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The Only Sin I Committed In Nysc Camp by tdalfred(m): 1:52pm On Sep 23
THE ONLY SIN I COMMITTED IN NYSC CAMP.

It was a Nigerian evening at 6pm at the NYSC Orientation Camp in Iseyin,Oyo in 2017.

George Iyanda Adetola,who had studied at the University of Chicago, and I sat on a bench at the entrance of Ajumobi hostel. The name of the hostel was named after the immediate past Oyo governor before Seyi Makinde of PDP ascended the throne.

Two of our friends (Daniel & Ebitare) sat at the other bench. Daniel Audu, a twenty six years old graduate from Kogi State University (KSU) having studied Physics, had prompted us to sit and discuss life after camp. That's his own way of killing time and shooing away the ruthless thought of camp regimentation. Johnson Ebitare Ogolo, a graduate from the University of Portharcourt, who had studied Chemical Engineering also got interested in the kinds of posting we were scheming at. He was the one who was beaten by the military officer for hiding under his bunk due to tiredness when other corpers were on the field for a platoon meeting.

One of the things that endeared me to this set of guys is that they have balanced patterns of thoughts. They embraced and revelled in critical thinking.

George who had studied Psychology at the University of Chicago always butters his argument with deductive reasoning and empirical data. He was one time the president of Africa Union of Black Students on campus and a chief student editor of 'Psychology Today', a weekly magazine of University of Chicago.

Audu, a realistic and thoughtful political crusader, had helped his uncle in winning a local government election in 2014 in Bauchi. His political insight is very rich and all encompassing. He told us how Boko Haram raided his village at night in 2014 killing his cousin,Meke, who had come home for holiday from the University of Makurdi,Benue. Listening to him speak on the death instigated by Boko Haram and several communal clashes between Benge & Jukop communities, how politics is used as a tool to spread poverty in most local governments in Bauchi spilled some tears on my cheeks.

On the other hand was Ebitare who had been shielded away from harsh realities of life by the wealth and will power of his darling parents. His compelling thoughts on leadership stems from the fact that he was a Bible study secretary of JCCF and the president of his campus fellowship during his sophomore and final years respectively. Upon graduation, he emerged the best in his department with a CGPA of 4.62 on a scale of 5.00.

We sat there throwing banters about our early morning waking up at 4:30am, about the long queues at the kitchen and its poorly cooked food on some days and good food(chicken) on Sundays,about how we struggled to get water for early morning cleanups, about the elevating worship at the NCCF chapel, about what goes on at the Maami market, about the platoon competition, about the every night entertainment at the big field before resting our tired souls, about our posting to various local government and how fellow corpers pressed fees into wrong hands to get good PPAs and local governments. To some, the good developed local governments are the ones inside Ibadan such as Akinyele and the rest while the not so good ones are Saki which shares boundary with a country I don't know.

While we sat there, Ebitare,a bad mouthed fellow, echoed that someone in our midst would be posted to a farm in Ogbomoso.

'Yeye guy,'I replied.

'Na you them go post to Saki in Jesus' name.' George offered the prayer and we all cemented it with amen.

When the laughter died down, Audu saw three female corp members walking to the kitchen and called our attention to them.

In camp, you're allowed to see everything about the female corp members. I mean everything because of the white short and white top being the accepted uniform which made the military guys call us 'white fowls,' or 'Otondos.'

For description, the three female corpers were fair. To be precise, what the middle lady carried on her chest stood at attention like the trees of Ekpoma, carefully upward to the sky, akin to a full blown moon on a scary night, calling for lusty fingers and that could be a distraction for Messi from scoring a goal in Champions League. From behind, it was a circumference of good flesh, shooting out appropriately to indicate calculated expansion of width and breadth, jerking up and down with adequate and efficient speed as she moved her legs.

Over the days in camp, I saw replicas of such. If you're fortunate on the parade ground during morning exercise, female creatures would be at your front and sideways of left and right. And when the military guys spew out orders like 'Pre shun, attention by number, one leg uppppp,' you would see the movement of different shapes of butt(the small, the medium and the big) on white transparent short at the commandments of raising a leg up and stamping it on the ground to indicate 'attention.' It becomes more clearer when the female corpers were told to run,there and then, the full blown moons on their chests galloped heavily at the speed of light.

