As omowunmi moved on yet another queue for the students who finished from Nigerian universities, she recalled her experience at the gate. “Kai, awon soldier yi buru ooh”.. She mused to herself. She had met an old coursemate of hers on the queue. “Bolanle, please keep this space for me, i need to go and get something to eat, i can not come and die”; she said to her friend. “I have heard, sha dont take long”, bolanle called after her. Her feet were killing her. ‘Why did i wear these darned shoes sef‘ she thought to herself. She had no idea these soldiers were really serious when they said she’d have to carry her bags on her head and run. Running in heels was really not her thing, she preferred to walk gracefully. She smarted from the pain she felt whenever she took a step. “Arghh.. to hell with it”, she thought, taking off her shoes and holding them in one hand. She glanced far off towards what looked like the field, and saw corp members already in uniform performing drills. All she could think about was the food she was going to get.
He had seen her break out of the line and walk towards the stands where people displayed their wares. He had toyed with the idea of going to meet her and asking her for her phone number; but the dissuaded himself. “I cant come and be tripping for one chic when there are many chics here from every state in the country”, he thought. He was about to shift his gaze when he saw her take off her shoes. He couldn’t fight the urge to laugh… this girl is really something.. walking barefooted all over camp.
Marissa traced his gaze; “this bloke again… and her… urgh“.. she rolled her eyes. the darned girl was walking barefooted! She knew she wasn’t going to make it far in those horrendous looking heels she saw her wearing at the gate. And look at him gazing foolishly at her… For some reasons she couldn’t quite figure, she had felt butterflies in her stomach when she saw him at the gate. her disdain for the idea of coming to camp in the first place had somewhat distracted her, not to talk of the short girl’s little drama with him. She just knew she was going to have to find a way to get him to notice her without being as petty as Miss Not-So-Tall over there.. She rolled her eyes again.
He watched her roll her eyes the second time… “Something is definitely wrong with this chic”, he thought to himself. He watched her closely; she hadn’t even apologized for shouting at him at the gate. She called him a “fat toad”, then tried to offer him breath mints! ‘crazy chic’ he thought. Just as he was looking at her, Bolanle saw him and shouted, “Farooooooooq!”, she squealed. Wow, you got posted to this dump of a camp too? She made towards him as he blinked, ‘now she has heard my name’ he thought, as marissa looked back at him, then forward to the shouting girl. “farooq eh… ‘little wonder he wouldnt tell me his name”.. She looked at him very closely; he sure didn’t look like a Farooq. She recalled a farooq she knew back at Greenwich. He was not as chubby as this one, plus he had this oriental look about him. ‘This farooq is just flabby fat with good diction…’ she rolled her eyes again.
“Hey, when did you get here?” bolanle asked as she got closer to Farooq. She had noticed the light skinned broom stick roll her eyes, but that was all she wanted to notice. Farooq was about to give her an answer when she noticed the bags he was carrying. “When did you become so vain farooq? What’s with the Louis Vuitton Bags? Have you changed that much?”… “that’s a whole lot of questions in one breath”, he thought; Bolanle had always been a fast talker. He started to explain that he had helped a friend carry her bags from the gate, What friend? Bolanle cut him off, he nodded towards marissa, who had turned to face the duo as it seemed their discussion about to turn on her. Bolanle glanced at her, looked at farooq, and started to laugh, she laughed so hard she had to hold farooq for support. “What is funny?” marissa asked, as she had become irritated by the girl’s hystericical laughter; “why is she laughing?” she thought to herself, at that point, bolanle turned and headed back where she had come, “take care of your wife oh’, she said as she strolled back to her position on the queue. Marissa all but spat in disgust at her words, ‘wife!’, how dare she? urgh, she thought. Farooq looked embarrassed, “this is the height“, he thought as he eyed bolanle as she walked away.
‘Ladies get on the queue under the mango tree!’, the chubby lady screamed from the top of a wooden dais she had mounted so that the corp members could see her. Marissa moved closer to the tree, she had been standing for almost 5 hours! “Today is really not my day” she thought, as she began to drag her bags which she had stringed together with her jacket when farooq had left her to carry them alone. ‘what a jerk!” she thought to herself, he couldn’t even carry on with his good gesture, what a cad!, she mused on. She was about to secure a spot on the queue when a girl jumped in front of her, along with her friend, cutting her off the queue, and almost sending her to the ground with her bags. “Are you crazy!, she yelled, can’t you see!”. The duo looked back at her, said something she couldn’t comprehend, and shrieked hysterically. She rolled her eyes, these girls are crazy!. She was in line for a hostel, and all she thought of was a warm bed to rest her tired body, and there was no way she was going to allow these girls get the better of her. Dropping her bags, marissa faced the taller one of the duo squarely, what is wrong with you?, she asked the girl, don’t you think you owe me an apology for almost pushing me to the ground? what is the matter with you two??? she said, glaring at the short girl now.
