At the 5am parade, before we began marching, we were informed that because Sallah is next week Tuesday (Nov 16th) and we would need good amount of time to go to our places of posting and present ourselves, we would be passing out Friday the 12th instead of the previously stated 15th. Everybody was shouting and jumping excitedly but I found I couldn’t really do so because as glad as I was to be going home, I was equally sad about all these people who I would be separating from after that day and who would be flung all around the place in 2 different states. All thoughts were wiped away from my head though because that day, we had to do our Man-O-War ropes and obstacle course and that had me nervous. Also they told us that the next day would have to be our endurance trek and the day after, our campfire night, so that the important stuff would still get done, before we leave. After the announcement, my platoon marched out to the Man-O-War ropes and we got started after a demonstration from one of the Man-O-War people of course. The ropes are high up and while I have done high ropes before, I have always been harnessed and being belayed by someone. These ones, you are on your own and if you fall, you break something plain and simple (in their defense though, only one person out of the about 2,000 who did it actually fell and it was because she got scared and didn’t follow instructions). I was still excited no matter the nerves though and when it was my turn, I went pretty well through it. I only had issues with one of them, but it was the hardest one, 2 single ropes, one you hold on to, and the other you slide your feet on. It sucked because it felt like it was tickling your feet and that’s not the sensation you want when you are that high in the air. It went well overall. I had to go run 100m for my platoon that afternoon (something I signed up for because nobody else would – sigh for platoon 2 issues again). We got 3rd place overall so not so bad! Rest of the day was chill, with everyone planning for the endurance trek the next day.
Tuesday, we had to be up for breakfast at 4am. That was when I was getting up so I just chewed some bread my aunty had brought the Sunday before. We got to the parade ground at 5am where we were given instructions on how to handle fatigue and also advised that if we felt we wouldn’t make it, we shouldn’t go. I had been given the same advice by my aunty before I left Abuja but even then, I knew I would go on it! I couldn’t miss that experience, even if I ended up passing out midway, at least I would have started. We finally went on our way around 7am and it was honestly a lot of fun. We didn’t know what to expect or how long we would be walking for but we kept each others’ spirits up and just kept moving. The walk wasn’t bad at all. Within an hour, we were seeing the mountain we would climb in our sights. We were all surprised that it had been that fast! (We had been told it was going to be a 3 hour trek to go and another 3 to come back. We would wade through a river that would almost swallow us up and so on). We were at our destination in less than 1.5 hrs. We climbed the mountain quickly only to find a party up top. There were food vendors from our mami market there, music from speakers as well as the NYSC band up there and all the commandants and Man-O-War people ready to take pictures. It was like going to a carnival! We stayed on top of the mountain for about 2 hours just eating, drinking, dancing, taking pictures and generally having fun. Then it was time to get off the mountain. That sucked! You were sliding off the mountain and felt like you would fall and break your neck! Then we took a longer route to return to camp. After all the partying up top, we were exhausted and we were taking a longer route was just punishment. This time, it took us about 2 hours to get back there and the pace I set for myself (ask me who sent me work ooo) caused my thighs to hurt for a week after. By the time we got back to camp, everyone just wanted to sleep. Sadly, some fake coppers were caught! They were 7 women and 2 men in total. It got me thinking, the experience I was thinking was so hard, some people were faking as if they were a part of. I couldn’t imagine what would cause that but I stayed away from them because I felt so bad for them, seeing how people were gawking at them and such. I just spent the day resting after that.
Wednesday was campfire night. There was very light parade practice but while that was going on, the food for campfire night was being divided. The food was not close to being enough for what we would need to feed the platoon or participate in the competition so we had to disperse 3 platoon members to go to the market and get stuff. Everything was bought for us to make jollof rice for the platoon and to make pounded yam and white soup (fantastic Ibo soup, Nsala I think it’s called) for the competition (each platoon had to cook a meal that would be entered in for a competition for best dish – I personally think it was a clever way for the camp officials to get the best food to eat that night, seeing as they were the judges.) The cooking took the whole afternoon from about noon till the deadline at 6pm. After that, we went and washed all the food smells off and changed into relatively nice outfits (still jeans and a nice top). Then we went to the square, where each platoon sat with their members and the campfire started. It was so beautiful with singing and dancing and a humongous fire (that still wasn’t completely dead at 6:00 the next morning.) People got to hang out and basically party for a while. Even after the main event was done and the officials had left, coppers hung out with friends chilling, because everyone was too hyped to go to bed. A few lucky people who had their cars there brought it close to the area and music was blasting so there was dancing and stuff going on too. Finally, around 1am, the soldiers came to kick us all to bed. We reluctantly left and went off to bed. The next morning, we were awoken at 6am instead of the normal 5am (bless them for that extra hour because I definitely needed it). The day was all about parade prep for the passing out parade the next day. We practiced early in the morning, then at 10am again. After that, we were released to go get our khaki and vested shirts washed and ironed for the next day. Also we were instructed to go collect our final allowance (N9775 per month – we got the first of it right there on camp) before we left the next day. That day, being the last day, was just used to hang out and bond before we left. The night was even more of that, with everyone in the club drinking, dancing n celebrating all over. There was no lights out that night and friends and couples everywhere were sharing last momentsJ.
Next morning, my bunkmate woke me up at 3am to get ready because we had to go return our mattresses to the warehouse before we could be cleared to leave. I hadn’t finished packing even by then so I had to also finish that. We finally got the mattresses to them around like 5am and I was just still so tired I wanted to sleep but nothing to sleep on. So I went and sat in front of the clinic (only place with any available chairs at this point) till about 8:30am when I finally felt hungry and went to mami for breakfast for the last timeL. After this, I took a walk through the camp and couldn’t help but smile at how empty it was looking with everything packed up, so different from that first day! We finally went for parade around 9am and it went well. After the parade, as we were getting ready to go collect our posting letters, we were told that FCT students had to go to the camp in kubwa (Abuja) to go get our posting letters. This messed everyone’s plans up and got us all running around trying to plan how to get there. We were all upset at not having been informed of this beforehand so we could have planned accordingly. But in the midst of all that, I started searching for my KD friends to see where they had been posted to. There were the good – people posted exactly where they wanted, the bad – people posted where they didn’t want, but still in a good location or not far from town, and the downright messed up – people posted hours away from everything, in villages deep, where no English was spoken, and all of them had no choice but to get going. That gave me pause to think about these people. They were about to go to places unknown, where they knew nobody and didn’t know what to expect there and they didn’t exactly have a choice about it. That was real uprooting. It gave me cause to seriously thank God that at least I was going back to my uncle’s house to rest before I even had to do anything else. Right at that moment too, I started saying a little prayer for each of them, that they find their places favorable and God-prepared just for them. After saying bye to my KD friends and watching them board buses to their respective work sites or local governments, I finally decided to figure out how I was getting to Abuja that day (I wasn’t supposed to go back to Abuja till the week after, wanted to spend Sallah in KD with family friends). I had figured I would go to the friend’s house, take a long shower, eat, and use a proper bathroom and go to sleep for a long time. Now my plans had been messed up and I wasn’t happy. I finally found a friend to ride with and we went to Kubwa, where we spent another 2 hours trying to get our posting and our CD days and sites (community development, you have to do it once a week). We finally left Kubwa and I caught a cab home. Getting home, I went straight to the shower (really did take an hour shower, scrubbing as hard as I could), finished that, and ate a light dinner and immediately got into bed. I went to sleep at 8pm and didn’t wake up until 10am the next day. I was just so glad to be home and done with the stress. I should have known better, that more stress was to come. I was after all dealing with NYSC and I am stuck with them for the next year.
Where am I posted to? What more stress could there be huh? Well…
To be continued…