It even became more terrific on the competition night of Big, Bold & Beautiful. It was a display of what should have been hidden by a good amount of clothes when these songs 'Wo' by Olamide and 'One Corner' by that Ghanaian artist were played respectively and repeatedly. I saw, I watched and conquered. A woman's body is a bookpage of wonders, the more you see, the clearer your sight and inspirations. If King Solomon had been at the venue that night, he would have yelled what he wrote some thousand years ago into our ears, 'vanity upon vanity, all is vanity.' I would have intelligently advised King Solomon to step back from yelling. You know why? After he had enjoyed one thousand babes, drank exotic wines,lived in opulence; he now concluded that vanity is vanity. What a way to counsel the upcoming generation! If life was truly vanity upon vanity, why then did Christ in John 10:10 tell us that He had come to give us life in abundance, life overflowing? I think King Solomon needs to be excavated from his burial bed and should be told that life is not vanity adding that his own experience about life is vanity. No more, no less. Let me enjoy what I'm seeing in camp and decide if I would write a theological thesis awaiting a title 'Life: a transient home of vanity and the everlasting way forward.'

Seeing the female dance competition that night reminded me of what the richest man from the East who lived in the land of Uz said during his outpour in Job 31:1. The rich Mr Job crooned,"I've made a covenant with my eyes;why then should I look upon a young lady?" Should I now send my eyes to perpetual night because of what my eyes are beholding at the campground? No, not yet.

As the ladies walked up to the kitchen for food, I had the urge to follow one of them. That was when the military guy blew his trumpet, a call for all Otondos to exit their hostel beds for the evening entertainment at the big open space. We stood. Johnson and Adetola quickly rushed back to get their waist bags inside the hostel while Audu and I birded away quickly to get a seat for the four of us.

Before we got there, there were multitudes of corp members seated at the stadium-like built facility waiting for the MC to engineer the awaited night of entertainment. We sat in the 23rd row. The Disc Jockey(DJ),Collins Epetu, peppered our ears with Davido's music before the MC,Mr Sheriff, appeared on the stage wearing dirty jeans, flourishing his hair with brown color and piercing his ears with small rings.

At that time, darkness had soothed the contours of the world.

'Corper wee,'he spat out into the microphone.

'Waaa,' we responded. The atmosphere had been charged with full emotions overflowing.

'Corper wee wee wee.'

'Waa waaa waaa.' We gave back.

As I turned left to pick up my fallen Centre Fresh, I saw one of the ladies who had walked earlier to the kitchen. Our glances collided. She shot me that continuous look. I didn't cave in. It is a cowardly man that shivers at the persistent look of a beautiful lady. She stabbed me with attention. My look upon her was consistent. I've seen a diamond, I'm not going to let go. She got a good tap from a lady beside her. Finally, she looked away. My eyes worshipped her beauty. She, again, threw glances at me repeatedly. She met my sparkling eyes. I smiled. She didn't. Audu called my attention to Adetola who was struggling for a seat. I waved at him to come and manage with us. He nodded.

'I need to get table water at Maami market,'the lady told her friend. I heard her clearly. She stood up and made her way through the crowd. Once again, my eyes caught her behind. I must not let this go. I whispered my mission to Audu, he patted me on the back as a sign of encouragement. Adetola came and occupied my seat. I walked behind the lady. She walked through the direction where the bulbs gave light. I called from behind saying hello. She stuck her feet to the earth. She looked at me, a simple smile painted my face. Through her looks, she knew I was the guy making her uneasy with my looks before she stood up.

I initiated the conversation.

'It wouldn't be bad if a pretty lady is accompanied by a mighty man of valor wherever she goes.'

'Well, if no request is made,I think the mighty man of valor should keep to himself.' That was a good defense from her. She moved, I followed.

'There are days when requests won't be made but help is needed. Such days are called Days of Charity according to Maya Angeolou's in her novel titled 'I Know Why Caged Birds Sing.'

She laughed.

'You must be a graduate of English?'

'Not at all. I studied what makes the world go round and efficiently.'

She was restless by that statement. I saw it from her rolling eyes and bodily reaction.

'And what course is that?'

'Can I get you a drink while we exchange kernels of intimacies?' I tabled a request avoiding the question.

She looked at me again,she couldn't speak. I guess the words she had inside of her must have gotten stuck in the passage of her throat.

