I am yet to find an appropriate word to describe the freedom that moving into the hostel afforded me; I don’t even know what to compare it to. The taste of freedom was heady and intoxicating, a powerful aphrodisiac that I could never adjust to. You probably think I’m exaggerating; after all, it wasn’t as if I had been in a prison for years and was just joining the outside world again. I imagine that kind of freedom would be easier to understand. But really, I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and however I wanted. Let me bring it home; there was no mummy or daddy! Slam down. The word permission was disappearing fast from my vocabulary and I wasn’t sorry to see it go.
Do you know how it feels knowing that you alone are responsible for your actions? I answer to myself, I am the chief consultant. I decide what I want to eat or if I want to eat. I decide what to wear without anticipating the censure in Dad’s gaze or the disapproval in Mum’s tone. There is no curfew, no restrictions on movements. I was an adult and I wasn’t even eighteen yet.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t automatically set out to be a bad, rebellious girl just because I had so much more freedom than I had envisioned. Of course, living in a certain manner for seventeen years makes it hard for you to switch roles. I could still hear my parents’ voices in my head even though they were absent. I still thought of what Dad would think if I did something or how Mum would feel. And there were the numerous pieces of advice that had been drummed incessantly into my head and they had this annoying habit of popping in my head at unwelcome times.
However, I was completely on my own for the first time in my whole life and I wasn’t sad at all. Oh, I guess I was homesick for a while but mostly, I was lost in savouring this new phase of my life to miss home too much. Glory, glory, I could walk around naked and nobody would question me. Okay, that is probably stretching it too far. The university authorities will question me and that particular action will probably get back to my parents. God forbid that I should ever do anything that will deprive me of this amazing new-found power. Yes, I am aware that I have only four years before I go back to being the dutiful daughter but right now, four years could be forever; note the alliterates.
My first night in school, I went to bed early. Old habits die hard and I was expecting the parents to check up on me and even though they can’t see me, they can probably tell if I am in a noisy place or not. That changed soon enough as I discovered that the hostel was always a noisy place and my parents soon realized it. I could be in a disco club and say that I was in the hostel with the kind of racket the girls make. Not that I would go to a disco club, I am a pastor’s daughter after all. I have an image to preserve even though that was the farthest thing from my mind in those first few months.
Oh, the joy of sweet freedom! Do I sound like a spoilt child who just discovered candy? I should warn you that even that feeling is incomparable especially since I didn’t discover real candy until I was a teenager and it was purely circumstantial. Welcome to Nigeria where the absence of candy stores is not a crime.
…to be continued