September 11, 2016 at 4:13 am #821613ValentineAdmin
story by kkokoma
This is my first effort, all the experts please review and advise
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I hope did the right thing, Obinna muttered to himself as he strode briskly through the pouring rain. I had to go back to school. He didn’t know if he was trying to convince himself or to justify what seemed now, to look more and more like a losing situation.
It had seemed like a good idea at the time, going back to school. One of his colleagues at work had just completed his Ordinary National Diploma in Accounting, doing it part time in the evenings after work. Nobody had taken him seriously at the time, but suddenly there he was, claiming to be an accountant. Obinna had been intrigued at the idea of being a professional, any kind of professional.
So he had gone to the Continuing Education Centre of the State Polytechnic to collect the application form. He had felt important as he did so, taking the form to work to complete. Filling out each line and doing so in a businesslike manner, much to the amazement of his colleagues. Though he didn’t actually want to flaunt his new endeavour, if one or more of his colleagues or supervisor saw him filling it out, well it may just enhance their opinion of him. At least it meant he didn’t wish to remain a Security Guard all his life.
He had filled out the application form, taking it round to his friends and colleagues for approval or information and it seemed they had begun to look at him in a new light. After a long wait, he heard that names of successful applicants for the Part Time Program were on display on the notice board at the Centre. He went there as soon as he closed from work, having waited impatiently for all of seven minutes, until his reliever arrived, late as usual. I’ll have to do sometime about that, he thought to himself, if I’m going to meet up with classes.
At the Centre, there was a crowd gathered around the notice board. Trying to appear calm, but shaking with trepidation inwardly, he weaved his way through the crowd and there it was! There was his name clearly spelt out, well, not clearly spelt. They had made an error in his middle name. But that didn’t matter. There was his name, admitted to study Accounting Part Time. Weekdays from 5-7 pm in the evenings and 10 to 12 noon on Saturdays.
Standing there in front of the notice board, Obinna felt ten feet tall, smiling broadly he looked around. “That’s my name, they made a mistake with my middle name, see there,” he pointed. A few people glanced at him, but he didn’t notice, he felt proud. This was something worthwhile, this was a big day, a good day.
There was a period of delay before the program started actually. He collected his registration forms and brochure. He had gasped when he say the list of fees he had to pay. Totalled up, it came up to about thirty-eight thousand Naira per year, which meant seventy-six thousand for the two years of the program. He did a rapid calculation of his finances for that period. He made eight thousand a month working from 6am to 6pm as a security guard, which came up to ninety-six thousand a year.
He could do it, he thought. It would be really tough and he would have to give up a lot of things, but he could do it. It was all about determination and focus. His girlfriend probably wouldn’t like the idea of tighter belts and doing without, but it was all for the future, she ought to understand that. As he thought it through, he felt confident, everything would go right.
His girlfriend didn’t like the idea. “How do you think you’re going to pay for it? She queried. “How can you make it to class? You know you only close at 6:00pm. I hope you haven’t paid any money yet,” but he was now focused. He knew she would come around eventually. He told her how much money accountants received as salaries. He painted a delightful picture of the kind of life that could only have previously existed for them in the abstract, but which was now virtually guaranteed, if he could just finish the program.
His supervisor at work didn’t like the idea either. He felt Obinna was being needlessly foolish, wasting money on a pipe dream he probably wouldn’t complete. “How’re you going to get the money to pay for it?” He had asked. “It’s not just about tuition alone, there are many other costs you have to meet.”
But on this issue, Obinna was now an incurable optimist. Classes started. At first it was difficult meeting up with lectures. He usually got there just a few minutes before the end, sneaking in to avoid the lecturer’s wrath. Something had to be done he thought; at this rate he would end up grasping only bits and pieces of the subjects taught. He would probably even fail the first semester examinations. That was unthinkable. Something definitely had to be done.
One evening he called his reliever and made an arrangement with him. He would pay him a thousand Naira monthly, for him to come an hour early to relieve Obinna so that he could meet up with his classes in good time. That took care of that, but other matters were cropping up.
The date for matriculation was finally confirmed. Obinna collected a sample Matriculation Invitation Envelope from the Centre. It was intended to be used to both invite and solicit funds from people, thereby killing two birds with one stone. Distributing these envelopes at his place of work was particularly gratifying as it served to announce his scholastic pursuit to the staff at the Bank, where he was currently posted. Although his fellow security guards were not so appreciative and even seemed to be resenting his seeming ambition to rise above them, he was soothed by the possibility of actually coming to work inside the bank after completing his program.
At class, payment of school fees was the major topic. Matriculation was a week away and exams were about three weeks away. The full tuition fees had to be paid before you could be issued with a matriculation number. Some students insisted, no. Others said part payment was allowed. They couldn’t expect everybody to have that kind of money all at once.
Obinna started making tentative approaches for assistance from friends and relatives. He applied for both a loan and salary advance at his office and both were turned down. His elder brother gave him five thousand Naira, warning him not to expect anything more from him, as he wasn’t consulted before Obinna started his program. He had already saved up about fifteen thousand Naira. He sold his CD player and added his entire salary for the month to make up the tuition fees.
Now, trudging through the rain, sidestepping puddles and the wash from speeding cars, Obinna began to feel sick with anguish as he thought about what he had already invested into this project. Have I made the right decision? Did I think this through carefully before going into it, or did I just jump in because the other guy did it? These and other such thoughts whirled through his head. He felt hot tears welling up in eyes. No, he couldn’t bear it. He didn’t want to remain a security guard all his life. “It’s not fair,” he muttered.
