OtondoBook Episode Two: Divine, Or Coincidence?
Your boy awakens by 3:08am. I didn’t sleep until 1:47am previously, so technically I’d had less that two hours’ worth of sleep.
I couldn’t sleep, you see, because I had been charging my phone. As i said before, Nobaddy trusts nobaddy, and I wasn’t ready to sow my phone into the life of anybody.
If “tamó” means to mount a bus, then I distamóed my bed and went on a hunt for water. Now, I say hunt because where we dey fetch water, mehn. Killer. This NYSC go make me slim sha.
Wait. I’m already slim. I fear to think about the nearest option.
As I was saying, with much patience and long-suffering (Ananias would have been proud), I put my bucket in line. Mind you, my bucket was probably 697 in this queue, and this was by 3:00am.
As I always say, everything that can possibly go wrong would go wrong, so what happens? Yours’ truly finds that the tap stops flowing miraculously as his bucket is nearing the Bend of Salvation.
Let me tell you about what I have aptly tagged the “Bend of Salvation”. The queue of buckets is a 90 degree queue. Once you are close to the point of the angle (abi na angling?), it means you are less than ten buckets away to getting to the fountain of youth, er, sorry. I meant water.
While I’m being despondent, men and brethren of the National Youth Service Corps flood the mammy market and “raid” the water stores of the shops. Some people may/may not have fetched “pepper” water (water used to wash pepper).
So I return to bed. I sleep for THREE minutes and suddenly there’s a soldier on top of me (no homo) dragging me off my lofty bunk. I protest and he tells me to gerrout. I flee in my nightgown.
Hehe. Just kidding. No straight guy has a nightgown. I fled in my three-quarters and a t-shirt.
I join the 4:30 parade. A woman I assume is fat, black and small and perched on the edge of a huge chair (I dunno, I never saw her) whined and droned, teaching us the anthems and giving us the precious camp rules.
By six am, the bugle sounded, and the black fat small woman announced “that bugle signifies that Nigeria has awakened.” What a way to tell us we’re adopted.
We have to say the National Anthem to Nigeria’s awakening, loyal slaves that we are. We were awake by three getting ready for the country’s awakening! I feel soooOooo honored!
Gladly, the parade ends something after seven am.
So, the unwashed and unbathed Justin spends a few hours queueing to join his “Platoon”, ignoring the chicks because he’s not a fan of talking to ladies with his lips not recently introduced to toothpaste.
I get my kit, successfully fetch water and get in touch with myself in a bathroom better than Hall 3’s in Uniben. Believe me, if you bathed and survived Uniben’s bathrooms and toilets, you may be immune to Boko Haram’s antics.
I walk in my white on white, beaming like a freshly deloused monkey to the parade ground.
I’m halted by a soldier and told to stand aside to learn “Attention by number” and all rubbish.
I’m doing these things awkwardly when suddenly, beside me falls a petite girl.
I turn around and see….
“You again”, she’s all teeth.
“Indeed, me again.” I’m more lip than teeth.
Long story short, I’m bullied (by Genevieve) into becoming the “mini-commander” of the fresh otondos who can’t march.
I teach ’em how to do it. I’m so perfect, it would seem like I’ve been in the army all my life.
*Psst. Guys. Of course you know I’m as clumsy as a rabbit on a bicycle. You know it’s because of the girl, eh? Yes. You know. Thanks. I just wanted to be sure you understood*
We have side chats when the soldiers aren’t looking my way. A soldier offers to fight me, you know, for fun.
“I go clack ya ribs with one ponsh. Five ponshes, and I go kill you.” People are laughing like idiots.
“I know”, I reply, smiling calmly. I don’t want to have to use heroic fighting to win Genevieve’s heart.
A pregnant woman asks for permission to leave camp. She’s granted permission, but not before a soldier says:
“We dey chop am small small, you just go chop everything at once” insert inane laughter of the crowd.
The parade ends and I turn around.
Genevieve’s gone again.