I am a Stranger in my Fatherland (II)

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“Over serious people.”

That is what you will probably call us if I and some other prospective corps members tell you that we got to the NYSC camp a night before the camp was scheduled to be officially open.

However, If I will speak for myself, that assertion is far from the truth. I am the one with the lazybones that cannot “come and kill myself”.

After I did my mind analysis based on people’s recount of their personal experiences here and there, I concluded that getting to the camp early will save me the Open Day stress. More importantly, I will get to have a good and comfortable room.

I’d thought in my mind that “God hath not made me a Fish, howbeit that sons of men shalt melt upon me the sardine treatment” (Lol)

And guess what? We got a good room for myself and four of seven guys from the AKTC bus. By now, you can be sure that the bond between Tope, Rotimi, Adekanmi,  Francis and I was steadily growing stronger.

My Room and its thing for Pure Sachet Water.

My room was a beautiful world of its own. There is Jide, who never made use of his meal ticket throughout our stay in camp; there is Francis, who collected Jide’s portion and his own; there is Rotimi, who is very picky when it comes to food; we have Tope and Adekanmi, who were both indifferent about the foods; there is 

Freaky-Freaky (nickname), who didn’t even have a cooler; there is one called Big-Brother, his 2 in 1 food pack was a big as a medium-size Ludo board; there are also three other guys who kept a low profile and there is me, who will leave the comment box open for my friends to describe me. (Lol).

Altogether, we were about 10 in the room (and I hope I’m right), well aware that there can only be foods from the kitchen, not water.

Tope, Rotimi and I led the way; we bought a bag of pure sachet water after one horrible ‘no-salt” dinner at the mammy market after our arrival at the camp.

Next morning after the parade, nothing was left. We bought the second and the third. And the rapid disappearance that happened to the first one was also the fate of the subsequent ones.

Trying to buy the fourth, a roommate, who was so concerned like I was, that there wasn’t much effort from our colleagues to be part of the ‘Operation Let There Be Water’, advised me not to buy it because the same thing happened to the ones Adekanmi and Jide also bought.

We didn’t really get to solve the problem, and we didn’t really know the verified reasons behind how those sachet water disappeared, except that, I guess we couldn’t communicate effectively with each other because of our background differences. If we had done that, everyone would have contributed the expected quota and I would never have had the cause to go to the next room to beg for a sachet of water on a fateful day, even after buying a bag the day before. 

We survived and at the end of the day, there was nothing left but a lesson.

My fourth lesson: Abundance will soon become nothing if many people keep tapping from it with no support system in place to ensure sustainability. Also, I understood at that point that “a little quota never diminish abundance, so let’s contribute no matter what, lest we risk drought”. 

I Almost Disgraced My School

Speaking of Jide, who never used his meal ticket, I should let you know that our first encounter was on a queue we formed during a pre-registration exercise on our arrival day.

Jide wanted to know my name and without asking, made way to my chest to bring the new I.D cardholder I just bought closer to himself. At the time, my I.D card was not there, so he only saw the little paper card with Chinese signs on it.

I laughed at him and unconsciously blurted out, “I’m from Chinese”. 

When he replied with ” Koh-ba”, I suddenly felt embarrassed as I quickly corrected myself, without spoiling the fun.

But to make things hard for me, Jide jokingly asked me the name of my school, as he said “Boya awon school ta ma fin pa ni Aluta days ni (Maybe, he attends the school we throw jibes at during Aluta days)”. 

I was like, ” No, no, no don’t bring my school into this. I made a mistake. My school tried for me, I am the one who failed them”.

So I didn’t tell him the name of my school, rather, I disappeared. But as fate had it, we had to stay together in the same room, where I later told him I graduated from the “best university in Nigeria— Olabisi Onabanjo University”.

My fifth lesson: I almost became a victim of hasty generalization. It was important that I learn to always be critical of the things I assume. Also, since I already know that perception is stronger than reality, it would be right for me to always get the right perspective before it becomes my reality. It becomes my reality. Surely, my ordeal with Jide was not about me, it’s about the hundreds of OOUites that Jide will meet in the future.

Jide and I became close roomies, even before he started calling me “OBS”.

OBS: The Advice, The Screening, The Lessons.

Just a few days after our swear-in,  I received a call at about 4:00 am. It was from the Orientation Broadcast Service of Akwa-Ibom State. My attention was needed.

This is not the end of the story. To be continued…

 
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