‘THE BRIGHT SIDE!’ – Bidemi Bayode

“Every day in life is only a phase to a bigger event – Apocalypse; Eternity; whatever – It’s all                             ‘phases of life’; and ‘dumb’ is when you don’t understand this”.

Other kids used to think I was dumb!

Other kids used to think I was dumb!

A lot of the other kids at High School used to think I was dumb (perhaps the dumbest kid to have ever been born). I didn’t argue this fact; in fact I think they were right, that I really was. Should I talk about the other day when I missed the school bus and I had to hitch a ride in a poultry van all the way to school (for the records, I have to tell you; that smell sticks till today… well; in the minds of the school kids). Or, that fateful day in the school pool room where I actually went to do my assignment simply because the library was cold (what then is the pool; a heater? To tell you the truth, I actually went because I find girls in bikini and swimsuits to be an awesome sight). Hmmn… isn’t that real dumb stuff? Well, I accepted the reality that I probably was dumb and tried to live with it every single day of my life. However, the part that got me real hurt was that even my dad (mum ditched my dad for some richer guy and I haven’t seen her since I was 5) thought I was not the best of kids and that I was probably best sent off to some isolation facility. That got me scared and made me try harder to up my grades a little and even pretended to be getting smart which convinced him enough not to send me off to the asylum but rather sent me off to an even worse place – medical school.

My name is Abdul Johnson; a 20-year old unlucky dude from Kwara state – Nigeria. I am presently telling you this story from some facility in this medical school far away from home. No… it’s not what you think. The word ‘facility’ doesn’t mean I’m being held down here, treated by some shit-bags; on the contrary, I am in my final year here and I will soon be out to be someone who puts other people away. Come to think of it, ‘facility’ could mean anything; it could also mean a cyber café. Yeah… real dumb! Who calls a cyber café a facility? You see… I told you, I’m as well the dumbest teenager (from dumb kid to dumb teen) on planet earth. And, forgive my vulgarity but it’s just how I feel. I hate medical school and I almost hate life itself. Why? Okay… I’ll tell you why.

I hear the teachers here rattle about what they’ve learnt for years in the field and even witness a few kids brag about how well they are doing in medical school and how proud their parents will be of them. I go to class everyday (I never miss a class) and take myself far into a deep retreat down in my sub-conscious while the teachers keep talking (they don’t even know I don’t listen). But something that makes this whole philosophy mysterious is that whenever I am in that idealistic world of imagination and a question is being thrown out, I always am the first to answer. Isn’t that weird? Remember, I never listened! But despite this, I stand before the mirror every morning and tell myself; “This is not Abdul Johnson”.

It never ends, does it?

It Just Never Ends, Does It?

Even here in medical school, some people still think I am dumb; only they think I’m ‘dumb with a brain’. This seems rather ironic; because if they knew I had a brain, how come they still think I’m dumb? I realized that perhaps it’s because I never think like them. I am never logical or rational; I am more like the spontaneous type, which would have been okay as a nickname; instead, I earned the title ‘freak’ during my second year in medical school. I happened to have forgotten the meaning of the word ‘freak’, so I looked it up and learnt that it actually means (scientifically); a mutant or variant that has the characteristics of a genetically altered evolution. I instantly liked this and embraced the nick like it was my real name.

Talking about my second year in medical school, I already was, by this time, the most popular student on campus – not for my freakishness actually – but for my excellent academic prowess. I made straight As and was the best student in my class. To think that this achievement would have actually earned me the opportunity to have the ‘dumb’ tag removed from my head; it will only be an exaggeration. In fact, not only the students from my school knew me as the dumb freak, even students from other schools already knew Abdul Johnson (more like because I always help my school beat them in almost every competition).

What a world; imagine all this and you still think you deserve the right to earn a few respect and hero’s honor. These were a myth in my world. All because people thought I wasn’t human, even if the other kids had a different perspective to it; they thought I always thought and acted like an alien and an out-of-this-world creature. They were also real pissed off that I had to be a part of their generation ruining every opportunity they had. How? Simply out; I hindered them from being recognized anytime they were in something with me; I also carted away every single grade available in school-leaving little or nothing for them. The more enlightened and intelligent ones amongst them even accused me of always giving a different point of view to every issue and topic of debate. All these were actually positive and good feats, but in my world then, they were disaster. It was like the end-time prophesies when the Anti-Christ (who knew virtually everything) would come and rule the world.

In the light of all these, my dad never cared. He was proud he had a son that was fast gaining grounds in the world of medicine and wasted no time in telling anyone who cared to listen about his freaky son. It was like a political campaign for him while for me, it was like an early grave because I knew that these critics of mine would stop at nothing to end my complicated but promising prospect. It actually almost did happen. I came this close to my nemesis that I thought life wasn’t worth living after all. I suppose you want me to tell you about it right? Well, it possibly couldn’t hurt more than it actually did back then and I myself could use a few tears of joy. So, here goes;

It happened in my third year (I was still alive by then despite all criticisms). I went to this coffee shop a bit far from the school campus with a friend (I wasn’t that hated; I had at least one friend, even if he likes me because some of the kids have compared him to me). As we entered the coffee shop, I noticed a gang of real loud guys back at the far end of the shop. I tried to ignore them but couldn’t because as I said, they were very loud and noisy. I began to imagine how the other occupants of the room concentrated on their food (eating also demands concentration; you don’t know this, try eating and bathing at the same time. Haha)

