A few months ago we began the NYSC Diaries, which covered inside life stories of NYSC in Nigeria. Stories like things NYSC corps members can relate to or what to do when you’re posted to a faraway place, like Borno.
A new NYSC batch has been called in for camp. So, everyday by 1:30PM for the next 21 days, one of our writers will be sharing his day-to-day camp experiences.
I thought they said there was no SAED today. Now it’s SAED competition. These people will do anything to keep us in one place for a long time.
I’m running in the opposite direction of where people are going when two soldiers stop me. One of them is the soldier who told me to play R. Kelly for him. Yesterday, with his phone in his hand, he helped me catch a ball that was going to hit some random stranger and then lied that it was the impact of the ball that cracked his phone screen and everyone playing had to pay for it. Me I knew he was joking, but the other guys were scared.
After some time and some laughter, he let us go on the condition that I play the same song for him on OBS. No wahala. I like him. He lets me go. I think we’re friends now.
I tell him that I played his song yesterday, but he says he didn’t hear it. Okay. I will play it again today.
As I leave, the other soldier shouts at me to come back.
“So you’re doing music requests, but you didn’t give me a shout-out yesterday that was my birthday.”
“Ah… I didn’t know that.”
“Good, now you know. Play me “Toe Toe” by Tekno.”
“I shall. And I shall give you a shout-out too.”
“Okay, you can go.”
I plug in my earphones to listen to the song he wants me to play on air.
This man should go and tell whoever sent him that he didn’t meet me at home o. Because if I play this song on air, Buhari himself will come and shut down OBS.
Please, I’m not doing. You will manage Sunny Neji’s “Happy Birthday” sir. Thanks.
The loud talking in my room wakes me up and the first thing that comes to my mind is OBS. I’ve probably missed a lot of shows. I came and slept immediately after SAED, and my phone was dead so nobody could reach me.
As I’m dressing, I listen to some of the things being said. Some guy is talking about how now that we’ve collected our alawee, girls will be telling guys to take them to Mami. It has already happened to him.
Some other guy talks about how he can’t talk to women and that’s his biggest problem in life. He’s asking for advice. Some of the stuff he’s saying catches my attention, so I ask him if he would like to talk about it later. He says yes.
We’re done marching, it was great. Everyone loved it. I stayed a bit at OBS. Everyone judged me with their eyes. Jay judged me with his words. I like Jay. Me and the guy are about to have the talk. I ask him if I can write some of the stuff he says and use it for my article.
We go ahead and have an interesting conversation.
“The last time I spoke with a woman freely, I was in primary 5. She was my classmate. I used to be one of those rough kids in primary school that got all the attention, and I noticed that this girl liked me. We started talking, sharing pens and stuff like that. I have strong memories of this because it’s the only period in my life where I was genuinely happy. My brother was friends with her older brother, so I used to go to her house as well. She was basically my girlfriend.
She had a friend that hung out with us, so I told my friend to come and join our squad so that he’d “date” her and we’d be couple friends.
Worst idea ever.
He was much more interesting than I was, so whenever we were at their house, he would get all the attention. I became old news. It felt like I was now living in his shadow. I eventually stopped going and started writing letters to her.
I changed schools in secondary school. My new school was a better school in a better environment than my old school. I like to think that maybe if I went to a school where I could easily blend in with my classmates, I would have had the chance to start talking to girls again, but the only people in my class were rich kids. I didn’t feel like I belonged or that I was good enough for their attention, so I withdrew further into a shell.
I started doing research. I can’t remember the name of the books I read about talking to women when I was in SS2. It might sound weird that at 24, I’m saying that since primary school, I haven’t had a proper conversation with a woman, but it’s true. I’d only talk to women maybe when we were in a group assignment and a direct question was thrown at me and I had to say something.
In uni, I was a teacher in the mosque. The head teacher. My assistant was a woman. I had to hire a personal assistant just to deliver messages to her.
Here’s the twist: when it comes to texting, I have no problem. That’s why I could write letters as a kid. In the days of 2go, I was a legend. I’d text anyone textable. But calls or a face to face conversation? Never. Even now, on WhatsApp, I can text, but I cannot meet in real life.
The text conversations never go beyond constant exchange of pleasantries and getting to know one another on the surface level.
If you want to see me have a panic attack or just start running, tell a woman to approach me. I will bolt. I now have the ability to know when someone I’m walking with is about to stop and greet a woman that they know. I will stop 20 metres before we get there, make a u-turn and pass another place. My friends have tried several times to set up random meetings with women for me. I don’t think they do it out of love. They just want to laugh.
I talk to my sisters, but I’m not even comfortable doing that. I remember one time when I was waiting outside my sister’s hostel in uni. I heard my name and turned. It was a girl. A childhood friend. I just turned and walked away. She eventually found my number and texted me. We were talking and it was great. That was the first time I was having proper conversations with a woman.
Things changed when she asked that we meet in person. I wasn’t about to do that, so I told her to block me because I couldn’t proceed with that. I think she understood. We still text now.
When I ask people for advice, they say things like, “Just do it!” and “Women don’t bite”, but they don’t realise that at this point it’s running away when I see a woman is reflex.
It’s painful for me because I’m super attracted to women. I see them and I want to talk to them and make physical contact with them. I want to be a normal guy. So it’s not like I’m not trying.
In my spare time, I fantasize about women and write love poems. .
I hear classes that could help me win these battles exist. If the books I’ve read won’t work, maybe a class will. But then again, I hear that all these classes only give you ginger and confidence, nothing else.
Maybe what I actually need is therapy.”
My hands hurt from beating chairs as makeshift drums in practice for the inter-platoon competition at the carnival tomorrow.
As I drift off to sleep, I can’t help but think about how this guy must feel not being able to talk to women. It makes me sad.
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