DISCLAIMER: This happened many years ago. I now consider it a shameful error in judgment. The writing style is deliberately awkward. I really do hope not everyone understands what transpired below.
Was listening to Olu maintain’s yahoozee. Besides the catchy tune, I did notice that just at the start he says ‘kamikaze on a careful level’. I’m hopelessly useless at accurately deciphering lyrics from songs so there is a good chance he said something entirely different. In addition, I have no idea if he uses the Japanese word in the regular sense or if it has been modified radically and remade as a 9ja slang. Whatever the case, the phrase tossed me down memory lane and I decided to blog some of them thoughts.
My alarm slammed me into consciousness. Two breaths, vision back to focus. Was certainly awake, not dreaming. Dreaming to be awake never feels this real. My heart paced normally. Was not sweating. Most certainly not feeling that yawa-go-soon-gas type vibe you get when u sense imminent danger. Cannot explain the absence of shaky nerves.
Look at watch. Twas the D-day alright. 6am. 3 hour countdown. Made a mental plan; freshen up, head down school, locate the client…
Chi-boy: OBOY How FAR!! You don wake? Na Chi-boy. Oboy, wakeup! wakeup!
Lonely: I dey come.
Second glance at clock, compare with watch, it really is 6am. This dude must be working his nerves silly. Should the client be this jittery? Should I be so coma-calm? What are the implications for the likelihood of success? It was my first time. I know I can’t answer these questions, but the mind needs to stay active, needs to stay on top of things, considering every potential grain of sand in the garri.
I open up. The client is a panicky mess. Delivering a steady stream of incoherent yarns. Repeating, gesturing, racing and totally out of sync with his senses. The only thing I recall hearing was “it starts by nine oh! Lets go, lets go. It starts by nine”. I think to myself “dude, you’ve sanctified me with that fact every other day since I took up your offer about a fortnight ago”. I shut him off mentally. Routine preening. We head down school.
Light breakfast. Loads of caffeine. Anything to keep those neurons firing at top speed. Hung around ‘ground zero’. Being two sets ahead of the client, I didn’t know his classmates. However, a little reconnaissance revealed the venue was typical. Same rules, same patterns emerging. Different factions doing what they must. The intellectual-blondes being invitingly friendly to their antithesis hoping to hit the jackpot come 9am. The super-Effikos in groups regurgitating/validating hours of cram work. The quasi-desperate clogging up every Zerox machine in sight, replicating texts written with characters well within the nanoscale upper-limit yet fabricated by the human hand. And then the totally desperate, the clients. I can spot them even from a neighboring galaxy, perspiring and failing at their attempts to keep a straight face. Plagued with a total lack of confidence in their abilities, they outsource all brain-functions to the Machines.
The Machines, rogue Effikos, grandmasters in the art of stealth. Self proclaimed local polymaths. They don’t show up in the patterns. Radar unfriendly. Lease braintime for a nominal fee. Atypical to hang around the venue till it was just time. And even if they did, they were the ones buying groundnut, the dude walking by with purpose, they were the everyday guy, the background.
9am. It was time, I had the yam, I had the knife but the question was, would I make pounded yam or burn down the kitchen? The ball was rolling. I get into the exam hall. Papers get shared. At this point, the machines are shining beacons. At least to the legitimate students who either know you do not belong to the department or if you do, have tasted of your pedigree and know there is no way in blazes you can re-sit a course.
The goal; finish and exit immediately. If the client insists on an ‘A’, then things get a bit tricky cos you’ve got to make it believable that an amoeba like him can manage that feat. That was my lot. No second wasted, studied the questions weightings and got to work. Basic circuits, oh God of Moses, we are finished in this country, is this what this boy can’t do?
The students were spread across 3 classrooms, consequently, the lecturer only came in at intervals to speak with the invigilators and scan a bit. On his third trip, he looks at me with an expression like *something tastes funny*. I could see him from the corner of my eye. I did not break my composure. But then he starts to approach.
