NYSC Journal Guest Entry: Falling Face First In Camp & Other Stories

Written by Damola Arogundade

I thought tension associated with checking your results after the semester was the worst, until it was the day to check for my NYSC posting. First thing I did that morning was to check twitter for any news concerning NYSC posting. There was nothing helpful there so I assumed the portal wasn’t opened and I went back to sleep.

I woke up 30 minutes later to tons of messages. Nobody seemed to have seen their posting letters. The page was taking forever to load, but the call-up letter finally came up and what I saw gave me instant headache; BORNO.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, how was it even possible??! Really hot tears started streaming down my cheeks and I became cold and hot at the same time, breathing even became difficult, I mean, how could they post me to Borno, who did I offend to deserve this.

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After my first round of weeping (there were many more rounds to come), I went to tell my parents what I had seen. My mum thought I was joking until I showed her, then she went blank for some seconds. When she finally regained her composure she said “shey you went to fill in borno because you think everything is a joke, now go and enjoy the joke.” OUCH!!!

Later that morning while I was making my hair, my dad called to ask me to send in my details as he was about to make flight arrangements. They were sending his daughter to Borno and he was already booking the flight. I was just amazed! DOUBLE OUCH!!!

Some of my friends and acquaintances managed to console me, telling me that it wouldn’t be that bad and I’d get redeployed so I shouldn’t be scared. While some other friends like Anne and Ijeoma told me out rightly not to go there at all. They later calmed down when we found out I was to camp in Bauchi.

Twitter has a way of making you laugh when you’re going through things like this. I opened it and started seeing all sorts. Some people got posted to places I didn’t know existed in Nigeria. As I was trying to console myself I couldn’t help but laugh at some things I saw. At least that made me forget my predicament for a while.  I later found out that 3 other course mates of mine including a close friend were also posted to Borno, at least that gave me some sort of relief knowing I wasn’t going to be there alone.

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Anyways, I would find out that there were no more seats on the flight to Jos (My camp was in Bauchi and there are no directs flights to Bauchi), so my flight got booked for the next day.

After Arik did what they know how to do best, I got to Jos later than I expected but still managed to get to Bauchi before night time. As I pulled my box into the compound that was to be my home for the next 3 weeks, my heart sank. Ironically the soldiers I met at the gate were so nice, they even welcomed me heartily.

I woke up around 4am the next morning to the voices of people trying to get ready for the day. Again, I thought it couldn’t get any worse until on my way to the bathroom, I fell face flat with a bucket of cold water. I gently wished for the ground to swallow me as the people around me pitifully said sorry oo. I walked back into the room, wet towel in hand and my friends  started asking what happened. I wept bitterly, all I wanted was to pack my things and go home. There was no way was I going to survive this hellhole for 3 weeks. After much consolation, I finally went to have my bath with hot water that turned cold before I was done bathing.

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I always knew I wasn’t physically strong, but parade ground showed the extent of my physical weakness. I didn’t last up to 40mins on the parade ground that Saturday afternoon before it seemed like my legs could no longer hold my body.  I love my country but there was no way I was going to put my health on the line for Nigeria so I looked for the nicest looking soldier and explained to him that I was going to faint soon if he didn’t let me go to mami to get water. I seemed to have convinced him pretty well because unlike other corpers I was allowed to leave the parade ground, and that marked the beginning of my endless excuses to miss parade.

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