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.
I leave for the parade ground without taking a shower. When I woke up a few minutes earlier, I felt tired. Really tired. I lay in bed and ignore everyone trying or not trying to wake me. It will be a good day, I thought. Just me, sleeping myself away. But then the soldiers barged in and my dreams were shattered. There was no time to take a shower. I simply brushed my teeth, washed my face and dashed out.
On the OBS (Orientation Broadcasting Service) group chat, there is a message asking us to be at the studio by 6:00 am. A delight, because it means I am exempted from parade. At the introductory session, the Camp PRO told us that if we join OBS in order to escape parade, we are wrong. But look at me now. I skip to the studio, happy that I will be skipping parade after all, Camp PRO’s words or not.
The studio is empty; I am the only one present and soon, the head of OBS, a fellow corps member comes in to tell me that it is a must I attend morning parade and that I can come back after it is over. “Oh really?” I say. I look happy on the inside as I go to the parade ground, but deep down inside me, I’m die.
Platoon 1 is in charge of Morning Meditation, but because they failed to submit their write up to the Camp PRO for edits, their presentation is dead on arrival. Tomorrow it will my Platoon’s turn, and suddenly everyone is turning, asking how far with it, and are we good to go?
I’m at the OBS studio, being generally useless but still looking useful, since everything to be done has been taken over by these ladies who, apparently, are either true OAPs or studied Mass Communication. There is an argument about phonetising which basically is a warning to presenters not to use fake accents. Opinions fly about, but me I am hungry. When the bugle sounds for breakfast, I make my way there immediately.
Breakfast is pap and beans. It’s been 756,289 days since I ate beans, and tasting one spoon of it feels the way I imagine an orgasm must feel.
Lmao beans and pap as breakfast is a scam. I WANT TO SLEEP! I wonder if there’s a sleeping medicine in the food, but I doubt it. Someone says that pap induces sleep, and there’s nothing to worry about. There are plenty WebMDs on this camp, sha.
Today begins our SAED meetings. SAED (Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development). This is one thing I dread, because every time ex corps members talk about it, they tell stories of how boring it is. I don’t know why they pronounce it as Saheed.
The lecture is as predicted: boring, the crowd, rowdy. We are given a booklet on entrepreneurship, another booklet on accounts. A man referred to as the accountant tells us the importance of having your bank account before leaving the camp so your allowance can be sent into it. In between this lecture, I drift from sleep to wakefulness. My mind fills up with unnecessary trivia—will I ever find the love of my life? Two plus two will give you four, so in two, three years, some of these people will be married. how do people find love in camp sef?
I joke with the people seated next to me to keep awake. I pay no attention to the lecture, even though bits and pieces of it keep floating into my head: “We teach people craft. What business idea do you have? We can provide loans for you. Who is an entrepreneur here? is your business registered with an association?”
We sing the NYSC anthem so much I feel like the anthem itself must be weeping from overuse. Finally, amid many protests, we are dismissed.
You should have seen me running to my hostel.
Lunch is tuwo and okro soup and a bit of boiled beef. I devour it. I probably won’t get another chance to eat it again, so.
A girl accosts me at the staff canteen where I am eating my lunch. She finished from my school too, and my friend F. is bent on playing matchmaker because he says she is spiritual and so we are a match. His definition of spiritual is that she wears no make-up or jewelry and always attends fellowship. He says a lot of nonsense, that boy. And to be frank, why do Nigerians see you as spiritual just because you’re wearing no make-up or jewelry?
Anyway, she wants to know where I am relocating to. She feels she wants to stay in Borno, but she feels God has been telling her to not be tempted by the money. I tell her my own truth: “I honestly don’t know what to do or how to do it. But my prayer is that God leads me right. Even if it looks like I’m making my own decisions on my own, let it be God leading me. Let it be Him.”
After lunch, I return to the hostel and fall into a deep sleep. My bed, forever loving, forever caring, welcomes me.
The rest of the day spirals away quickly. Again, I am rejected from the parade, and I am pained, but isn’t it time to confront the truth that I am quite useless to their mission? I visit the platoon commandant, I pen tomorrow’s morning meditation which I will be taking, I visit Mammy Market to charge my phone, I watch volleyball, I joke around with O. and B. When it is time for social night, I hide in the OBS studio thinking that they will of course be doing nonsense as always. But it turns out that the party was good. Rather than have girls twerk or whatever, they present drama and dance. The one time I decide to stay back and they do something meaningful. Nawa o.