Jackson is a graduate of linguistics in the department of Linguistics and Languages in Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko. He wrote this real life story, in an almost epistolary style to his colleagues, ofnhow he fell into trouble with one of his lecturers in a language class and how that changed his life throughout his undergraduate years.
I still remember that afternoon when the spirit of academics as still possessing me. I wrote LIN 102 test with a feeling that I have devoured all the questions. I smiled each time the lecturer scribbled the answer for each question on the board knowing I got them right until the very last one where “dudu” in “Omo naa dudu” was analysed as a verb phrase rather than an adjectival phrase. I was taken aback. How could this be? I asked myself. Or perhaps what I was really asking myself was Why must this be? I arose with the fire of courage burning inside my heart. And with his strong voice, the lecturer stilled the racket in the class so he could listen to my question.
“If ‘Dudu’ is a verb”, I asked, “what action is it performing in Omo naa dudu, after all, verbs are action words?”
The lecturer nodded his head a few times looking me straight in the eye balls, then he held his marker, unsealed it and scribbled on the board: “He is a boy.”, then he faced me and asked in a deep sarcastic tone, “What action is ‘is’ performing in ‘he is a boy’?’
For a moment, it felt as if my brain function ceased. I felt embarrassed but the fire of courage in my heart was still burning incessantly. Then I replied, “But we have the understanding that ‘is’ in the sentence in an auxiliary verb and auxiliaries functioning as main verbs are called copula. What then is the explanation for ‘dudu’ being a verb in the sentence?
I can’t remember his exact reply but I remembered being called stupid.
At this stage, I knew I had crossed my boundary and all around me were hands and muffled voices beseeching me to sit down. I still remember Laide facing back and gently beseeching me to sit down and I remembered other voices urging me to continue. I remembered very well Yinka’s voice, saying in Yoruba “E fi sile nau. Se ko san school fees ni?” (Leave him alone! Didn’t he pay his school fees?)
So, I continued with my questions and at that moment, I jumped from the frying pan to fire. That day began a turbulent period for me in school and though, many may undermine the emotional and mental stress I was going through, I was really in a big mess.
My heartbeat is always loud that it feels my chest would explode anytime the lecturer walks into the lecture theatre and it is always coming as a shock, melting my heart as if drops of ice as literarily falling on it whenever the man sends me out of his class.
Anytime I picked my books to read, I couldn’t find my passion for studies anymore. It was gradually fading away and each time I checked averse, my grade was always dropping and dropping. From ‘A’ student, I became a ‘C’ student.
I imagined myself graduating with my colleagues but sometimes I would fear getting a carry over and when I realized I actually did not get a carry over, I would still be afflicted with the anxiety that a big damage awaits me at some point.
To cut the long story short, I thank God for today. If I had seen what today would be in those periods, I would not have been worried and would have done better. I know I did not relate well with all of you but I wish I did but how could I? I was relating more with fears, doubts and anxieties than wonderful course mates like you all. I surely miss my jnr sister, Abitogun Dunsin, who is my very first friend in this department. I will also miss Ojo David, Swezzy, Omiyeniyi Femi, Jukun and many others.
I know that I have offended some of you but I hope you find in your heart to forgive me. It’s been a wonderful and challenging four years with you all.