I am back. After three weeks, I am returned. (not a gbag!)
This is usually the part where I explain the post, say something slightly funny, plug in my earphones and start the post, but Pat is talking nonstop beside me and you know how impossible it is to be creative when a Bini geh is yammering in your ear.
#np (……………………) *Pat puts off the music*
Before I went to camp, I asked @exchicano assuming that since he was currently serving he would be in the best position to tell me all about camp life, the service year and all it entails. He did answer my questions. According to him, life in camp was drills, parades and mammy. So on that day, 3rd of July, after navigating the entire Rivers state in search of Nonwa-gbam Tai (that’s where the camp was located), I arrived camp entirely sure of myself, after all my instructions were simple; don’t join any committee, never march well so you won’t parade and for God’s sake always pretend to be sick so you don’t drill. Also, stick to mammy food.
Simple enough shey? Okay..
Truth be told, it might have proved impossible to find the camp that day if I had not spied two uniformed corpers strolling around Eleme junction like a pair of dejected souls. Offering them a ride, they then provided me with adequate directions to the location of the camp. According to one of them, Bidemi or something was his name; “The camp might not turn out to be what you expect oh!” I smiled and remembered @exchicano’s pix from camp, seeing the paved roads, neat well-cut fields and clean hostels. Buttie children, they don’t know beta thin sef, I thought to myself. “Don’t worry,” I told the man. “It might turn out to be better than I even expect.” Bidemi just grinned and said nothing.
I should have known.
I have a picture of exactly how my face looked when I saw the camp for the first time.
What I saw that day was a collection of half-rundown buildings interspersed within grass high enough to hide an elephant ménage a trios! Suffice to say, Mama Aneni bore no dull children, so sharply, my Ijanikin instincts kicked in, after all I’ve been through worse shey?
I fell sick by the third day. I was in the clinic on the fourth. Not malaria oh, mind you, but something the doctors termed colitis, in common English we call it diarrhea. But I skip ahead of myself, let’s tell this tale in sequence.
I got my accommodation space in a hostel, an ‘executive’ room about the size of a room in Hall 3, Uniben with seven other men. You know what they say about profiling, I agree with them. The man wearing the ‘Christian brother flannels’ was a recent graduate of Engineering and the guy in skinny jeans was married with a kid. Then the one who I suspected of being gay, well…wasn’t gay, if I am to believe her, and the most innocent looking of them, smoked weed every night. It felt like home.
Until a snake was killed less than 5ft from my bed.
Yes, a snake.
I hate snakes.
Before being posted, I prayed a lot about where the call-up letter would send me. Mostly, my prayers were “Please not Igboland, amen!” so when I saw ‘Rivers’ in the letter, I was happy and joyful and glad and ecstatic. There is something to be said about Kalabari girls, whether the world would admit it or no, and I was heading in their direction. I have been wrong before.
Do you know it is an established fact that, the more Ibo you speak the better your chances of uhm…becoming uhm..friends with an Ibo girl? I speak a smattering of Ibo, so maybe my chances were great considering the amount of Ibo girls in the camp shey? Wrong! On my second day on camp, a fellow was telling me something about the registration and suddenly he switched to Ibo!! Like TF!! What do I look like? Chibuzor Mba??!!! All my attempts to tell him, “Uhm..bro, I don’t speak the lingo” were abortive! Hell, the dude probably thought I was speaking Ibo back to him, and simply raised his voice to continue. So I just kept quiet and listened.
Of the people in the camp, 90% were Ibo, 98% understood the language, and nobody cared about the minority. I suddenly felt like Jonathan, without shoes.
When I look back though…
I learnt the azonto, etighi and writing to you now is an accomplished uhm…salsa dancer! Dr Jenny and Nolz, silence please, thank you. Yes, I just couldn’t be in the social committee without learning something, right? Right? *sigh*
I do miss the camp sha, and the people there. My platoon commander, Cap’n Cabin, who kept marveling how a ‘Doctor’ could have time for social activities and why I was never in the clinic, the chap who was chyking me, all the peeps at the N.G.T. crew!, my Camp gossip partner and shield from the evil clutches of Ikwerre gehs, the R.S.M whose voice I still hear in my dreams, (that man deserves a theme song sha) etc, etc.
So, I got posted to a secondary school. Gotta teach them SS2 biology. *evil cackle*
- I am not a pedophile.
- Ijanikin is, was, my alma mater; Federal Govt. Coll. Ijanikin Lagos.
- That was really a picture of a bini geh
- I do not know anybody called Chibuzor Mba
- Blame whatever weirdness of the post on Pat.
ff me on twitter @janus_aneni