Thursday, 10 August 2017


(Recollections from Law School Days) Something I've never confessed to a soul:

“You’re a bookworm,” my roommate accused as though she’d just had a major inspiration and invented the word.
“No I’m not,” I protested, tossing my sixth novel of the week back into my wardrobe and away from her eagle eyes. It wasn’t even Wednesday yet and already I had gone through five novels. The sixth was the guilty evidence I had just done away with.
I sat restlessly for a few minutes and then I leaped to my feet, grabbed my backpack and headed for  the door.
“Where to now?” she called. “The library?”
I had actually been about going to the library but seeing as I had just vehemently protested that I had a life outside books, I couldn’t very well say I was, now could I?
“I’m just going out,” I mumbled and fled.
My mouth was turned downwards at the corners until I entered the library and felt all those law reports calling to me from their shelves. That’s the weird thing about me; I would read anything so long as it consisted of the twenty-six English letters. 
The Bar exams were coming up and I was so pumped and psyched to make a great result. I flopped into a chair and promptly got lost in a Company Law text, headphones covering my ears, music blaring into my eardrums as I read.
I was so immersed in my studies that I lost track of time and didn’t notice when people gradually began to file out of the library. I read until the very last person had locked up for the night and strode out the door. It wasn’t until the light was switched off that I looked up with a jolt and noticed that I was all alone in an empty, dusty library.
I urgently stumbled and crashed my way to the front door in the dark, hands stretched blindly in front of me, heart thumping desperately in my chest as I yelled to get the attention of the woman locking the door. She looked up with a yelp of fright.
“Who are you?” she demanded from behind the safety of the iron bars separating us.
“I’m a student,” I responded, pointing at the ID Card around my neck. I would have added ‘duh’ but right then I was a touch too upset to be sarcastic.
“What are you doing there?”
What was it with this woman; wasn’t it obvious what a student was doing in a library? At any other time, my foot would have been tapping impatiently but I was half-afraid she would also wonder why I had shoes on; she was that exasperating.
“I came in to study,” I got out. “I didn’t realize it was closing time,” I shot back.
She was eyeing me suspiciously, her gaze searching the empty library behind me as though she suspected me of some truly dubious and dangerous activity like ... reading? My hands were laden with books and no bag in sight so where would I hide whatever it was she was so scared of?
“Why didn’t you leave when others were leaving?” she demanded, brows furrowed in more of that lovely suspicion.
I shrugged and explained that I had lost track of time and I hadn’t looked up and noticed people leaving. She lovingly caressed the key in her hand, stroking it as lovingly as you would say a pet dog, or something else less innocuous. I could see the wheels turning as she considered if she could get away with leaving me locked up until morning.
Then with a weary sigh, she opened the door, all stern frowns and head-shaking.
“Don’t do that next time,” she called as I turned to leave.
 Like I made a habit of going around getting locked up in lonely libraries? I cursed under my breath when I saw the time was already 10:30pm. It didn't help that I had forgotten my backpack in the library locker.
As I headed towards my hostel, I reflected that for some people, stating the obvious was an art form; a painfully annoying one, I concluded in exasperation.
My roommate’s eyes popped open the moment I came in as though she had been watching for me, “You came back late.”
I didn’t respond, just rolled my eyes as I flung myself wearily atop my sheets, shoes and all.
Lord deliver me from people with a love for stating the obvious.

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©2017 by Sherina Okoye

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