'Shall we?' I persisted like the Devil's advocate.

She led the way, I followed.

We got a table for two at Mama Feyibola's food store. The store wasn't too crowded that night as most corpers were at the entertainment venue.

One amazing thing about Mama Feyibola is that she cooks food of most tribes in Nigeria. I drew a seat for her to settle in as a mark of a gentleman. She did sit and I went over to the counter to order what my money could afford. Before we got to the food store, i'd sensed that she's a lady who understood the science of money management in a place far from home. She had told me her favorite food. I waited at the counter and spelt out my demands while stealing glances at her. She was obsessed with her phone. All we bought that night amounted to #1200. Hers was #500 and mine was #700. She drenched me in a pool of appreciation as I landed the tray of food in her presence.

I sat, unbuttoned my waist bag and took the spoon about to eat. She held my hand and gave me a warning glance. What could be wrong? I asked inwardly. She said we haven't blessed the food. I was ashamed of myself. I gave her the onus to sanctify the food. She turned it down and said the responsibility lies on my shoulder because I was the buyer and the male figure.

The few words she had spoken so far that night sank into the depth of my soul. I chose the words constituting my prayers carefully while she cemented it with a soothing adequate shout of amen. She dropped her phone on the table, brought out her handkerchief, and drank from the table water before her. She devoured the food in a righteous and modern manner, throwing plenty of pretense to the wind. With style, she broke the chicken bones making papapapa sound intermittently. I gave her good looks wondering why this lady was real with her eating habit in the presence of a guy she's meeting for the first time. While we ate, we spoke and laughed.

'So Alfred, who are you?' That question made me uncomfortable. I dropped my spoon and drank some satisfying level of water.

'Well, I'm Alfred. I am an Earlyman. I'm a man who came from the past, I live in the present and I'm heading towards the future.'

She exploded in laughter.

'Mr man, please enough of your philosophical evasiveness. Tell me who you are.'

'That's me.'

'That was the way you told me you studied a course that makes the world go round.'

'Okay, I'm Alfred. An accounting graduate. I'm from the Niger Delta, a militant by extension.'

She laughed out loud once again because of the phrase 'militant by extension.

'To be precise, I'm from Ughelli South which is the centre of the world and that's where God lives.'

Pop of laughter once again. The laughter continued for five to eight minutes. While she laughed on, I knew that the lady isn't one of those ladies who tenants in the habitat of pretense and showoff. Her default setting, by my speedy judgement, is: be real with anybody,be it first timers or whoever. This I cherished about her at that instance.

'This Alfred, you're so funny. Enough of your hype jor.'

At that time it was 8pm. She told me who she is. Her upbringing, places of study, etal. Our discussion spans from history about the development of Singapore, United Arab Emirates, the slavery in the middle east of 1934, the Apartheid in South Africa, the sins of British colonial masters on Nigeria, the political gain of Boko-Haram in the Northeast etal.

She was vast, wideread, open minded, challenged my thoughts intelligently as we ran through the history of Singapore. I looked at her in amazement at the intelligent way she disagreed with renowned thinkers on a few subjects. At a point, I asked what she studied.

'I read Chemistry.'

'It's a lie.'

'Why do you say it's a lie?'

'Because you're well grounded in matters of history and economic growth & development.'

'And you also are good in literature & history but you studied what-makes-the-world-go-round.'

I laughed. She looked at her wristwatch. My phone started ringing. I checked the caller. It's Audu. I answered.

After the call, she said.

'Alfred,I'm tired. Let's go.'

I clocked my right into her left. We headed to the hostel while we excavated good thoughts on the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau;his suiting pronouncement on Africa students. We argued and argued as we walked along. We got to the entrance of her hall, Adebimpe Lawrence Hall. I demanded for her number and a hug. She smiled and asked a question of priority.

'I can only give you one of your demands. It's either a hug or my number.'

She said it and stepped back a little. I don't know why she did that. Failure to get her number means I won't see her again because there are thousands of new ladies you see in camp every now and then. A warm hug isn't a bad thing. I looked at her and said both. She smiled, moved closer to me but didn't hug, took my phone and typed her number on my phone. She saved it with her name: Tolani. She gave me back my phone, appreciated me once again for the food and bade me a goodbye. I left. The call came in again. It's Johnson.

'Alfred, how far? Where you dey?'

'Guy, I dey come.' He hung up.
.

