My middle name was Stress at this period.

A few weeks ago I was at Afrinolly’s Cinema4Change workshop along with 20 odd other great people, among which were cross dressers, tomboys, short (and I mean short) story writers, dreadlocked goons, and sundry other oddities (among which was Bunmi whose frame screams falsetto but from whom booms this great, big baritone that has all the girls drooping and dropping before his feet like Christians at a holy ghost service). Eh. Pearl has everyone at the workshop covered here.

It was also a workshop at which my recent history was gathered. For some five years (adjusting for the oddities of the Nigerian university system), I studied Microbiology at OAU. Or perhaps it was Microbiology who studied me in amusement as I tried to study her with notes and clunky equipment from 1850 caught in a time warp. If Louis Pasteur were resurrected to study Microbiology in Nigeria today, he wouldn’t have missed much. In fact, I suspect some of his methods may turn out to be more modern than what we have. I can just imagine him, full beards animated, declaring in that French gutturalness:

Vhat? Preparing ze nutrient agar viz a kerosene stove? I did not vake up in ze Stone Ages or anyzing like zat, non?

Something like that.

Now, what does my time in OAU years ago have to do with a screenwriting workshop in 2014?

It’s odd but whenever Femi Kayode appears I see Tunbosun Akeju (except that Bosun looks likely to retain the full head of hair conspicuously missing from Femi’s head) down to the voice and laughter and (to some extent) the mannerisms. More, they have that same swagger of the assured and that ability to sell conflict to neighbours in a face-me-I-face-you, or an inane argument to GEJ. I do not kid you. Oh yes, Bosun and I are friends who met being studied in a petri dish by Microbiology at Ife.

And there was Alexandra in her mostly tomboyish getup, seemingly unaware of her own looks, emphasis on “seemingly” because I actually wouldn’t know. Alex’s knowledge of and about films is broad-ranging and I sat there, jaws unhinged, as she and the amazing Jude Idada swapped knowledge of, and about, films. But what really unhinged upper from lower jaw wasn’t films but that when I see her I see at the same time two very important persons in my life at OAU: Funmi, my first girlfriend properly so-called, and Esther, a bestie. In Alex was combined Esther’s nervous energy and Funmi’s explosive reservation. She had Funmi’s voice and pretend-prudishness, opting for a public inability to contemplate or comprehend the baser aspects of humanity (like sex [in movies]), and also had Esther’s boyish carriage. As if all of that isn’t odd enough, she is fair-complexioned, like Esther and Funmi, and her visage is inhabited by both Esther and Funmi’s visages.

When I showed the amazingly named Haye a picture of my most recent ex, she gasped and asked who it was. I told her. Deola and I finished from OAU (after having gained admission via the predegree programme). Sometimes in those five years our orbits intersected but only absently. After school however, there was a conscious intermingling of our orbits and erm… we dated… for… a while. In Haye’s face can be seen Deola’s; and vice-versa. You would not mistake one for the other, but the semblance, clear as Patience Jonathan’s deceit, is there to behold. And as Haye’s personality began to unwind from the initial extreme reservation, she began, like Deola, to take people apart with snappy sarcasms, drawing laughter. As an aside, Haye is an amazing photographer (which Deola certainly isn’t… not at present anyways).

You would forgive me for thinking I was being haunted by my past.

Kemi Adesoye wrote Figurine and Phone Swap, both hit and “different” Nollywood flicks. Kemi is not the bodily or behavioural re-enactment of any friend I had or anyone I met in OAU. Kemi’s link (tenuous I agree) is Figurine. You see, the night after Funmi said yes to me, Figurine showed at OAU’s famous amphitheatre, Amphi to the initiated. And there we were somewhere on the stone terraces that span the width of one of OAU’s cultural phenomena, fingers linked, bodies a-bubbling with the excitement of new love, trying very hard to overcome what you will agree were enormous odds to concentrate on why we were there: to watch Figurine. Seeing Kemi in the flesh and hearing that she wrote Figurine prodded those memories alive. Of course I told Kemi all about how her creation is a habitable planet in the solar system of my world (in simpler, much simpler terms), and she awwed and awwed and awwed. (No one tell her I cannot remember the first thing about the movie now.)



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