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I wasn’t sure how to feel as we drove through the gates of the institution towards what would be the next four years of my life. This wasn’t the school I’d wanted. I’d wanted UNILAG, and I’d spent two years of my life in the pursuit of that to no avail. I wasn’t granted admission, even when I’d beat the cut off mark to study Economics the first time around. Such was my luck and my fate.

I had come a long way, and my story wasn’t a pleasant one. You see, I dropped out of my former university in my third year. I came home that year, in December of 2008, and ruined Christmas for everyone on breaking the news. My parents did everything they could to change my mind but I was resolute in my decision. It’s funny though. For a brief period, I was the apple of my parents’ eyes. The firstborn son, studying medicine in a prestigious private university. That was every parent’s ultimate fever dream and I was living it out for them, so it took me a while to be able to stand up for myself and decide what it was I wanted to do with my life, which for sure wasn’t to be a doctor. I hated the school and its oppressive rules; I hated the course as well. I hated everything about it. I didn’t like the sight of blood; I hated the smell of hospitals. It felt like the smell of death, so I knew that this wasn’t the path my life was meant to go. Also, I did a cost-benefit analysis of my academic situation at the time, and with almost 21 carryovers under my belt, I knew there was no way I was going to graduate on time or even rewrite all the failed courses. My best bet was to start over. So that’s what I did.

My mom and elder sister came with me to drop me off, do a little registration and help me get settled in. UNILAG was playing Ludo with my life, and the house had been getting so hot, especially between my dad and I. I no fit drink water drop cup (I couldn’t do anything in peace), he would always tackle me and challenge me. Our confrontations seemed closer and closer to becoming violent each time. He always called me useless and so many other names, things were always heated. He always told me so many things that chipped away at my soul. Of course, I understood his pain. He had spent a lot of money training me through school. During those two years I stayed at home I hit the streets, went for my very first audition and got my first ever job as a TV presenter, reporter, scriptwriter and voice over artist for a very prestigious media outfit. I was now going out to work and bringing home some bread. This convinced my parents that I wasn’t totally useless and worthless, because I always expressed interest in the arts, right from when I was a little boy. It was all I’d ever expressed interest and excitement in. I was also usually one of the stars of the debating teams in primary and secondary school. I knew I was gifted and talented, even though I never believed so much in myself. Imagine my shock, getting my first presenting job (the only slot) out of a pool of over five hundred other well-polished, grammar-speaking, attractive men and women from different walks of life. That was saying something. It was an “in-your-face” moment for my parents at the time.

My respect was restored, but only just a little bit. The atmosphere at home was always tense, so when two years were going on three and UNILAG wasn’t playing ball I knew I had to make a decision or watch myself grow old and become useless in my father’s house. I could just imagine him standing in a corner, glaring at me as he usually did and saying “I told you so, I said it. Useless!” I did a little research and came upon this fairly new institution at the time. They had admitted their first set of students the year before. These undergraduates were now in their second year. This was my chance to finally become a proper graduate. I knew getting in would be relatively easy, as long as we could pay the fees. All I wanted was to study a 4-year course, get my degree and have it on record that I went to this school of a thing that society had made such a big deal of. I’d pocket my certificate and walk off into the sunset while waving my middle fingers ferociously at everyone.

Who made these rules? Better yet, who invented school? Thunder fire you wherever thou may be!

After registration I settled into my room in the hostel. I was assigned to a room in a building called Block 8, and this was to be my housing for the duration of my first year in this university. My mom and sister said their prayers for me, shed a few tears, and proceeded to leave. Mom was reluctant to leave though, she said the faces of the guys she saw in the hostel and environs looked so hard and strong and that she was a little worried about me. I think she half-expected them to jump me as soon as she turned her back. She wasn’t completely wrong though. The faces of the guys I’d seen so far in this school had zero joy. I’d seen some fine aśs ladies too and I wasn’t worried about the guys anyway because I knew how to hold my own. I was grizzled, well-chiseled, and muscular even though mom would always see me as her little boy. I wasn’t going to go looking for trouble but if trouble came to find me I’d square up to it. Momsy muttered some words about how five years had gone by with nothing to show for it and I flinched inwardly. She urged me to put in all my possible best in my academics and show everyone how wrong they were about me. That I was a winner and not a loser. I took all her words to heart and watched with a very heavy heart as they drove off.

I was 20 years old at the time, all alone, and ready to face the rest of my life, unaware of the emotional rollercoaster from hell that was waiting for me with a giant, ugly grin on its grotesque, evil face. If only I knew.

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