A peep into a dark office reveals a face that he instantly recognizes as that of the erudite Yoruba Professor A.I. famous for several classic plays that have now been turned into famous movies. There were a few others there. “Good morning sir,” he greets, bending almost double towards the floor. The man doesn’t recognize him, but he is obviously used to being greeted by one and all within and out of a University environment. “That is …’s son,” the other teacher volunteers, as he always does without prompting, and the visitor withdraws. “Ah, ah,” the Professor says, “I used to know your house in -. Don’t you have a brother just as tall as you?” “Yes,” the boy responds, as he mentally calculates how long it will take to exhaust the conversation, while at least happy for a little connection. “He’s fairer than me in complexion,” he says. “Yes, yes,” the Professor agrees. “How are you?” “I’m fine sir. I used to greet you many times, but you never seem to recognize me.” “Yes. I know your brother very well. He’s abroad now, right?” “Yes he is,” he replies, wondering how the man knew, “but I was the one who went to the US.”
He was silent for only a few seconds, and then asks. “Oh, you went abroad?” “Yes, sir. To teach Yoruba.” “Oh, that’s great. So why are you back here?” The boy laughs for a short second and responds, “The programme was over. I had to come back.” “Oh really? Why didn’t you just stay there for about three to four years to do some more academic programmes?” In other climes, this might have been a trick question, and the other teacher interjects rather excitedly, sensing that the Professor was serious. “No, they weren’t supposed to stay there permanently. One of the stipulations of the programme was that they return home immediately afterwards.” And there was something a little too perky about the response. Teacher was one of the ones who had insinuated that he might not come back if allowed to go out. “Boy, wasn’t there a time when you were all asked to promise to return at the end of your programme?” “Yes,” the boy responds, sensing an opportunity to strike back, “And I always found it funny and insulting at the same time. Had they expected me to simply disappear into the thin air of the American space. I could never understand it.” The Professor just beams and nods. “Well done, boy. So will you be returning there now?” “I don’t know sir. Maybe,” he responds in the same way he has now learnt to answer the question to everyone that asks in much the same way.
Yet, he wondered as he always did if the question was borne out of a certain love for him, or a desire to be rid of his presence as soon as possible. Some altruistic sadism, perhaps? It always seemed that everyone felt him better-off in a faraway land. And for few moments afterwards, he always found himself questioning whether that occasional desire to return to the old place that sometimes spring up on him unexpectedly is conditioned by anything other than his own restless feet.