Interactive community where we EXPRESS our selfs through Short stories, Fantasy, Fiction.
If I can recall well, the first time I heard or uttered the word “Borno” was sometime during my primary school days. We were learning the36 states and capitals in that typical sing-song fashion Nigerian primary schools use. It was a sweet song, so sweet that some of my classmates were able to recite the 36 states that day; others 20 states or less.
I guess it was not all that sweet to me or I didn’t like the sound of all the states, as I found myself stuck in between. Our teacher then made me stand in front of the class and recite the rhyme. So I began:
“36 states and their capital: Abia – Umuaya, Adamawa – Yola, Akwa ibom-Uyo, Anambra – Awka, Bauchi – Bauchi, Bayelsa – Yenagoa, Benue – Markurdi, Borno -….., Borno – ……. (Borno -, …………………..x2)
My voice was breaking into uncontrollable tears. I could hear my classmates bullying me with uncontrollable laughter. I could hear their tiny voices whispering: even the headmaster’s child does not know how to recite it o.
Even though I could see the disappointment on my teacher’s face, she didn’t mind my already soiled green and white school uniform. Instead, she carried me up in her arms and wiped my tears with her palms. She urged me not to listen to my classmates and reassured me that with time, I will learn the states and capitals and recite them better than my peers.
Two decades later, somewhere in the Warri, I found myself stuck with the same Five-letter word in the bathroom of a friend’s one room en-suite apartment. “Borno” echoed in my head as I stood in that bathroom, with beads of sweat rushing out of my body on a cold Monday morning.
I had just graduated with good grades and was waiting to be posted to any of the thirty(36) states to participant in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme for one calendar year. Knowing “somebody that knows somebody”, I was certain that I would be posted to Abuja or Lagos, after the online registration, I bragged loudly to all that cared to ask.
“Which state are you going to?”
“Abuja of course! Where else?”, I would scornfully say.
I think my bragging became so irritating that, one day, an acquaintance asked me solemnly, “Have you worked your posting to Abuja?”
Before he could finish, I zoomed off:
“Yes, I have, one of the officials is my very good friend. one of the Directors in Abuja and my Oga and the main Oga in Abuja are very close. I have forwarded my details.”
The guy just said, “Hmmm…” followed by a long silence.
Another person who overheard us asked, “why?
I frowned at him and asked; “How can I? I am from South. I did my primary, secondary and university education in South. I need a change of environment, biko.“
My trust in my Abuja connect was still strong on the eve of the posting, as I lay on the bed lying on the floor of the room with two of my close friends. We kept vigil for the posting; empty cans of Nescafe and Alomo bottles littered the room. I could see the fear written on my friends’ faces and I could tell why, but I was overconfident that I would be posted to Abuja because of the “somebody” I knew. The only fear I entertained that night as we kept vigil together was that my good friends might not be posted to Abuja. As we all desired to be in the same State, we each chose Abuja as our first choice during the online registration.
Mid way into our self imposed vigil, I slept off and was woken up by one of my friends, terribly shaken. He had slept off too and dreamt that he was posted to Kano. I shouted, “God forbid!“
As we say, the sleep in my eyes “cleared” instantly! The other friend there with us was also woken by the K- word. He shouted “Jesus!” when he heard “Kano” and sat up immediately.
I asked the friend that dreamt, “Do your dreams come true?“. He said yes.
I started consoling him on his loss. “Boko Haram crisis is not that serious in Kano. You should be grateful that you are not posted to Borno; the headquarters of Boko Haram.”
Around 4 a.m., we were woken up by the shouts of; “Yeah! Yeah! Lagos, here I come!”
It was the voice of my friend who dreamt that he had been posted to Kano. I could see the tears of joy on his face. I quickly unplugged my Infinix phone from the socket and checked my status but I was not posted yet. I congratulated my dear friend but with mixed feelings.
