Grrrrrrrrrring! Grrrrrrrrrrrring! Grrrrrrrrrrrring! Grrr. Dekunle was startled awake and knocked the retro alarm clock off his desk. It fell on the terrazzo floor silencing the alarm clock, perhaps forever. Its innards were all over the floor. He couldn’t even check the time. He rummaged through the beddings to reach for his phone. 7.13am! He’s supposed to be at the examination venue in less than an hour! The oral segment of the part 1 of the West Africa College of Surgeons examinations in Orthopedic Surgery. Driving from Akobo to UCH alone was about 40 minutes with the crazy traffic. He sweared under his breath, jumped up and dashed into the bathroom. He was brushing his teeth and undressing simultaneously. He opened the tap to rinse his teeth in the wash hand basin; he was greeted with a hissing sound. No water. “Sh*t mehn!” he sweared. He rushed out of his self-contained apartment, half naked, with a plastic bucket in hand. He dipped this in a plastic reservoir of water in the compound.
He prayed as he had his shower, this was his last chance before UCH sends him packing from residency training. It was a now-or-never moment for him. Now he’s running late. He had slept early. “Or is 10pm not early enough?”, he thought to himself. The previous day’s written exam was not exactly a walk in the park. His mind went back to his previous attempts, 4 of them. All but the first one had been marginal failures. 48.9%, 49.2%, and 52% clinical failure. The first attempt was 41.2%. He normally should not have had access to his actual scores but somehow he did.
He jumped into his trousers while drying himself, grabbed a shirt from his hanger. He threw a glance at his mirror while putting on a tie and brushing his hair. He grabbed and cradled some photocopied snippets of information and exam slip from his desk and dashed out of his apartment.
Jumping into his car and turning the ignition, he realized he was wearing bathroom slippers. “Crap!” he muttered. He made another trip inside his apartment and this time he was sporting a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo shoes. No socks. He got back into the car, glanced at the clock on the dashboard. 7.35am! He engaged the gear, rolled the car out of the garage and turned into the main road towards Bashorun. Pedal to the floor, he zoomed off!
He met traffic early in the journey, he panicked! No way he could make it on time. He was flustered and disoriented. Traffic was slowly moving. A years’ worth of thoughts flooded his mind in two seconds. He tried to put his thoughts together. An idea came to him to park his car and take a motorbike to UCH. That way he would beat the traffic. Just as he parked his car to implement the idea, he saw the cause of the early traffic. A Toyota Corolla with a flat tire just a few meters ahead. He saw an elderly man who seemed to be in his sixties by the car trying to make a phone call, clearly embarrassed by other road users’ snide remarks. He felt a pang of pity for the man.
In a few seconds he was by the car and offered to help the poor man. He popped the trunk and retrieved the jack and spare tire. He spread some old newspapers on the ground and knelt down. In four and half minutes, the tire change was completed. The elderly man thanked him profusely. The man tried to offer him a lift but he declined saying he was late for an examination. He jumped on the next available bike and was in UCH by 8.03 am drenched in sweat.
He went straight to the Orthopedic Surgery departmental office, venue of the oral exams. He ran the flight of stairs three floors up. Panting, he walked briskly along the departmental corridor towards the crowd of examination candidates. “ORS/14/1251!” He heard his examination number called by the coordinator of the oral examination, “Exam room Four”. He was told that the chief examiner for Room Four was being awaited and that he should wait in the departmental office with other candidates in his group. The wait lasted thirty minutes.
He took a deep breath and gathered his thoughts as he knocked on the door of Room Four and cracked it open after getting a response to come in. He greeted the three examiners. The chief examiner introduced himself without looking up,” I am Professor Onyewuzor from Enugu and this is Dr Agbabiaka from Ilorin on my right and Dr Yahaya from Maiduguri on my left, please have your seat.” He sat down promptly. All he saw was grey hair and a pair of glasses. Professor Onyewuzor looked up and their eyes met. He changed this man’s tire an hour ago.