We entered the camp late in the evening as we were conveyed down by manager himself. He called and spoke with one solder which looks like a high rank officer on the camp judging by the respect he commands from other soldiers. I later discovered he’s the RSM (Regiment Sergeant Major). This clearly shows this manager is highly influential to have that kind of contact in the army. This ultimately made our first registration easier as we were not subjected to carrying of our bags on the head like they did to others. There was a lady who smartly joined herself with us claiming we came together. She’s light complexion, tall and beautiful like my Funmi, but not more than Funmi. She introduced herself to me while we were heading to our respective hostels.
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Lady: I’m Ifunaya
Me: I’m hearing that for the first time. I thought its mere slang in music
Ifunaya: Really? Where are you from, Lagos?
Me: (Smiles) Not all south-westerners are from Lagos. I’m William, you can call me Will.
Ifunaya: Will, that’s a nice name and you? (Asking Temmy who was helping her to carry one of her stuffs)
Temmy: Just call me Temmy
Ifunaya: Nice! You guys seem to be influential here
Me: Maybe. Guess we’ll see you later.
Ifunnaya: Definitely! I don’t think this place is that big.
We parted ways as she went to the female hostel. We were lucky to be pitched at the same hostel, maybe it’s because we registered at the same time because twenty or so people that registered before and after us were pitched in the same hostel with us.
Very early the following morning, we were woken up by angrily blown whistle and funny chants from officers we thought were solders only to discover later they are men of the Man-O-War cadre. I was surprised some people already had their bath while we were still sleeping, thinking they’ll excuse us because we’ve not done proper registration and therefore do not have necessary kits for training and parade. The officers, running around as if they have beef with us, burst into our dormitory shouting “If I meet you there, you don buy job be dat”. One of them even carried a bucket of water, spraying everybody. I was able to lock my bag before I took to my heels wearing one pair of shoe while holding the other one as I joined others in the rat race to the parade ground.
I thought I was the only one in the funny dress up until I got to the parade ground and found a guy with soap foams on his head. I guess the guy was in the bathroom when the agents of bully came into the dormitory. I couldn’t locate anybody I knew on the ground as Temmy and Mark were nowhere to be found. We were led to sing praises (Devotion) and then proceed to sing or should I say chant the national anthem while somebody taught us the funny self implicated NYSC anthem. The part I hated the most was “under the sun and in the rain”. If you serve in Rivers State or any of the southern Nigeria states especially Batch B (Usually June or July then), you’ll understand the implication of that allegiance declaration.
After the devotion and few announcements, I saw the solder the manager was talking to the night we came. He was addressed by one of the solder as “RSM Sir!” He neglected the microphone and started dishing us abuses with his voice that put the PA system to shame. He was bold and highly audible while the whole ground was in total silence as he continues to threatening us, even with death. “You have signed your death warrant by coming here, no be me go call you o, na you by yourself enter my camp, you don die! I’ll make sure I kill all of you maggots here” he said. After the general dishing, he faced those of us who were not in the “white fowl” dress (White top and shorts on white canvas) to endow us with special abuse delicacies like calling us “otondo”, “baboon”, “maggots”, “monkey” and other stuffs to which we must respond yes sir, before he finally ordered us to go for our registration. One funny rule I can’t forget easily was the “Yes Sir, Morning Sir” rule. Whatever they call us, or ask us, even if the answer is a capital “NO” we must always answer “Yes sir”. And whether you meet them in a scotching afternoon sun, you must always say “Morning sir” with salute.
I don’t understand why graduates must be treated in such manners just to serve our father land when we are not in Egypt or Israel where joining the military for three years or so after school is a compulsory feat. At least in those countries, especially Israel, you can decide to continue as a military man after the three years. Anyway, some of our supposed learned lecturers did worse to us, psychologically though.
Entering the registration hall, I still could not locate Temmy and Mark. I sat down on one of the plastic chairs, waiting for the time they’ll allow us to go back to the hostel to pick the necessary documents required for the registration while I surf the net on my phone which was almost dead by then. Temmy’s call did enter and I wondered why it never occurred to me to have called him earlier.
Temmy: Bro where are you?
Me: I’m inside the hall, what about you?
Temmy: I’m in the hall too, which area are you?
Me: I’m at the back side, towards the main exit.
Temmy: I’m in the front and I’ve kept a space for you here.
Me: Really, maybe you should stand and wave so I can locate you
Temmy: I’ve already seen you, look straight to your front, I’m waiving.
Me: Alright, I can see you now, should I drop the chair I’m sitting on?
Temmy: Bring it along; we might have somebody to give it to
As I was about to carry the chair, someone tapped me from the back. I never knew majority of her beauty was hidden in the dark when I saw her the day before. She’s more light skinned than I thought, having her natural hair rolling down to her shoulders as she greeted me with a contagious smile. One thing though, my Funmi is still more beautiful, at least I need to stuck that into my head to avoid getting distracted.
Me: Hey you!
Lady: Hey you too, how was your night?
Me: It wasn’t too good with those agents of bully waking me when I was having the sweetest part of the dream. What about yours?
Lady: (Laughs) I had a fair night
Me: I think it was great because you are looking so beautiful this morning (I’ve started creating trouble by myself. Who send me the compliments biko!)
Me: (Oh Lord she’s blushing and wants to hear more. D–n!) No flattering, I bow for your royal beauty. (Somebody please talk sense into my head)
Lady: Thanks, really thanks. I’ve actually forgotten your name.
