Kpekere was one of them typical razz waffy boys.. Clean shaven aside of a goatee, not too tall, legs slightly bowed and with rippling muscles under the skin tight tee-shirts he wore, he had a menacing look around him. He was suave in his own way though, waffy slangs rolled off his tongue like melting lollipops, enthralling us , especially when he chose to regale us with tales of his supposed exploits bunkering crude oil in the creeks. His skin was a very light shade of brown – a testament to a randy Portuguese ancestor back in the day. With lots of cash to spare, being a tough tackling no-nonsense central defender in the Department’s Football side added to the aura of hardman that surrounded him, and he used it to good effect.
He did lack one thing though, which was a commitment to serious study. Too many runs meant that he was distracted, and the never ending stream of campus belles didn’t do his focus any good either especially as he spent quite a bit of time hosting his considerable harem in Buka One. He did however, do enough to pass examinations – ably assisted by the real Google Wave – friends collaborating to seamlessly deliver in examination halls as well as a generous helping of chukuli, bullets, cargo and exam answers tatooed on the inside of palms.
Final year came eventually though, and the sudden realization that the final grade was important hit every one. From the happy-go-lucky students like yours truly who focused more on finding the minimum effort required to get borderline alphas to the clearly uninterested students like Kpekere, we all trooped to tutorial after tutorial.
One fateful day, Kpekere joined in a discussion on Thermal Power Systems, proceeding to be very obvious in the process. The tension was palpable, alphas on this exam were about as regular as PHCN delivering – and a few of the more serious efficos could be seen bristling with rage, angered by the perception that all Kpekere was was a distraction we couldn’t afford. I, the ever willing student of human behavior, sat aloof sensing there would be a twist.
Up came the lead effico, a pretend Brit whose only claim to a Brit accent was spending three months in London while his father completed an MSc, to whom we gave the sobriquet Prof. His stated intent was to demonstrate to the class how to determine the optimum inter-stage pressure for perfect intercooling at the multi-stage compressors. After going through it the first time, he asked if every one understood.
Guy I no understand o.. How you take find that thing nah? Kpekere butted in, in his characteristic tone, in between teeth actively engaged in chewing gum. We could almost hear the sharp intake of air from Prof.
Can you ask your question in English please? Prof countered.
Guy, which level na? How you take find that thing o! Haba. Kpekere countered, arm motions indicating he was dismissive of Prof’s claim to needing a change of language.
Well, I’m serious here, If you don’t ask the question in English, I will be unable to dignify your question with an answer. – Ebo! I muttered under my breath, totally enjoying the developing standoff.
Na your papa language sef? Make you take time o! Wetin dey do this small pickin sef! Clearly, Kpekere was getting animated. It was rumored that he knew people who knew people who could arrange things on this campus. Surely Prof would back down now?
We, all 60 of us, were suddenly spectators in this battle of wits – the razz waffy boy, wey no send anybody vs the pretend Brit boy..
I insist, ask your question in English, Prof repeated, I thought I could detect a slight quake.
Na only you go better school abi? I no dey speak any English, wetin dey worry you sef ehn??? I go do you strong thing o! This boy, I go do you strong thing o.. . Kpekere was clearly livid and he marched down the stairs towards the front of the class where Prof was standing. I could sense the tension reach sky high levels. We were caught in two minds – someone needed to put Prof in his place, but losing any more time in this course was not helping anybody.
Prof and Kpekere now stood eye to eye toe to toe, The stocky figure of Kpekere and the plump keggish stomach of the Prof defined the moment. Would there be a slap, or some shirt pulling…. Surely the Prof wouldn’t risk it..
Talk that nonsense wey you talk again make I hear, stewpid boy. Kpekere repeated.
You could have heard a pin drop! Both men stared each other down. I made up my mind and acted.
Guys, we don’t have time… Kpekere and Prof can you take your fight outside?, I interjected. I slipped a detailed solution to the problem into Kpekere’s hands.
Maybe speaking broke the spell, as the class suddenly came alive. Voices rising in a crescendo of placation.
Na your guy na, una wan’ fight cos of book. Life pass this school o! Prof stole one last glare and then turned and headed to his seat beside me..
He was trembling like a leaf in a harmattan gale!