The call: chapter 9

cover the call

It was the only place that came alive at night. Mami market!
The smoke from the suya place filled the air along with the delicious aroma of roasted meat and pepper.

Her stomach grumbled in response as she diverted her route from Nigerian’s breweries to the hausa man roasting the meat.
She didn’t have much on her, just her bicycle and transportation allowance she had collected earlier. But it was enough for her to splurge a little on herself.

“How much is a stick of suya?”

“Two hundred naira.”

“200?”

“Wallah!” the Hausa man said “but e sweet well well. Gashi…” He cut a piece of meat and dipped in pepper before handing it over to her. Adanna collected it and put it into her mouth, relishing the juicey flavor of the meat.

It was good! “Give me one stick.”

“Just one? Haba madam!”

Adanna smiled. She wished she could have more, but It wasn’t expedient.  “Yes!” her phone vibrated and she pulled it out to to check her message from Bukky. Bukky had insisted she came out to hang with her and some friends. She wasn’t looking forward to it but it was better than being cooped up in the hostel.

The seller handed her a pack of suya, rolled in news paper with two toothpick stuck on it. She received it and immediately noticed that it was heavy.

“Mallam, how many sticks are these?”

“pive sticks.”

Her eyes popped “I said two.” She tried to give it back but the Mallam refused to collect it back. “take.” She gave him her 200 naira note with the packed suya. “I want just one stick. You made a mistake.”

“No mistake, dey don fay por you.”

“Who did?” she questioned and looked round about her, but saw no one.

“Who?” she asked again but the man just ignored her and continued with another buyer. She wondered who paid for her. It was so weird because this was not the first time someone had paid for her food or drink. Since her admission 4 days ago, when she got a big breakfast, she had been getting free meals. She wondered who it was. As she headed over to Nigerian breweries, where a show was going on, she saw a group of soldiers seated and she found herself scanning for the captain.

That was another weird thing. Since that night they talked in the clinic she had not seen Captain Jude. She found herself often, searching for him at the parade ground, at SAED and public lectures but he wasn’t there. It was as if he just vanished. She worried she caused it somehow, but how? Was it because she didn’t answer his bombarding questions about her financial status. Was it because of the question she asked him about his career? Why was he in the clinic with her that night? Nothing made sense to her again, not even the fact that he was on her thought everyday all day or the fact that she wanted to see him again and talk to him again.

“Hey Bukky.”Adanna tapped her friend and sat down beside her. The table was filled with guys who were drinking and two if them were smoking. As soon as she looked across the table, one of them winked at her and Adanna quickly looked away.

“Bukky who is your beautiful friend? Introduce her to us now.” One of the smoker said and tapped some ash on the ash tray.

Bukky smile enthusiastically “This is Adanna my very good friend. She is very chilled so you guys should be nice.”

“Do you drink?”

Adanna shook her head and the guy looked shocked “are you a virgin or what?” He teased.
She looked away uncomfortably. Coming out seemed like a bad idea already.

“Bukky, I want to charge my phone; I will be back.” Adanna left her pack of suya with her friend and stood up to go to the charging spot. She walked past a lot of people, some laughing, talking loudly and others singing along to the song- ‘Mad over you by run town’ that was playing loudly.

She went to her favorite charging spot and plugged her phone but spent a little more time chatting with the guy, so that she wouldn’t have to go back to meet Bukky.  After a few minutes, she bidded the guy goodbye and started for Nigerian breweries slowly.

From the corner of her eyes, Adanna saw Gerald walking with some guys so she hurried up towards the clinic.

“Hey Gerald!”

He stopped and turned around to face her “Hi Adanna how are you feeling?”

“Much much better. No dizzy spells, I am doing great.”

“That’s good to know.” She started walking slowly with him towards the clinic. “Where you at the parade today?”

“Yes I was.” Adanna nodded and kept with his pace.

“So did you hear the announcement at the platoon meeting that held after the parade?”

“The one about the cultural dance competition? Yeah I heard.”

“So did you put your name down?”

“Why would I?” she laughed.

“Because you can dance.”

“Where did you get such information from ?”

”Bukky!”

Adanna rolled her eyes. That girl!! “Yeah I can,  but I am not ready to put myself out there.”

“Are you shy?”

Adanna laughed “Nope!”

“Then? Atleast do it for the platoon and have fun at it.”

“Well…” Adanna contemplated.

“Please….?”

“I will think about it!”

“Great! I will tell Harry to write your name down.”

“Anyway” Adanna said, as they arrived at the clinic. “Thank you so much for the other day. And for the food. You really didn’t have to but thank you so much.”

Gerald Laughed “Would you please stop thanking me, I only brought the food, I wasn’t the one that bought it.”

