Living with my Grandma - S01 E17
Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 17
My first week on the university campus wasn’t as planned. I got stressed and felt depressed in my solitary confinement. The strenuous registration process almost drained me. Departmental clearance, Faculty clearance, and other things fresher’s were required to do.
On average, I’d say a typical unizik student, (‘Zikite’) is a bookworm. Students here were majorly bibliophiles. Everyone wanted to graduate with first-class and the hustle was real.
My biggest hurdle was getting up quite early to prepare breakfast and get to class early to occupy the front seat but I’d always end up at the back seat. The seats at the front were always filled with more students than they could handle; leg space was a luxury. I attended general classes with hundreds of other students, and that was horrible. And that made me detest morning lectures. I preferred afternoon classes because I’d have enough time to prepare very well.
I also found out that the workload in the University was a lot more intense than in secondary school, especially a particular Physics course I offered in the first semester. I didn’t like Physics right from time because it involved numerous and complex formulas and units. I had always preferred Chemistry while I was in secondary school.
Meeting up with the assignments wasn’t much of a stress to me even though it could be much sometimes. I am quite an organized kind of person, I love a list and I worked to deadlines. If I had an assignment three weeks away, I’d do it the last three days before. I was very efficient in that aspect. Sometimes I paid hugely to get them done.
I never got fresher’s flu—I had morning sickness instead. While other freshers were busy doing some kinds of stuffs new men on campus did, I sat in my room, wondering about the embryo inside me. I was worried about what the journey of nine months would look like.
Did I forget to tell you about my accommodation? Oh! Forgive me. My bad! I lived off-campuses and considering my condition, it was better off than sharing a room with students in the female hostel. I needed my privacy, so I lived alone at Ifite. I had no roommate too. It was just me and I alone. Sometimes I’d be hungry yet nauseous, unable to face my kitchen with its clutch of dirty pans and smells that irritated me. I’d lazy around, feeding on junk food steadily.
I’d hold back the morning sickness in classes by taking bitter kola which Kate recommended to me. Kate was one of my lodge mates. Her room was directly opposite and that made us get close to each other. She was God-sent. Every morning, she would check up on me and ask how I was feeling. She was older than I.
Kate was 24 and equally a fresher. She said she rewrote Jamb thrice before finally settling for a course she didn’t want. And that made me realize how privileged I was to have gotten admitted in my first attempt. I remember during the orientation and fresher’s week, we were told how privileged we were to be at Unizik.
Kate was homely and knew so much about pregnancy tips. Her elder sister was once in my shoes and she was close to her during that period, so she knew a lot about my experience. She was one person that I shared my story with, not like I trusted her, but because she deserved to know about me with the way and manner she treated me like a sister, although we weren’t from the same State.
If I had no classes in the morning, I’d look for a nearby cafeteria to get myself breakfast. Cooking was one of the things I couldn’t deal with during this period of my life. Kate had always been the one forcing me to cook and oftentimes she made the food herself. She was good at preparing local delicacies.
The only funny thing about Kate was her accent. She was a typical Igbo girl. You would easily detect that from her use of English and the way she talked. She was always interchanging ‘R’ for ‘L’. She pronounced Rice (food) as Lice, Road (paths) as Load, and just like that. But I couldn’t correct her because I didn’t know how she would feel and I was afraid of losing her. So, it had always been other people who made jest of her.
Being an introvert made me have fewer friends. Just a few coursemates with whom I barely share much about myself. I didn’t want any of them to know much about me, just to avoid unnecessary drama and gossip about my pregnancy. I barely chatted in our departmental group chat. All I did was read every single message, so I don’t miss out on any important info.
I missed out on most social gatherings too, because I dreaded what people would say about me. I missed freshers nights and other uni nights. There was always a buzzing nightlife in Ifite and Temp–site.
Those first few weeks after I started showing up were awful. I was sure everyone on campus was looking at me anytime I passed. I felt like they were all whispering about me behind my back. The stigmas and stereotypes too were depressing. A strain of people looking at me as though it was the biggest mistake of my life.
Even when I didn’t know many people on campus, I faced a lot of judgment. I did my best to cover it up, wearing oversized sweatshirts for weeks, but like the Igbo people would say and if interpreted, they would say that one cannot cover pregnancy with hand. With the increase in the size of my belly, the judgment became more apparent and isolating. It was difficult to be outside. As the pregnancy progressed, I felt enormous walking to and fro campus to my apartment.
I realized pregnancy quickly forces a young person to become a mature adult, it was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting to balance it with school stress. Mentally, I was exhausted from having to split my attention between school and taking care of myself. Emotionally, it was exhausting because people either judged me for being young, single, and pregnant or they simply give me looks of pity for those same reasons. I have overheard people say silly things about my plight. It was one of the hardest situations I had to face in my life.
Darlington called me on phone and we chatted too. We made plans when it would be convenient for me to go for an antenatal checkup. He was caring about my well-being and I felt it during those periods with his steady calls. It even seemed like he was my boyfriend. We talked almost every day and grandma would sometimes talk with me through his phone. I missed them, that sometimes, I felt like going back home.
My mom still called me too. I remember the first call I had with her in school and how we both cried – a lot. But getting it off my chest helped me feel better. I turned to her frequently on the tough days that followed. And I’m grateful for her support. She continually encouraged me to stay positive when I was full of negativity. My father hardly called and I wasn’t surprised.
I didn’t go broke in my early days at the University. I guess because of my pregnancy, mom credited my account with a reasonable amount of money every two weeks. She knew I needed it for my upkeep and antenatal. I felt dad probably gave her money to send too because I didn’t get a credit alert from him.
My uncle, Clinton equally kept to his words. He also sent me money too, and he would call to check up on me. So, money wasn’t a challenge, just the stress of going about with the baby inside of me.
Gradually, I got more inclined toward campus life. Well, maybe the best life for some people, because it was a world on its own. Everyone had the freedom to do what they like. There were different characters and individuals you’d meet on campus, the ‘Ajebos’ those rich folks from a wealthy homes, always showing off with flashy cars, expensive wear, living a luxurious lifestyle. There were also church people; the prayer warriors, always going for one fellowship or the other and turning every building into a fellowship center.
How about the wannabe politicians? The comrades. They are always on cooperate wears and suits even when the sun is scorching. Then the student celebrities? The lone wolf? The ones that go in a clique? The non-academic students? The city guys, and the ‘I–Know–Book’ folks but a few to mention.
So many kinds of people you’d meet here.
One hot afternoon, I was at the cybercafe inside the campus to photocopy some documents. I had a cold Pepsi in my left hand to cool off the heat. The sun was extremely scorching. I stood there waiting for my turn. There were other students too, who wanted to photocopy some materials.
Then I overhead a voice from behind. Something was familiar about this particular voice, it sends some sensation down my spines. When I turned to see who’s voice was that, well, your guess is as good as mine, Meska was the one. Our eyes met in seconds. I was startled. My heart suddenly began to beat faster and I couldn’t tell why. I watched his eyes as they went below, gazing at my belly. He was shocked.
There were two other girls by his side, his coursemates or perhaps his friends. I quickly averted my eyes and faced front. Damn! Meska was looking fresh and cute. This time, the center of his head was braided. No longer the usual ‘Gallas’ style he was known with. I was having random thoughts, something in me felt I should look back and be sure it was him, Meska was coming in my direction when finally I turned.
Jeez, my whole body was shuddering.