“When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are to become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No … don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!”.
– Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
It’s funny how it is during this exam period that I have enough time to write. Human beings are complex creatures. A writer is even more complex. For weeks now, I have been involved in many activities that have been time taking. I am a little bit free now and I’m beginning to see how interesting and fun filled life can be when you have enough time to enjoy it. Today has been pretty interesting.
What is the first thing you do every morning? Pray? No. The first thing you do is to wake up. So I get up and mutter some words on how exams have started just like that. And then a few words about bloodsucking bugs that would never be satisfied. It is Monday. For a month now, Monday has been a day to look up to. Not because it is the first working day. It’s simply because it’s the day we get to watch another episode of Ice and Fire.
But today is not like every other day. Today is first day of exam. And I have an exam to write by 11am. I rush out rather late and make for the venue. We get arranged and the exam starts. Thirty minutes later, I am out.
I go to my reading spot in White House to prepare for my subsequent exams. However, my head is hot and nothing is entering. It’s like throwing stones at a stonewall. So I decide to take a walk.
I am on the topmost floor of this tall building and then I walk to the end of the corridor and look down at the world. It’s like pissing off the edge of the world (In Tyrion Lannister’s voice). And then there’s this guy beside me, looking down at the world with me. Because I am here to clear my mind, I take this as a personal experience and do not engage. Silence is golden, they say. My companion however does not think the same. He looks down and laughs. I smile down at the world and pretend as if he is not there. I am imagining what it is like to fall from this height. It’s like falling from the Wall in Westeros. Only that you don’t get to be welcomed by white walkers. Instead, you’d be welcomed by cameras and Android phones. Our generation. Such a pity.
My companion laughs again. I look up to see what is so funny that this guy is determined to ruin my meditation with his laughter. I can see nothing. We are standing on one of the highest levels in Obafemi Awolowo University, facing the Amphitheater and this guy is laughing.
I look at Amphitheater and try to find something funny so I wouldn’t have to totally conclude that this guy is drunk. Nothing. Just students crowding the huge building in their numbers.
‘What are they doing there?’ My guy asks. He has a cool voice, not too cool though.
‘Exams,’ I reply abruptly to show how uninterested I am at this moment.
‘Exams? In Amphi? Maybe a class.’
I want to correct that it’s exam period, no classes. But instead, I just shrug. He laughs again. And then, from this height, looks down and calls someone. I want to spank him and tell it’s not done. You don’t go shouting someone’s name from the height, the whole world will look up. But I say,
‘She can’t hear you.’
‘Hmmm.. Probably.’ He laughs again, making me feel like a fool. ‘What department are you?’
I swallowed. ‘History and International Relations.’ And then I remember that the department is History. So I reluctantly correct myself. ‘History department.’
‘Whao! You picked that in JAMB?’
‘No. I picked Law.’
He laughs and I am wondering why I am still here.
‘You wanted to become a lawyer?’
‘Why then did you pick Law?’
‘Long story. Don’t wanna start that now. What about you?’
‘Sorry?’ I squeeze my face.
‘My department, URP.’
‘Sorry, what’s the meaning of that?’
‘Urban and Regional Planning.’
I smile at myself. I am spending my second year here on Awolowo’s campus and I don’t even know the meaning of URP. I want to ask if he picked that in JAMB but NO! Mba! I am the son of my father.
‘Are you a finalist?’ My mouth asks to my utter surprise.
‘No!’ He shouts and laughs. ‘I’m a fresher. Do I look that old?’ And somehow I forgive him for all his errors and laughs. I look at him again and I can see he is not that old. Looks can be deceiving.
We are silent for a while, looking at the world from here. It is a divine view, something a god would have.
‘So this is your first exam in OAU?’ I asks. He nods. I can see his face betraying him. ‘It is well,’ I say.
He does not reply and I do not open my mouth again. And then he opens his.
‘Do you have a girlfriend?’
I swallowed. Why am I still talking to this guy?
‘You mean someone I am dating? No.’
‘Oh boy! Why? You’re in Part 2. You’ve never seen any beautiful girl around?’
‘I have seen many.’
‘Why then? You’ve never fallen in love?’
I swallowed? Why am I still here? I ask my legs. The long things smile back at him. ‘I don’t know what you mean by Love.’
‘Whao!’ He laughs again.
I make to go. I bring out my phone to check the time. I miss my wristwatch. He sees my wallpaper and asks, ‘Who’s she?’
‘A friend.’ I make to move but my legs are stuck.
‘Hmmm,’ he smiles and my face smiles too. ‘What’s her name?’
I look at all her five names in my mind eye and pick the one least known to everyone. ‘Aanuoluwa.’
‘Can I see the picture?’
I pass my phone to him and he looks for a long time. I am beginning to be suspicious. My legs are angry. They want to move now. Shameless things.
‘She is beautiful,’ he says, still looking. My face wants to blush but I control it immediately. You will not put me to shame, I whisper.
‘Do you love her?’
‘I…I..don’t know what you mean by love.’ I know this is time. I collect my phone and take one last look at the world, and then I turn. I am almost gone when he calls,
‘What’s your name?’
‘Michael Iyinoluwa…you’re lucky to have her. She is very beautiful.’
Yes, my mouth says. I am lucky. My face smiles and I can see her looking at me in my mind eye.
I am lost.
“When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are to become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No … don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!”. – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières