Sorry to buzz in your midweek mail this early. Something came up with your name in it and my keyboard was not lying too far from me, so this happened.
Well, 365 days ago I was set to close 21 days of orientation camp in a cold, rusty village in a border town between Ekiti and Ondo state; two of the most beautiful settings in Southwest Nigeria. Those 21 days weren’t exactly beautiful though; probably hellish best describes it.
There was the cold, the loneliness in a not-my-type-setting, the uncertainty and the growing fear of having to walk out to carve a new road in the woods, all alone and with a drowning out inner voice for a guide.
That was for 20 days, not the 21st day.
What happened on the 21st day?
Well, I set out early to close camp; packed up by 2.30 am, sorted returning of kit/papers by 5, had a light meal at Mama Nonso’s stall in Mammy Market at 6, waited eagerly for ceremonies, picked up a book to pass the time, a few photos and generally just took to observing as much as I could deem worthy of remembering before time ran out.
The ceremonies commenced; fears mounted, the anxiety throbbed and the uncertainty loomed larger than life; the uncertainty became life.
I hurried to get my luggage to NCCF’s premises; I was scared at first but gathered enough courage and calm to go pick up my posting letter.
I waited for my turn. As others received theirs and celebrated, contemplated or reacted as it were, I waited impatiently and nervously, then I received mine.
Yepa! No Ado-Ekiti for me! After paying more than double for all those platoon dues and what not? After seriously attending those chilly morning assemblies and SAED lectures?! What crime did I commit ehn, Mr. Platoon Inspector?! Ah!, I don die!.
Oloketuyi Memorial Grammar School, Igbemo-Ekiti, Irepodun-Ifelodun local government.
Nothing fascinating to say about PPA to say the least. I remembered how I had paid 500 naira for campfire night when others paid 100 naira. Yet, Platoon Inspector could not provide the favour I need for my PPA to be in Ado Ekiti. Life!
I picked up my luggage from NCCF’s, spotted a Toyota Hiace with IREPODUN/IFELODUN local government in blue print.. I Flagged it down, got to the gate and confirmed it was the same L.G.A as mine.
I met with the driver of the bus
Eh Sir, Pleaz, abeg, can’t be lost and find myself in one Babalawo’s calabash for one local chief’s coronation ritualoh. Lai lai, abeg. Just confirm where this bus is headed and I will join in!
Corfar, no wahala, I dey go IREPODUN/IFELODUN local government.I come to carry you all.
He responded in his stuttering English.
I got into the vehicle with Larry (the radio chap I am meeting for the first time) and some other guys.
Backseat had like 2/3 spaces left. Asked driver how much for the fare; he replied 500 and I was good to go. Then the driver had to call more passengers to fill the vacant seats. And then he was speaking in this coarse, high pitch as I remember it.
I turned swiftly round to get an idea of the noise at that decibel.
Then I saw YOU.
Beautiful, light skinned lady with a delightful flowing down hair, looking a bit, I don’t know, maybe sad or forlorn. But it wasn’t a nice look at all and it disarmed me instant. You were trying to make sure you were headed the right destination and getting all assurance possible but the driver probably didn’t think that far and replied coarsely and tersely.
Nah, not good. I had to think of a way to help. Even though I just wanted us to move so everything could be done with.
So I snatched a glance at the call-up letter you were holding and saw Oloketuyi Memorial Grammar School, Igbemo-Ekiti.
I must have said Hi, and told you that we were headed the same location, tried to convince you that you wouldn’t be lost if you were in company.
You agreed then and boarded. You also chose to sit next me; MOGBE OH! I DON DIE!
Razz street rats sits next posh chic from upper class family! YEH! Na who send me message! Allah, Victor you no get sense. Sheybi you for just do like say you no hear at all, make dem sort their wahala demselves.
Yeah, seriously that was and is still me; avoid stress or people whenever and however, your palaver na your own, after all shey you dey buy me bread and beans ni?!
But then I got lost just looking at how pretty you were, and felt whatever would happen, after all once we alight, to your tents oh Israel, no more headache again. Nah, you had other plans apparently. You introduced yourself, I did, we shook hands and Bam, here we go.
You are pretty much one of the liveliest and funniest persons to be with; in one of the most LOL conversations on phone between mother and daughter you proved it!
LMAO! That you are not speaking with Daddy again because he didn’t call to find out how far? LMAO! These rich people’s children, what a culture.
Then you just had to buy rice before we left. What?! Fine gals like you don’t eat; you are not supposed to eat; at least that’s what I believe, you know, fine gals. They don’t eat; just wake up looking fine and bam, dem don belleful.
Then something very unusual came up.
Wallahi, in my entire life, can’t think of more than once or twice of being unsettled speaking to a lady; but it did oh! See flurry for my head! Bia, emotional controls sensors, na which kain malfunction be dis one ! Gini kai ne me, ehn? Abeg, abeg, please. Not today.
Yeah, not today. I’m not regaining myself from that entrancement today. (Biko this is not a love letter, ehen). And even today, when I think of it, remember, reminisce, think of it again, I have not stopped being enthralled. It’s a good thing though; but just makes criteria for future partner just more difficult; yeah, your fault.
And from then, just being with you has just being, wait hold up, I mean speaking and relating, not that emotional junkie stuff abeg, well it has been amazing.
. Like when I first heard you giggle! In the bus! God what an amazing sound! Just leave it there. *Coughs*
. Like when I was at fault, but regardless, you had to stand up to Emeka shouting at us for not waiting when trying to sort out PPA postings. You blew up! But now when I remember, its laughs all through! Amazing!
. Like when I’d catch a glimpse of you not even attempting to hum or lip-sync during prayers in the first week at family house. And you practically forced me into joining NACC! And I was taking it serious! Pagan like me! As in! Which kind person be this wan?!
. Then the real special one; you again forced me into traveling back home early after sorting clearance. But Jesus, NK, it was worth it! You telling me the story of your friend who had to survive odds from family to graduate from, was it UNIBEN or something. You sat next to me, while the bus climbed the hills, I stole a glimpse in the side mirror yes. Leave it at that abeg!
. When you slept for some 15 minutes!! Between watching you sleep and the mountains rising out of the clouds in the horizon, GOD it was pure heavens. Nowhere else I wanted to be then. Nowhere else.
. Like when you should have just said Madam give me the akara, you were undecided, then this lady came to pick up the akara and you were like Ah Ahn! No! I had to laugh; sheybi you been no wan buy before?!
. Like when you call early in the mornings; awesome first time gigs for me. Loved it.
. Like when you actually bought me the Post-it notepads and the marker. Swoosh gifts. Amazing you!
. Like everything since that noon I first saw you and that noon I last saw you when you had to take bike to pick up some clothing or something like that from one tailor in town.
Okay, why go through all this trouble if it’s not a love letter. WELL HELLO, not everyone has this effect on everyone for a first.
Secondly, for some reasons, I just had to remember it’s one year since I left camp to have a very erm, powerful, learning experience of my life, and on that day, you were the only one that matter.
But really; I’ll confess. Its three words.
MARYBELLE OMAR BASSEY.
You knew her, I did. Me more because I was a friend for a while till things changed. And I so badly wanted to say these words to her, because just like you she’s even more amazing. Nobody gives like Marybelle gives; absolutely nobody. And nobody says “NYE!”, “OH MY GOD”, “NA SO”, “SMH 4 YOU”, “Come and buy me Fayrouz”, “Errm Davies, did you?”, “DAVIDUUU!”, “LOL” “Davies, you are so silly”.
But then you know what happened. Why do these things matter to me; I do not know. But I know I missed on a chance with probably the one and only angel I’ll ever come across, and for what I do not know. But I am redeeming myself in bits; by telling people how it’s the little things they do that I pick my joy, happiness, lessons, love, life, passion, reason and will. How their expressions, insults, sayings, eye blinks, smiles, reactions that just makes me amaze at our individual and collective humanity.
A story too long I guess.
I think owe this piece to everyone, but I am writing to you because as I reminisce on it all, a huge portion of the experience started with you; if you hadn’t forced me into joining NACC; pretty much I may have lost out on it all.
Thank you and that Otogboro head very much. I will say my thanks to him later, don’t worry.
Madam, abeg, good night or something.
This is not a love letter oh! Ah! See you!
I already have everything structured out; I get money, I will holiday in the Swiss Alps for a while, I will meet this beautiful local citizen, I will charm her with dreams of Africa, we will marry and give birth to a Katerina Graham or Ashley Madekwe and a Lewis Hamilton or Ben Murray Bruce.
There. You can sha play godmother, but please no kpekere gifts for my mulatto pikin; no, nope, nada.
Have a great week.
And do not call me! Please! Just e-mail if you have to!
By the way if you actually respond, I am using you to test my writing skills for one intern position like that.
Anyhow whey you respond, eez all good, I will sha gauge and improve. Toh!
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