“I am sorry about Damian,” I said. I had no idea why she had to use that infinity ish but I must be honest, it was her tears that gave me a clue that Damian gave in to his side effect of living.
“What was it that he was wrong with?” she smiled at my English mastering, cleaned her eyes with an handkerchief and then she just had to look into my eyes… why???
“Retinoblastoma.” This was where I got lost, just maybe I had an idea of what that word meant but I needed an expatiating definition.
“Cancer of the eye, Mum and dad had no idea what it was till it was too late. It was even past the stage of Enucleation.”
Shoot me, I was thinking Retinoblastoma was a name of some earthquake. And what on earth is Enucleation again nah?
I knew I had so many things to ask Google that night. I hated the fact that she was in tears but I understood that it was her vulnerable moment, I couldn’t just say sorry and walk away, she wanted to talk. “Is that why you want to be an optometrist?” I asked.
“No! I want to be an Ophthalmic Oncologist”
Her eyes brightened, I could see hope battling to rise. There was no sign of a girl that have given up being whatever she wanted to be. And I was confused, I knew what Ophthalmic meant but I didn’t understand why she was in UNIBEN studying a course that wouldn’t qualify her as a surgeon.
“What are you doing here then?”
“This is the best the country and my parents could offer, I believe I will be an eye surgeon one day, physically and spiritually.”
Come to think of it, physically and spiritually? I must have had a startled face because she clarified her statement.
“As in, if physical skills fail, I switch to the wonder working skills of God? Just like Ben Carson would do?”
“Oh!… I thought you wanted to like visit a Babalawo,” she didn’t think it was funny. She said I needed coaching on sarcasm and a total hull of thoughts of being a comedian, just when I wanted to continue questioning her, she said she felt really embarrassed at that moment, crying like a child.
Only if you knew that I cried like a child yesterday…
It was her turn to ask me questions, she asked about my family, Mum, Dad and religious background.
I told her about me being an only child, I told her about my journey to UNIBEN and I ended up telling her how I ended up with some bad genes, how I wouldn’t marry a girl without taking her to series of genetic tests, she thought it was funny – like I was serious!
“Why computer science?” her voice was frisking the hell out of my nerves.
“Ummm… I always wondered how stupid scientists could be to think that someone in London will punch some buttons on something they stupidly called a Computer and another in Nigeria will receive it immediately, stupid.” She looked confused.
“Yes! So I am not studying computer science, I am studying the stupidity of some men, hoping to be more stupid someday.” Her face lit, I could bet my left eye that not everybody would get the joke (if there was any), Miriam had a crazy sense of humor.
“You know you just gave me a reason to call you a stupid boy without actually saying you are stupid right?”
“Yeah! Stupid girl!!”
I bade goodbye to her that day and she gave me a ‘thank you for listening’ hug, a very unfamiliar hug. Like after the Hug, she ummm… didn’t want to let me go, hugs are supposed to be a Two seconds thingy right? Well this one lasted for 7seconds. Don’t ask how I know, like I just had to start counting seconds else my stupid chest will start talking: Guy! E soft ohhh!… Get hid behind me you chests.
After she left, I sat down staring at the white marker board in front of the empty class. I didn’t know I was smiling until Lami came in to tell me it was time to go home.
“Should I be bothered about your insanity or should I just blame it on overdose of drugs?” I couldn’t tell Lami that Miriam was with me while she was away with her friends, talks like that silenced her and sometimes I wished she was not as close as she was to me. “Actually, I need water to take afternoon over dose, and that shirt looks good on you girl, was that what you were wearing this morning when we left the house?”
“Eleyi ti ya weyre, you are so gonna need an isolation soon” She collected my wallet and took some certain amount of money to go get water. She asked where I got a shopping bag from and I told her a friend gave it to me but knowing Lami so well, she didn’t quite like the answer but she faked a smile and said I should be careful of ‘friends’. I couldn’t let her words bother me; I could still perceive Miriam around; that was what bothered me… Miriam Stephen.