As a machine being approached by the lecturer, you have to understand that at this point, nothing other than being supremely critical in your decisions would suffice. At this point, the client does not exist. His interests are not secondary, they are not even remotely factored, hell, if giving him an ‘F’ can get you out unharmed that would be super!
Ultimately, the next few seconds could lead to the termination of my degree program and possibly jail time but if handled expertly will be nothing more than a harmless temporary disconnect in doing my deed. It was the ultimate judgment call. To run or not to run.
The approach ensued. What was the attraction? I blended in totally. Right? Still looking from the corner of my eye, I could see that he had a book in his arm. I assumed he can’t grab me properly but I had decided that if he drops it before getting to me, I don take off.
Couldn’t help it. I had to preempt. I got up, walked up to him and bombarded the dude with questions. Some revealing solutions, some revealing errors in the questions, just enough to grab his faculties from thoughts of suspicion and bury them in very relevant concerns. Immediately, he goes about correcting the class and leaves to correct the other classrooms. Sweet relief. Then the introspection began. Why the hell am I doing this? For how much? 3grand? I’m no king Midas heir but there aint no denying my makeshift silver spoon. I guess the appeal was the thrill. All my friends had done it and the rush was reputedly orgasmic. Being a sucker for a challenge I put my entire life in jeopardy to get paid for an overhyped rollercoaster ride. If that lecturer had grabbed me and things went sour, wetin I for tell myself? wetin I for tell popsi? This shit isn’t worth it. Pretty much like sniffing cyanide for a high. I’ve got to finish fast.
I had bagged about 60 points and deliberately sabotaged about 20. Needed a few more to make the ‘A’ and just disappear but then the lecturer stepped in. This time his cool was lost. Like something had just transpired in one of the classrooms. He was taking deep breaths and spoke to the lone invigilator in hush tones. “I’m going to get the photocards, make sure no one leaves”
“Ebami-oooo!” I thought to myself. University regulations make the photocards a requirement for course registration. The card contains the students name and photo. Every properly planned job should have a picture of the surrogate student and not the client on the photocard. In my case, the client submitted the thing without my consultations. Thinking it was of no consequence. That move was about to cost him an ‘F’ cos there was no way in hell or its immediate surroundings that I was going down. Not today.
Needed an exit strategy. Glad I opted for the chair closest to the exit. Waited for the invigilator to get to the far end of the room. Then I stood up walked up to the table in front of the class, wrote down the clients name on the attendance list and signed his signature. Dropped his script and began heading for the door.
Invigilator: I said you shouldn’t fill the attendance sheet until you’ve finished the exam.
Lonely: I have finished sir.
Invigilator: Oh OK. Sit down and wait for the lecturer.
Lonely: yes sir.
I’m still heading for the door.
Invigilator: I said that the lecturer asked everyone to wait!
Lonely: Of course sir.
Closer to the door.
Smart guy. He could tell I wasn’t about to do any sitting. He quickened his pace. I didn’t have to. I’m guessing he didn’t realize his being at the far end of the classroom was not by chance. Before he was anywhere close by I was out the door. Broke into a sprint for a bit to create some distance and then dropped back into a stroll before he was out and I made sure to keep a relaxed Sangfroid.
Invigilator: Hey you! Hey you!
The irony, he now had to make a judgment call. Chase this renegade student still very much bursting with youth and let the ‘un-invigilated’ class fall into organized chaos in a copying frenzy or mind his business. I guess he gave it some thought and somewhere between considering his 40 yr old bones giving way in a sprint and his less than stellar payslip decided that it was well out of his job description. He made the easier choice and took his place in the scheme of things.
I did some more sprinting for a complete change of scenery and then took a bike out of campus. For some reason, twas after paying the bike dude my nerves began to rattle.
Funny thing, despite my conviction that the client was in trouble, nothing became of the issue and he got a ‘B’ which ended up as an ‘A’ after the lecturer was pressured to improve the class average.
When I think about it, I’m convinced that taking up the offer to write an exam for some dude for the sake of the thrill and at the possible expense of my academic career is the most imbecilic decision I have ever made. I honestly hope it stays that way.