“He dreamt of Kano and now he is posted to Lagos, what if his dream come true. Which of his friends is now going to Kano?“, I thought. I shrugged off this feeling. “Definitely not me.“, I told myself and kept a straight face. “My Abuja friend will post me to Abuja; he promised to do so. I can’t go to the North with all the killings there. God forbid. It’s either Abuja or Lagos.“, I reassured myself.
Fear began to creep up on me; my friends could see it but I pretended to not be afraid, we had our phones handy and regularly checked social media for updates. #…..Corper and #NYSCposting was trending on Twitter, Facebook, and whatsapp status.
@amarajesus: “God has remembered my family and me. I don’t know anybody but Jesus is my somebody and He has posted me to Abuja. #PraiseGod #JesusMySomebody #AbjCorper.”
@jennifer: “My Akwa Ibom connect is on point. #TeamAkwa ibom #flexingthingsonmymind #IbiomCorper”.
@Henry: “This posting does not reflect my wish and desire. It is a caricature of a supposed transparent process. Why #SokotoCorper?”
@Ichie: “My enemies have finally gotten me. They have sent me to Boko Haram. How many days from Abia to Yola bikonu? #SoberMood #NYSCposting.”
@Josh: “That awesome moment you get, POSTED to Lagos. #iRepLagos #NYSCposting.”
Then came a sorrowful scream. “Kano! Kano!! But why me?”
Our dear friend had been posted to Kano State. Thank God the Lagos guy’s Kano dream finally came true and I wasn’t the one going to Kano. I stood up from the floor, patted the Kano guy at the back and told him it may not be as bad as he thinks, gave my phone to the Lagos guy to be checking my status, and headed to the bathroom. I was a happy man.
After removing my clothes and turning on the shower, the Lagos guy called from the room with an unexpected announcement.
“Guy, you have been posted to Borno.”
I stood frozen, yet sweating profusely in the shower. I couldn’t hear anything except the sound of the primary school song of “Borno – Maiduguri, (Borno – Maiduguri, ………….x2)” echoing in my head.
Slowly, with shock and shame, I walked out of the bathroom. Aside the echoing school song and questions like “Why me? What have I done wrong?” floating around in my head, I could hear my friends saying; “Guy, calm down before you hurt yourself o. It may not be as bad as you think. Things have changed about Boko Haram fight since APC changed Nigeria…….”On hearing his statement I gave him a look that interrupted his sentence.
I collected my phone and checked my posting. lo and behold,
State of Deployment: Borno
was staring at me boldly. My friends suggested that I should call my Abuja friend and my Oga that knows the main Oga in Abuja so that they will repost me to Abuja or Lagos. I then dialled my Abuja friend.
Me – “Hello sir!”
Friend – “Yes, how are you?”
Me – “I am fine sir. And you?”
Friend – “I am good. Have you been posted?“
Me – “Yes sir.“
Friend – “To where?“
Me – “Borno.“
I held the phone tightly. A brief silence followed that word.
Me – “Hello sir?”
Friend – “Yes, I am here. When are you travelling to Borno?”
I wasn’t sure if I had heard the question he had just asked me, or if it was meant for someone else. I was so shocked by the question that I didn’t know when I told him: “But sir, you promised to post me to Abuja campus.“
He then replied saying that he was not in charge of posting and that the person he knew in the ICT department had been transferred before our posting.
“Sir, please can you repost me to Edo, Anambra or Kogi? Forget about Abuja; I don’t even like Abuja or Lagos and its busy traffic.
“No, you did not say that on time. Besides, it is not possible because your orientation will start on Thursday. When you reach Borno make sure you call me.” Then he hang up.
Confused, I then called my Oga but the conversation was not different. He urged me to accept the posting in good faith and go to Borno. I told him that I don’t know the road to Borno and he said, “That’s why you have Google Maps in your phone”.
That was how I packed my belongings and left Warri on Tuesday morning before sunrise with the aid of Google Maps. It was a long journey to the North that humbled me and reminded me of the vanity of trusting in men.
“It shall end in praise”, I promised myself.
Welcome everyone to another day of expressing, as usually use the comment box to Express yourself, and share with us how you felt about your NYSC Deployment.
Highly inspired by Mr W