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I sat at my table staring at my phone with a slight frown on my face. I had been calling Nife but she wasn’t picking. I was at Mami market with my roommates, and we’d occupied one full table. Biggie, a tall chubby dude sat at the head of the table like the Don Corleone of our unholy association, with two girls on either side of him. I’d been to my favorite joint at Mami market almost every night and each time I went there I saw him with different girls, drinking and smoking. Unofficially, the dude was my role model. The waitress came around, rubbing my shoulders seductively as she asked what I would be having. They all knew me at Mami market, supposedly because I was a big spender. Once these girls identify you as a money bag, they become extra friendly for tips and are willing to hook up with you after camp for extracurricular activities if you catch my drift. I had only just gotten there so I ordered for a cold bottle of Orijin, momentarily distracted by the waitress’s big boobs. I watched hungrily as she walked away, and willed myself to focus on the matter at hand.

Where was Nife? I wondered angrily. Why wasn’t she picking my calls?

I had already given her three missed calls so I refrained from calling her any further. Even the message I’d sent her on WhatsApp, she failed to reply. I decided to take my mind off it and just enjoy myself. Looking around, it felt like I was in the committee of dragons, everyone was smoking up, the air cloudy and hazy as people hugged their cancer sticks for dear life. Even the ladies were not left out. This was the worst place for someone like me to be, as I had stopped smoking for over a year now, presumably for good. I breathed in hungrily, the familiar smell of nicotine flooding my lungs. I had been resisting the urge to smoke in camp for a while now, but the way I was feeling, coupled with the fact that most of the guys around me were involved in this vice, convinced me to join in. I requested for a stick from the pack that was with Teejay, arguably the lousiest and most jovial guy of us all. He happily handed one stick over and hailed me as I lit it, dragging on the cigarette as the poisonous fumes filled my lungs. I exhaled slowly, and it felt awesome. And that was how I threw away over one year of not smoking down the trash can.

I was still feeling giddy from the MJ I’d chewed earlier, and combining it with the cigarette and the cold bottle of Orijin got me feeling on the right side of Cloud 9. Most of my roomies at the table were paired off with babes, while I sat there by myself, romancing the cold green bottle in front of me. Hajia was calling me again and I would have liked to invite her over but this really wasn’t her scene. I knew she would regard me and all my cronies as evil people who were going to perish in the Muslim version of hell. I didn’t intend to change her perception of me so I didn’t pick up the call. Besides, we spent most of the day together. Anywhere I went, she went. Anywhere you saw her, there I was too. But in the night time, yours truly loved to fly solo in order to indulge my darker cravings. My roommates and I all ended up pretty high and I soon forgot about Nife, having a very good time, laughing hysterically at jokes, and occasionally flirting with any female I caught staring at me. In summary, it was an interesting uneventful night. The irony.

It was almost 10 pm when I got to the hostel and saw guys and girls gathered in front of the premises acting all romantic, and I started missing Nife again; wishing I could use a koboko (translation: cowhide, pure leather) to flog all of them standing there for reminding me of my pain. I got to my room and went to the bathroom to shower, ignoring the sound of some dude vomiting his guts out in the toilet. Wasn’t my business as long as he remembered to flush. I got to my bed and was preparing to sleep, ignoring the noise of my drunk and hyperactive roomies all around me. Just then, my phone beeped. It was a WhatsApp message from Nife.

“Hey dear,” Her message read. My heart fluttered when I saw it was her and I replied almost immediately.

“Don’t hey dear me. Are you just seeing my messages and missed calls?”

“I’m so sorry I was tied up.”

“Tied up with what?” I demanded to know.


Lol? What the hell was funny?

“Only God knows the unfortunate guy that is taking you away from me.”

“Don’t worry dear. We’ll see tomorrow okay?”

“If you say so,” I replied.

“I say so.”

We bid each other goodnight and I lay on my bed with my eyes wide open, feeling less confident than I’d ever felt in a long time.

I’m of the opinion that sleep is sweetest from 4 am to 6 am. The exact period that life sometimes demands most of us to wake up.

So it was with tears in my eyes that I woke up the following morning. I was always the last person to get up from bed, myself and one guy named Ramsey. I noticed Ramsey because we both stayed on the top bunk, and any time I woke up I’d observe him fiddling through his things like he was looking for something, but I noticed that he wasn’t really doing anything – more like biding his time. Long after I was conscious I would still remain in bed with my eyes closed, aware of everybody else preparing to leave the hostel, cursing both the sound of the bugle and the person speaking on the PA system.

God, why?

I would eventually get up and prepare in record time to join everybody else. But in my mind, this had to stop. I had to come up with a plan to start skipping these morning drills, for my own sanity at least. I took another route to join the others at the parade ground because the soldiers were strategically positioned at the entrance of the hostel, punishing those who were joining the rest of the group late. I could see them from afar being made to frog-jump and I just felt more weary of the whole NYSC process.

As I joined up with my platoon, Nife immediately came to mind and I started scanning the area but saw no sign of her. I was a bit disappointed, the thought of seeing her always got me so excited. But at the same time, I was beginning to feel this slight trepidation at my over excitement. I was halfawake/half-dozing throughout the morning drill, and the fact that I did it while standing was an even more impressive feat. After the exercises, we were split into groups for lectures. My group was made to sit on the ground as NDLEA officials came around to enlighten us on the dangers of drug abuse. Perfect opportunity to sleep. The pot-bellied official spoke passionately on the dangers of substance abuse. He said he knew of someone who smoked MJ which drove him insane and that his family members had been searching for a cure for him since then. I woke up for a few seconds to eye the man angrily.

