When you sit at a free table in Uniuyo cafeteria, you will see many things: a group of five guys each occupied with their laptops; another guy on a yellow T-shirt probably on a black rag jean, devouring a plate of hot Afang-melon soup with eba, like a person who had been deprived of food for weeks; another table occupied by freshers, all girls, who had come to complete a note or two, some gossiping about their course rep while others talking about the GST term paper.

If you are sitting by the entrance, you may also see a stream of lovers going in and out, hands in hands. You will see another couple having a conversation and you will chuckle at the light banter between the two.

Another group of guys will walk past too, at the center of which is a girl with thick box-braids and a crop top she got from a second hand stall at town camp. She will speak extra loud with an aura of power that would immediately have the guys agree with her.

And if it is near noon, you will see another group of girls walk in. You will know that they are Law students in their white and black. They will take a seat adjacent yours while they mutter something about evidence and some other things you don’t understand. The tall huge girl among them might be eating a plate of fried rice adjacent you and the aroma you’ve known your whole life: fried rice, garnished salad, huge beef, will hit you like it’s the first time. Your mouth will water at the thought of this but you will swallow back your saliva. You had just started the 50 days fasting your church had embarked on.

If you are still on that table now, you will see two girls in matching tops and black leggings march to the counter to place their order, channel O earrings dangling from their ears, the size that could fit your neck, their nose up in the air as if they had stepped on a dead rat.

The laughter will begin soon among the laptop guys. The one with the rat face might yell something to the group and the sound of it will float to your ears “Dollar don rise o”. An empty feeling will sit on your chest. You know that feeling, it can only be described as envy.
“Leave me alone” someone from across will say too loudly. Heads will turn at neighbouring tables, anxious to know what had happened. You will see a young boy barefoot, in almost tattered clothes, standing beside the girl with six-layered face of foundation, like a bottle of Mary-k had been poured over her face. You will look at her shaking your head. A hundred naira note was all the boy had asked for.
A short guy will walk into the cafeteria and you will hear others cheering “Leader…..Leader”. If you ask anyone about him, they will tell you he was a one time this and one time that.
“Hey, whats up?” A guy wearing a vintage shirt might say to a stranger at your left, his voice smooth, clear and calculated. He will clear his throat when she doesn’t notice him standing at her table side. Her head will fly up in surprise, her glasses almost falling off her face. She will offer him an awkward smile as she pushes her glasses back up. You will know that she is a medical student by the big textbooks in front of her, showcasing the female Anatomy. One thing will lead to another and he is sitting beside her, chattering and laughing about something you don’t know. You will want to whisper “oh God when?” but you might be interrupted by a girl on a plain black bogus long skirt with a jacket that has the “I’m a Jesus baby” shoulder pad, her hair tucked back into a scarf.

“Mind if I join you here?” She will sit without waiting for your reply. Your small, beady eyes will follow her closely as you nod mutely. Your eyes will still prey on her large ones, watching her every move with an intense look. Your eyes will not want to leave her skirt, maybe because the skirt was long enough it could be used for a hide and seek. You will bit down on your lip to hold in your laugh. A typical Deeper life girl. If you’re not feeling normal, a low chuckle will escape your lips and the deeper life girl will cast you a look.

Still on that table, you will look around and your eyes will meet a guy, head placed between the palm of his hands, his forehead crinkled in confusion. The bags under his eyes will almost compare to black rings as he look like he hadn’t slept for days. Another medical student. A grin will spread the width of your face. You didn’t come to school to suffer like this. After all you cannot kill yourself.

“Do you have a pen?” The deeper life girl will ask you. “Yes..” Your sentence will trail off when your eyes lock on a girl on black gown. You will first notice her almost perfect symmetrical face, the kind of face that will make you stop and stare if she passed you on the street. Next, you will gaze at her slightly golden-olive toned skin, her dark chocolate coloured eyes which compliments her complexion. You will shot her your “You’re pretty” glare as she approaches and pray she sees it. The deeper life girl will clear her throat directing her gaze at you. Your eyes will flicker between Cinderella and the deeper life girl. The deeper life girl will give you that “see your life” kinda look and you will lower your eyes to your bottle of coke. You don’t want her preaching to you.

Between the laughter from the laptop guys and the clink-clank of spoons and the click-clack of shoes on the washed titles and the beep-beep of whatsapp messages, the cafeteria will echo all these sounds between itself and into itself until they become one big hot noise that hums itself into your very bones. When it is two-o’clock you will gather you things and head home.

When it is 6 pm, you will open your open the book you took to the cafeteria, a hard cover that contains all your courses. You will come face to face with a blue track and a written note beside it. “We hold our fellowship at Old Agric Lecture Hall. Jesus loves you” You will read the note twice and at the third time, you will know where it came from. The deeper life girl.

©Enobong Etuk

4 thoughts on “WHAT YOUR EYES WILL SEE

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