I sat up on the bed and began scrolling through my phone, glancing at the WhatsApp messages popping in. My class WhatsApp group chat was filled with tons of messages. I wondered if I would be able to read everything. Two hundred and thirty-four messages boldly written on my screen and I sighed. I opened the group and my eyes hopped at the first message. Someone posted a broadcast containing a list of companies where I could do my internship. I rolled my eyeballs glancing at the companies listed; FIRRO, FDF, NIOMR, NPA, NIMASA, etc. Most of the companies on the broadcast were centered around the toxicological effects of Pollution on the marine environment and I thought my course only majored in Aquatic lives.
A message caught my attention and I gaped. Someone had asked a question that had been boggling my mind about doing an internship with the listed companies since they weren’t dealing with lives in the Marine environment. I scrolled down and saw a reply from Tomilola. I pushed my flaring nostrils and read the message slowly, “our course is more than the study of freshwater aspect which deals with fishes in the aquarium and aquaculture unit, done by other schools. Our own deals with the marine environment and that’s why we are Marine minor and have taken courses on oceanography — relating it to its physical, chemical and biological features,” she wrote.
There were different replies from my coursemates, quoting her comment. Some of my coursemates gave her thumbs up with smiley faces and stickers. Few replied with ‘nice one’ and other monotonous overused cliches. I kept scrolling down and slowly reading the messages. They were mostly chitchats. I glanced at some of them before skipping to the last one. I stopped at the end, dropping my phone on the bed and looked around the room. The illumination from the bulb shone brightly into my eyes.
Chinonso was standing close to the socket on the wall. He was still cooking. He had a cube of spice in his hand and was trying to loosen it. He was blinking his eyes due to the onions he had finished cutting and I could see tears dropping down from his eyes. I held myself from laughing. The room was filled up and there were noises all over the hostel. There were arguments about different things. Some argued about girls, football, academics, and a few others were on redundant things. I laid on my bed staring at the mattress on the upper bunk.
“Ronaldo is better than Messi. Messi is better than Ronaldo. Have you heard Davido’s new song? Drake? Beyoncé,” the noises grew and I began to feel uncomfortable.
I stood up and made to walk out of the room. I stopped at the door and lifted my thumb at Chinonso, alerting him and he glanced at my direction and nodded. I walked out of the room and strolled through the corridor. A guy was holding and hitting a pot with a spoon, while another was opposite him, talking. I walked past them and walked down to the first floor, then to the ground floor outside the hostel.
The air outside greeted me and softly meandered my skin. The street bulb illuminated the dark street and it extended into the fenced hostel compound. The hostel was situated in a fenced compound with few other hostels, and students addressed them as New Hall. I continued walking towards the middle of the hostel where different items were being sold. I walked past a girl and boy standing close to the wall holding hands. It was dark, and I could see the girl giggling and the boy rolling his head around and his mouth moving. It would definitely be one of those sweet talks, I thought. I glanced at them and looked away. I stopped in the middle of New Hall where a female hostel was located. It was very boisterous. A fellowship nearby just finished holding their evening service. Everyone around was looking happy and I guessed there would be some 400L students who were also planning on undergoing internship and they lived like there was nothing worth worrying about. There are those with low grades, financial issues but everyone laughed and had fun. The man turning spaghetti on the tripod was sweating profusely as he cooked. I glanced at the beads of sweat on his forehead. People queued in groups, waiting for him to be done.
I counted the number of people in the queue and it looked like there were more girls than boys. I knew boys were broke and would rather cook trash in their rooms than waste money to buy a plate of spaghetti for five hundred naira. I salivated and inhaled the sweet aroma of the spaghetti that filled the air. The scent was that of a freshly cooked spaghetti coupled with the sweet aroma of turkey and chicken. At the other end, were malams cutting suya and the light from their stands illuminated the small vicinity where they sold their suya.
A woman that sold phone accessories was standing and calling out customers. “Fine girl. Fine boy. Come and buy an earpiece. I get original charger. Earphone…” she said.
I smiled and thought her marketing skills were great. One of my friends had once told him how someone sent a bunch of messages to him. He was shocked when he put on his data and saw messages from an unknown number and it was pictures of phone accessories when he opened it. He clicked the profile picture and it was the woman. No one wants to be left out in the digital world, Ekene had said, after narrating it and we laughed together.
I brought out my phone ringing in my pocket and glanced on the screen. It was Chinonso. I swiped the answer on the screen and began to answer the call.
“Guy, I don finish cooking,” he said.
Before I could say a word, he had terminated the call. “Hello. Hello.” I brought the phone towards my face and glanced at it. The call had been terminated. I hissed and dropped the phone into my pocket. I strolled back to the hostel glancing at the jovial students walking, jogging and playing around the walkway. I kept giggling while I walked past them.