“Really? Who did then?”

“You don’t know?”

Adanna’s face was serious now. “No I have no idea. I thought it was you.”

“No. it was the captain.”

Adanna was stunned. Her heart stopped beating for a while and then it resumed beating faster than ever. Was he the one secretly paying for all her meals? “Ow okay. Thank you all the same Gerald.”

“Thank you too and don’t forget the dance.”

“Okay.” She turned around and started her journey back to Mami market all alone. The area leading to it was dark, so she increased her pace.
As she walked back alone, she pondered on why the captain had bought her breakfast.
The more she thought about it, the more confused she became. Her train of thoughts halted as she heard faint steps behind her.

“Who is there?” Adanna peered into the darkness around her but got no response. She turned around and bumped into someone. Adanna jumped back from the shock and maintained her distance cautiously.

“Adanna…” he called her name and there was no mistaking who it was.

“Good evening sir.”

He stepped closer to her until she could make out his face “Jude is my name Adanna.”

She swallowed nervously, not knowing what to say to him now that he was so close to her. So close to smell the seductiveness of his cologne.

“Don’t tell me you are tongue tied today.”

“No! It’s just.. it’s just that…”

He chuckled lightly and Adanna loved the sound of his husky voice.

“How are you feeling today?”

“Very well. Thank you and thank you for the breakfast. Gerald told me. You shouldnt have. I really appreciate…”

“You don’t come out at night. Why tonight ?” He cut her off. He was fond of doing that she noticed.

“No, but my friend made me. How did you know…”

“I am the camp commandant sweetheart,  I know.”

Sweetheart? Adanna decided not to take the pet name to heart. “But you haven’t been around for some days how did you know I haven’t been coming out?”

Jude was also happy to know that Adanna noticed his supposed absence.  “I know everything.”

“Where have you been by the way?” She couldn’t help but ask.

“You know… meetings  here and there.”

“For your political career?”

Jude studied her briefly “Yes!”

Adanna was quiet as she watched Jude watch her.

“May I know what’s on your mind?” Jude asked.

“Just wondering what kind of politician you will make.”

“I like to think I will make a good politician.”

Adanna scoffed “really?”

“You don’t think so?”

“No! I think you will be like every other politician. Power hungry individuals that misuse their power when given the opportunity.”

“And you drew this conclusion from…”

“From how you treat people. I have seen the way you punish the corpers here. It’s not fair. And I think such punishments are unnecessary. ”

“It’s called discipline Adanna.”

“Discipline or torture?”

He shook his head “have you ever experienced solitary punishment? Or been wipped severally with a koboko ? Or been tortured with hot iron?”

“No!”

“Exactly.”

“Have you experienced such?”

He ignored her question.

“Was it at your short service?” She asked softly.

“My dad.”

Before Adanna could process what he just said, Jude pushed her to a tree and held both her hands in a death grip. His hard body was pressed against the softness of hers and he leaned in towards her until his lips were just an inch from her ears “there is a thin line between discipline and torture and I have experienced both so I know. I discipline, I don’t torture.”

Adanna’s breathing was thick. Her heart was ponding so hard against her ribs that she thought it would explode.

“Adanna…” he breathed her name so delicately, that his fresh breath fanned her cheeks and it was too soon that he released her.

“Goodnight.” He turned and disappeared into the darkness again.

Not even the fact that he had gone, eased the way her heart was ponding. Adanna found her way back to her hall with shaky legs. She climbed her bed without pulling off her cloth and gazed at the ceiling

“Jude.”

She didn’t even realise that she had totally forgotten her charging phone or her friend Bukky.

To be continued…

The call: chapter 8

 

cover the call

The consistent buzzing of his IPhone on the night stand woke him up.  With his head still buried in his pillow, Jude reached for his phone and pressed the power button. That shut the phone up but as he  tried to get back to his sleep, it started buzzing again.
He reached for the phone and picked the call without looking at the caller.

“Good morning big brother.”

He cracked his eyes open at the voice and checked the caller.

“Seriously Julian! Why are you calling  by this time?”

“Wow! Hello to you too.” She said and he could hear the pure sarcasm in her voice.

“What do you want now?”

“I want to see my big brother.  We saw last when? Like 6 months ago. We need to catch up.”

“Julian last I checked, you were in New York.”

“I came back to Nigeria yesterday.”

He sat up immediately. ” You are back in Nigeria? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I just did.”

“Yeah yeah!”

“Anyway, guess who I came back with?” Her perky voice picked up again.

“Who?”

“I said guess.”

“Seriously Julian? It’s 4am.”

“Just guess.”

“Sylvia?”