I’m happy she has forgotten my name because I’ve forgotten hers too; I’m only using those compliments as cover up.
Me: That makes two of us (that’s a gross mistake). My name is William but you can call me Will. Like when there is Will, there is a way.
Lady: Hmm, I remember now, but how could you forget my name?
Me: (Egbami o, I just told her mine o) The name is somehow long and not English like mine.
Lady: Really? Then I won’t tell you again. Find out by yourself.
Me: That’s cheating because I just told you mine.
Lady: I’m not telling you still
Her school I.D card she was carrying did betrayed her though, as I use style to quickly eye snap the name but pretends as if I still can’t remember.
Me: I think it starts with I or F like em em em. . . I can’t remember.
Lady: No problem, till you remember.
Me: Alright now. So Ifunaya where are you sitting?
Ifunaya: (She laughs) How did you suddenly remember?
Me: It’s coded (I wink)
Ifunaya: Hmm, okay now. I don’t have a sit yet.
Me: Let’s go to the front, my guy is keeping a sit for me there.
Ifunaya: Indeed, where there is a Will, there is a way
We both laughed as she followed me down to the front sits where Temmy was sitting. Throughout the registration process, up until we were given our kits, we still could not locate Mark. He later told us he went to “mami” market to charge his phone but located a play station center instead and has been playing since that time to the extent he missed the lunch.
Temmy and I were in different platoons. He was in Platoon 3; I was in 4 while Ifunaya was in Platoon five according to our state codes. Uche eventually entered the camp on Thursday and was registered to the same platoon as I (Platoon 4). This made us see each other almost every time and as a result we became closer than we were before camp. Uche was however not what was giving me concern but my unethical closeness with Ifunaya.
Ifunaya and I have become so close in just one and half week of stay on camp to the extent I long to see her every day. This was almost drifting my heart away from reality until Funmi’s message brought me back from the horrible infatuation. Her message reads “Hello my crown. How are you today? Hope you’ve got used to the drillings over there and hope you are not being carried away by the hot chicks around you. I discovered you don’t call and chat with me as we used to do before and it’s not making me happy. Always remember the pot of my heart is entirely in your hand. Please don’t break it baby. I love you so much Will”.
This message sent emotion filled with guilt and regret over my body. I did miss her and it was as if she saw what was going on where I am. I hope I’m not giving Ifunaya unnecessary attention or wrong signals, because her actions towards me seem to be a response to my gesture towards her. Yes she’s beautiful and cool, fitting the position of a proper girlfriend but my heart belongs to Funmi.
I narrated my ordeal to Temmy who was also battling his own, having got too close to a lady in her platoon
Me: Temmy are we serious at all?
Temmy: Oh boy, I think we are crazy (We both laughed)
Me: On a serious note, what we are doing is wrong
Temmy: Not what we are doing but what we are edging closer to do.
Me: What you won’t eat, why smell it? It’s wrong.
Temmy: We are not dating them now, so we are not cheating.
Me: When last have you spoken to Rachael? I mean meaningful conversation.
Temmy: We still spoke yesterday, but I must admit not as often as we used to do. But it’s because of the camp activities. You know most times we are not allowed to use phone and when we are free, it’s either we are doing something else and forget to call.
Me: Funmi sent me a text message complaining I’ve withdrawn from calling and chatting with her. I think we need to stop.
Temmy: Yeah, but it’s not that easy, these babes won’t just let go like that. By the way, I don’t think Fola is thinking of dating me, just friends. Why will just three weeks destroy a lifetime relationship?
Me: Save that talk bro, ladies don’t think the way we think. Besides how many ladies just get close to a guy just for friendship. She’s not collecting money from you; she even spends more than you. If she doesn’t have the feeling already, it will develop with time, which is why the earlier we stop the better. We can’t be getting close to ladies that much again.
Temmy: Maybe I don’t read it that way.
Me: I think we are sending wrong signals to these babes. We better stop before one of us is planked (We both laugh)
Temmy: That will be you
Me: I’ve being planked once, I’m not sure I can take it again.
Temmy: Ifunaya is really into you. At least Fola is in my platoon but she’s not in your platoon. Don’t you see how jealous she is whenever you playing with Uche.
Me: Really I’m not far from being planked (We laugh). I know she’s not fond of Uche but I don’t think it’s a case of jealousy.
Temmy: Then what case is it?
Me: Maybe they don’t just get along
Temmy: Sit down there. She’s thinking you have interest in Uche.
Me: I think I’ll be avoiding both of them now.
Temmy: The only good news there is you are likely not going to be posted to the same PPA (Place of Primary Assignment) which will end most camp affections. But don’t ever think you can just avoid them. The camp is small, if you avoid them, they’ll look for you.
Me: Well, the camp will end soon, countdown has started already. It’s Ifunaya that might cause problem because I won’t lie; I like her to some extent, maybe because she has a great similarity to Funmi.
Temmy: Yeah, she’s got Funmi’s shape and appearance, and behavior sometimes, but Uche still like you; don’t fall for her change in attitude.
Me: She has indeed change but I’ve got no iota of feeling for her. I’m her friend because she has change.
Temmy: I hear you. If you don’t have feelings for her, does that stop her from having feelings for you? By the way your love is here.
Me: Who is your love again?
Temmy: Look behind you
Before I could look back, she has already blocked my eye from the back with her hand while she gave me an unexpected peck on the neck.