Some free advice to all freshmen in colleges.
Especially the fresh-faced young girls from county schools who are all too eager to get an education and prove to the world that the place JAB offered them was well deserved. Danger lurks. Even with all your good intentions. Danger lurks. Do not for one minute think that since you attend all your classes, go to the library in the evening, do all your assignments on time, after which you head straight to your room, have dinner then read some more before turning in, that you are safe. No. The fact that you are not one of those girls whose sole aim of being in campus is to have unbridled, endless partying does not exempt you from danger.
It sucks, doesn’t it?
You watch them in fascination. Wondering who bore them. They are in your face every single day. With their loud behaviors who would miss them? They treat the hostels as their palace. The rest of you are the Royal domestics. It’s unfortunate the janitor when allocating rooms did not check the students’ backgrounds. So you are stuck with one of such girls for a roommate. To make matters worse, you are taking the same course. Which means you are the official Note Taker. This roomie of yours has no idea where to find the lecture hall for Communications 101, a mandatory class for all first years. But she knows the lecturer by his first name. Never mind that in a class of over two hundred regular attendant students, that you have never missed and in which you always secure a front row seat, you have never conversed with the young, swaggerific lecturer that most girls swoon over. When exams are around the corner, your roomie for once struts into your side of the room and borrows your notes. To your dismay, they lie untouched on her table and she does not return them to you. And when you ask for them two days later, she asks if you could please photocopy them for her. She even shoves a two hundred bob note into your hands and say you can keep the change. You know how far that kind of cash will take you. So you take it, photocopy the notes and place them on her table hoping she will find them some time.
But this is not about your roomie. It’s about danger. And Economics. Not the subject – no! The Elements of Mathematical Economics that the good old Professor Mukras or the Economic Theory taught by Dr Samanta, while still somewhat relevant in my day-to-day life have been overtaken by other interests. This post is about loving your books too much that you fail to acknowledge the changing circumstances that you are now thrust into. Circumstances that are very different from the sheltered life you knew in high school especially if your school was like mine. With nuns hovering above like a helicopter, it was impossible to even raise the tiniest spec of dust without being caught. And during those four years, you developed a highly disciplined, strong values and morals character that you expected everyone in the real world to abide by.
My love back then was Economics. A love affair that was kindled by two Ugandan teachers back in the nun’s orchard. Mr Bite, Sir! who probably loved the queen’s language more than he loved economics, and Mr Busiku whose burst of laughter could make the strictest nun lose her veil for a moment. It is the same laughter and mirth injected into the Business studies lesson that made most girls, yours truly included, make it a choice subject in the final K.C.S.E. exams.
The simple Demand & Supply and Markets & Prices theories taught back then ignited a thirst for more knowledge about making choices. And when the time came to study the subject at the grand, awe-inspiring, resplendent higher learning institution that is The University of Nairobi, I put my all into it. I followed the timetable, attended all lectures, all along carrying my books in that infamous academic angle. I knew what had brought me to this big city, and nothing would persuade me otherwise.
I have said before that I have a phobia for libraries. And for an academic hoping to excel, that does not augur well. Back then, computers were rare and research was done using real, paper books; voluminous texts that you obtained from the Jomo Kenyatta Memorial library at the main campus. And the lecturers shocked, nay, scared us that without reading the many books they recommended at the end of each lesson, there would be no passing exams. And I had not come this far to fail my first exam in campus. No, Sir! This megalibrophobia (the fear of libraries until I am educated otherwise), coupled with the fact that before the lecturer could pronounce the author of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, some able bodied souls were already sprinting to gather the few copies available in the library, meant I had to devise other means of acquiring this knowledge.
The opportunity presented itself unexpectedly one day. A green-horn friend of mine decided we could still try our luck in the library. We had an assignment to complete and things were thickening as the first batch of CATs were just round the corner. It was my first time to set my foot in that place and the sheer size of it was enough to put me off. We didn’t know where to begin and the cataloging system my friend’s roommate had tried to explain seemed too complicated. So we stood outside wondering whether to drop our bags and get in or not. And that’s when Isaac (let’s call him that because I cannot be sure the name he proffered was his real name) came along.
The thing with most freshmen in campus is that they can be noticed from a mile away. It must be the air around them that forms a halo around their heads. Isaac was the kind with tiger eyes and could see the light of the halo shining through the darkest night, better than Knowles. He introduced himself as a fourth year student at the university’s Kikuyu campus and promised he would get us the book we needed. We made plans to meet in two days’ time, hike a ride on the university bus to his campus, collect the book, and hike a ride back to the main campus. It was all too simple.
When the deal is too good, think thrice! Like why would he not bring the book to you if he’s coming your way, anyway? Was he listening to your conversation to know the book you needed? And why was he too eager to help two strangers? These are questions the two greenhorns in this case did not ask, or even think about.
On the appointed Tuesday, Isaac, like clockwork was waiting at the appointed meeting place this time with his friend. With a bunch of other campus students, my best friend and I got on the bus which left for Kikuyu campus at about 5 pm. This meant dusk was quickly gathering in by the time we got to Kikuyu campus and between being ‘entertained’ with a cup of strong tea in their room (they were roomates apparently, or one roommate had been exiled – difficult to know), going for dinner in the Mess and the make-believe that someone was bringing the book from wherever, the clock struck 10 pm. By then, we learnt the bus had already left for the main campus at 9 pm and there were no other means of transport back.
The short of this tale is that, that was the night I could either have been a murderer or an accomplice to murder. A simple nail clipper can be a real weapon, girls – always have one in your bag! We survived the night unscathed and 5.30 am found us at the Serena bus-stop heading back to our hostels. And made a pact to never talk about that night. Since I have not been in touch with my friend for a very long time to ask for permission to break that pact, I will leave it at that. The fact that no newspaper had headlines screaming, UNIVERSITY STUDENT FOUND DEAD IN CAMPUS ROOM, is testament that whereas blood was spilled, no further damage was done.
Be warned. Danger lurks in the least expected places!