He had paid the tuition fees and matriculated, although he arrived very late for that ceremony. However, he had one of the proudest moments of his life when he donned the gown to have his picture taken with his fellow students and the few well-wishers that showed up.
Lectures was now in full swing and things started to take a different turn. Obinna had registered for eight courses. Though he had budgeted for textbooks, and other materials, he was to receive his first shock. It seemed each lecturer had written his own textbook, mostly shoddily prepared, on the subject they taught and all students were obliged to buy them whether they had other, better written books or not. Each of such textbooks cost between one thousand to one thousand-five hundred Naira each. Ominous rumours were circulating that the lecturers kept a list of buyers and only those on the list would pass the courses.
Obinna scrounged around, begging and borrowing and finally managed to buy all eight poorly prepared textbooks for eleven thousand Naira. More shocks were on the way. Test time came and Obinna tried to study the best he could, taking his textbooks to work, always keeping his vision as an accountant in focus to strengthen him when the stress was getting too much. He had become stretched taut as a guitar string financially. He had pledged his next two months salaries to raise money already. Only the thought, the vision of working inside the Bank spurred him on. His girlfriend was also giving him problems, she didn’t like the fact the he now seldom had enough money or time to spend with her. His vision apparently didn’t make the same impression on her.
After writing the first test, Obinna was again dismayed to hear more rumours that a token appreciation was expected, in fact demanded, by the lecturers for their efforts in preparing the test questions. This appreciation was expected to be in monetary form, preferably cash, ranging from five hundred to one thousand Naira depending on the lecturer and any defaulter should assume an F as his test score.
His worst fears were confirmed on the second day of the test when a lecturer casually announced that the class representative was making up a list of the “Patriotic students” and late payments might attract an increase in the amount payable. Obinna scrounged around one more time, selling some other things in his apartment and borrowing at interest to “settle” the lecturers.
His belief and determination in his educational pursuit however, remained unshakeable. He had set out on this journey and in his dreams he had already reached the goal and tasted the rewards. He had seen himself knotting a tie in the morning, striding into the banking hall at his Bank of posting, to take a place behind the counter. He had seen himself chatting with the pretty, corporately dressed female staff as equals. He couldn’t imagine now remaining as a lowly security guard, most times compelled by the nature of his job to be subservient to those pretty female staff.
Now, striding the pouring rain, his mind in tumult, Obinna wiped the rain from his face to hide the tears threatening to come out. Why did it have to be like this? What had he done wrong? “It’s not fair,” he repeated to himself.
First semester examinations came. He had now spent well over fifty-five thousand Naira already. He studied hard as best as he could, day and night, sweating over those same shoddily prepared textbooks now already falling to pieces. He was flat broke, but somehow his vision still strengthened him. His girlfriend hadn’t shown up in the last three weeks and he assumed she had found somebody else. This strangely did not bother him as much as he thought it would have done, probably because he was looking forward to making new acquaintances from among those pretty, sophisticated girls that worked at the bank, soon to be his colleagues.
The first, second and third papers went well without any problems, however after writing the fourth paper he heard some students taking about a new “list” that was being made up. No, he thought to himself, this can’t be, not again! Joining them he heard one of them say, “They said that anyone who has more than three course carryovers would be asked to withdraw from the program”.
“What’s going on,” he had asked.
“Haven’t you heard? A new list of ‘Patriotic Students’ is being made up, if you’re not on that list then you should definitely forget about passing the course,” someone replied.
“And you know what that means,” someone else said.
“How much do they want this time?” Someone else asked.
Nobody knew but they expected to be told soon.
The next day, at class, the class representative told them to remain behind after the exams, as he had an important announcement for them.
Well, he said he had been mandated to inform them that the eight lecturers had agreed that every student who wanted to pass their courses had to pay two thousand, five hundred Naira each per course as “appreciation”. There was a time frame for this payment, as it had to be received before the lecturers submitted the marked papers to the school. However, they had hinted darkly, that anyone who didn’t pay this ‘appreciation’ should fully expect to carry over their course.
Obinna could not believe his ears and his misfortune. No, this couldn’t be real. “Twenty thousand Naira!” There was no way that he could come up with that kind of money and this was just the first semester. Part Time students had three semesters in a session. No, he couldn’t even bear to think about it, it was impossible! There was no way he could make it, no way at all. This was the end of the road, the dream had finally died.
Now, stumbling along in the rain, on his way home to an apartment now seriously depleted of comfort, all to fund this venture, the full import of the situation suddenly hit him and the tears finally came. A speeding car swished by him, spraying him with muddy water. Obinna stopped, sat down by the side of the road and wept, wept for a vision lost. A vision of knotted ties, corporate outfits, air-conditioned offices and pretty sophisticated colleagues, he wept for hope lost, dead now forever.
The EndSeptember 11, 2016 at 5:24 am #821642VictoriouschildMember
The story is touching
I feel for Obinna
If only he knew he wouldn’t have bought the form in the first placeSeptember 11, 2016 at 10:52 am #821844jummybabeMember
oh sorry I can’t blame him sha he also wanna belong but what he doesn’t realize is dat life is not a bed of rosesSeptember 11, 2016 at 4:52 pm #822069Adeblow23Member
the vision was so blurry but he notice it not… I can’t blame him, going to school to become a great person is everyman’s dream….September 11, 2016 at 6:18 pm #822178Pweety Lizzy QueenMember
hmmmSeptember 11, 2016 at 7:07 pm #822232HarmeenartMember
So touchingSeptember 11, 2016 at 7:45 pm #822262kerrysmartMember
Feel his painsSeptember 11, 2016 at 8:01 pm #822284AbsoluteMember
ooh sorry oøo