The shrill whistle resounded with a piercing effect that alerted Adanna. She jumped down from her bed and tried to hurry for the door, only to discover that all her attempts were futile. She kept pushing forward but only made little progress and she could hear the resounding boots of the soldiers.
Panicked, Adanna looked around her and saw other people rushing out. All others except her and she immediately felt hot tears spring to her eyes. For all her struggles, she knew that she was certainly in trouble. Adanna looked up and instead of the female soldiers that normally came to the hostel it was the commandant himself that entered.
He took brisk steps towards her until he was towering over her.
“Tsk tsk tsk… You have been a bad girl haven’t you.” He said and raised his signature walking stick to hit her.
That was when she jolted awake, covered in sweat on her rickety bunk bed. She could hear the loud chatters of other girls in the room, as well as dragging buckets and shouts from The opposite room. Despite all the chaos in the hostel, OBS added to it by broadcasting a talk show.
Adanna rolled over and reached for her phone that was safely tucked underneath her pillow. She turned on the backlight and quickly saw the time displayed- 3:20pm! She groaned and flipped over, staring at the dirty ceiling of the camp hostel, all the while, contemplating what she would do next.
She had missed lunch due to her very needed nap and now it was too late to get anything from the kitchen.
She could hear the faint shrill of the soldiers whistles, followed by the beagul sound.
Adanna knew that she was suppose to be dressing up, but she couldnt get her sore body to move. The morning drills and parades, over the past one week had taken its toll on her.
Her stomach grumbled from hunger and Adanna wondered how she was going to survive the afternoon parade.
She remained in her position, listening to what was broadcasted from OBS and when she could no longer take the annoying giggles of the co presenter, she jumped down from her bunk bed and immediately regretted the move. Her whole body ached.
The whistles got louder and for the sake of avoiding trouble, Adanna hurried with her task of wearing her white on white. By the time the female soldiers had raided the room, she had tied the lace of her NYSC white sneakers and joined the other girls who were running out. Well, she tried to run at least.
Adanna walked alone towards the parade ground, very self conscious of her white shorts that were basically bum-shorts on her. She tugged at the hems, to make them a little longer after every few steps she took, but all attempts failed her.
It was frustrating, but what could she do? She didn’t have the money to purchase new shorts and she had not brought extra white shirts and shorts like every other corper did.
On getting to the parade ground, Adanna identified the one close friend she had made in her platoon, platoon 7 and traisped over to her.
“Where were you? You missed lunch!”
Adanna opened her mouth to reply but was cut short by the platoon inspector’s order, for them to fall into their lines of threes.
It was just as she predicted, a very grueling time under the sun, learning how to match. Their platoon inspector was a funny Hausa man so every one took advantage of his niceness and laughed at his accent. Adanna was in no mood to laugh that day. All she wanted was get out of the sun and find something to eat from the kitchen.
They were learning right and left turn and how to synchronise their response ‘One, two, three… PUNCH!!!’ When a whistle was blown, signifying the general formation. Every platoon fell back into their orginal postion at a semi circle while waiting for the next command.
Immediately she saw the camp commandant approaching, she knew that her already bad day was going to become worse.
“Parade….. stand at ease!” The command was given and everyone struck a pose. Some echoing ‘punch’ as was taught earlier while some didn’t bother with the word. Adanna was among those who didn’t bother.
The camp commandant was a young man that had such an air of authority. He never smiled and never bothered to shout like other soldiers did. He was feared by many and… he was very pleasing to the eye.
He spoke with that ‘I-cannot-shout-tone’
“Corpers…” He called again and by the third time he called, Adanna thought ‘just talk aready joor!’
He raised his index finger and the youth corpers chorused the ‘special’ camp rule un-uniformly which caused a nuisance. Trouble!
He kept a steady gaze on everyone before he turned around and started walking away.
“Down! Down! Everyone get down!” Different soldiers posted around the parade ground started shouting. The sudden instruction caused a small riot, people murmured and dust was raised.
Adanna did not have it in her to sit on the ground so she squatted painfully and waited for the next instruction.
The commandant went on and on with some more instructions and rules, especially as the DG was expected at the camp the next day.
She scribbled lines in the dirt absent mindedly until she heard “white fowl! So you are too big to sit on the dirt abi?”
It took a few seconds before she realised that one skinny soldier with small head like a mosquito had singled her out.
“Oya go and sit down there.” He pointed to were the commandant was sitting on his stick.
Adanna swallowed nervously, she had already attracted the attention of many, if not all.
Should she beg? sit on the dirt? But of what use? She wondered and humbly stood up.
“Over there now!”
She dusted her hands and some corpers shouted “ahhh!” Like she had done something wrong.
“Don’t dust your hands. Just go” Bukky whispered to her.
As she walked to the centre of the assembly nervously, Adanna realised that she had gotten the attention of the commandant too. He watched her with a poker face, his piercing eyes peering at her intensely, as if looking into her soul.
She wanted to adjust her shorts out of habit, but instead she wriggled her fingers and approached the spot beside the commandant, before sitting down.
This time around, she paid attention, Too much attention to the man beside her that she couldn’t focus on his words, as he spoke.
The expensive perfume he had on clouded her senses, not in an over powering way but rather, in a way that made one want to lean in and inhale more. As he adjusted his position on the stick, she noticed the ripples of his muscles from the corner of her eye. He was a man, with a domineering aura, Adanna understood why people feared him. But as she sat near him, she wasn’t frightened, rather she wondered how it will feel to be protected by him.
Her train of thoughts were halted when the commandant dismissed the crowd. Adanna looked around and when she saw that no one noticed her still sitting, She stood up and tried to walk away. It was time to get that dinner she had been salivating for.
She had barely taken four steps, when a soldier stopped her. She looked up at him in confusion and followed his eyes back to the commandant who was now standing and looking at her.
To be continued…