Camp was fun. Name all the activities, I was there. I was my platoon’s commander during parades. I excelled in all the Man ‘O’ War activities… in reverse. I broke almost all the bones in my body. I contested for Miss NYSC in the State but I didn’t win. The judges were biased. I grooved the mami like kilode. I even had a Corper boyfriend who I loved so much because of his generous pockets. I had hoped that he would use his connections and help me get posted to one of best towns in the State. For where? It didn’t work. The useless guy didn’t come through for me. After all my love for him.
I was posted to the only community secondary school in Amakpuma. The name will tell you the type of place it really was – archaic, backward, disgusting village I had ever seen. A bus was sent to convey all the corpers that were posted to the village. Our faces were like soured egusi soup, like we were being taken to the Sambisa forest. Even the over-tired village sign post that read, “WELCOME TO AMAKPUMA AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY” with A and M missing in Amakpuma and Community respectively, fell off as our bus passed by.
The bus finally stopped in front of a house. Flies were hovering over our open mouths as we stared at the building. You really don’t want to live there. It was an old modernly built mud house with shabby wooden windows and over rusted roof. Donald Trump should have taken an architectural sample model that says, “how not to live in a shit hole”.
Two older Corpers, David and Bunmi came out to greet us.
“Hello Ajuwayas, welcome to your new home,” David beamed.
New home? So this is where I, Itohan aka I.T, will spend the next eleven months? God forbid, I thought. Not for the first time, I began to think of a fatal disease I could claim that would accelerate my redeployment. Na who wan stay for this kin’ yeye place?
The greater shock came when we entered inside. If we thought the outside was bad, the inside was an eyesore. Cracked walls, cracked floor, no furniture, very dark and hot as the desert. It was then I decided that I had Ebola. Anything to be redeployed. Who NYSC epp? Dami, one of the new Corpers and an Ajebota burst into tears.
“Come on, it’s not as bad as it looks,” David reassured us.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked, scandalized. “Is this where we are going to live?”
All the new Corpers including myself gasped in shock.
“No way. I am not going to spend another night in this dump. First thing when I meet the Principal, I’m going to ask for a better accommodation,” I said emphatically.
Bunmi merely looked at me. “My sister, this is the better accommodation. The other one has no roof.”
Debbie, a perpetually cheerful new Corper I got to know as a jack of all trades, chipped in, “No problem. We can contribute money and fix this place. I’m an interior decorator”.
“Really?” I turned to her, coldly. “You want me to spend my small allowee and expensive nails fixing this place?”
“I fix nails too. Manicure and Pedicure.”
“Anyway,” David said, “food will be served soon. After tomorrow, you all will start contributing money for the welfare of this house. The guys will fetch water. Luckily for us, a Corper who finished last year dug a borehole for the school.”
“Ladies will do the cooking. And everybody participates in the sanitation,” Bunmi said.
David continued, “the toilet is at the back. Make sure you go there with a flashlight. We killed a large snake there last week.”
Dami started crying again. The rest of us didn’t know whether to join her or faint. As for me, my spirit had already vamoosed back to my father’s house.
“But there’s an alternative,” David reassured, “this is a village. So there’s plenty bush and farms that need manure.”
“Are you saying we should avoid snakebite by running into the bush to shit?” I asked like his head is not correct.
David shrugged nonchalantly. “At least in the bush, there’s a lot of space and fresh breeze while shit to your heart’s content.”
“There’s no network. I want to call my Bae,” Dami sniffed, holding her phone.
Bunmi pointed outside. “You see that tree over there? That’s the only place in the entire village where you can find network. Go there and call your Bae.”
“And if you want to browse the internet,” David continued, “you will have to go to the next town.”
“So no Facebook, no Whatsapp, no Instagram, no Snapchat or Twitter?” Debbie asked.
“Thank God we’re passing out in two months,” Bunmi said in relief.
“Yes o,” David agreed, the relief evident in his voice. He smiled at us.
“Make yourselves comfortable. We wish you a happy stay as you serve your fatherland.”
And that was how my first day as a Corper in the Godforsaken village of Amakpuma went.