It was a sunny afternoon in the month of May, the hall was busy as usual. The deafening noise of back sitters and chattering friends filled the air. The principal, Alhaji Mustapha fondly called Musti by his students, was standing in front of teeming admission seekers with a piece of chalk in hand. He beckoned to them for calmness and turned to the board to start the chemistry class. This is Mustapha Extra-mural Class (MEC) where champions are forged, and best brains emerge.
In the middle column on the second row sat a young boy in his oversized shirt listening to the expert of Chemistry. That boy was me. The Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) had scheduled my examination date for June 16th, and I had only a few more days to tidy up learning and revision. Fully determined not to spend another year at home, I had covered the Syllabus twice in each subject except Biology and that had become handy wherever I went. Sitting on the bench with me was Joshua, one of the best brains at the centre that year. Joshua was a young man with clear sight. His ambition was his drive. Optimistic, focused, and resilient, he would sit during break and bury his eyes in pages of textbooks. Knowledge was his oxygen and wisdom exuded his lungs anytime he answered questions in the class.
We became close when he noticed we had things in common during one of the lessons. A question was asked by one of the tutors and the hall known for her deafening noise suddenly became as quiet as a graveyard. I raised my hand.
‘Yes, you’ the mister said as he pointed to the back seat. All eyes followed him to me. I stood up and began to answer his question, putting the horse before the cart, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. The entire hall erupted with an ovation when I sat back with the tutor nodding in approval.
We soon began to sit together; he would secure a seat for me and I also would anytime I got to the venue before him. This way, I moved to the front row and began to pick what our tutors taught with minimal distraction.
Joshua was very good at Chemistry. I think he had an A- grade in the subject when he sat for WASSCE. We often wondered whether he had a hand in the writing and publishing of the New School Chemistry by Ababio. He was not bad in Biology and he certainly knew his way in Physics. We sat many times holding the tutors down with questions and spending more than the time allocated for lectures. Sometimes, we would sit during break surrounded by other friends and challenge our knowledge in the science courses. Whenever we disagree on a topic or answer to a question, we would bring out various textbooks to disprove or drive home a point.
Prior to our departure, while it was still a few weeks away, Musti was giving a lecture. He had dissected all the topics in Biology and was teaching on how the name of a plant group could infer the examples belonging to such a group when I began to flow along. I was presenting the examples and their botanical names. Thanks to Jide, Moses, and Bukky, these were my classmates in secondary who inspired me to master the botanical names of some plants and animals. Back then, we used those names during our corporate study as a yardstick for our mastery of Biology. The class remained calm as all eyes met on the young boy who was pumping out the English and botanical names of different plants. My friend too looked on. He was amazed at how I could have amassed so vastly a wealth of knowledge on all subjects. Each subject discussed seemed to be an easy pie for me and he could not just understand how a single individual could know so much.
After Musti had left, he turned to me and made a statement I would never forget. ‘I know you would one day write books. When you are about to, don’t forget to call me.’
These words ring daily when he comes to mind. It has been six years since we parted at MEC, but he still lives in me. I remember him with a smile every day and the words he said has become a strong motivation for me. I forge on every morning ready to make a mark by productive living and to reconnect with my friend on the day I want to publish a book.
Sadiq Oluwafisayo Saberedowo is a 500L student of LAUTECH, Ogbomoso. He is a content writer, poet and blogger. He can be reached through email@example.com