NYSC DIARY: [Port Harcourt Girl] I Wrote My Name in The Book of Life

Sunday morning was terrible. I woke up by 6am with a very high fever. My room was noisy as usual – some prepared for Sunday service while others declared themselves members of “St Bottles” church.

St Bottles meets at mammy market every evening where they cancel as many bottles as possible.

I remained in bed till 7:15am feeling sorry for myself – just want go home. Somehow, I find the strength to hit the bathroom for a quick shower and Mammy market for breakfast. The food tasted like sawdust but I forced it down my throat. When I’m away from home, I try to do all the things my family will like me to do. They would want me to eat when I’m ill.

After breakfast, I head straight to the camp clinic. The hospital is manned by corp members. It’s a mad house there. Several corp members are waiting to be attended to by the doctors. A girl is sobbing while her friend consoles her. The doctors also do their bit in consoling her. The situation is almost under control until one ‘auntie’ who supervises the doctors comes out to mock the girl for crying.

“Old mama will be crying like Tata every time”, Auntie says with a frown on her already wrinkled face.

When it gets to my turn, a kind doctor attends to me. He was really sweet but somehow i felt like a lab rat. He handed me a prescription which I took to the pharmacist. The drugs are handed to me, free of charge. I guess the government pays for it.

After taking the medication , I spent the afternoon sleeping. My sleep was constantly interrupted by my loud roommates and concerned friends who call to check up on me. Finally awake, I head to Mammy market for food. Some of my roommates tagged along but I soon discovered that was a bad idea.

They talk in really loud voices, I was so embarrassed . It’s okay to be loud and razz in your private corner but please don’t wear your bad habit like a badge. I ate my food extra fast and ditched my roommates.

We had a little parade on Sunday evening, i didn’t participate. Sat under the tent with a friend who calls himself ‘A Prince of Akure’. We discussed the pros and cons of celibacy.

After the parade, I headed straight to bed. I sleep until about 10:20pm when my roommates showed up. They’re excited . Mammy was on fire that night. Fayrouz brought a DJ to thrill corp members who respond by getting high and showing off their dance moves – soldiers were called to stop the party.

Monday morning was better than Sunday. I woke up with a nasty headache but the fever was gone. My cough also reduced . I’m happy for my present state- it’s a big improvement from Sunday’s.

We were summoned to parade ground on time but the drills didn’t start on time. NYSC Lagos state coordinator spends a good amount of time addressing corp members. He’s upset about Sunday night. He’s angry that corp members drink , get drunk and forget their names.

“If you’re a disease, I’m the cure”, he thunders.

Again he threatened to shut down the bathroom taps and make corp members sweat for water. He also threatened to cut the almost -24hours power supply enjoyed in camp. He called for order and promised to create new policies that will help uphold discipline in camp.

I like the man and I clearly understand his frustration. Some corp members are crazy, plain stupid and impossible to checkmate. Soldiers and camp officials are not allowed to touch corp members in Lagos camp so people get away with all sort of bad behaviours. Some even challenge the soldiers.

“Stop drinking away your education “, NYSC Lagos coordinator begs.

Did I mention that one of my roommates woke up with a hangover and decided to take more alcohol first thing in the morning as a way of treating the hangover – who does that?.

After the morning drills, members of my Platoon are asked to line up and fill our details into the “Book of Life” .

The Book of life is a book containing every corp members’ basic details. If I become a politician tomorrow and someone accuses me of never participating in the NYSC scheme, all I have to do is direct them to the book of life. May God protect the book of life from flooding and mysterious fires.

Ladies use a red pen for their entry in the book of life while gents use a blue or black pen.
Attended another photography class on Monday. Too bad I was beginning to feel real sick by the time it started. I performed badly in class practicals.

My friend who shares a variation of my name is in my photography class. She almost made me feel bad by commenting on how terrible i looked.

“You look really stressed”
“Your face is so rough”, she kept repeating.

It took a lot of self control to keep smiling at her. I’m sick fam, that’s why I look terrible .

After the photography class, I dash straight to the hostel with two goals in mind – to get some sleep and to do the best face beat ever.

Hours later, I resurface looking better.

“You look different “, some friends ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over me. Ah!, the power of good make up.
My friends and I arrange to see a movie “the escort” by 7:00pm. Dano milk has a stand in camp where people can pay to watch movies and play games. The movie is cheap; N200 for one ticket.

Seeing the movie was a good idea as it totally distracted me from my state of health. We hang out for dinner after the movie and I take another dose of my medication.

Back in the hostel after dinner, I’m trying to sleep when soldiers start blowing the beagle and their whistles non-stop. It’s 10:20pm , almost lights out, what do they want?.

Everybody is ordered to the parade ground and made to sit on the bare floor.

“How is your morale?”, camp commandant asks. Some corp members scream “high”, others scream “low”. I’m pissed. Why did they bring us out. After 40 minutes outside, a girl in platoon 5 faints. Members of the Red Cross Society rush her to the camp clinic.

Camp Commandant threatens that we’ll stay outside until State coordinator shows up to address us . He makes us sing “Oga Abel oh, Oga abeg oh, Oga Abel ohhh”.

He encourages us to sing louder so we can be forgiven for our bad behaviour. “Mtcheew”.

When it’s almost midnight, Camp Commandant addresses us. He complains about drunkenness, drug abuse and disrespect of soldiers. He threatens to make the camp too hot for us if we don’t behave. By midnight we’re finally let into our hostel. They stole my night!

Tuesday has to be a better day.


Source: Nigerian Bulletin

To share your NYSC experience email nyscdiaries[at]corperwee.com.ng

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