Captain Jude was sitting at a corner in the NYSC clinic at 11:30 pm.
The camp was eerily quiet, as it was past lights-out and every corper was in there respective hostels. Except for a few pharmacist and doctors on call.
Captain Jude felt anxious as he sat there watching Adanna’s sleeping form on the bed. It was very unusual that the camp commandant will attend to a corper. People will talk! He knew that, but at the moment he didn’t care.
She had been sleeping for hours since she passed out and she had shown no sign of waking up. Left to him he would have taken her out of camp to a proper hosiptal. Or should he? He looked over at the carbinet of drugs in the room. Barely stocked with drugs… how was that little cabinet of drugs suppose to sustain all the corpers in the camp?
He stretched out his legs in the cramped space and looked at Adanna again.
Why did he hold her ID card/tag ? He had noticed how tired she looked but he wasn’t about to let her go. He had dragged her around camp while keeping a subtle eye on her. He was looking for another offense, something to make her come back to him. And then all of a sudden, she was not following again. Captain Jude had turned around to face her and immediately noticed how disoriented she looked before she fell to the ground badly.
The corpers closer to her had rushed to carry her and for a few seconds he found out he was frozen.
What if she died as a result of stress? What would he say? What report would he have given?
Despite how he wanted to follow her to the clinic immediately, captain Jude decided to go for a routine check around the camp. He stayed clear of the clinic till after lights out, when some how his legs carried him to the clinic.
The doctors on duty were shocked to see him but he was the commandant. They couldn’t question him.
He stiffled a yawn, blinked several times to clear his sight and checked the time again. 11:50pm! He should have left the camp by now if not for this… he looked at her and how sweet and innocent she looked while sleeping… this girl he didnt even know her name. Well, he could stay till 12mid night before leaving. He thought to himself.
As he contemplated, Adanna stirred in her sleep and soon enough her eyes fluttered open. The room was dark and a fan was turning above, she immediately noticed She was not on a bunk bed, Infact the bed she was lying on was very comfortable unlike her matress in the hostel that was so flat, it could fold like a piece of wrapper.
Where was she ? She wasn’t in the hostel. How did she get here?
Adanna immediately sat up and peered into the darkness as she allowed her eyes adjust.
“Hey!” Captain Jude was on his feet now and took careful steps towards her. He touched her arm gently and felt her stiffen.
“Who are you?”
He ignored her question and reached for a bottle of water beside the bed and handed it over to her.
“It’s water drink.”
She collected the bottle water and drank sparingly, realizing that she was so thirsty.
Once she finished drinking, she handed the bottle back to him cautiously. Her eyes had adjusted to the dark room and she could unmistakably make out the figure of the captain.
He smiled at her, as kept the bottle back on the table and remained standing beside her bed.
“Why are you here?” She blurted. “I am sorry, why are you here sir.” She said softly.
Captain Jude observed her without answering. There was something about this girl that just drew him in. He didn’t understand why he wanted to know her. Why he was even here with her. Maybe because he was guilty she fainted. Yes! it had to be the guilt.
“I wanted to know how you are doing?”
“Me?” Adanna laughed hard and adjusted to a sitting position with her legs stretched out in front of her.
“I am here aren’t I?
Her laugh turned to a frown Why was her commandant here with her at this time of The night?
Why did he care? “Why me?”
“What is your name?” He ignored her.
“Adanna sir. ”
“Ada-nna” he pronounced her name carefully and liked the way it rolled of his tongue. He sat down on the side of her bed and rested an elbow on one of his knees.
“What did you study in the university?”
“Computer science sir…”
“Hmmm! Impressive.” He sounded surprised.
“Don’t I look intelligent enough?”
He knew she was teasing so went along with it.
“Wow! It’s because I am not using glasses right?” She shook her head and he laughed.
Silence decended upon them like a thick blanket. Adanna fiddled with her fingers nervously wondering what else to say.
“Why did you become a soldier sir ?” She broke the silence and wondered why she asked that question over so many questions she could have asked.
His reply didn’t come immediately and Adanna almost gave up hope that he will answer. “Call me Jude. And I never wanted to become a soldier.” He stood up from the bed and went back to the chair.
“Okay?” She tried to make his face in the dark “Why did you?”
“My dad… He is a General. And he wanted his only son to follow in his footstep.” He paused and looked at the ceiling for a while.
“I studied mechanical engineering in the UK both bachelor’s and masters. Came back to Nigeria, went for a 6months short service and became a lieutenant. Now….I’m a captain” he said the captain part with a sigh.
“You don’t sound thrilled about it. Why?”
‘Its necceasary for my political career.”
“Do you know why you fainted?” He ignored her question and instead asked her one of his own.
“I am not sure.”
“When last did you eat?”
Adanna swallowed nervously.
“When last did you go to Mami market to eat a good meal?”
Adanna guarded herself. Where exactly was he going with this?
Jude watched her, saw how guarded she was and it all began to make sense. He shifted on the chair till he was at the edge of the seat. “Do you have money?”
“Why are you asking me such questions?”
“I want to know.”
Adanna looked away. His questions only reminded her about the situation of her family. The same issue she just wanted to forget about.
“Adanna…” He called her name in a whisper that sent goosebumps up her skin.
“I am tired. Thank you for staying with me sir.”
He did not want to go. Jude had just discovered that in the name of having fun at his boring job, he had messed up with Someone’s life and he did not like the feeling. He never wanted to hurt anyone. Discipline he could do, he had a military father after all, but to the point of messing with Someone’s health? He had gone too far.
He wanted to help. Make it up maybe, but Adanna had shut him down. He had pushed too far.
He stood up and throwing one last look at her, he walked out of the door Into the cool air of the night.
It was 1am in the morning and he discovered he had spent more time than he had anticipated. It was too late for him to leave the camp, so as he walked towards his camp apartment, he questioned himself about his actions. He was crossing a line, one that would be difficult to go back on. He was having feeling towards Adanna he couldn’t explaning. A feeling of care and a desire to protect her.
But he couldn’t do anything without drawing attention to himself. Attention he didnt want.
As he entered into his house. He made up his mind to stay clear of Adanna and let the girl be. He had messed with her enough.
It was time to let her go.
To be continued…