Everyday by 12pm for the next 21 days, I’ll be telling you what life is like at NYSC Camp. I was posted to Borno State, but the camp holds in Katsina state due to Boko Haram insurgency in Borno. You can read all the stories in the series here.
Before you say anything, I did not wake up by 7:00 AM. You can never wake up by 7:00 AM in this NYSC camp. Before 5:00 AM, soldiers are banging on doors, shouting at us to wake up as though we are houseboys neglecting out house chores for the pleasure of sleep.
By 7:00AM though, we are about to do another rehearsal of the parade tomorrow. And then, gbege happens. I am removed from the parade and kept on reserve.
Me, marching and marching all these days and suddenly I’m kept on reserve? Lai lai.
The oga soldier says I will be put back in; the major wahala is that people who were not marching suddenly want to do so because they can estimate the pomp that will come with marching. Anyway, I have the soldier’s reassurance. If anything less happens, I will show them who I am! (Who am I, anyway?)
My platoon is on duty again today. In all ways, I consider it an unfair arrangement. We have less than 10 days to exit this camp, and we have been on duty before. Going the second time means that some other platoons will not go on duty again and we will leave camp that way. I assume it will be better to have two platoons together at once. That is, Platoon one and two at the same time, two and three at the same time for another day — that kind of thing.
I am placed in the Sanitation group, and so we head off to pick the littered camp ground. Some others head to the kitchen, and some others are deployed to security posts.
Breakfast is bread, boiled egg and tea. As soon as they are done serving this, they begin preparation for lunch which is yam and beans. Others head to SAED class. I do too, but I am tired, so I keep dozing in class. I don’t want my picture to be taken and be pasted on WhatsApp and captioned “Sleeping in SAED class” so I gather what is left of my self-respect and I leave that place. I return to the kitchen.
I have made a new discovery. The cooks in the kitchen don’t put salt in our food. How could I have gone on for so long without noticing that??? I find out that they use a lot of Maggi seasoning, Onga, curry and thyme, but never salt. Even rice, they don’t add salt. They only wash it with salt but that’s about it.
I am surprised when people say this. Really surprised. I know of people who eat salt but refrain from seasoning cubes. Is there a reverse of this in Katsina?
For me, it makes sense now that the food (rice especially) tastes like it needs a little more salt. But really, no salt? Wawu. Does this mean that seasoning and spices can take the place of salt in a meal?
For SAED practicals today, we make salad cream, yoghurt, and gizdodo. Yes, gizdodo is gizzard and plantain with a lot of garnishing (carrot, pepper, green beans, green peas, onions, etc), but the instructor couldn’t find gizzard so she settled for beef instead.
I help to dice pepper, fetch water, and take photos for the class, but in the end, the sun gets me so hot that I feel too sick to eat my share of the food.
Village people 1, Kunle 0.
I missed lunch. Saddening, because I’d been looking forward to yam and beans. In compensation, E. buys me bread and fried egg, and I devour it before heading to parade where I am reinstated into the march, haters be damned.
We march round and round the field. We do slow march, quick march, break from slow turn to quick turn, we learn how to wheel, we turn our heads to the right so we can salute the commandant, we raise our legs higher and higher as we march. We shout at ourselves, we make up. Our Platoon wins the football match.
Social night is a snooze fest. A bore. And it seems Platoon 3 is destined to lose every time. After flopping at the dance, their drama ends up being a hot mess too.
Platoon 3 has been baptised in the river of disappointments. If you were in Platoon 3 during NYSC, how did you survive it? Were you also always losing? Dear reader who is yet to go and serve, ngwa when they call platoon 3, my brother my sister, let me advice you, don’t wait o. Just dust your slippers and carrieth thy body.
Platoon 3 will be on duty tomorrow. Let’s hope they redeem what is left of their reputation.