“No!’

“Errrr… Tosin?”

“No! Common, you dated her.”

“Emmanuella!”

“No!”

“Ruth?”

“Arghh!” His sister sounded exasperated “it’s Halima.”

Halima? “Oh! Yeah that’s true. I dated Halima too. So she is back in the country?”

“Yes! And she is dying to see the new you.”

“There is nothing new about me.”

“Yeah right! You went for short service and came back toned and bigger.”

“And your point is?”

“She wants to see you. Jude, Halima is crazy about you.”

“And I am not.”

“Common!” She whined. “You really liked her before.”

“Exactly! ‘Liked’ meaning past tense.”

“Whatever! Lunch, 1pm today at Trukadero. I will come with Halima.”

“I am busy Julian. I have alot to do at the orientation camp.” That was a lie, he didn’t plan on staying in camp that day.

“The what? Never mind. I don’t want to know.”
Typical Julian “I can’t make it Julie..”

“You will. It’s dad that fixed the lunch not me.”

That said it all. It was an order to be at lunch, not a request to be denied. Great!

“Love you big brother and see you at lunch.”

“Bye Julie.”

The call ended and he was left gazing into the darkness of his room in camp.
He never imagined himself sleeping here but for Adanna he had. He was tempted to check up on her but that would ruin his plan to stay clear of her.
Since he was awake and had no plan of sleeping, he decided to go home.
He wore his uniform from the previous day and got out into the cold early morning air.

He stopped at his car and stole a glance at the clinic before opening the car. He couldnt just leave like that.

Jude closed the car door and locked it with his remote, before taking quick steps towards the clinic.
As he approached, he saw Gerald, one of the corper pharmacist and a cool guy he had spoken to before.
He signalled to him and he jogged over to him.

“I need a favour.”

“How can I help sir?”

‘The girl that was brought in yesterday evening. ”

“Adanna?” Gerald inquired.

“Yeah I think that’s her name .” He knew it was her name. He didnt think he could ever forget it. But he had to pretend so the corper would not suspect a thing.

“Could you get her a good meal before she is discharged? Something nice so she could eat.”

“No problem sir.”

“Has Any one come to check her? A friend maybe?”

“No sir.”

‘Alright.” He removed his wallet, brought out 5 one thousand naira bills and handed it over to Gerald. “That should cover the breakfast for the girl and yourself.”

“Thank you sir.” The corper revealed a Generous number of teeth.
He turned around and walked back to his car hoping that Gerald would give her the food. There was only little he could do. He thought as he entered into his car, a black 2016 Acura ILX.

He drove past the parade ground and saw the corpers doing their morning drills, so he parked his car briefly and listened.
Dust had risen and filled the air, making it quite difficult to see, but he was still able to make out the instructor wearing green and white jogger leading the drills.

A man-o-war song was blarring through the megaphone and it brought a smile to Jude’s face as he recalled his own camp experience.
“Call:🎵This is the way I wanted to be oooo
Resp: This is the way I wanted to be,
Eeeeee I want to be a corper,
Eeeeee I want to be a corper,
Eeeeee I want to be a corper,
This is the way I wanted to be.
Dem go born wor-wor,
Dem go born wor-wor,
If corper marry soldier,
Dem go born wor-wor.

Dem go born mu-mu,
Dem go born mu-mu,
If soldier marry soldier,
Dem go born mu-mu.

Call: O Rah!
Resp: Rah!
Call: O Rah!
Resp: Rah!🎵”

He watched the scene before him with nostalgia until after a few minutes, he ignited his engine and drove off into the early morning.

———-***********———-

” Don’t worry! I know my brother. Everything will be fine” Julian said to Halima. They were sitted at a table in the chosen restaurant waiting for Jude to arrive.

“What will be fine? ” Jude asked as he approached them in dark blue jeans, white T-shirt and a black blazer. He finished the dressing up with a brown foreman chukka boots.

He notice Halima flush out of embarrassment as he pulled out a chair for himself and removed his sun glasses.
Julian was out her chair in seconds and ran around the table to throw him a big hug.

“I missed you!” She said and settled on his lap. Thank God she was a size 8.

“I missed you too dear.” He looked at his sister and ruffled her hair.

“Hey!!” She stood up and walked back to her seat. “Do you know how long it took me to style this ?”

“After a degree in architecture and an internship at one of the top firms in New York you are still vain. You need the military.”

She laughed “That’s why I have you and dad.”

“Yeah. Speaking of dad… You really want to provoke him with what you are wearing.” Jude warned.

“What is wrong with what I am wearing?” Julian looked down at her bodycon gown that displayed the ‘8″ of her figure.

