This is not an article. I repeat: this is not an article.
Take a minute to close your eyes and imagine this. You walk through the hostel gates and climb up the stairs to your room. You struggle to find your keys in your pocket and you finally pull it out and open the door. You throw your shoes in the corner and drop on the ground. You sleep off on the cold hard floor in the darkness with your doors open because of how hot it can get if they are not. There is a total black out.
They told me in secondary school that the essential resources for life are food, clothing and shelter. Now I know that anybody that doesn’t add ‘light’ to that list is lying. Between the 14th and 16th of June, 2019, there was a blackout in the LUTH/CMUL compound. I hope my children read this so let us be calling dates. If you are new to the environment, you might ask why there was a blackout in the compound that didn’t affect the rest of the area. Well, LUTH and CMUL, for a while, have been disconnected from PHCN. We work with gas power and it is pretty cool – when there is power. When the lights go off, there is hardly any back up and that was the horror we faced for those 72 hours.
There are a lot of bad things about a blackout. The first is water. Picture having more than five tanks in the hostel none having water. Every morning, we the students found ourselves on a daily exodus in search of water. Once, I almost walked out of the hostel with just my towel to just fetch water. It was during this time we knew the magicians – trying to copy Moses and bring water from the rock. Those that would use one cup of water to wash 10 clothes, those that could feel how low the water had gone, those that could tweak the pipes to bring out water from where I didn’t know. It was a thrilling experience actually. Picture someone buying two bags of pure water to wash clothes. Now, that is hilarious. I really sympathized with the cleaners. Let us not talk about the toilets. I will leave it to your imaginations.
The blackout wasn’t all bad. It pushed us to do things we wouldn’t find ourselves doing otherwise. Ironically, the College library is never full – ironic because it’s a medical school – but they had back up power and guess what? Yeah, you guessed it, a whole lot of people suddenly appeared there. Same thing with some other libraries in the community. Another interesting thing was how we had a chance to meet some of our friends that we hadn’t spoken to in a long time – or at least were on a ‘hello-hi’ basis. Since most of our phones were dead, we had the chance to actually talk to human beings. I can remember how full the basketball court was. Now, they weren’t playing basketball; they were just talking.
If you are a tech-oriented person or a frequent gadget user, please run away from every blackout because you will be horribly depressed. Your phones and laptops will be zoned out. If you don’t fancy books or something else, you will end up relying on tales by moonlight for a good laugh. The worst part is when you can’t sleep. My God! Why is the body so annoying? It is when you are not enjoying something that the body knows it will stay awake. But not all people have much of a problem with gadgets. Some of us were beat up because of something else – fridges. Yes. To those that cook, the moment you smell a blackout, you might want to just eat everything in your fridge because, my dears, they will spoil. It got so bad that somebody was using candle to warm food. They should really allow stoves in the hostels.
There are some things that should never be mixed with a blackout like exams or diarrhoea. You don’t want to imagine how horrible any of those two things would be during a blackout. People experienced the mixture and it was nasty. LUTH, why?! It is during exam they know they will be taking the light. People that just weren’t able to bathe or iron should count themselves lucky. There are deep crevasses I will not be delving into. Just know this; diarrhoea and the devil are cousins.
Let me just mention one more good thing. The time you spend away from your phone gives you time for yourself. You get the chance to think and reflect more. If your phone is still up, you plan the use more smartly and use it for the best (same as other gadgets). You have a chance to actually develop yourself because instead of looking for Bob and Tasha on Instagram, you would know better and spend that battery life working like Gates, Mark and Jobs.
People eventually started leaving the hostel for home because it was getting hard to bear. But I and some others braved it. We stayed in school for the three days and from my experience I think I can give some tips for coping with a blackout.
Set out early. You don’t want the water to finish before you get to the tap.
Fetch water down. You need a lot of buckets.
At the slightest sight of light, press all your clothes, charge all your gadgets.
Get a book you can read to pass time.
Plan out your battery use for all gadgets. You’ll need a schedule for everything.
Groom. With little water, you might get tempted to walk out having not bathed well or what not. DO NOT do that. Try to look and smell good, no matter the qualms.
Please be watchful. The devil lingers in the dark. That moment you’re asleep with your door open could be when that kleptomaniac enters your room.
Talk to people. Don’t mope all day because you can’t receive call from bae.
Please whatever you do, don’t forget to flush. I beg you. You may be the one the cycle lands on. Karma can be a female dog.
Finally, get a candle. It can save a life – and your food.
The truth about the blackout is it was sort of fun. If felt a bit nice to step out of the norms and leave my comfort zone. It almost felt like camp – humans were the only animals. It was a refreshing to have something new. As I said, this is not an article. This is a whole experience.