It was the stare off of the decade!
There I was, sitting across the table with trembling eyelids begging to be shut for a second, with eyeballs teary from all the wind that was getting into it.
Seated on my table was my laptop staring back at me in all its brightness unmoved by my shaky state. The timer for its hibernation when left untouched had been set to five minutes. How five minutes had not lapsed baffled me. I felt like I had been staring for twenty minutes already. I groaned inside as tears began to form on my eyeball. In seconds, there was enough to fall from my eyes onto my face.
By now, I could hear the pleas of my brain to shut my eyelids. With a determination fuelled by my unflinching laptop, I kept them open. I lasted another ten seconds and that was it. I could not take it anymore. I wanted to scratch my eyes so badly and wipe the tears that were now flowing uncontrollably off my eyes and face.
My laptop had won. I had lost to a machine. I was a sore loser. I laughed out loud as these ridiculous thoughts filled my head. I was being very silly.
Why had I entered a staring contest with my laptop again? Oh yes! The words on my laptop’s screen were not making any sense to me. I had mouthed the words several times to make them make a little bit of sense but to no avail. My jotter where I scribbled those words lay on my table by my laptop. When all efforts to comprehend the anatomy jargon proved futile, I resorted to staring. There was a slim chance that staring long and hard at anatomy’s puke would make it come alive in my brain. I took that chance. I stared and stared. Out of nowhere, the thought of outstaring my device popped in my head and for almost five minutes, I left my eyes wide open.
Then, I was back to reality. Anatomy was my reality. Slowly, I read the first few words of the page aloud.
“The superior vena cava (SVC) returns blood from all structures superior to the diaphragm, except the lungs and heart…”
Even as I did, my mind remained transfixed on the word “returns”. There was something about the word, something awfully familiar. I felt like I had to do something about the word. I could not continue to the next sentence until I figured out why the word meant so much.
As I picked up my phone to look at the time, it hit me. “Returns” was a song my friend had sent to me the previous day. He asked me to listen and share my thoughts on the song. I reached for my headphone and connected it to my phone. I slouched and put both my legs on my reading table as the melody of the song filled every inch of my inner ear. Oh it was such a good song. It was so good that I did not realize how soon it took for it to get to its end. Playing it one more time should not hurt, should it?
I must have played the song at least ten more times when the realization that I had not made it past the first paragraph of the page I was in my anatomy text jolted me. Hastily, I disconnected my headphone, took my legs off the table and sat upright. Angry at the fact that I had just wasted forty five minutes of my time on frivolities, I grabbed my pen and started to copy my text into it. With that renewed resolve, there was no stopping me. I was going to read three pages without pausing for a break, not even a water break. If I had to go, I would hold it in till I was done with those three pages. Yes! That was the moment! The moment anatomy was going to make sense.
I must have scribbled in my jotter for almost a minute when my phone beeped notifying me of a message that had just come in. No! Nothing was going to stop me, not even a text from anyone. But then, anyone could be anyone. It could be Dad who had promised to send in money that day. It could also be my supervisor asking me to submit my write up. Both suspects were capable of sending a message at such an ungodly hour. I sighed heavily as I dropped my pen and picked up my phone. It was not going to take too long. If it was not Dad or my supervisor, the text was going to have to wait.
I laughed out loud as I read the text. It was from a friend who was a fan of a rival football club. Through his text, he threw soft jibes at me and my football club over a loss to a smaller team in the league the day before. I quickly sent in a reply telling him to back off and focus on his club. I dropped my phone and was about to return to anatomy when a message from him came in again, only this time, it was a voice note. I had to listen to it. For the second time that night, I reached for my headphones, plugged it in and listened as he went on about how abysmal my club had been all season. I was not having any of that. I could not just seat back and watch his mocking remarks go without a reply. If anything, his club had been far from decent all season. I had to give him a piece of my mind. No, texting was not going to do enough justice. I had to reply with a voice note. We went back and forth for a while.
One time, when he did not reply as fast as he had been doing, I exited the messaging application and randomly browsed through my phone. It was then the Bird app icon decided to enter its stare off with me. I stared at it, it stared right back. The silence in that spell was deafening. In that stillness, it called out to me softly. It told me that it was not going to take up to five minutes of my time. It said to give it just a tap. What harm could a tap do? It asked. I sighed heavily and assured myself that it was not going to take up to five minutes. I was just going to check the trends and that was going to be it. I glanced at the clock across the room. It was 4:38am. Doing the math, by 4:43am, I should drop my phone and return to my study. I decided to extend it by two minutes, 4:45 just seemed perfect.
I looked up at the clock again. The time was 4:53. How had twenty minutes gone by so fast? It felt like I had been on the Bird app for only five minutes. Okay, just another seven minutes. At 5am, there will be no stopping me. For the second time that night, I slouched on my seat and put both my legs on the reading table.
It was 5:02am. Another three minutes and I will be all anatomy’s.
I gasped as I raised my head to look at the clock. I threw my phone on the bed, took my legs off the table and sat upright and revived my hibernated laptop. I hissed and cursed at the Bird. Why was time never patient? Why did it fly so fast? At that point, all I wanted was a knife to cut the wings of time and keep it from flying ever.
Until then, I had only been able to read a single paragraph out of the… I hurriedly checked the number of pages left. 157 pages! How had I not known that this was a 157 page text? To make matters worse, the font was ridiculously small. I was livid.
My back hurt from all the slouching. I decided it was time I moved to my bed to ease the pain. I put a pillow up against the wall while I rested on it. I put my laptop on my lap while my jotter was by my side. I bit my pen when it dawned on me that I had to go over the paragraph I thought I was done with.
About ten minutes in that position, I realized it was getting cold. I pulled my blankets up to my thighs. The back pain had still not gone. For that reason – not that I was getting sleepy or anything – I took the laptop off my lap, put it by my side, took my pillow off the wall, placed it rightly at the head of the bed, lay down, put my head on my pillow and pulled my blanket up to my chest.
Perfect. Just perfect. In this position, nothing was going to stop me, absolutely nothing.
The sound of my pen dropping onto the floor from my bed woke me up. I took one look at my laptop and hissed. I managed to place it on my reading table without really leaving my bed. A pang of guilt hit me. Almost immediately, I suppressed the feeling by consoling myself with the fact that exams were not until two weeks which was just enough to complete a fifty seven page text of anatomy jargon.
Under my blanket, I ran into sleep’s warm embrace to be ushered into dreamland.