Story by WayWardPikin
The platoon officer informed us that there were a lot of activities lined up such as drama, debate, cooking, volleyball competition for ladies, football competition for guys, Mr Macho & Miss NYSC. In the meantime, she urged us to choose a platoon leader who would represent us. A guy stepped forward, nominating himself. Then I saw this really good looking fellow; he was dark, tall, muscular, hunky, with the cutest pink lips I had ever seen. I am definitely not gay, but I had stood there admiring his features. It was the first time I’d ever admired a guy like that. Nna, that is how I opened my mouth to say that “I nominate him,” pointing in his direction. We put it to a vote and my nominee won. Needless to say, the ladies were intrigued by him as well. His name was Atela. After discussing, we were to write our names on a piece of paper. I stood strategically behind Nife. She was startled when she turned and saw it was me.
‘Hi, you’re that girl from the other night right? The one that gave me her stapler?’
‘Yes, how are you?’
‘I’m fine o… How are you enjoying camp so far?’
‘Boring, but then again I’ve always been a boring person,’ she said.
‘Are you sure? Cos with all I’m seeing you cannot be a boring person,’ I replied, referring to her sweet ass. She laughed and I promised to see her later, even though I wasn’t sure when that would be. From there I headed into the hostel to meet my bunkie, Maintenance, who was holding a flask in his hand with his face set like he was going to war.
‘Maintenance how far na?’
‘I dey o, omo those people bin wan kill us today o,’ he said, his slim frame shaking with him as he spoke. The hunger was real.
‘No mind them jare. God pass them.’
‘Dem go still pursue us outside for the swearing in ceremony o, man gast to chop before person die.’
‘You mean we are still going to stand outside for hours under the sun?’ I wanted to die.
‘See you, you no hear when dem bin talk am?’ Maintenance turned to Oyo man, ‘Bros you never ready?’
‘I dey come I dey find my spoon,’ the Oyo man replied as he rummaged through his luggage on the top bunk right next to mine.
‘Abeg na wetin dem dey chop today?’ I asked. I almost forgot that I was starving.
‘Omo na beans and pap o.’
Beans and pap! Who came up with such a deadly combination? God forbid!
‘You no dey chop?’ Maintenance asked, noticing the look on my face.
‘If I chop that kain thing na mess I go use kill all of una for this room I swear.’
I quickly freshened up and headed out to the Mami market to get my khaki that was left with the tailor. I picked it up with disappointment – upon the exorbitant cost the idiot still sowed rubbish. Next I went to eat, and as I was eating, that was how they started blowing the bugle again, indicating that we needed to start getting for the swearing in ceremony. According to them, Ambode himself, Governor of Lagos state, was going to be there.
‘Again’ A girl eating beside me cried out in protest, echoing my thoughts.
Again Shey these people will not kill us? My legs were still aching from standing for over three hours, I was still unsettled from waking up so early, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience, I desperately needed to find a bed to sleep in. Just then, the soldiers and Man o War officials started flooding the Mami market like termites amidst shouts of “Move it! Move it! Move it!” Some people stood up and ran, leaving their food behind. But me, Wayward Pikin, I remained there until I finished the food, then went to the shoe maker to pick up my jungle boots which had haphazardly been resized to fit me. Went to the hostel, changed up in my full NYSC uniform, and went outside to join the others.
I felt like an egg being roasted in a frying pan. Nobody told us that this khaki uniform was a great insulator of heat. See sweating abeg! As we stood there rehearsing, learning the steps before the governor and the rest of them arrived, I wondered what the point of this whole NYSC scheme was. I finally understood all those stories I’d read where corpers would be marching then some of them would suddenly faint. Not every one was strong enough to go through these rigorous exercises, much less under the hot sun. A girl in front of me, visibly exhausted, beckoned on a soldier to permit her to go sit under the canopy as her legs were about to give out. He asked for her doctor’s report but when she couldn’t provide any, he eyed her terribly and said “If you want to die, die”, before walking away. Omo na gulag we dey o! Or Guatanamo Bay!
‘Prey preyyyyyyyyy…. SHUN!!!’ The soldier addressing all of us thundered. Translation: stand at attention. We obeyed the commands as they drilled us on what our responses to each command should be. Suddenly there was a shuffle to my far right as 2 boys carried a girl who had fainted in the direction of the clinic. Members of the Red Cross ran behind them. The soldier looked at them as they ran off, unimpressed.
‘Some of you think you are here on holidays. That is false. We are here to drill you and mould you into something of worth. By the time we are through with all of you, your fathers and mothers will not recognize you. Your boyfriends and girlfriends will ask “Who is this?” You can all see that someone just fainted right? You haven’t seen anything yet.’
That day, about seven people fainted. Legitimately.
To be continued soon