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Photo Credit: tobeehonest.com

 

“Touch me in the heart. Or don’t touch me at all. If someone would just leave burning candles along the way, so we don’t get lost. So we don’t get lost…”-Dike Chukwumerije.

I got lost.

Not totally, but I did get lost. It was beyond donning a pair of Jeans, Slack top and your dada looking hair to go and hunt for the NYSC Lagos camp.I really should not bother you with how I left home yesterday at 6.00am (and still met traffic) to drop 100watts with my mom so I could register fully and obtain my nursing mother exeat card to enable me leave Camp at some points during the three weeks.

I also shouldn’t bother you with how I decided against driving or being driven and nearly wept when I was sand-wiched between two fat women in a rotten Danfo bus journey to Iyana-Ipaja from home. I should also hide that inspite of that, the trekkings, horrendous traffic back home, I still chose the public transport route today.

The heart is a wonderful organ emotionally, when in love we say our hearts melt for each other, when the love turns sour we say we are heartbroken. The words above make me realise that to feel either way, it means the individual responsible has touched your heart. The first reality as I began my service year and since I wont have so much camp gist was that I would have for cud each night, ruminated memories of who added or tried to steal value from my day.

My transport Paddys: If you read my Short Stories-Unsettled and Holding Hope, you would realise that I take some kind of liking to transport business in Lagos. So yesterday, I got to the final bus-stop and remembered as a Lagos brought-up that “e no far,just take left, take right‘ is a blatantly evil way of sending you on a wickedly long trek.

“Oga, you sabi where Lagos Camp dey? This Lagos just dey do me one kind” I said to the Bus driver.

“Ahh, you be corper?”

I nodded with a lost puppy look and added for effect

“Na for Benin I dey all my life”

He touched me in the heart and veered off the express, driving me all the way to the camp gate.

Everybody is capable of the tiniest act of kindness, you cannot have so much you would need nothing nor have nothing you couldn’t give anything.

My sis left some burning candles my way, so I didn’t get too lost in camp. I only wish there is was a bit more structuring and guidelines. I had my backpack with everything, stapler o, pin o,biros, blank A4 papers, etc. Camp is a business place, everyone is out to get you. The only thing those hawkers didn’t sell was the air in the atmosphere-Ekene dili Chineke. They slim-fit tennis shoes sef.

The reproductive managers division: I couldn’t help being amused at the heavily pregnant women who refused to decamp or even the nursing mothers who had come in with luggages upon luggages for themselves,their babies and their house girls. I burst out laughing when I met a few grumbling in a corner

“Don’t these NYSC people know that they will bring everything here for us and give us preferential treatment?”

One of them announced pointedly loud.

Odiegwu. I chuckled to myself. Now there is something I must say at the risk of being misconstrued but its my opinion anyway. I find it a little bit distasteful when *some* pregnant women begin to roll around the place lazily, constantly seeking the next individual to blame for their aches. Its not easy I admit, but don’t over do it. Don’t go everywhere expecting to be treated like Queen Eliza because you have a protruding stomach, its easier that way to bear the disappointment when someone slams into your face

“Na you first get belle?”

I saw a baby who looked super fresh from there. I asked the mother

“How old is your baby?”

She replied “Almost two days”

I nodded and walked off.

I am not judging but it seemed very unfair on that baby, and they were more than one with babies less than a month old. How do people even do that? The thing with NYSC is that you hear a lot of rumours of the procedures. I already inquired {from intelligent people gratefully) how to register for camp and still nurse my baby in a healthier environment. I was told from the word go, the right thing to do. In a matter of minutes, the officials had issued me my nursing mother permit. Some people misinterpret this and think it means you are stabbing service year, they mix up camp and the service year, they mix up sneaking out of camp and obtaining a permit to leave camp to attend to something at home and return.

That aside, I obtained that permit without suffering my baby through that “under the sun,under the rain” policy. When the official asked me in surprise

“Nursing which baby?” No thanks to my slender look and baby face.

I smiled at her and tendering the birth certificate calmly told her if you don’t believe me come and chook hand in my pant that I didn’t think it right to bring my baby along as it would slow me down in moving around and registering. that was it, she wished me a hitch free service year. Being rude doesn’t help you, a smile and a polite disposition got me more things than gra-gra would have.

Under the rain, Under the Sun: No Soldier has been mean to me. Just one lady one who barked at me on my way home today

“If you are standing,you are wrong!!! Off to the parade ground!”

I stood still. A fellow corper ran by and pushed me, I fell head long into the soldier.

“Hey, so you dare push me too? Offence two”

I-don-die was the look on my face. She saw she scared me successfully and began to laugh. I smiled and that ended it, She even shot me a lovely smile and let me on my way.

Tip: When you look like oyibo, just speak like them. The Soldier may not waste his time on a JJC otondo like you.

Something was always soaking me; rain or sweat. A young boy in the bus offered me his new handkerchief and insisted on chatting me up. The driver was amused and kept winking at us, front seat by the way. In the short journey, I touched him in the heart as he told me of his sister who died of kidney complications at 15. He wasn’t able to attend the burial and as such, still hasn’t found some sort of closure.

The Danfo driver of my last bus home also decided to take me to my street totally off his route when I sighed of being tired. I had touched him in the heart when I saw that most people were going to cheat him of his fares because it was late and he had no conductor. I ordered everyone to bring their fares and gave them change, then handed the money over to him. He muttered a deep

“Thank you”

I asked why he had no conductor and that got us chatting from his park to my street. Polished English speaking graduate, told me he teaches in the morning and drives at night. he doesn’t mind driving all day but doesn’t want his myopic family or friends he may come across during the day to scream and shout

“Ehn! you dey drive danfo”

He told me that he wants to make his wife very comfortable in this life and that If I ever consider running two jobs like him, that danfo driving isn’t a bad idea.

“See, I don send credit to my mama, brother, sister, wife and I still get balance from only today’s trip o”

At the end of the day, I don’t remember all the heavily made up, expensive weave wearing girls in camp, or the individuals who think a bad attitude, fighting and talking down at others will get them far in life. I remember the struggling Nigerians I meet, the way they stay happy despite all.

This is because they touched me in the heart, they could have not touched me at all.

But they did.

 

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