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ATWIED – NYSC CHRONICLES

CHAPTER 2: LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT (CONT 2)

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After the grueling swearing-in ceremony, we were now officially Corps Members, no longer prospectives. I went to the hostel exhausted and rested till evening, then went to the cobbler to pick up my white shoes. There I saw two cool guys from my room, I tried to greet them but I don’t know if they didn’t see me or they did and couldn’t be bothered to respond. I wasn’t really a clique person, and it seemed like quite a number of people had formed alliances and groups that would see them through the next three weeks. I wondered if this was how my life was going to be, but I couldn’t force anything, it would have to come naturally like minerals. That evening I buzzed a girl from the WhatsApp group to come meet me so we could hang out. She obliged and came with two of her friends, and said she hoped I didn’t mind. I didn’t. Mami was electric as usual, the chairs were out, the speakers were blaring, and people were trooping in.

I didn’t really need the girls for anything, just needed companionship. Soon our table was full, the ladies never knew that they were in for a treat. Next thing I order chicken and chips for each of us. The lady with me refused my offerings, that it was way too much. But I was in Lagos camp, and you only live once, so I insisted and she agreed. I drank three bottles of Orijin, she drank three bottles of Snapp, her friends drank three bottles of small Stout each. It was a really swell evening and soon they were on their feet dancing, swayed by the music and the alcohol swimming in their systems, not to mention the chicken and chips. I and the girl I called were engaged in idle conversation when my phone rang – it was Hajia. I looked around me in case maybe she had seen me but I couldn’t see her. I hesitated and didn’t pick her call. I knew if I invited her to join me she wouldn’t, being a Hajia and all. So I was determined to enjoy myself and go see her when I was through. At the back of my mind, I wondered where Nife would be at the moment. I had forgotten to collect her number earlier in the day.

Runtown’s ‘Mad Over You’ started playing and the girls went wild, including the one I was talking to.
They increased the velocity with which they gyrated while I sat in my chair watching them and feeling like a boss – like a young Hugh Hefner in his very own playboy mansion.

A few tables away, my roommates watched with their jaws touching the floor. A legend had just been born.

After we finished enjoying ourselves it was time for the girls to leave, her two friends introduced themselves to me with glee and I did the same. I forgot their names almost immediately. From there I went to the Indomie guy to pick up my imported parcel of MJ. In fact, having that MJ in my pocket was the greatest highlight of my entire day. I’d missed her so much! I was so glad that I wouldn’t have to go through camp sober, the thought was freaking depressing. He said people rolled that shit up and smoked it in Mami market but it sounded so risky to me as most of the soldiers knew the smell of MJ seeing as they smoked that shit up as well. I resolved to just chew the herbs in small doses and savor the high that came from that. I put a call through to Hajia who asked me to meet her at the parade ground. I went to meet her and sat on a seat she’d reserved for me. There was a show going on, didn’t know what it was about. In Lagos camp, there is a show EVERY single night for one thing or the other, these people were always celebrating. The cool breeze serenaded both of us as we both gisted and laughed with each other. She told me about her
toasters (translation: suitors), and about how guys
had been disturbing her life in the camp.

“They don’t even care about the fact that I have a boyfriend. Can you just imagine?”

“Don’t mind them. But seriously, you can’t blame them. Have you looked in the mirror before? You are the most beautiful Hajia I have ever seen in my life,” I teased. She tapped me playfully on my shoulders, just then her phone began to ring. She looked at it and hissed, shoving the phone into my face.

“Just look, one of them is calling me again.”

“Why don’t you just answer it and hear what he has to say?”

“For what? Every time he will want to know where I am, he will be asking us to hang out. What’s he looking for? Can’t he take a hint?” She hissed again.

“Well, I think you should give him a chance. You never can tell,” I said, as the Solicitor-in-Chief for guys’ affairs that I was.

“Please let’s talk about something else. Where were you earlier? Mami market, right?”

“Yes.”

“With who?” She queried.

“My friends.”

“Hmmm, are you sure? Or you were with some ladies?”

“Ladies? Come on, I don’t do such,” I replied innocently as she yimu-ed (translation: a facial expression one makes when they don’t believe a word you’re saying) me.

“Come to think of it, I hardly see you with any guy, you’re always walking alone. Why?”

“Isn’t it obvious? It’s because I already have a camp bestie.”

“Who is that?’

“You of course,” I said, looking into her eyes. She smiled and blushed happily, before resting her head on my shoulders as we watched Corps Members climb the stage to display their God-given talents including the Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the downright Atrocious. It was a fun night as we laughed, applauded and criticized each of the contestants. Every night, Lagos camp was divided into two worlds: Mami market on one side, and the parade ground on the other, where shows were held every night. Many nights it was such a struggle choosing between the two worlds until she-who-must-not-be-named came in and tipped the scales in the favor of one of the worlds. If you were a sadist, you would probably always want to stay in the hostel. But why do that here and now when you could also do the same thing in your family house? Life is meant to be lived! That is my philosophy anyway. The parade ground provided the avenue to still catch your fun without spending cash, and believe me, it is in this zone that majority of the smoochers and current
tappers (translation: people who groped others to
gain sexual satisfaction) resided. Dark corners everywhere, appealing to the sinners like, “Come all ye who desire to grab ass and suck perky breasts, for I shall provide ye shelter.”

After the show, the bugle blew by 10 pm and it was time for everyone to go to the hostel. I escorted Hajia to the front of the hostel but I was at a loss on what to do next. Should I shake her hand or give her a hug? We stood there talking for a while as was the custom in camp every night, guys and girls paired off in unholy groups; saints and sinners congregating in a futile attempt to stretch the moment out a little longer only to start the process all over again the next day. When it was time for Hajia to leave, I simply waved her goodnight. Like I said earlier – new uncharted territory for me. I got to my room prepared to shower and have a nice enjoyable sleep only to be greeted by what can only be described as a hero’s welcome:

“Baddest guy, you’re The Man.”

“Wayward Pikin we saw you with three Slay Queens, do you want to kill yourself?”

“Mehn, you are a bad guy! Who was that fine Muslim girl I saw you with?” Another guy added.

“You saw him with another babe?” Someone asked

“Yes.”

“This same night?”

“That’s what I’m telling you!”

“We saw him at Mami market with three fine babes! Just him.”

“Daaaaaaaaaamn!” A bunch of them chorused.

They teased me endlessly and all I could do was smile as the allegations and encomiums kept pouring in.

“Who is that Muslim girl to you though?” Mazi, a guy who sold pink lips balm in the room asked me.

“She’s just a friend,” I replied, my voice almost a whisper as the entire room stared at me. Obviously, they had been discussing my matter before I arrived.

“You said what?” He asked again.

“She’s just a friend.”

“Lies!” The whole room chorused in disbelief.

“Lies from the deepest pits of hellfire,” someone shouted.

“In that case, my mother is a virgin!” A very darkskinned bloke screamed.

“After that drama you pulled today, you still have the guts to yab another person?” Someone else said to the dark-skinned bloke.

“What drama?” I asked out of curiosity.

“You don’t know? He’s one of those people that fainted on the parade ground today.”

“You don’t mean it?” I said incredulously. Remember when I said about seven people fainted? I had assumed that it was all girls, not knowing a guy was among them, much less, someone in the very same room as me. Unsurprisingly, he was now in soup, as the whole room turned to face him.

“If you see the way this guy fainted…” someone was saying.

“Like a sack of beans! We thought he was going to die.” Another dude completed the gist. We all burst out laughing as we threw jabs upon jabs at the poor dude.

Needless to say, he was the first person to fall asleep that night.

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