Right under the big tree commonly called Leucaena leucocephala (never mind, it’s just a botanical name, I still do not know it’s common name), my hands dipped into my pocket fiddling with the two currency notes in it. I had wished and prayed for it to become #1,000 note each, but I know within myself that I kept a #50 and a #10 note in there……”how I wish I had some sort of a supernatural power to convert currencies, I would be the richest man on planet earth”….hehehehe!
Just like dipping one’s feet into a boiling water, I felt a scorching burn on my toes which peeped out of my sandals. I have been standing there for like half an hour now, making me oblivion about the shadow of the tree that had slightly moved away from where I stood. I quickly moved to a new spot that provided me shade and glanced around to see if someone isn’t watching.
At last, I resumed to my thoughts. “What can I buy with #50?” I started naming items, but I finally settled for a PET bottle of Zobo (a Nigerian beverage made from dried Roselle plant flowers. Thedrink is also known as Roselle drink and called Sorrel drink in the Carribean.) worth #30 and a biscuit worth #20. The other #10…….should transport me to my hostel. I hastily walked away from the shade, entering the hot sun to get the items before the next lecture begins.
I joined lots of hungry students at the small kiosk popularly called “organic kiosk”. Everyone seems to be buying things that made me ask myself if I was actually in the right place.
“Get me a lacasera bottle and two beef rolls”
“Get me two viju milk and two doughnuts”
“I only need a can of malt and one egg roll”
The voices kept on echoing left and right with hands stretching to collect the demanded items while their faces were all beaming as they paid. Could I be the only one buying stuff worth #50? Because everyone seem to buy worth not less than #200. *i must be odd*
I was surprised at first, but I got to realise that it is the first week of first semester and students, especially “Freshmen” would still be basking in the euphoria of their first time in the University and the bunch of stipends and allowances given to them by their parents. I smiled and wandered off into memory land, remembering my first month in the university, how I spent a lot of money on foods, snacks and irrelevant items as I always believe I have enough and more would come from my parents. My first day in school saw me wine and dine at ‘Tantalizers’, splashing #500 on a plate of rice and drinks. Second week was spent at ‘Mama Calabar’s’ cafeteria where a plate of Eba is #300. Snacks and drinks that I bought were unlimited.
As days rolled by, I found out that my allowance isn’t coming as usual. I would be told to mince what I have and be prudent in my spending. I found out that there are more things to buy in school other than food. Lecture notes and manuals started rolling in for us to buy. Practical fees and other miscellaneous contribution started rolling in also. That was how my purchasing power went low after few weeks. I started managing Beans and Bread worth #120, bottle of coca cola and biscuit worth #100. I thought I was in this alone, not until I saw my spend-thrift friends who now settle for their food stuffs in the hostel. Now that I am in my second year, I think #30 Zobo and #20 biscuit would just be fine.
‘Hey man!!!’ I jerked from my thoughts and looked back to check whose voice was it, as it sounds so familiar.
“Xup Jude,” I said.
Jude was a friend of mine back then in Secondary school who happens to be a fresher here. We’ve met a couple of times during his registration process and on those occasions, we’ve had some lengthy conversation.
“Cool”, He replied.
“What did you come here to do?” (What sort of a dumb question did I just ask, was I expecting him to tell me he was here hunting for elephants……my bad)
“I came to buy snacks for myself” he said beaming with smiles and pride.
“Would you mind if I get you something?”
(God!!!!! Who would refuse such great offer? Opportunity comes but once)
“No I won’t” I said without hesitation.
He bought me a PET bottle of Mountain Dew and a sweet-smelling, sugar-sprinkled big doughnut while he left with his items.
I quietly walked to a corner of the Kiosk, tucking my #50 into my pocket. I sat down munching at the doughnut happily and sipping the drink with every proud. (Only God knows the last time I had ever tasted such). I paused a bit, then smiled, looked at the bottle of mountain dew in my hand…..”He is still a fresher, just as I once was. He’s got the money to spend now. Can he keep up with these spending? Only time will tell if he would be forced to come to my situation. Should I tell him to watch his spending? NO! Life will teach him a lesson, but for now, let him enjoy and have fun,” I said, then laughing sarcastically only to find different eyes on me, I stood up and walked away briskly.