Charles waited in line until he stood in front of the NYSC official checking certificates.
He was sweating profusely and it wasn’t just because of the temperate nature of the area. He was a natural “sweater”
“Are you sure you are the owner of this certificate?” she asked in the most sickening manner.
Otondo Episode 4 – The Parade
She wore a pair of glasses that sat lethargically on her nose with a frown that said, “I hate my job”
Ideally, her question didn’t deserve an answer but Charles knew better that to wake a sleeping dog.
She looked at him as though she was some kind of human lie detector then stamped his clearance. He walked away but could still feel her gaze crawling all over his body. He completed his registration without a hitch and went on to pick his kit.
1 Jungle boot, 2 white socks, 1 seven over seven and 1 salala.
After confirming his kit, he walked casually towards the hostel.
“OTONDO! Why are you wearing mufti?”
Questioned a voice from behind
Charles had no idea who the stern looking man was, but judging from the military uniform he was wearing and the apparent boldness with which he asked the question, Charles projected that it was okay to ‘fear’ the officer.
“I just completed my registration and have just collected my kit” he replied
“Oya, go and change your clothes, run to the parade ground”
Charles increased his pace towards the hostel, after he was allocated a bed he changed into his salala and raced towards the parade ground.
On the parade ground, the corps members were asked to fall into platoons according to the last digit of their registration number. Charles fell into platoon one, there were ten platoons in all. The camp commandant introduced himself as well as the other NYSC officials. Charles listened disinterestedly as they read out the camp rules.
“Parade is compulsory, light out is compulsory, you must always be dressed in your Salala at all times. No fighting, you are not allowed to leave the camp …”
They read out all the rules and outlined the program of events throughout the orientation camp. All he could think about was how to satisfy the rumble in his tummy.
You Are Reading: Otondo Episode 4 – The Parade
Paraded ended and the corpers returned to their hostels, some in twos others in larger groups. Charles was alone, he had decided that he was going to keep to himself throughout his stay on the orientation camp. Someone was working on his redeployment to Lagos and so he didn’t see the need to fraternize.
That night, refusing to eat NYSC food in the kitchen, he had dinner in the mami market surrounded by guys that looked like they were professional drinkers and girls that looked like they were experiencing freedom for the first time. He picked himself up and made his way back to his hostel and for the first time, he felt alone. His mind went back to the damsel that smiled at him during his registration and how he missed the opportunity to get her name and number. For some reason, every girl he saw seemed to remind him of her. Her smile, her dimple, the beautiful gap between her teeth, her nose. He was beginning to develop feelings for the beautiful stranger.
He looked in the direction of a cashew tree a far off. There was something moving or was it someone. He took his mind off the beautiful stranger and tried to make out the figure that was moving beside the tree. He made out a shape, two shapes. It looked like a male and a female.
“In a dark, secluded place?” he thought to himself
His thought was interrupted by the sound of whistles.
The sound echoed from different directions.
At first, he didn’t understand what it meant but when he saw people running towards the hostel, he understood it was time for lights out.
He saw the two shapes struggle to put on their clothes and he understood what was happening under the cashew tree.
“Soldiers are coming” yelled one of the corps members
Charles increased his pace in the direction of the hostel.
Intrigued by what he had seen, he flirted with the idea of scoring a few goals of his own.
Soldier came into the hostel and switched off the light, then the snoring began.
He closed his eyes until sleep came.
…. To be continued