I am most grateful that I overcame what would have driven me insane...
Hey! I’m very excited to share this story with you. My November, 2020 was the only of its kind. Let’s see what happened…
I was just recovering from the distress of the previous month. I declared my November to be joyful, so I was often heard saying or writing ‘I choose joy’.
Just few days into the month, I went under the weather. I got some drugs but even after taking them, I didn’t feel fully recovered, so I went for a blood test. I had to treat malaria and typhoid; this time, with more potent drugs and injections.
Then the news came. People were getting deployed for NYSC camp. I was sleeping one night, when my friend Kauna called to tell me that she had been posted to Borno state. I immediately sent Rapture’s details and mine to her, to check. She called back to say Rapture (our friend) had been posted to Enugu, but that I had not been posted yet. I can’t recall exactly how I felt, but I was really hopeful that I’d go to camp that month.
The next morning, Kauna called to say I had been posted to the state of my dreams – the goodo Oyo state. I was still on treatment, and I had to plan my journey ASAP. The aunty Esther in me checked the Google map to know how long it will take to travel from Zaria to Oyo state, Iseyin to be precise. It was going to be a 15-hour journey; memories of the motion sickness I once had in a two-day trip to Ghana flashed through my mind. I then decided to break the journey, besides, I didn’t want to be sick in camp. After many deliberations, phone calls, map checkings, and all, I decided to go from Zaria to Kogi, then to Ile-Ife, and then to Iseyin.
My mum and sisters helped me arrange my luggage. I was going to travel with my camp stuff, and some kitchen items to be used later during the service year.
My journey began on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. Dilara and I occupied the front seat of the car. It was our first time together, but we became good company. We took selfies and exchanged contacts on the go. I got to Kogi in the evening and Temi was such a good host. After dinner, she took me to a nurse who administered injections to me (remember I was on treatment).
I continued my journey to Ile-Ife the next day where I was hosted by Uncle Seun and Aunty Biola. I left my kitchen items there and continued my journey the next morning.
On that Friday morning, I set out for Ibadan from Ife. I alighted at Iwo road where I was swindled! I paid ₦800 on bike from Iwo road to Ojoo- something of ₦100! I now know better anyways.
I boarded a car to Iseyin with Daniel (who was later posted to the same school with me), and while we waited for the car to get full, I got my first Yoruba name from a provision vendor who really wanted me to buy her goods. She called me Arike. It was a bumpy ride to Iseyin, but we arrived safely.
I took the so-hyped covid test and did most of my registration that day. It was in the process of all these that I met Omotayo, who later became my roommate.
I escaped training the first day because I had not gotten my whites, so I moved around in my mofty. I was given a room where I met Toyosi, Hassana, Zinny, Jumoke, Peace, Timi and Tayo.
We were sworn-in the following Monday, and camp activities became even more serious. Lectures, SAED, meals, drills, Man O War, parade…
In the voice of my state coordinator, it was highly regimented.
Joining financial inclusion CDS group was another highlight for me. In one of the group discussions we were having, I heard a girl speak so intelligently that I resolved in my mind to be friends with her. We were both elected as leaders, and up until camp closed, you would see us together almost all the time. You perhaps guessed right! Her name is Mercy; she remains a dear friend to me till date.
In the third week of camp, we began preparation for inter-platoon parade competition. Somehow, my platoon members insisted that I be made platoon parade commander because I was conversant with the drills from my Girls Brigade training.
Rehearsals continued in earnest until 27th November, the D-Day. The competition was going to be in the evening so we rehearsed in the morning. I met the soldiers assigned to my platoon and practiced my commands, so I could continue rehearsing in the hostel. I didn’t want to let my platoon down; at least they believed in me, so I was bent on giving my best.
We had SAED training in the afternoon and just after we closed for lunch and siesta break, I decided to attend to the messages on my green app.
Hmmmmmm… I can feel my heart beat faster as I write this part of the story. For some reasons, I decided to view people’s WhatsApp status on the go. I couldn’t comprehend the panic I was seeing from my Zaria people. I immediately called my go-to friend, Dorcas for gist.
“Babe what’s going on? What’s happening in Zaria?” I queried.
To cut it short, she broke the news of MD’s death to me. MD was the music director of Koinonia Network International. He was a very dear mentor and friend to me. I was on a tarred road when she told me, and I can remember coming to a halt, standing still for some minutes. I did a few runnings for my CDS group, then headed to the hostel. I couldn’t cry- I was too pained and shocked to do so.
Time, they say waits for no one. Time didn’t wait for me to pull myself together. The bugle sounded. It was time for the competition, and it was too late to find a substitute, so I had to do my parade commander job.
I was void of life and enthusiasm on that parade ground. I forgot some of my well rehearsed commands, and mixed up some. I just want everything to end so I could go to the hostel and cry, but Mr. Time seemed to be taking his time. I knew my platoon could no longer win, and that broke me even the more. I cried into the facemask I was wearing.
The competition came to an end; afterall, nothing lasts forever they say. The winner was announced and my platoon came first from the rare.
Suddenly, I began to gasp for breath, then went down to the ground. I was taken to the camp clinic and allowed to rest. My camp friends and platoon leaders came around; Mercy, Adejumoke, Deekay, Oyin, Chioma… I felt better seeing them.
The next day, the last Saturday in camp, was carnival. I think I enjoyed myself. I took a lot of pictures and tried to have fun. The day before we left camp, the NCCF choir of which I was a part, had a get together. I seized the opportunity to tell my Melanie- Olamide that I liked her. I didn’t want to risk not telling her, especially because I wasn’t sure if I’d see her again.
We received our posting letters the next day, and I was posted to a local government entirely different from what I wanted. I hoped to be posted to the same place with Mercy, but it didn’t happen.
Last year’s November, I experienced some of the strongest emotions I’ve ever felt: joy unspeakable, deep pain which felt like a hole in my heart, peace…
I am most grateful that I overcame what would have driven me insane. With my many questions about MD’s demise, I didn’t lose my faith in God. I’m grateful for the safety God granted me in all the journeys I made, and I’m grateful for complete healing- I never treated Malaria or typhoid after that time, till date. He exempted me from the popular belief that people with genotype AA are more susceptible to malaria. I’m grateful that I was being posted to the state where I truly wanted to serve- I wanted Oyo State so badly, I would have influenced my posting if I had my way. However, The Great Influencer did for me and He did it for free!
I am also grateful for the lovely people I met in camp. God keeps making my path cross with angels in human skin!
Do you know that the devil actively tried to kill me the following month? I’ll tell you about it in the story tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I’m open to whatever question you may want to ask me.
Thank you for reading to this point. Please find below, a video containing the whole story in pictures