Ijeoma knew she was late to the Introduction to Business class. The hallway was empty and as she quickened her steps, her heels clicked sharply against the cracked cement floor. She walked into the packed lecture hall just in time because as soon as she sat down beside Nneka, Dr. Okafor strolled in. The man was a law unto himself, coming to class only when he liked. The only favor he did his students was to give them the course outline and reading list. As he went to write out the title of the topic for the day on the blackboard, Nneka frowned and thumbed her nose at him. Ijeoma’s snicker died in her throat when he turned back to the class already speaking.
“Entrepreneurship…the topic at the heart of Business…”
Ijeoma felt her eyes begin to droop as he continued but forced herself to remain awake by studying the lecturer intently. Dr. Okafor was a big man, about six feet two inches tall and dark skinned. He was bald but had hairy arms and a bushy beard. He reminded her of a bear. However, he was always very well put together. Today, he wore a black danshiki with red coral beads around his neck and left wrist. And these were the real deal. Some said he was a chief but she wouldn’t know.
“How many of you have read ahead on this topic?” His voice was very deep and strong, and as usual sounded quite intimidating.
Nobody answered and he began the long tirade that normally took up half of his lecture hour. He called the students all manner of names including lazy and unserious. He also promised them that they would all fail his course if they kept up that attitude. Ijeoma could not keep her eyes open anymore and by the time he started on the real lecture, she was lost in a snooze. However, she was soon jostled awake by Nneka.
“You! Tell me what I just said now,” Dr. Okafor shouted in rankled tones.
Ijeoma couldn’t understand what was happening till her friend pinched her. She looked up at Dr. Okafor and he was glowering at her under thick eyebrows. All sleep fled her eyes.
“Young lady, what did I just say?” He repeated slowly as if speaking to a dim-wit.
Ijeoma stood up lost for words, “Ehm ... Sir, you see... ehm... ehm...”
“Yes? Go on...” The lecturer encouraged. The sarcasm-packed voice made her wilt.
“You were speaking about a sole entrepreneur, sir and you said that...”
Before she could complete the sentence, one of the popular ajebutter girls burst out a loud sneeze. The whole class erupted in wolf whistles and catcalls. Some of the boys shouted “rendered homeless” while others stamped their feet and slapped their desks.
“What is this noise all about?” Dr. Okafor asked. He looked around as if expecting some thing to jump out.
A bold guy stood up at the back of the class and several others hailed him. “O-jo, O-jo, O-jo…”
“Sir, millions of bacteria have just been rendered homeless,” Ojo explained. “We were just trying to exterminate them before they contaminate us.”
“You are all sick,” Dr. Eboche declared with an air of irritation. While packing his books he began to smirk, “Well... since I don’t want to be infected too, I beg to take my leave.”
This last was said with the air of somebody who had been asking for something and it had been handed over to him on a platter of gold.
Some of the backbenchers continued whistling, but it was now in protest of the lecturer’s actions. Dr. Eboche was indifferent as he took up his stack of books and left the class.
“That man is a real truant,” Nneka complained as they left their faculty building.
“Imagine just leaving the class for a silly thing like that. I heard he thinks that as a senior lecturer in the department, he’s too big to teach first level students.”
“Nneka please leave that side. I was lucky you know. I would have faced the full force of that man’s ager. Don’t you realize that girl let me off the hook?” Ijeoma asked in reply.
Nneka stopped walking. “But really Ijeoma, what were you even thinking about? It is not like you to be absent minded in class.”
“My dear, the fact is that I wasn’t just absent minded, I fell asleep.”
“You don’t mean it!”
“I’m very serious…” A wide yawn overtook her words and Nneka laughed. Ijeoma continued, “when you left the library last night, Ngozi persuaded me to read TDB, you know now, Till Day Break!”
“You mean you read all night? I don’t even know how that is possible. You didn’t sleep a wink?”
“Exactly, you know me now, once I start reading I can’t fall asleep,” Ijeoma replied, “but trust Ngozi, she fell asleep once it was midnight and didn’t stir or wake up to read again till this morning when we had to return to the hostel.”
“The unseen swot,” Nneka mocked, “I don’t think I can deceive myself like that.”
They both burst out laughing as they continued walking to their hostel. That had been their last lecture of the day and Ijeoma knew that once she got to her room, it was straight to her bed for a very long siesta.
“It’s really good if one can read throughout the night, but my friend, the disadvantages are just too much for my liking…”
“Like falling asleep in Dr. Okafor's class.” Nneka interrupted.
They both burst out laughing again.