As they approached Port Harcourt, she thought deeply of how a corn, a steamy corn could change the atmosphere of her bag, melted her Vaseline, greased her Naira notes making her to carefully rearrange her bag. First, she thought of how carefully the seller back at the park removed the outer sheath, wiping it clean then placing it on the fire carefully fanning for the corn to absorb the brewing hotness of the coal making the aroma she quite couldn’t resist whenever she was around roasted corn vendors. She compared the taste of the corn that she speedily roasted on the stove with corn that is roasted with carefully brewing hotness of a coal to fine edibility and sweetness. To her, the carefully roasted corn on a brewing coal tastes sweeter because of the carefulness and time it took the corn to absorb the heat in all its parts to make it into one sweet edible corn.
This brought to her mind the fast lane on which Nigerian students were on – the get the certificate quick scheme, the ideology that the certificate is more important than the learning. In her mind she knew that only if students allowed themselves the sufficient time to learn in class, go through the learning process, they would be refined and transformed at the end. Instead they go faster, speedily like a corn on a stove and come out not tasting so sweetened. She kept turning the thoughts in her mind of Professor Ezeka’s twenty thousand naira and the other thing every lady did before their thesis was approved. Was he going to actually scrutinize and approve her thesis or was he going to toss it underneath his table with the other piles of other people’s thesis and award a mark, the mark for thesis completion, for having offered him a bribe, for doing as she was told – the other thing every lady did.
She wondered why some Nigerian Universities grading system revolved around money and other vices. Why lecturers were allowed to hold an upper hand in such vices. Why the students who didn’t want to be part of such vices or associated with them were the ones that failed and the cooperating ones, the ones that bought the unedited, plagiarised textbooks and offered their bodies at will were the ones that passed. She wondered if some of these lecturers in their acclaimed wide readings and researches had ever come across values of discipline, civility, honesty and straightforwardness. She would have liked to argue this with the fair man, that this is the reason Nigeria as a country can’t solve their own problems and keep relying on their colonial masters. She would have told him that probably Nigeria needs decolonisation to remember that they were independent before colonisation and that perhaps if graduates were properly educated there won’t be a consistent high rise in the rate of unemployment.
The eighteen sitter bus came to a stop at a Bus Stop in front of an Air force Base in Port Harcourt and then the fair man alighted. The bus taxied into a large park that had sky blue and dark blue strips painted all around the fenced walls where many similar buses like theirs parked in rolls and columns, where louder chattering of motorists, passengers – boarding and alighting, beggars in their thread bare cloths, jaundiced eyes waved their hands apologetically singing in Igbo, Pigeon English and Hausa blessing whomever gave them money no matter how little, where vendors of perfumes, inner wears, wrist watches, phone accessories struggled to make sales approaching passengers uncalled, she alighted, picked out the corn that was now cold in a shrivelled newspaper and threw it into the dustbin beside her, and got into a taxi that drove her to the University where Professor Ezeka was expecting her.
She met Professor Ezeka in his office with two other women who looked sophisticated. They had been laughing so loudly at something the professor had said when Uwa knocked and was asked in.
“Good day sir,” Uwa greeted.
“Hello Uwaezuoke, How are you?“
“You should have arrived by morning.”
“I’m sorry sir. It was traffic and the distance from Abia.”
Uwa was hesitant to offer him the brown envelop at the sight of the women who would examine her hand until it exchanged with that of the Professor.
“Did you bring what I asked you to?”
“Ok,” he said, stretching out his left hand from across the table.
Uwa stretched her hand into her bag and forwards it to him. Uwa wondered the kind of conscience that would have numbed Professor Ezeka’s sense of civility that he would accept her bribe in broad day light, at the peering of two pairs of sophisticated eyes.
He tossed it into his drawer.
“Don’t worry, you can go. I already have company. I’ll take a look at your thesis later and approve it.”
Uwa was bowled over; grateful to the sophisticated women that may have saved her from Professor’s other request – the other thing every lady did before their thesis was approved. Was it the women she sneered at and never liked at first that saved her or was it her wait at the park? She wondered why he called her fully, Uwaezuoke, if he really knew the meaning, Nothing is Ever Enough; upon all he earned at his status, as a Professor, he still wanted her brown envelop. Nothing was ever enough for anyone. She stepped out of his office, leaving Professor Ezeka with her sophisticated guests behind.
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Categories: Short stories, storytelling