She shrugged “You too, aren’t you over dressed? ”

Jude chuckled “for dad? No I don’t think so.” He glanced at Halima who had been looking at him.
“How was new York?”

She smiled broadly and wanted to answer when they saw 2 soldiers entering followed by their father.
They all stood up to acknowledge him.

“Father!” Jude said curtly while Julian threw herself on him.

“Daddy! You look Good despite your work.”

Her father eyed her dressing and tried to swallow his comment. “Princess… how was your flight ?”

“It was smooth.”

He nodded for them to sit down and signalled for the waiter.”

They ordered different dishes and as the waiter rushed to get their order, General Bagro cleared his throat. “Halima za ku iya barin tebur? I want to talk to my children ” Meaning ‘can you leave the table?’ in the hausa language.

“Lafiya sir.” Halima humbly stood up and left the table.

” How is the orientation camp Jude. I hope you are not messing things up. Your reputation is my reputation as well.”

” I am aware of that sir.”

“Good.” He paused, as the waiter placed their food on the table and left. “This is necessary for your political career as you know. And I have heard talks about how you are not a true soldier.” The general continued, as he used his cutleries to eat.

“I am also aware father.” He took a sip of his lemon water.

“Just don’t disappoint me you understand?”

Jude nodded.

“You understand?” His father emphasized.

“Yes sir.”

“Good! And you should think of settling down soon. You are not getting younger.”

“Father, I am 29.”

“And so? Is it until you are having baby mamas around the place?”

Jude swallowed tightly. This was exactly why he despised lunch with his dad. And it was one mistake, one pregancy which the girl aborted.

“Is there anything I need to know about the orientation camp? I hate surprises. ”

“None sir.” He gritted out.

“Dad, I trust Jude has got it covered.” Julian decided to put in. It was a big mistake.

“Coming from you? You are barely covered with that thing you have on.”

Julian frowned “Dad! I am a woman and I can very well wear what I want to.”

“Really? Not while you are a Bagro. So if you want to dress how you want, get married. You are 23 years after all. Your mates have children.”

Jude could see his sister’s countenance change. “Dad! We talked about this.”

The general looked at his daughter for a brief second “fine Princess.” He used his napkin to dab his mouth and brought out one thousand naira notes which he placed on the table without counting it.

“Jude I need you at a meeting tomorrow after which we will discuss how to meet with the party leader of APC to discuss your political career. Clear your schedule as soon as possible.”

He pushed his chair back and stood up to leave despite His food that was barely touched. “Call me if you have a problem that you both can’t handle. Lunch was nice. We should do this often.”

With that he turned to leave and his soldiers fell into their position behind him.

Jude stood up immediately and pushed his food aside. “I am out of here.”

“Jude….”

He walked around and kissed his sister on her cheek. “Take care and call me okay?”

“But Jude…”

He paused, anger visible on his face. “Nothing ever pleases him.”

“Jude, calm down.”

“I am… I can’t even let him affect me like he use to before.” He sighed “later sis.”

As he walked away, he heard Julian call after him “What about Halima?”

He stepped into the hot sun and put on his glasses.

Halima could go to hell for all he cared.

To be continued….

The call: Chapter 7

cover the call

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.

“Drink!”

Adanna hesitated.

“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.

“Not really…”

“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.”

“How?

“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…

The call: chapter 6

cover the call
She woke up just as she had the previous day, but with a massive headache. She felt as if she had been run over by a bus or like her body had finally given up on her. She struggled to get out of bed and felt dizzy at that one action. Adanna balanced herself by holding the bunk bed till her dizziness had passed. Her head felt light, her stomach tightened in knots and her mouth was stale. Once she had gotten a little bit of herself, she noticed the hall was almost empty. Was she that late? She asked herself and checked her phone. Crap! She was that late. Adanna quickly put on her newly purchased shorts and jungle boots before she rushed to the bathroom to splash water on her face and use a mouth wash.

As she doubled up out of the hostel, she remembered that she had not eaten anything that day but she wasn’t even hungry. She was sicker and out of character than she had in a long while.

The parade ground was full by the time she got there. All platoons had taken up their position as Adanna walked slowly to enter a line. She couldn’t run and could not be bothered about doing that either. Everywhere hurt! From her body to her mind. She felt most hopeless about the situation at home knowing that she couldn’t assist. As she fell into her position at the back of the platoon line, she was consumed by the usual chatters and funny comments of her platoon members.

“Down Down down!!!” someone said loudly from within the crowd that scared everyone only to discover it was a corper and everyone laughed. Adanna didn’t find it funny as the little scare only intensified her headache. The parade started under the scorching sun and at a point, Adanna knew she couldn’t stand anymore. She asked a soldier if she could go and rest under a big sycamore tree where the Red Cross stood and where corpers could rest if they were not fit enough.

