Professor Mbakwe had been a father figure to me when I was still in school.
He advised me to stay back when I was on the verge of leaving school but my hopes seemed bleak, so I left. It was a miracle that he was spending part of his sabbatical leave in Lagos. It was quite unlike him. The usual thing for him was to fly without wasting time to his favorite holiday spot.
Have you ever heard that once you bag a Ph.d, you begin to act abnormal? It may not be true about every professor but Prof was an eccentric man whose pot belly contained all the hamburgers that he had ingested during his stay at the Yale university. He rarely kept his beards but his moustache looked like a curved arc. I could affirm that he looked like the cartoon villain in the story of Peter Pan but Prof was a man with a large heart.
I arrived at his office. It was located a few poles away from Lawanson bus-stop. What was he doing in Surulere, I supposed he would have chosen an area like Lekki to locate his office but yea! I remembered Prof was still Prof. He would often say simple is beautiful. He had little or no love for affluence and luxury. His love rested upon his towering library and coding computer programmes.
I strolled into the building and went straight to the reception. The secretary sat right behind the help desk.
"Good morning! I am here to see Prof", I uttered in my most polite tone.
This was my fourth visit there. Her slender fingers continued to type on the white keyboard. It was obvious that she had a distinction in being rude and snubbing. I stood there trying not to let out my outburst. Then she peered at me from the rim of her doubled-lensed spectacles.
"He is not around", it sounded like a bang.
"But his car is outside", I cried.
"I have so much work to do,young man. Prof is not around",she sent the words sinking into me.
It struck me. The kingdom of violence suffereth violence and the violent taketh it by force, so the holy book says.
I didn't need her permission any longer, I dashed for the stairs and sprinted to God knows where.
"Hey! Young man! You can't breach security protocols here. Sir, you can't......."
"Sir ni! Sir ko!", I hissed. Now she knew I could be addressed as 'Sir', well my name was not sir. I turned back and saw her pursuing me as she struggled with her stilettos. Serves her right. Fury had its way of making you a rebellious super hero.
I was panting probably like Usain bolt would after a major race as the fluorescent light flickered due to low voltage along the long corridor. Good sight! I sprinted down the left wing of the first floor and pushed the door that had the tag 'Prof. E. A Mbakwe' on it. Thanks to my unfailing instinct. I barged into the office without a knock which sent Prof springing up like a scared rabbit from his swivel chair on sighting me. His office smelt of old books despite the intruding fragrance of air refreshner. His chair was behind a long mahogany table.
Soon my marathon partner dabbled in after me panting heavily.
"What the hell is happening here?", Prof yelled.
"It all her fault", I struggled to say amidst my heavy panting.
"I tried to stop.......", she intended cutting me short.
"She would not let me....", I lashed a counter attack.
"Shut up! Shut up!", Prof screamed at the top of his voice. The scenario was enough for one to lose his sanity.
He stared at me through his glasses.
"I am sorry,sir!", I mumbled.
He took a glance at me then at his secretary.
"Laura, you can go back to work. Leave us alone."
I watched her leave and shut the door behind her.
Women! If her eyes were a revolver, I would have been shot at that moment. The suggestion of my crazy instincts paid off quite well. I could see the surge of fury in her, all I wanted was to make fire emerge from her fury filled nose that had been rising and falling like that of a furious dragon by having my two fingers expand both sides of my mouth and sing.
"La la la la la! You can never catch me"
Sitting and viewing cartoons all day when I was a kid, left its debris.
"So to what do I owe this crazy visit of yours,Kene?", Prof asked as he sank his plump body into the swivel chair again.
"Sir!Its about something that might destroy lives and this nation soon", I replied and I dragged the adjacent chair to seat.
He chuckled loudly. "Another youth empowerment stunt,huh? ........and perhaps I look like a politician?"
"I created this mad scenario because its very important that I see you concerning this. You are not a politician but I fear we are living with a ticking biological bomb"
He laughed hard. "I warned you guys when you were in school not to assume what you see in sci-fi movies to be what science is. Its far bigger", he gesticulated with his hands. "Biological bomb!", he sneered and burst out a loud laughter again.
I smiled faintly. "You need to see this", I passed a flash drive to him as I allowed every ounce of seriousness cover my countenance.
He looked at me with raised eye brows and pulled out his Samsung PC from a black leather laptop bag. He opened the top and pressed the boot button. With his left hand, he held the flash to my face and his large eyes behind those concave lenses stared at me like a Zulu chief priest. He anticipated a reply.
I chuckled. "Virus-free, sir. However you may scan."
He smiled and inserted it into the USB port. It was our usual ritual before accessing storage devices when I was his student assistant back in school before I dropped out.
I heard the sound of a pop-up box on his computer. His fat fingers lazily handled the scrolled down the file. His lazy eyes enlarged as he scrolled down the information.
"Where did you get this", he inquired as he pulled his spectacles off his face.
"My office. The owner most likely misplaced it", I said in a calm tone.
He had a stern look as he lazily rubbed his curved moustache. "I will need time to study the content of this device. I fear there might be some truth in your findings."
I clutched my palms."Prof! You have all the time but I need you on this one to stop my mother, my fiancee and other innocent people from dying for an unjust cause", I bat my eyelids countless times to fight back my tears.
It was two weeks and Prof was yet to call me. I was playing mind games, what if the old man had decided to personalize my findings. I 'd kill him.
I sipped the beer in my glass and belched. My recent solace had been in dipping my tongue in a glass of head-spinning liquid. The sound system was blaring. I felt a sensation on my thighs then my phone vibrate. It was Prof.
I stormed out of the lounge. A pretty lady sitting in a dark corner illuminated only by faint blue light winked at me as I walked past her. My chin relaxed in a grin but I had bigger issues than winks and grins.
There is no other air that can be compared to fresh air. I had just realised that the air back in the lounge was stale. My Samsung Phoenix buzzed again.
"Activate call", I whispered and I had Prof on the line.
"Good evening,sir! I had been contemplating on the mountain coming to Mohammed", I teased holding the phone to my ears.
Pro's chuckle had its way of soothing my listening pleasure. "So when will the mountain be available to see Mohammed", he asked in an humorous tone.
"Tomorrow morning,sir", I replied.
"Make it early", he advised.