Well, I got really nerved-out so, I stood on top of the table which my friend, myself and two others (couples maybe because they did nothing but kiss all through). When I was up (enough to make sure my head wasn’t cut off by the ceiling fan), I shouted at the top of my voice; “Now, if you guys could be as kind enough to shut the hell up and allow others to enjoy their meals, it will be the most unselfish act you will have ever made”. For the records, I never heard of any sorcery background in family line and haven’t even ever thought myself to be a wizard or enchanter but that day, in the coffee shop; I think we actually had sorcerers in our family. The subjects of my reprieve were actually dumb-founded and definitely shut-up. But just when everyone thought they were silent for good, this guy – whom I think was their leader – stood up, over-turned the table on which he and his gang had been dining and started towards our table. On his way, he also over-turned every other table and just when he was about to get to ours, he slumped. Yes, slumped… unbelievable? I also thought the same that day; because I was very certain that he was coming to send me home to my grandmother (who had been dead since I was 3; an okay age to take a kid to a funeral).

I used, not even the slightest and simplest spell of sorcery, so… what happened? It turned out that my assailant was feeding on a chicken meat just before he decided to go bonkers and attack me. His pals confided in us that his best part of the chicken meat is the bone marrow and that he loved leaving the bone in his mouth for as long as he could suck every single marrow in it. It just so unfortunately happened that he wasn’t done yet with his marrow-sucking session when I provoked him. For a guy with temper issues like him, it was no surprise that he accidentally swallowed the huge bone all in the process of boiling with anger. And so, there laid a guy who would have killed me a while ago, on the floor with a bone the size of a cell phone stuck halfway down his throat.

When eventually I came back to my sense, I realized that this guy was on the brink of death because his respiratory organ had been partially blocked, limiting the in-flow of oxygen. He had less than half an hour to live. So, I shouted – for the second time in that room – that someone should call an ambulance (I wonder why I didn’t do it myself; which also made me wonder;

Even If He's Chinese, He Could Have Just Picked Up His Own Phone!

Even If He’s Chinese, He Could Have Just Picked Up His Own Phone!

Why is it that all the action movies protagonists I watch act accident scenes, always shout at other witnesses to call an ambulance even when they also have a phone? Perhaps, in the face of the tension caused by the danger, they most probably forget every other thing and concentrate only on saving the victim. So, someone else calling the ambulance seems the most logical means to do so.

Which was what I also did; I had a cell phone but I didn’t think of calling the emergency in but rather irrationally thought that someone else would be better off doing it. I bent down to check him for a pulse (don’t forget that I’m a medical student). I read very weak pulse and then it dawned on me that the fastest ambulance service couldn’t possibly get there in 15 minutes. This guy on the other hand had less than 5 to live. Then the worst shaped up in my mind; I was going to operate on this guy right in a coffee shop full of over a hundred spectators (a couple more came in to witness the scene; trust Nigerians now).

When this reality fully hit me, I shivered (I don’t suppose I have to tell you that it’s a crime for an unlicensed person to operate on any patient or practice any form of medicine whatsoever, much more outside a medical facility). Despite this, I still decided to pay more attention to the obvious fact that this man was dying and if he did, asides from the fact that I could live with the stigma of instigating anger in a fellow who had temper issues and liked chicken bone, I would also be blamed because I knew what to do but never did it just in obedience of some stupid law.

With the help of my friend, I got this guy on the service counter and took out my pocket knife to begin the operation. You would not believe it if I told you that when his friends saw this, they tried to stop me and even threatened to fight us but when they saw my student identification (without even asking for a license card) they gave us the go ahead. It was when I was about to begin dissecting the throat that I caught the glimpse of this guy who; was also in my class and a very conc. critic of mine; hurrying out of the shop (I knew that instant that he was going to the police).

I pushed that somewhere in the garbage can in my mind and went ahead to perform the operation. Since I wasn’t using a surgery theatre, I didn’t know how I was going to do the operation surgically (and logically as well), so I decided to go dumb yet again (you might want to call it trial and error). I used my pocket knife to dissect the region where I thought the bone was lodged and then used a pen to hold the dissection apart. I then used a can opener (borrowed from the chef) to gently ease the bone out without damaging any organ. When the spectators saw the bone, they went up in jubilation but then I was scared because my patient was lying still without even the slightest movement. I checked for a pulse but felt none; I thought he was dead.

They Thought It Was A Good Job; But I Was Thinking Something Else!

They Thought It Was A Good Job; But I Was Thinking Something Else!

Just then, the ambulance arrived, as well as the police. What happened after that, I can’t tell because as soon as the police arrived, I was tranquilized and arrested. It was when I regained consciousness that I got to learn that the guy survived but wouldn’t have if I hadn’t taken that bold step. Also that research had it that I made another remarkable achievement. Wanna know? Sure I’ll tell you. Just some hours ago, at my graduation ceremony, I was conferred with a world record award as the first medical student to successfully perform a surgery of that kind in an environment far from being serene without even doing it the medical way. It then dawned on me that my father wanted me to be a medical doctor but I never actually knew what I wanted to be. It was after this event that I realized I wanted to be what no one has ever been – an Idealist. That event, medical school, that day on the poultry van to school, that day in the pool, and even here in this cyber café; were only phases in my life. Perhaps, being dumb isn’t so bad after all; you only just have to look at ‘The Bright Side of it!

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