‘Kilon se eleyi to n so phonee lataro?’, omowunmi said to bolanle as she tried to control her laughter. She had been jumping queues all day, and this was not going to be an exception. She was tired from moving from queue to queue, and couldnt wait to get allocated a hostel so she could rest her body. ‘O ya file ko ma pariwo’, bolanle replied, she had recognized the girl as they moved towards the queue; ‘arrogant looking girl’, she thought to herself, as she looked distastefully at marissa who was now screaming invectives at her. ‘and that annoying accent’, she mused on… this is going to get interesting soon enough. “Dont fight ooh, dont fight, or you’ll all get thrown out of camp”. They trio looked toward the voice that was growing closer in its admonition. The girl was also carrying a bag, and looked like she was a fellow corper. They all glared at her as she moved closer. She could have been at least 6ft tall, and could have easily passed for a soldier herself; “you guys should take it easy”, she continued, we would all get a space in the end, so calm down before other people take up your space on the queue. Glaring at each other, the girls reluctantly joined the queue and didn’t say a word until they were allotted their bed spaces.
“Guy how far”, Olisa said to the chubby boy attempting to take the bunk atop his. They had been on the queue for bed spaces for hours, and he was tired. He wasn’t too tired to notice the boy trying to hurl his weight up the bunk. He had chosen to stay below because of his height, and was not so sure it was a good idea to share a bunk with a boy this size. “Guy, do you need help”? he said again. Farooq looked at the dude talking to him. He was slightly embarrassed that he couldn’t mount the bunk successfully. “I hate bunk beds”, he thought to himself, as he climbed down to face his inquirer. Almost all the bunks below were taken, and he had only chosen to make do with the top bunk because he needed to rest. “do you need help”, olisa said to him, the other boys in the room stopped to look at them, wondering what the chubby boy was going to say. No thanks, farooq retorted, i just need to gather momentum, i’ll be fine. Olisa looked at him. he wasn’t sure if he wanted to make any male friends just yet. Ok, dude, have it your way
“Pa-ra-ran-pa-ran-ran-pa-ran-ran”… the beagle blared at the entrance of the girl’s hostel. Marissa jumped in her sleep, ‘what the hell!’, who the f**k is making that noise! jeez!! She rubbed her eyes lazily, and picked up her watch which she had placed under her pillow as she slept. “Its barely 5am for crying out loud!” what the hell is going on??? Her eyes adjusting to the situation around her, she noticed that almost all the girls in her cubicle were all dressed in their whiteys, some applying make up, except for the girl she met on the queue the night before who was still sleeping. “You better wake up americana”, someone shouted to her, its time to head down to the parade ground. The beagle went off again, Arggh!! i hate this place, she said. Marissa got up from her bed, picked up the basket where she had placed her toiletries, and wrapped her towel around herself, trying to head towards the bathroom. She had made a mental note of its location in the hostel the night before, on her way there she wondered how the other girls had managed to get up so early. Stepping into the bathroom, marissa let out a yelp, “My God! what in the world is this”? she thought to herself. Girls of all shapes and sizes roamed around the bathroom, which was pitch black, as the light bulb had given out. Some of the girls were carrying flash lights, some strapped the flashlights to their head with their towels, while taking their bath. There were only 4 cubicles for people to have their bath, and the other girls in a bid to meet up with parade were having their bath in the open space that was meant for others to stand and wait. Marissa turned and found her way out of the bathroom, there is no way i am having my bath in there! she concluded to herself as she made her way back to her bedspace. By the time she got back to her space, a good number of the girls in her room had left.
“Get out of there, white fowls!” Otondos! una think sey na una papa house una dey ehn! Get out of there! If i enter this hostel, una go do frog jump comot for here go parade ground!, the woman in green shorts and white shirt shouted at the entrance of the hostel. She was standing beside the man carrying the beagle, and she sounded very serious. Marissa spied her from her room, she wasnt sure she wanted to face this woman, girls were scurrying past her as she tried to pull up her purple sweater on her white shirt. She had decided to wear her black kicks to the parade ground, “these are warmer”, she thought, not that stupid thing we were given yesterday… As she attempted to pass by the woman, she turned to face her. “Na your white be this??” the woman said, pointing at her sweater, the woman looked at the feet, where do you think you are young woman, she screamed at marissa, my friend would you go back and put on the right color, or i seize this one you are wearing!”. This is really not happening, marissa thought, as she reluctantly turned around.