OUT OF THE BOOKS

OUT OF THE BOOKS

It’s another Thursday night in the sunrise of the semester. I had decided just like previous times to start reading ‘ very very’ noearly so that when it’s exam time, there’d be no burnouts and Thursday nights were perfect for TDB(Till Day Break) reading because I had no classes the next morning.
As usual, I stalled my journey to the reading room by taking a long bath that featured a few karaokes of my favorite songs. Three people already attended my show in the bathroom and fortunately the door shielded me from seeing the smirks on their disturbed faces as they left. After this, I was welcomed into my room with the shouts of one of my fiery roommates who vehemently lamented that Arts students were the cause of the problem in Nigeria because of the crazy increasing rate of corruption among our leaders of which the majority were Arts Students. ‘This just had to be the Devil’, I thought. She was obviously calling for my attention and so,  I hurriedly packed my books into my bag, deliberately leaving my phone and any literary text behind and dashed to the reading room. The room was as silent as a graveyard as it was just the beginning of the semester. I brought out all my books and began reading the lectures taught that day. A few minutes into reading, my eyes wandered to a wall gecko who’s about to pounce on an innocent insect. It consumed the insect with the speed of lightning and looked to the opposite side as though nothing happened. There was nothing else to look at as I already knew the cracks and rainwater smeared areas on the walls., the number of spiders that spun their webs at each corner and the tiny hole on the door.
Also with the speed of lightning, my mind then zoomed to the insect archive of my naive yet glorious childhood.

First of all, I remembered when I, my elder brother and our babysitter used to wait for my mum to return from her workplace(courtesy of Lagos Traffic)in the living room that was dimly lit by the flame from the lantern that she(my mum) recently bought. It was placed at the centre of the dining table and we sat around it waiting for an unsuspecting sugar ant to pass by. We rendered the unfortunate ant unconscious by strategically using a piece of cloth to hit it gently but with sufficient force. Note that the aim was not to smash it. After it’s unconscious, we would insert a broomstick through its body and put it into a space in the lantern that allowed for a direct contact with the flame and roast it just like how cartoon characters roasted marshmallows in their campfires. As easy as this task sounds, it took very skilled and experienced personnel like my 7 year old brother and me(5 years) to do it. First, it must be in an area that attracts ants naturally(our dining table where we usually stole cubes of sugar was a perfect location). Also, to render the ants lifeless without squashing, a degree of carefulness must be exercised and the broomstick must be cut in such a way that is sharp enough to penetrate into the body of the ant so as to extend it to the fire. Sadly, what we did after that, I do not remember.
There was also a time where we claimed a mass of land under a tangerine tree at our backyard as our kingdom when we noticed that ants were the major inhabitants of that territory. We named it Antalonia. My elder brother was the President, I was the Vice President and my immediate younger brothers were somewhat stakeholders. We constructed pathways by engraving deep lines on the loamy soil and used toothpicks as electric poles. Concerning feeding, we deposited crumbs of bread consistently along with other tiny food remnants. We also dedicated some Saturday afternoons to slaying houseflies which were attracted by the gutter close to the laundry area utilized by the entire inhabitants of the compound. Our major weapons were our slippers. We would gather the booty (sometimes, 40 in number) and distribute unevenly on the mass of raw earth. After that, the President would then deliver a speech centred on them knowing that we have them at the backs of their mind. A few times, I gave the speeches.. We continued for a while and sadly again, I do not know when we stopped or what became of Antalonia(we moved out of that residence).
Unfortunately, I also re-lived the experience that involved two words -insects and swallowing . I vividly remembered all the scenss that happened before and after that incident ;greed and ;regret and disgust respectively. I’d spare the details for your sake.

As though I had exhausted the files of my insect archive, I, in the cliché words, snapped out of it and continued reading. A few minutes into reading, I realized I had not eaten what I had brought for the night. It was about 11:30 pm now.  I devoured them all, put my books aside, pulled out my cover cloth from my bag, set my alarm clock to ring by 2am, covered my body from neck to toe, mumbled a few words on how I cannot kill myself and prepared to sleep. I thought of how funny it is that we have to pretend as if we are sleeping in order to actually sleep…
‘Sorry, please what time is it?’, I asked a fellow human in the reading room as I staggered from my sleep. ‘7 o’ clock’, she said. I remained calm – it’s not as if I had an Exam. So I shamelessly packed my books and of course, cover cloth. Unfortunately, as I left the reading room, I ran into some of my course mates who expectedly began to shout, ‘ Guy, you too dey read!!Jacko, Jackie Appiah, Jackson Five, Jackometrics, Jackie Chan, chai’. I did nothing but smile. Likewise, my roommates did not hesitate to spare of this very common activity.

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