I met them at the entrance of the hostel, where we sat earlier. The three were waiting to hear the gospel of gaining the affection of a new girl.

'Alfred,you got the girl? Innit?' George spoke in his flourishing American accent.

'Yeah, partially.'

'How's she?'Audu asked.

'She's brainy and real.'

'So, did you pop the question,'Johnson threw in.

'Not yet,this is my first unprepared date.'

'Alfred,you should have popped the question. We're leaving camp next tomorrow which is Tuesday.' Audu added.

'Yeah, I know.'

'Did you get her number?'

'Yes.'

At that time it was 9:54pm. The camp light would go off by 10pm according to camp rules and regulations.

'Why don't you call her and tell her that the evening with her was an oasis in the desert?' Audu suggested.

'That's gonna be fine,'George crooned.

I brought out my phone, scrolled to her name, dialed and placed the phone to my right ear. The network answered in this manner.

'Please,check the number and dial again.'

I redialled the number and placed it back to my ear, and the network says,'This is a wrong number. Check the number and try again.'

This network must be mad, I thought.

'What's happening?'Audu asked.

'The network is saying it's a wrong number.'

'Did you flash the number when she called it out to you?'


'Hmmm! No I didn't. She collected my phone, typed it and saved the number.'


'Can I have your phone?' Johnson asked. 'Let me try it with mine. Please Audu, help me to call out the number.' I gave the phone to Audu while Johnson brought out his phone from his waist bag.'You can call it out now.'


Audu cleared his throat and began the task of calling out the number 080345324.


'The number is not complete,'Johnson and Audu spoke at the same time. I looked at them, hissed and collected my phone. I did count the number. The numbers were nine instead of eleven. I've been deceived.


I,as a graduate of accounting who should be superb with numbers,have been watered down. My friends laughed at me for my foolishness. I couldn't say a word. The light went off. We went in and climbed into our bunks individually. The laughter continued. Where am I going to search for two numbers to get this lady? How am I going to shuttle two numbers to the other numbers to get it? Should I start adding: 00,01,02,03,04,05,06,07,08,09 or 10,11,13,14 etal? The thought cramped over my soul until I was overtaken by deep sleep.
...

'Alfred,wake up. Let's go and get water.' Audu woke me up at 4:37am. George and Johnson were outside with their buckets waiting for us to join them.


'Alfred, what are you going to do about the lady?'Johnson teased.


'Don't start that this morning,'George barked softly at him. Within me, I've made a decision to search for the lady. The following day was our exit day from camp. I have only today to search for her. We got water,cleaned up and ran to our individual platoons. I did search for the lady endlessly but won with defeat. From Maami market to the entrance of her hall, looking at the faces of female corpers like an examiner, to the entertainment venue to NCCF Chapel. I gave up when it was 9pm in the evening.

On the day of departure, we woke up prepared and wore our Nine Over Nine uniforms. We lined up and sang our anthem for the very last time.

'Youth obey the Clarion call
Let us lift our nation high
Under the sun or in the rain
With dedication and selflessness
Nigeria...'

The last line was waved off as we ran to our platoon officers to collect our posting letters.

George,who had a politician as a father, got a PPA at the governor's office. Johnson,who had a first class, was posted to Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo town. Audu, who had an uncle as a local government chairman, got redeployed to Bauchi State securing a PPA in the local government where his uncle governs. And I, who had been beautifully deceived by a lady and had prayed to be posted to the HQ of Federal Inland Revenue Service,Ibadan got an annoying posting to teach accounting in a secondary school in the suburb of Oyo town. What a way to leave camp! While the four of us gathered for hugs and goodbye,tears scratched my eyes for the amazing twenty one days we'd spent in camp. And that was how I committed a sin of not checking a lady's number for completeness & correctness via dialing it in her presence.

Connect with me on Facebook & IG at T.D. Alfred or ighosotualfred@gmail.com


©✍️✍️✍️T.D.Alfred[September,2021]
Storyteller•Writing Instructor

Re: The Only Sin I Committed In Nysc Camp by shawante(m): 3:05pm On Sep 23
Ajimobi boys that year.. If you didn't camp at iseyin u no go camp be that, best camp in nigeria.

Bro I served at atiba local government.. Stayed at nacc family house at owode danzaria.

My one year at oyo was arguably the best year of my life

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