The soldier eyed her up and down “What is wrong with you.”

“My head hurts sir, I feel nauseous” and my heart is pounding faster than usual she thought the last part.

After the soldier had accessed her over and over again, he gave her the go ahead to leave the parade ground. Adanna eyed the tree like the Garden of Eden, as she approached it. She could already imagine herself lowering her butt on the root of the tree, she could imagine buying a cold sachet of pure water and letting the cold droplets slid down her skin for the fresh breeze to fan her cool. But before she could reach the tree she heard another soldier’s voice.

“You there! So you think that because you are wearing white on white, you are now a ghost that can walk past me and I would not see you?”
Adanna kept walking. It couldn’t be her. It wasn’t her. She had come too far for it to be her.

“Hey! That white fowl with jungle boots. Come here!”

“Are you kidding me right now?” Adanna couldn’t help but say under her breath. She turned around and came face to face with the scary looking soldier.

“So you don’t want to answer me abi?”

“No sir, I didn’t know you were talking to me.”

“Go back.”

“Sir?”

“I said go back.” He shouted and attracted the attention of everyone nearby.

“Sir please I am not feeling fine. I already spoke to a soldier and I was permitted to go.”

“I said go back!” he shouted again.

“Sir…”

“You want to frog jump abi?” he took a step closer to her in challenge. As if daring her to say one more word.
Adanna felt hot tears sting her eyes she didn’t deserve any of these rubbish but she walked away and headed back to her line.

“Come back here!” the soldier called her back. It was with evident vexation that Adanna turned around and stood.

“Come back here.” At the moment she didn’t even care what happened next.

She took few step towards the soldier and stopped. With a frown on her face, she looked at the bald headed man.

“Don’t you ever disrespect me like that again is that clear?’

“Yes!”

“Your father! You are very stupid for telling me yes.”

“Yes sir!” Her tears were threatening to spill now but she kept that frown on her face and looked at the man straight in his eyes. He could do his worse. Decamp her if he liked, but she would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry.

The soldier studied her, he knew he had vexed her, he had gotten under her skin. Good! “Go back to the parade ground.”

Adanna blinked away her tears and walked back to the parade ground. Bukky gave her a questioning look but she just shook her head at her friend. She could not talk at the moment, not in the state she was in.
The parade continued and even went beyond the normal time. Adanna tried to pull herself together until she could go to the clinic. As the parade ended, a soldier came to her platoon and called out her state code. She lifted her hand in acknowledgement and he told her to come and collect her ID card from the commandant. Quickly, she followed the soldier to collect her card but what she did not expect was the long wait involved.
As she got to where Captain Jude was sitting on his stick as usual, she saw a crowd of corpers standing behind him and he was still calling random corpers who had defaulted one way or the other.
She found a place to stand so as not to draw attention to herself again, until a bundle of ID cards were brought.
Numbers were called one after the other until hers was called. She was about to collect It when Captain Jude spoke up.
“Don’t give her that card. Give it to me.”
Adanna was dumbfounded. She felt like screaming ‘are you kidding me right now?’ She hated this captain. He was egoistic, proud, wicked, power abusive and there was no doubt in her heart that he was a big first too.

She tried hard not to hiss and went to stand at one side. Everyone got their ID cards and left, leaving Adanna and the captain. He looked at her up and down, although, Adanna wasn’t looking at him. She was looking everywhere but at him.

“Come here!”

Adanna was already so tired so she walked briskly towards him “Sir I bought the shorts as you ordered.” She pleaded.

“Why are you wearing jungle boots? It is not part of the uniform.”

Adanna was confused. Jungle boots isn’t part of the uniform? “But?”

He raised a hand to silence her and spoke with irritation in his voice. “Jungle boots should be worn with your khaki and white tennis should be worn with your white shirt and shorts.”

“Is that clear?”

“Yes sir.”

“I said is that clear?”

“Yes sir.”

“Why is it clear?”

Adanna was so annoyed but she replied “Because it is clear sir.”

Captain Jude accessed her again “Why is it because it is clear.”

“Because it is very clear.”

He got off his stick and started walking away with her ID card in his hand. “Follow me.”

He kept walking and catching corpers who were not doubling up from point A to B as he had instructed earlier. Adanna followed him, trying to meet up with his pace, despite how she was feeling. She was feeling dizzy and her vision blurred a bit. She stopped walking and took time to refocus her sight.
“Corper!” She heard the captain address her but his voice sounded a distance away. “Corper!”

She could feel eyes on her “Corper!” another command but it sounded like rushing wind in her ears and everywhere went black.

