Because today was the first day of a new semester, I woke up with a start. I jogged, loaded my belly with caffeine and a banana, and then went to school. And, because mine is the sort of school to start their Emails with ‘Calvary greetings’, it was only logical that we kick off the term with a chapel meeting. Usually I don’t bother going, I only attend chapel when I have nothing to do or when I’m in the mood to listen to some uplifting hymn.
So I fancied I’d go today, I needed some cleansing since I knew I was going to commit the literary sin of starting my piece with the word ‘because’.
Between chapel time and the time I went to class, I happened to see a guy with a thin backpack and a black hat and red spectacles. He was talking to a fat bald man dressed in a navy blue suit. Sunlight bounced off that bald man’s head and his whitish beard looked like it could draw blood if you ran a hand over it. The strands looked sharper than Valyrian steel.
The fat man put a hand to his chin from time to time, giving the guy with the backpack his undivided attention and looking him in the eye. He would nod and smile to whatever the backpack was telling him, and I wondered they were talking about. Maybe the backpack was selling something, and this was his pitch. And from the looks of it backpack was going to close this deal. And then, to drive the point home, the backpack began counting something using his fingers. A wider smile played on the fat man’s lips. And soon he was also doing the finger counting thing.
The thing with Mr. Backpack was that, as the pitch went on, he attracted more and more people. A crowd soon gathered around him.
After the fat man had been thoroughly convinced, he’s amusement attracted the attention of a lady who had set herself on a bench. This one had a long fitting white dress that lined the curve of her hips. She was clearly impressed by the conversation because the whole time her eyes were widened by this new found knowledge, and when Backpack was done with her, she fished out her phone and took down his number. And then minutes later I saw her take a selfie. And I imagined she would go on to post it on Instagram. Caption: You learn something new every day #sunkissed.
She nudged another lady and told her what Backpack was saying, but that one didn’t look too interested. I watched as Backpack gave his pitch to five more people, gradually pulling them into his verbal vortex. At some point all five of them had their phones out, typing away. Backpack was making a killing. At the end of it all he opened his backpack and handed the crowd a bunch of CDs. I wish I knew what he was selling, I really did.
And I probably would have asked him if I wasn’t already late to class.
The class is a retake. I walked in and took a spot at the back. And I immediately felt slightly pained that the lecturer was a lady. Not that I have a problem with lady lecturers, it’s just, those ones can be a little hard to convince once you throw them an excuse as to why you haven’t done the assignment.
Anyway, because it’s only the first day, the class scheduling process is in a bit of shambles. Everybody is still warming up and shaking off the three week holiday. Which means that the lecturer was as bored as the rest of us, so what she did was, she bounced a few silly questions at us before connecting a projector to her computer and showed us a demo of how we can access the class notes. But I already had those notes somewhere in my Email. So I really didn’t need to pay a lot of attention, and as such I was free to scroll through Instagram.
As the class was going on a tall boy came in and sat next to me. He had a slim face and he smelt like a freshman, unsullied, like naivety and summer grass. After a while he turns to me and asks, “What class is this?”
I tell him. And he says, “I’m not in this class.” He looks at me, as if waiting to see my reaction. I want to laugh but I can’t. I don’t want him to think that this University starts their Emails with greetings from Calvary but the students are nothing but heartless blokes who laugh at other people’s problems. So I show him my copy of the class schedule.
“Thanks blood,” he says. Then he picks up his bag and walks out.
And I think, blood? Really?
I should have just laughed at him then ignored him. Bloody freshman. I mean, what happened to good old bro, or boss, or chief? Blood. Jesus!
After the lecturer was done with her rambling, she got onto Ms Word and –very slowly- typed details about the class assessment. CAT dates and marks et al. This felt like useless information to me, to tell you the truth. And by the end of it all the lecturer had single-handedly strangled the class and buried it in a heap of boredom and marshy dreariness.
What were we talking about again? Oh yeah. Chapel.
Here’s my truth, friends. Around this time last year, I wasn’t going back to school for the new semester. I was somehow convinced that I really didn’t need school. I had my writing anyway. So what I thought I’d do is, I would write stories, shoot some Emails to some editors, and my words would magically woo them into giving me a cheque at the end of the month. It didn’t yield much fruit, sadly, mostly because I didn’t try hard enough. This was around the time I had taken to tobacco too, dragging my way through three or four cigarettes a day, and not giving much of a toss about my general health. If that wasn’t enough, the little spiritual bearing I had had gone down to the pits of uncertainty. All my energies were recklessly poured into a relationship with a girl who, when we finally called it quits, told me to never write about her on my little blog. Unguided times, those.
I was 21.
It’s a year later now. And I feel like it’s only the beginning. Of what exactly I don’t know. But at least this time I started with chapel.
Otherwise 22 smells like fresh paint.