Chronicles Of A Wayward Lagos Corper – Searching for “The one” [Episode 26]
Story by WayWardPikin
I looked left and right, and then pointed at myself.
‘Yes, you!! It’s like you have gone mad abi? Is that how I taught you to march?’
I looked at our new platoon commander with a clueless expression on my face. For a second my mind had drifted off to God knows where. Our platoon commander had been changed from the huge, black and scary goliath to this shorter mass of flesh with a protuding belly. He was just as mean, maybe even more so than the former. And as far as I was concerned he was taking this whole drill thing way too personally.
‘I’ve been watching you. Others will be standing at attention you will stand at ease. They will stand at ease you will stand at attention. How many times do I need to teach you people this thing? Are you insane? Come on go to the back and join the others, you miserable waste of space!’ he yelled at me.
Ignoring the eyes on me, I left those marching and went to the back of the parade ground to join the others who were ‘unfit’ to march properly and represent our platoon in the parade contest. Needless to say, I was very happy.
Who get that smelling time to go dey march upandan for inside hot sun? How much food I dey chop?
The sun shone lazily as it readied itself for dusk. At this stage in the NYSC programme, complaints had reduced drastically as most corpers had properly adjusted to life in camp and knew how to boycott activities they didn’t really want to participate in – for the most part. I spotted Sarah talking with another lady, so comfortable among the disqualified from our platoon. I approached her with a smile on my face.
‘I should have known you would be here. Where else would you be?’
‘Go away jare,’ she said laughing.
‘First you’ve been skipping morning drills and now you don’t know how to march abi? You’ll just be teaching me bad things. You’re a bad influence.’
‘I don’t know how to march jo. Who marching epp?’ She countered.
‘You this girl… you no just like stress for your life at all.’
‘Before nko? You that you’re talking, aren’t you supposed to be marching? You were marching rubbish right?’ she said as I burst out laughing. And then she stopped laughing.
‘I’m not even supposed to be laughing with you,’ she said, putting on a pouty face and crossing her arms.
‘Why na? What I do?’
‘I called you twice last night and you didn’t pick, you couldn’t call and worst of all you stood me up!’
‘I’m really sorry. It’s not like that,’ I said.
‘It’s not like what? Okay what happened?’ she asked.
Hmm… what happened? Okay I met this super sexy chick that discombobulated my brain circuitry such that I refused picking her calls and I decided not to see her.
‘I wasn’t feeling too fine. So I was actually asleep the whole time yesterday night. I didn’t mean to miss your calls or stand you up. You know I would never do something like that. Abi I dey crase ni?’ I explained.
‘Well, it’s cool sha. How are you feeling now?’
‘A bit better thank you,’ I said, wincing in pain for dramatic effect. ‘I’ll be fine. Hope you were not too bored last night?’
‘Not really. At least I had my friend to keep me company,’ she said as she introduced me to the lady standing next to her. She was a married young woman named Ngozi, who spoke with a heavy igbo accent and acted like we were still living in the 90s. I noticed the wedding ring on her finger as we shook hands. We all went to sit under the canopy, watching the serious corpers marching while we gisted and passed the time. By 6PM the flag was lowered and the bugle was blown, signifying the end of afternoon/evening drill. I noticed that it was a different person blowing the bugle now, and I wondered if whatever was wrong with the former guy was actually that serious. As the crowd at the parade ground began to disperse, I sat under the canopy with Sarah, wondering how the rest of the day was going to be. The married lady had left.
‘So what do you usually do at a time like this?’ I asked her.
She shrugged. ‘I don’t know. Go to the hostel. Sleep.’
‘I was hoping we could go somewhere and chill. You know…’ I subtly hinted.
‘Well I know a place where they sell good chilled palm wine. We could go there.’
As a Wayward Pikin, I already knew the place she was talking about so we went there to bask in each other’s company, laughing over kegs of fresh palm wine. As we spoke, something strange was happening to me. I was catching feelings! It was darker by this time and Mami market was brightly illuminated. The bright lights caught her face at just the right angle, making her look even more beautiful and exotic than usual. I couldn’t stop looking into her cat eyes. Looking into them was like looking into a beautiful, bottomless ocean – an ocean of secrets, hidden dreams and passion. I couldn’t draw my gaze away from hers. And she wouldn’t stop staring either, her feline eyes poring into my soul, looking for answers and heavy with questions that her mouth was not asking. On the surface we were just talking and getting to know each other, but on a deeper level something else was going on – or at least that’s what I thought and my thoughts have sometimes turned out to be wrong. At my core I’m just a guy who loves to romanticize things, so I’m usually very careful not to act on my thoughts.
Soon afterwards we were both feeling hungry so we went to Akwa Ibom Connection to enjoy some Calabar delicacies. While there my phone started ringing – it was Hajia. I picked up.
‘Hey sweetie,’ Hajia said.
‘Sexy Hajia… how market na?’
‘Market is not good o… Market is not happy!’ She said.
‘Don’t ask me what happened. Where are you? I want to see you,’ she demanded.
‘Umm…’ I stuttered, looking at Sarah. ‘I’m at Akwa Ibom Connection. I’m eating.’
‘Okay I know there. I’m coming,’ she said.
‘But -‘ I was saying. Unfortunately she had already hung up.
Hajia was on her way!
To be continued soon