In those days, unlike today, SWA officials were largely incorruptible, fellows with respect for their jobs and the integrity that behoves them. With the sole exception of Mr. Guba, who was your go-to guy if you needed to get anything done, these men – they were mostly men – kept a stern eye on things and naturally, Roots figured in every list they composed on the nefarious activities commonplace in the school hostels, and Hall 9 in particular. Furthermore, these SWA officials in a bid to hasten the effectiveness of their work, actively sought ways of catching their listicle celebrities in the act, so as to lessen their chances of getting off when they were subjected to a hearing. As it so happens, Roots was their number one target, and Therefore, they kept on coming into his room, and the room of his known allies, at odd hours, which is the very reason they were stepping into Room 521, Hall 9 at 21:05 hours on this particular night, the 29th day of October.
Step forward Roots, junkie, dealer, businessman, trader, randy man-about-town, Goodfellow. Roots, cool as you please, stepping forward and embracing the two SWA officials, hugging them and pecking their cheeks in a badass manner, turning to Arturo and I (frozen in our acts, Arturo not even bothering to stub out his joint, me pausing with my knife suspended comically above the potato) and asking me to bring forth a couple of chairs for our guests, and me, in the manner of Peter confronted with the presence of Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration, asking stupidly whether our guests are staying for dinner, yes, they are, cut more potatoes, and to Arturo, can you please open those windows?, a little more fresh air will be good, and to the SWA officials whose noses can obviously decipher the pungent odour of marijuana in the air, pushing them into the two chairs I have brought forward, bidding them sit, and from the cabinet in the corner Arturo’s, nominally, but really Roots’, the way everything in it is his, extracting two Tuskers, cold, I’ve never known how, popping the two bottles open with his teeth, proffering one to each SWA functionary, taking a third and in a devil may care way, asking them what they think of the economic stimulus plan unveiled by the president last night?
This night will always stand out to me as a peak of a certain form of excellent think-on-your-feet-ness, of badassery, and honesty. Even when I got the news that Roots, along with Mark and Arturo and a host of other boys had been expelled from the university, and I conceded to myself the obvious guilt of whatever it was he had been accused of, I queried whether it was worth it, this punishment, for one with such promise. And now, as I try to fashion this new exciting life for myself as a writer – new talent, they call us – sometimes I wonder what became of this man and whether he still thinks of us, his goodfellas. I know that these words ring with a certain modicum of selfishness, this wonderment of us, of me, but aren’t we, all of us gathered here tonight, all of humanity, aren’t we inherently selfish? Isn’t thought of self, otherwise called self-esteem, what we preach to our progeny? And when we find he who, with all his faults and vices, is selfless about all else, have we not the right to think, to ask, to have a general wonderment about how our lives would be any different, were he still in our lives?