As expected of any prospective corp member,especially one going to a place they’ve never been to before,I was battling mixed feelings .
Excited that I’d finally get to experience the compulsory NYSC three weeks orientation and quite uncertain about what the experience would be like.
It usually comes with fear. Exciting fear.
My father who had seen me off to the park at maza maza had asked how long the journey would take and he was assured I’d be in Benue before the day ends.
We set out late and everyone in the bus was headed to Wanunne where the NYSC orientation camp was. We were all prospective Corp members.
The Lagos traffic and bad roads made sure that by midnight we were stuck in the middle of the nowhere and the driver suggested we slept on the road because he stood the risk of encountering robbers if he continued.
I couldn’t sleep in the open, inside a bus, in a place that didn’t look very safe. A place I had never been to in my life.
I and kunle would find a hotel. And pass the night.
Of course we barely slept. Largely because we weren’t sure if we were safe in the hotel and yes, mosquitoes didn’t spare us.
We got to Wanunne by noon the next day and the whole camp was buzzing. It was so beautiful.
The documentation process was crazy. I think Nigeria has a way of making things that should originally be easy very difficult.
I finally settled in and made friends.
I still remember Benue.
Benue women can finish two crates of beer and not feel a thing.
Don’t have sex here o. You’ll catch aids.
Tiv men courteously give out their wives to strangers who come to visit them for the night.
I never got to confirm any of these. So I assumed they were stereotypes.
I remember seeing so many huts. And farmlands.
I remember the tuber of roasted Yam that was sold for 250 naira. I was shocked.
I still remember those excruciating moments of sitting in those boring lectures that made my soul weep. That one that went on for one week .I can’t remember the name.
I still remember the cold mornings that started with the annoying trumpet sound and shouts of ” double up ” by soldiers. Nigga ! Let me sleep abeg.
The loud music coming from the big speaker on the hill was the only thing that made me happy in the morning. The voice of that girl from the camp radio too. Fine voice, I think the girl was fine too.
I still remember the morning drills. The scramble for food. The evening assembling and the addresses from the camp commandants.
I remember the rope walk. Difficult drills , but looking back now. I really enjoyed the thrill it brought.
I remember the Nsala soup from the igbo kitchen in mammy. That woman will live long.
The Suya was perfect.
I remember the football competition. We had played only the first round of matches before it got called off. Someone had slumped in one of the the matches.
I remember the match we played. How we were three goals up only to play out a draw.
I remember the soldier on that hill that had us sit at his feet while he told us stories about the war against Boko Haram and how war isn’t a good thing. He battled tears as he talked about the brothers he lost.
I remember Andrew, the one that became my friend. How he cheered me up when I was on stage singing. How he kept screaming ” that’s somto my guy ” from the crowd. He never stopped calling me his guy, he practically hypes me up.
I lost contact with Andrew. I hope i see him again.
I remember my camp crush. I suck at keeping names so I can’t remember her name. She was so beautiful, she was very dark, the kind that looked like polish on a shoe. That woman was beautiful. We talked a good number of times. I didn’t even see her on the day we left camp.
I remember elite kids.
Children of the high and mighty.
I remember mammy market cruise.
That one night i drank myself to stupor.
I remember the hostels and the jabs we threw. The heavy laughter and the bonding.
I remember the guy that disguised as a girl to go and have sex in the girl’s hostel. I heard he was sent out of camp.
I remember winning the singing competition with the choir my platoon had formed.
I remember cheering my platoon’s volleyball team to victory. I watched volleyball because I love it and of course my Yoruba crush with big breasts led the team. Oh I love volleyball.
I remember Ochanya, the young girl that suffered rape for years in the hands of her Uncle and his son. I was in Benue when she died. When she became famous for the wrongest reasons. I felt pain mostly because I followed the news and I was in the same place where her innocence was taken from her and her life was cut short.
There was a walk dedicated to her. I couldn’t join in but I remember her now and everytime I think of Benue.
I hope every evil gets rewarded and that she finds peace and happiness.
I remember the Unilorin chick that hugged me tight everytime. So tight i could feek her heart beat. I didn’t complain. I like tight hugs.
The days we watched premier league games and had it cut short by the sound of trumpets asking us to gather.
The soldiers that became friends.
I remember the days before we left camp.
How i suddenly didn’t want to it end.
How i sought redeployment . And the tension on the day our deployment letters were given.
I was scared i wouldn’t be redeployed. Because some people got disappointed.
Oh ! yes I loved my short stay in there but I didn’t want to stay any longer. I didn’t feel up to it. I couldn’t.
It’s not surprising because I’ve had to let go of things i loved so many times.
Because sometimes love isn’t enough reason to hold on.
I still remember Benue. I hope I visit again. And this time around explore the place and of course eat plenty.
I mean, food basket of the nation no be guy name nau.
Somto is a spontaneous writer . A goofy 23 year old that likes food . Maybe he’ll write a book someday , but for now he hopes to get writing jobs .