem compared to what many others were facing. But what made them so mighty was the fact that I had never experienced anything close to these before. The trauma seemed to continue with the birth of a new problem each day.
EARLY DECEMBER 2012
I felt very relieved when my mum informed me that she would be coming down to Ilorin together with my Dad to attend a public lecture organised by the University Muslim Community which my Dad was invited to deliver at the University’s main auditorium. I saw it as an opportunity to have a heart to heart talk with her so that she could understand my plight better than how she already saw it. I long awaited that day, having missed her so dearly and knowing fully well that she wasn’t coming empty handed. Days before her arrival, I wore a cheerful countenance which many seemed to notice.
1st December was the day I walked into the University auditorium and caught sight of my Dad at the podium delivering the lecture. My mum was seated comfortably among the first three rows. Her sight made me very proud. She was so gorgeously dresses that I imagined her being a first lady. Of course she’s a first lady; exclusively for my dad and our little country called home. I didn’t bother chatting with her at that moment because I considered it most inappropriate to divide her attention. I carefully picked a seat at the back; one that would afford me maximum concentration without unnecessary petty disturbance. Just as I directly glued my eyes and focused my ears to absorb the message passed across, I heard a big boom right beside me. It was my sister, Widad. She had journeyed along with Dad and Mum. I was so glad to see her and most of all, glad to hear that my brother, Rida was also present at the lecture. Everyone felt the invisible blush on my dark face as I couldn’t hide my excitement. It was a moment to remember.
The beautiful moment did not last long. It was soon overtaken by an unpleasant swing of mood. We had all moved to the University Mosque after the successful end of the lecture to say our dhuhr prayer. After the salah, I went to the park in the company of my School Sister, Aisha and my friend, Ibrahim, to meet my parents. As soon as I got there, I realized that something was wrong, my Dad had started the car engine and was about to take off. My mum swiftly alighted from the car to give me a sweet hug. She told me that we wouldn’t be able to spend time together as my Dad had insisted that it was time to go back home. My eyes turned red immediately as my vision became blurred by the concentrated tears yet to be shed. She gave me a big bag of things she had packed for me from home but even that did not seem enough. All I wanted was her company, which I unfortunately couldn’t get.
I decided to move into my new hostel the next day. Even though I was still in arrears of thirty thousand naira, I could not afford the exorbitant amount of money I spent each day from my auntie’s house to school. Between fear and hope, I set up my room on 2nd December and slept in it the same night. Deep inside me, I knew that the only One who could fix everything was my one True Creator and in his basket, I confidently laid all my eggs.
How was Wardah able to cross this big hurdle that stood daringly in front of her? Find out in PART 2