It began on the 5th of March, on a cold windy night. The owls were hooting wildly, and wolves were howling intensely. Everywhere you looked was dark, damp and crawling with suspense…
Okay. Maybe my first day in camp wasn’t that interesting, but a niggah’s gotta reconstruct with his pen, doesn’t he?
So, yours truly just hit Osun state’s NYSC camp (which I hear is better than most of the other camps in Nigeria).
After battling a driver who wanted to ditch us midway in the journey and run back to Benin and a conductor who was practically crying at Ile-Ife because his “change no complete”, we arrived at the Ede camp. Sigh.
Our bags got so OCD-ly searched I was almost surprised we didn’t get anally scrutinized after the whole gig.
Next stop: the tagging. We collected our tags like livestock then moved on to get our beds. I got registered, got the fattest and neatest prison, sorry, camp bed I could find and went to locate le room. Block H, Room 6, bed 16. Christ, I’m sure we’re about 40 in a room. No exaggeration.
When I thought, whazzam, we’re done with the stress – on to the white boxers, I am summoned to another registration process.
I hurry there with my bag (nobaddy knows nobaddy mehn) and my jaw drops.
Calling what I saw a crowd would be an insult.
It looked like a post-apocalyptic debriefing. You know, like the rest of the world not eaten by zombies had gathered to listen to “be strong, my brothers” from Obama.
So I took my 15,987th position in the Israelitian queue (not counting women and children) and began listening to rap music. A bandanna was tied on my head to appease the PMS-ic sun that was shining overhead.
So this aboki soldier walks up to me and begins his strokings.
“You. Hiphop boy.”
Sniggers from the crowd. I remove my earbuds to squint in his black face.
“First. Earpiece. Second, hand in your pockets. Third, bandanna on your head. If we chase you from camp they’ll say we’re wicked.”
Scattered laughs. I oblige the dude and take my hands off my pocket and tuck in my ear piece.
“Hiphop boy! Your bandanna! You think I’m playing with you?”
I take it off as casually as I can – you know, to show how unafraid I is – and the dudes and chicklets around weep in laughter.
Niggah looks at me and sees I am wearing my waist purse already.
“Look at your pockets…you have up to 100 pockets in your jeans. In fact your pockets have pockets. Hiphop boy like you, dress in jeans and shoes, come dey wear waist purse like recharge card seller.”
Need I tell you the dweebs (sorry, people) on the queue were laughing mindlessly?
What happened to solidarity? Brothers sticking for brothers in the heat of the scrutiny of these camouflaged padawans? Vote for me!!! LOL.
Aanyway, the guy finally leaves and I mutter under my breath, “pull that khaki and let’s go toe to toe in a yabbing contest. I go fuuuuck you up.”
The uproarious laughter I got for that was worth it. I loved my fellow otondohs all over again.
I joined the queue by 1500hrs (LOL soldier time) and was there until 2200hrs. Mathematically speaking, I was on the queue for seven hours! I’m sure Moses wasn’t even that much of a trek-savvy individual. Saw what I did there? Trek-savvy.
“In sunshine, or rain…” Or however the corpers’ anthem goes. I got drenched in that Tuesday rain, shaking like a leaf, begging Men, mortals (spits) to collect my call-up.
I was about to call it a day when a petite beauty walked up to me and whispered in my ear: please, can I stand in front of you?
On a good day, I would say “Nay, thou filthy heathen”, pull out my sword and force her to fall on it. But this boy was tired mehn. Besides, maybe God would fastforward the process with my act of kindness?
Well…we got talking, this girl and I. Her name? Genevieve. Schooled at Unizik. 5 ft something (I’ve never been good with inches).
We talked and I didn’t even lay nothing on her. I was just being me (which a room mate or two would say defines “stupid”) but I think I made an impression.
So she stared at the queue and said “God. Why am I short? I can’t see what’s happening up ahead…”
And I was like, “C’mon. It’s not all disadvantages, you know? You’d be the first out of a bus window if it ever catches fire.”
She laughs deliciously and punches me playfully on the shoulder. Nice.
We keep talking. We buy drinks and go as far as we can (under the circumstances)
The 2200hrs bell rings (I swear, it feels so James Bond-ish telling the time like this) and she stands up, walks up to another girl, whispers in her ear, and returns to me.
“Okay, Justin. I’ve gotta go. Bye. I’ll ask you to go with us, but the guys’ hostel is not along the same road as the ladies’. Bye.”
And while I’m being all cute and cuddly with my guffaws and “aww, no, really, it’s no biggie”, she bounces out jauntily with her friend.
Didn’t these seven hours in the rain mean anything to her?
I flee a koboko-happy soldier and go to bed.
Very VERY VEEERY SAD.
(To be continued)…..