To be continued…

The call: chapter 5

cover the call

 

“Corpers wee!”
“Wa!”
“We!
“Wa!
“Thank you, very much, right now we will call on the team from HIV prevention, for a sex education. But before they come up stage, let us welcome the state coordinator of FCT Abuja with the Atama clap.”
The host for the compulsory lecture, said into the microphone that was too loud for the hall. Maybe because it was meant to cover the over flow of corpers under the canopy outside.

“Atama!” one clap “Atama” another single clap “Atama” a third clap “Labako” four claps “Labako” another four claps. “Labarinaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…” clap… clap…clap.

As the state coordinator walked up the stage, there was a standing ovation for him. Well, only those in the front stood up as majority of corpers at the back were still seated. Unfortunately for Adanna, Bukky had secured a seat for her on the third roll to the front, so she had to stand up to. Standing she could do but she couldn’t do what they did next.

“Welcome Daddy…” The corpers echoed. Daddy? Adanna thought, the man knew nothing about her. Did he know that the okro soup served for dinner yesterday didn’t draw? How can okro soup not draw? Adanna wondered. Did he also know that all the bulbs in the hotels were not working? Well… maybe it wasn’t his fault. He’s just one man after all but… she couldn’t just call him Daddy. That title was reserved for the man she was certain could do anything for her.
The corpers were given the signal to sit down and their ‘daddy’ gave a nice speech. He seemed like a nice person… Adanna squeezed her face and studied the man. Maybe he was cool or maybe not. As he finished his speech he ended with “I love you all” and the corpers replied “love you too daddy” Lovers club! Which love? It was all politics. However, that was the least of her concern. Top on that list was money, her family, a new short which brought her back to money. She wondered about the bicycle allowance she heard they shared, and it brought her back to the issue of money.
Adanna shook her head and tried to focus on the class.

“Corpers wee!”
“Wa!”
“We! We we!
“Wa! Wa! Wa!
The first speaker from the HIV prevention team came up and started singing a song about HIV and how one should zip up. After the song was over and the excitement of the corpers had died down, the speaker went on to talk about how ‘abstinence is the best prevention’. As the speaker concluded, OBS thought it would be nice to display their ‘skills’ with a very loud interlude.

Adanna blocked her ears with irritation and Bukky noticed. “What is wrong with you? You are so cranky today?”

“Me? Aren’t you feeling the heat? I live in Lokoja but the weather in Abuja is just something else. First of all, I almost froze to death this morning on the parade ground, now I feel like I can fry eggs on my skin. Besides, these boots are uncomfortable.” She looked down at her jungle boot.

“Why are you wearing your jungle boot?”

“Because my Nysc Sneakers ripped as I was washing it yesterday. It just ripped open.”

Bukky laughed “It’s not only you, several other people too experienced that. Just buy a rubber sneakers from Mami. It’s easier to clean and comfortable.”

“I don’t know o. I guess I will just keep wearing my Jungle boots.”

Bukky laughed and nudged her in the ribs “Look Harry has been looking at you.”

“Harry?” Adanna looked at the direction Bukky was looking at until she found Harry. “Ow! Harry In our platoon.” She waved at him and turned back to the lecture.

“I think he likes you.” Bukky cooed excitedly.

“Please! I doubt that.”

“Honestly, he is always asking of you. Besides think about it. Hanging out with him will get you out of the hostel in the night and we could go on a double date ish.”

Adanna rolled her eyes. She did not like that Owen, the guy Bukky hung out with. He smoked and drank and had this generally rough look about him. She wondered what attracted Bukky to him or even so many other girl. Maybe it was his money. She learnt he was one of those guys that could buy drinks for a lot of people, including those they didn’t know. Or maybe it was his fast spreading popularity with that friend of his ‘daddy yo!’ or something like that.

Bukky nudged her again and Adanna looked up at her “I will be right back.”

“Where are you goin…” speak of the devil and he shows up. Adanna sighted Owen at the window of the hall, looking at them.

“Do you want me to buy you anything?” Bukky asked.

“No thank you.”

“Don’t worry it is on Owen, he can spend on useless things I swear! I guess he can spare you a drink and egg roll.”

Adanna thought about it briefly “No thank you.”

“Okay o!”

Adanna tried to focus on the program that was now getting interesting, because they were illustrating how to use a condom and everyone was laughing and talking.

Corpers wee o!”
“Wa o!”

Adanna worried about what she would do about the new white short and after much worrying, decided to damn it all and forget about her ID card. She would make excuses if she was confronted by a staff. With that new conclusion, she could focus on the program. She even started enjoying the talk and laughing along until the speaker said “Let us welcome the camp commandant with a locomotive clap.”

