A freshman – his parents willed so,
An opportunity they longed for but ne’er had.
Quest for a degree – a habit of our society,
A serious-minded boy he was –
His mother’s joy, his father’s insurance policy;
Four years was the planned tenure at the citadel.

“Bring pennants home, make good this privilege!”
His papa admonished. “I’ll.” He calmly reassured.
Tall, stout, he walked with swaggering gait – self-confident,
He never knew a body could be kept warm at sundown,
‘Till they shared a table and a laugh at the library,
He noticed the curve of her behind; she was pretty.

Like his parents too, the girl he charmed
Her family gave her the belief, but were unaware,
Bits and pieces you pick up from college life –
The intricate web of romance, wild parties
With the opposite and sometimes same-sex;
Cohabiting arrangements on campus – a quasi-marriage.

October Rush was a serious affair, competition keen
Every freshman was a King – wooed with attention,
Taken on tours, plied with free drinks and cigarettes.
“Give ‘em a warm handshake, not a bone-crusher.
If you want a recruit, you got to show some care.”
Confraternities with no pangs of conscience scheme.

Away from home, it was a lonely place without friends
They spoke in lofty language, merits of Greek life
‘If-you-belong,’ university life is stress-free and glamorous.
When sugar-coated words and false promises persuade
Hell becomes a very desirable and habitable abode,
Their offer he accepted at face value – no qualms.

Pledge Night rite was no wedding reception
In the forest, chanting, dancing and, blindfolded
Notion they were all ‘brothers’ took flight,
When comrades turned him into a punching bag
To exorcise him of disloyalty and cowardice, after this
Gullivers was ne’er again tied down by Lilliputians.

Who can slave for two masters and remain devoted?
Classroom became a ‘cold shower’, Campus a ‘hot bath’,
He became her talisman after his baptism.
The homegrown girl always garbed in below-the-knee
Was now ripe – an hourglass sheathed in strapless mini
A convert to weekend parties and bouts of raucous abandon.

Dons, fellow students, and neighbors he preyed on,
Extorting by intimidation – money, grades, and favors.
Politicians sought his protection and services on Election Day.
Unlike his academic enterprise, he excelled with first-class CGP
At his Manhood tests – illicit things done at the wee hours
To advance Cultism’s gruesome cooperate ladder.

Now and again, rivalry and supremacy puffed its head
He who raises his head above neighbors or mates
Sooner or later is decapitated – Ego is Success’ anthill
When ideologies clash, In-group and Out-group feelings prevail
Scores die, many maimed; others retreat to prowl another day
He who brings home ant-infested firewood invites lizards to a feast.

A capo is untouchable. He thought – oh, naught
When they came for him – his rivals. They tied him up,
Took turns on his sweetheart – bang, bang, bang!
It mattered not if Babalawo renewed his charms a fortnight ago
“Nothing dey happen! Oluwa dey game!” He consoled his queen
Made no difference, they’re six feet underground, closed caskets.

Decades afterward, many still footsteps of this girl and lad tread.
Ah! I am not ordained or called to preach
So many ills also I learned at college.
But, many morals this tale might teach
Don’t be tempted by Lucifer’s shining apple.
Ignorance has its brighter side, other times it stings without remorse.

Copyright © Ugo Nkwoala | Spilledwoords | 2020

Photo by Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz on Unsplash

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One Comment

  1. To our sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters who came back home from the university campus in a casket – your Sorrow is a paycheck to our hearts. Let’s say NO to Cultism in our schools.

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