“Why was he talking anyhow about my darling MJ? Why the lies?” I thought to myself. Anyway, that wasn’t going to make me quit my relationship with her. We loved each other way too much.

After the whole thing, I got back to my hostel room to see Maintenance lying comfortably on his bed with all the confidence of a Lagos landlord. I was the first person to get to the room, which made me wonder how he got there.

“Maintenance, you didn’t go for morning drills?”

“I decided to sleep instead. I followed those Muslims then branched off into the hostel,” he explained.

“What if the soldiers had caught you?”

“Then I’ll simply show them my ID card,” he retorted, flashing an ID card hanging around his neck proudly.

At the start of camp, they announced the need for representatives from each platoon for categories such as; debate, health, welfare, education, food & nutrition, maintenance, and socials.

Unsurprisingly, most people only wanted to represent their platoon in the socials category, especially the ladies. The people representing in each of the categories mentioned are more like prefects, as Maintenance made me understand. He elected to be the Maintenance representative for his platoon since it was a role that most people resented. The duties of those in Maintenance included checking around all the rooms in the hostels and reporting any incidence such as a flooded toilet, a creaking fan, or a burnt-out bulb. Somehow, my bunkie ended up having a lot of clout and influence in camp. He could enter in and out of anywhere within the premises, including the girls’ hostel. And if anyone dared to stop him, all he had to do was flash his badge at them like an FBI agent and say “Maintenance” and they would free him with much reverence. That was how he got the name. Till today, none of us remember his real name.

I frowned as he told me this, angry at the fact that he had all these powers and special abilities, yet our fan was not working. Every morning I woke up drenched in sweat as my bunk was directly under the only working bulb in the room and somehow, the lights were almost always on, causing me undue discomfort. He laughed and told me he was working on it, that I should trust him after all his name was Maintenance.

He never got it fixed, the little weasel.

As I was talking with him, I saw someone else materialize from under a bed at the far end of the room. It was Ramsey, fine, light-skinned, tall and muscular. My mouth hung open in shock.

“Ramsey, you’ve also stopped going for morning drills? How do you do it?” I asked desperately.

He laughed heartily and said, “Don’t worry, I have my ways.”

Was that the answer to the question I asked?

“Don’t worry, I will soon have my ways too.”

Afternoon drill came and I saw my sweetheart Nife. I asked her where she was in the morning and she said she was in the hostel.

“What? You too? How do you do it?” I desperately asked.

She looked at me and smiled, “I have my ways.”

“You have your ways abi? You have started joining bad gangs.”

She laughed, tapping my shoulder and smiling shyly.

We spent most of that afternoon learning the marching drills, and assigned to our platoon was this terrifyingly hulking man. He must have been about 7 feet tall, shoulders so broad he probably had to fit through a doorway sideways, with a face black like death. Needless to say, he terrified the shit out of all of us. After the initial torturous experience which was subtly becoming a routine to most of us, Nife and I agreed to hang out that night. Unfortunately, it was Deja Vu all over again – I was at Mami market with a frown on my face staring at my phone, I’d given her a few missed calls but she wasn’t picking; I’d sent her messages on WhatsApp but she never replied, and I was being hailed by Teejay for smoking for the second night in a row.

Hanging out with my roomies every night was becoming a ritual. They were mostly kids from private universities, with a pinch of guys from federal and state universities. So our table was always filled to the brim, because before you buy something, someone else is offering to buy, and another is vouching for the next round after that. I was on my fourth bottle of Orijin and feeling sufficiently stoned when I suddenly had this urge to go for a walk. I told my guys that I was coming back and I began to take a leisurely stroll, enjoying the cool evening breeze. I was lost in thought, as usual, thinking about my life as I always do, when something just ahead caught my eyes.

I saw Nife walking with this other dude from our platoon with his hand across her shoulders. The sight of her with another guy felt like a gut-wrenching punch to my stomach.

So this was the reason why she’d blown me off for two days in a row.

I headed back to my table at Mami market and drank a few more bottles in total silence while contemplating the pain I was feeling in my chest. That very familiar pain that I dread so much. I got to the hostel and against my better judgment, I decided to try and chat her up. Her replies were noncommittal and signaled disinterest, but I was determined to try a little harder. I tried to change my approach by being a bit naughty, flirt a little and maybe try to pique her interest:

“That thing you’re carrying behind you, remember to have mercy on all those camp guys and soldiers that will want to die on top of your matter,” my message teased.

I expected my message to elicit a positive reply or get her laughing or speaking more openly or something – anything! But Nife read my message and couldn’t even be bothered to reply. What followed next was a series of unfortunate events that I’d much rather forget than remember.

Les autres effets indésirables rapportés dans les études de pharmacovigilance sont les suivants: palpitations, douleur thoracique, mort subite, crise cardiaque ou diminution temporaire de l’apport de sang à certaines parties du cerveau. La plupart de ces hommes, mais pas tous, avaient des problèmes cardiaques avant de prendre ce médicament. Il n’est pas possible de déterminer si ces événements étaient directement liés au sildénafil.

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