The speaker then proceeded to take a step and a single clap resounded. Another step and yet another clap. The more steps she took, the more claps resounded.

“Thank you sir for honoring us with your presence.” The speaker said and Adanna begged to differ. His presence was haunting her. Captain Jude took a seat on the stage and balanced his elbow on the hand rest, in such a way that his fingers touched his chin. Adanna swallowed! He was sitting right in front of her. She tired her best to look at anywhere but where he was seated. She busied herself with the book on her lap but each time she raised her head, he was looking at her with that unwavering gaze.

The program eventually ended after a lot of ‘Corpers wees’ in between and the NYSC anthem was called for. As soon as the last sentence of the song was over, Adanna rushed out and mingled with the crowd all the way to Mami Market to purchase a white short. It cost her 1000 naira after much pricing and Adanna was left with barely 2000naira. She bought 200naira MTN credit and loaded it immediately she got to the hostel. She wanted to pick up her cooler before heading to the kitchen to get lunch but decided to call home first. She dialed Oge and waited for the phone to ring until she heard her little sister’s voice.

“Oge how are you?”

“I am fine sister. How are you? and how is camp?” her sister asked.

How was she? Was she fine? Her body ached her, she had no money and generally she thought the NYSC orientation camp made no sense.

People were always dropping on the parade ground like files. She hoped one day she wouldn’t faint too. “I am fine.” She replied and tried to inject enthusiasm in her statement.

“Really?” her sister sounded excited “Gist me.”

Adanna laughed “well, we had a welcome party, and street dance competition, two nights ago…”

Adanna gisted her sister about the interesting part of NYSC without telling her that she was having the worst of experience and that she didn’t even go for the welcome party and street dance competition.

“Enough about me. How are you and Dad?”

Oge sighed. “Dad is never at home Ada. He goes out in the morning and comes back very late. He doesn’t even eat the food I prepare for him.”

“Why? Do you know what is going on?”

“I think Daddy is owing money. Uncle Obinna came to the house to tell him to start paying back the money he is owning to a rich man. Ada I think the money is very plenty from the way they were talking. I wonder what dad used such money for because now he doesn’t even sleep and eat.”

It dawned on Adanna that it could be the money for her final year school fees and that broke her heart. Her father wasn’t eating and sleeping because he borrowed money for her fees and couldn’t pay back. She was already crying without even realizing. She was a graduate but couldn’t afford to assist her family. Then what good was her education in this country? What good was her outstanding result? She had hoped that an organization will recruit her on her convocation but none did.

“Don’t worry. Chukwu ga n’eye anyi efe nine anyi cho.” Meaning ‘God will provide all our needs ’

“Okay sis.”

Adanna cut the call and threw her phone on the bed before she buried her face in her palm and cried. Her shoulders shook visibly, as one sob after the other crashed over her. Eventually she lay still on her bed, with her face buried in her pillow and all thoughts of lunch long forgotten. Though she was no longer sobbing, her tears had formed a trail on her cheek. It was in that position that the sweet clutches of sleep embraced her.
To be continued…

The call: chapter 4

cover the call

He did not want to be there. Why should he be? There where so many better places he could be at, doing so much more than the duties of a camp commandant to a bunch of graduates, most of which were drunkards. He had to personally haul their asses to the hostel two nights ago, which amused him.

Were people so foolish as to drink above their limits in the name of a good time?

He shook his head as he kept walking forward with determined steps and his hands crossed behind him.
Corpers parted a way for him like the red sea and he thought, good! They should fear me. He watched the way the corpers were walking casually, gisting and looking relaxed. He did not like it, so he made up his mind that as from tomorrow, they must all double up from point A to point B.
He smiled to himself. It was a nice plan. At least if he had to be there as a camp commandant, obeying orders from his superior, he would have his own fun in the process.

“You!” He pointed his stick at a guy that was wearing bathroom slippers “Follow me!”

He had taken a few more steps before he sighted another guy with his head dress worn backwards. Another scape goat he thought. He pretended as if he did not see the guy until he was right beside him. The male corper was lost in his discussion with a girl, that he didn’t even notice him. The captain simply removed the head dress from the guys head, checked if his state code was written on it, before he continued walking. If the corper was smart enough, he would follow him.  He looked over his shoulder and saw him following. Good!

He approached his alotted apartment in the camp, a place he had never spent a night in and dragged a chair to the front door before sitting on it.

He faced the two guys and the girl from the parade ground. Watching them steadily for a while In order to inflict fear in them. Like a predator will, with his prey.

