FICTION - When I first entered university, I came with huge expectations to the University of Technology.
All that was in my mind was keeping my eyes on the books, attending lectures, passing the examinations and graduating with high grades.
That’s what I intended to do. It was in my mind and it was in my heart.
I knew a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering would be demanding.
Mathematics, calculus, trigonometry and algebra - all mind-boggling, time-consuming and a challenge to my brain and my memory.
It was not only Mathematics that required formulas. Physics had its own too. I joked to myself, ‘just a stepped-up version of high school basic stuff’. It was no joke.
I tried my best with as much energy I could put into study. I noticed that my fellow students did not seem to study at night. They seemed to have a huge interest in social life.
The princes and queens from my high school, now they were at university, did not take studies seriously.
They spent most of their time out of lectures partying and socialising at night and weekends. When Monday came for class, they hurriedly crammed notebooks or bribed other students to do their assignments.
I felt worried that I was starving my inner craving to socialise, party and go out with women. Young university women were a huge distraction.
I did not see how I could resist the temptation but somehow I buried my frustration and anger in my studies.
My course mates, living in the same campus dorm, would joke about me keeping my head down.
“Hey, Mr Scientist?” they’d call. “Come on, you’re killing your soul.”
My friend Martin was one of them. I knew from school he was a big socialiser. His Facebook account had 5,000 friends listed and a single post from him would have 1,200 likes.
Furthermore, he had three girlfriends at least.
Whenever Martin called me out, I’d say, “Hi Mr Social Media, it’s for my own good.”
He’d smile back but I sensed he didn’t like being called, Mr Social Media.
“Why do you call me Mr Social Media?” he asked one day.
“Well, you’re Facebook famous and everybody knows you. So why do you call me Mr Scientist?”
Martin rolled his eyes and said in a taunting way, “Well, let’s see if you’ll build a rocket this semester, Mr Scientist.”
He then really made a big issue out of it. He posted it on Facebook and it went viral across every social media platform you can think of and very soon, across the entire campus, and I was known as Mr Scientist.
It happened to be about the same time that Bryan Kramer MP was labelled the ‘The Scientist’ on the floor of parliament by the famous politician Belden NamahMP.
When everyone called me Scientist, I must admit that I was thrilled whenever I saw the words - and the memes bearing my face.
I was called The Scientist by people I knew, people I didn’t know and people I didn’t want to know.
I have to admit to you that I quickly became tired of it and felt I should retaliate by punching Martin but I didn’t because I’m not like that and anyway university stuff was getting tense and I had to keep up with the lectures.
Also, it would have been too kanaka to handle the situation in an immature way.
Then a thought came to me. It actually led to me quitting social media and moving into a sort of hibernation mode.
I regarded everyone as not existing. It was just me, the library, the lecturers and my notes.
Days passed and weeks and months. Finally the semester exams, very critical, but I had done my best and felt I was well-prepared.
One night three days before the exams, I was walk across campus. It was dark, a gentle rain falling.
As I passed a group of people, I heard a female voice call to me, “Hello Scientist, you ready for exams?”
I looked briefly at her and the group, decided not to reply and I turned to continue my walk.
“Oi, are you mute and deaf?” she called again.
For some reason, her words cut my ears. I felt a surge of anger. I wanted to punch her face.
The rain became a light shower but I didn’t care. I stopped, stood and looked at her.
Evil thoughts raced through my mind. I shook with a frenzied anger.
One more word from her mouth, I thought, and that is it, I’ll start a fight.
Then someone tapped my shoulder. It was the head of University Security, who looked at me with a smile.
“Son, let it go,” he spoke softly. “Go get ready for your exams.”
His few words settled me. They steadied me. I was reassured and relieved. If he hadn’t shown up, I might have created chaos.
The anger gradually cooled and I shivered a bit as I continued my walk.
Mr Scientist was OK.