A Brother’s Moocher
Who can blame them when in this society there is no way of knowing whether anything else is possible? If they found the only way they could escape from us, mount far above us, was by first talking to us like brothers, who are the fools?
– Ayi Kwei Armah, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born.
I was in the lecture hall when he came. He looked familiar. It took a moment for me to remember him. He was the third year student who had come to invigilate us for the exams. I was in my first year then. Today, he looked different. He was conscious of how sophisticated he looked. He wore gray trousers which matched his jacket. His bow tie looked like one from my father’s wardrobe, old but classy. His shoes were so well polished I could see my face in them; they were pointed too. His hair was short and well groomed unlike what I saw on the day of the exam. He looked like a hero from a Wall Street movie.
His right hand was in a trouser pocket; it appeared he was fingering something. After a while, he removed a handkerchief. It was as white as a blank sheet. It was appropriate for such solemn an occasion. From the look in his eyes, he held some information that would untangle the mysteries of the universe. His eyes kept darting around the room. He found my eyes and winked. My eyes gave no response. I did not deny him a nod though. He had been waiting in front of the class for some time. He waited for the microphone to be fixed; some of my colleagues were working on it. He moved from the spot he had been standing, or rather revolving around; he had been moving in circles I feared he would have a panic attack. The fan hanging down the ceiling where he stood wasn’t working. It had never worked since we started using the class that semester.
He moved with quick strides to another side of the room where he was promised fresh air because the fan’s velocity there seemed to equal the speed of light. He extended his hands to the end of his jacket, as if to straighten it. Finally, the microphone came on. The person who fixed it couldn’t help but continue to say ‘tata-one-two- tata-one-two’ even when it was clear the speakers were clear.
The microphone was handed over to him. He looked at the class. For a second, I saw fear in his eyes, which left, but not completely, the remains filtered his speech, sometimes his voice quaked, symptoms of dryness in his throat. When he was given the microphone, he cleared his throat first.
His voice came out as a scream, almost a piercing cry. It thundered and bounced off the walls, leaving a slow fading ring in our ears. He held the microphone far from his face, running from the thing he held. He turned his face backwards; his strain could be seen from the veins that crawled on his neck. The student who had fixed the microphone told him to move into a certain radius where the microphone would work fine.
He collected himself once more. Adjusting his shoulders a little in order to assume the perfect posture,
—Good morning once again.
This time the microphone did not fail him. It worked as if it was made for the occasion.
— I am sure you all know me.
I remembered him, true. What did I know him for? I knew him as the invigilator who had encouraged students to cheat during an exam. I knew him as the person who had helped students, no taught them to love the abhorrent, when he was to supervise them. I knew him as the person who stood at the door of the examination hall and prompted students to stop copying when a lecturer or anyone who could cause problems was passing by. I knew him as a human being whose name was rot.
—I am here for a very simple reason. I am here to share some words of motivation with you.
WRITER- KWAKU GYAMFI