“You!” He faced the slippers guy. “Look around you.” He began and when the guy kept looking at him He repeated. “I said look around you.” He obeyed and looked around, though grudgingly. “Does this look like your father’s house?
The slippers boy murmured “No.”

He shook his head “No what?”

“No sir.”

The commandant relaxed into the chair and spread his legs wide apart “remove it.” He pointed to the slippers and then looked briefly at the girl who had been following him quietly. Immediately she looked up at him, he tore his eyes off her and focused on the cap guy. “Do you think we are training rascals here?”
The guy looked sincerely confused but ignorance was no excuse.
“It is very wrong to to wear your head dress backwards…”

“I am sorry sir…”

“I am not done.” He cut the guy off. And looked that the slippers guy, who had removed the slippers. “You can go.” The guy tried to take the slippers but the commandant stopped him. “without the slippers.”

The expression on the guy’s face was so priceless, that the commandant almost laughed. He maintained his poker face and looked at the guy “abi you no dey hear English? I say make you waka!!!”
The boy fled barefooted and he watched him go far before he turned back to the girl and the second guy.

She looked more shy than scared, as she bowed her head and picked at her nails which were dirty from the parade ground he noticed.

“You!” He faced the guy “I need four buckets of water. Go!”

He hesistated before he left to carry out his punishment, leaving him and the girl.

Why was She here again? The commandant wondered.

Adanna lifted her head waiting for her punishment. After seeing what he did to the other two guys, she wondered what he would do to her. All she could do was hope that it wasn’t a gruelsome punishment. Her body still ached her and she was really hungry. She looked at him expectantly but he seemed to take his time watching other corpers walk by. He was probably looking for another scape goat.

She used the opportunity to study the man before her. His black hair was cut low and his beards were trimmed and carved nicely in such a way that suited his angular jaw.
He was dark in complexion, with a lighter shade of lips. His camouflage shirt suited him perfectly in a way that enhanced his best features and His shirt had a name tag: Capt. J. Z Bagro.

‘Hmm captain Bagro. So that was his name?’ Adanna thought to herself as she looked him up and down and up…. he was watching her check him out. Oh no! Adanna looked away instantly and shuffled her weight between her left and right leg.

Captain Jude followed her movement and looked at her. Really looked at her, as if seeing her for the first time. Light chocolate complextion, long legs that only seemed longer with that sinful shorts of hers. Her shirt was ugly though, he was sure it was one of the crap they gave all corpers when they arrived. Her face was void of make up but he didn’t think she needed it. She was beautiful, rosey cheeks, big brown eyes, a small pointed nose and full pouty lips.
He let his eyes go down. She was curvy too. Breast? check! Hips? check! Ass?….. Hmm! he could not determine from his perspective.

But those shorts of her…. “Why are you dressed so slutty?”

Adanna was shocked and she looked down at her white on white. “S…Sir?”

“You heard me. This is not acceptable!  I don’t want to see you wearing this again.”

“But.. Sir this was what I was given when I came to camp.”

“Well, now I said you cannot wear it. Go and purchase another one.”

Adanna swallowed down the rising tears. Where was She going to get money to buy shorts?  She didn’t even like wearing it. Now she was called a slut because she didnt have money to purchase a decent white short.
All she had left from the money her dad gave her was 3000. She had spent more than she bargained for, buying water to drink consistently, sometimes paying a woman to wash her white when she couldn’t and even paying to charge her phone too. She didn’t even want to think about how much She spent on the registration day, photocopying and printing.

She felt ashamed of herself and naked under his penetrating stare.

“Give me your ID card. When you have purchased something more decent, you’ll come and collect it.”

He stretched out his left hand and Adanna handed her ID card to him.

“Go!”

She hesitated but turned to leave. Her hunger had vanished and left a painful void in its wake. As she walked away, she saw the other guy return with two full buckets of water. As he got to the captain, Adanna heard him say “pour it away and fetch another one ”

She managed a look over her shoulder and saw the guy pouring the water away.  She turned back quickly  and hastened her steps . She had just gotten herself in trouble with the devil and she wondered what her next step was going to be. Borrow money or run away.

Captain Jude Bagro told her to go and watched her hesitation and fear before she turned around.

Honestly,  there was nothing wrong with her shorts. he had seen worse and frankly he didnt understand why he seized her ID card. Maybe because a part of him wanted to see her again.
Oh well. He told the boy with water to pour it away and fetch another two before he looked at her retreating form.

He smiled to himself. ‘Ass? A big Check!!!!!!’

To be continued….

 

 

The call: Chapter 3

cover the call

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.

“Hey Bukky”

“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.

“Corpers…”
He spoke with that ‘I-cannot-shout-tone’

“Sir!”

“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.

“Follow me!”
To be continued…