I’ve been away for sometime, not for reasons of indolence (Though I suspect that would have played a part in some form of delay even if I was around all this while) but because I decided to serve my country in a place which was previously unexplored territory to me. It was a trip to the northern part of the country, to a place I had not heard of until recently, to a place I never dreamt of visiting, to a place that posed a huge threat to me. I was headed for Jigawa State.

When I discovered I was headed for Jigawa, I immediately looked for it on the map of Nigeria to try and gauge the terrain. You can imagine the dismay on my face when I saw how far away it was. It shared a border with Niger Republic and even worse, a border with Borno state. With the Boko Haram insurgence in Borno and their tendency to want to branch out, I knew my arse was on the line. I put on a brave face and decided to test the waters (I actually didn’t see any bodies of water in Jigawa state). I plotted out a travel plan. I was going to fly to Kano and then take a bus to Jigawa. I slept on it, my mind was racing. Fuck it, I was going to the unknown.

The day I left for Kano was the day I boarded my first flight ever. I remember it like it was yesterday. I know it seems odd but up until a few weeks ago, I was a ground bird. Road travel was my forte. Now I was headed for the clouds, it made me nervous. Now I would have said getting to the airport was a blur but you know how MMA2 is. It was a hive of activities and of course, it’s not Arik until they’ve delayed your flight by at least 2 hours but finally I made it on and soon we were in the air. Remember this was my first flying experience, no prior air time before. So you can imagine to my horror when after a few minutes after take-off, we suddenly started dropping mid-air. The plane was in disarray, passengers were screaming here and there. The girl besides had already burst in tongues and was fearfully but fluently appealing to God to save her soul. Now whatever brave face I had tried to put on to this point was wiped off instantly. I gritted my teeth and gripped the sides of my chair till my knuckles were almost white. I was tongue-tied so I couldn’t pray. All that flashed through my mind were the airplane movies, Flight, Non-Stop etc. For those few seconds, I died inside. But somehow, we managed to get out of the sticky situation and everything returned to normal. I can firmly tell you that the rest of the flight was an unpleasant experience.

The announcement that we had entered Kano airspace prompted me to look out the window to see what was in store for me. All I saw was an arid piece of land. Everywhere was like a desert. Immediately, mumbles started going on in the plane. This was a plane that was full of mostly corpers headed north and we weren’t happy with our first sightings. However, few minutes later, we began to see the beautiful city of Kano. It was a lovely sight from up there and I began to think the north wasn’t so bad after all. Touch down the Aminu Kano local airport and I was set to start the next phase of the journey to Jigawa.

Now whatever resolve I had built up during the flight to Kano was shattered on my way to Jigawa. I mean, riding through Kano was fun and all but when we started getting to the outskirts, my resolve started sinking.The road was empty and dusty. I saw more cows and goats than humans. The animals were the ones using the road. The place looked inhabitable. No cars on the road, dusty winds at almost every moment and large expanses of land with no houses in sight. It was a desert. And everywhere up north is far. The distance between to ‘towns’ is never less than 30 minutes. I was sobering up in the bus and by the time I got to the orientation camp two hours later, I decided that this was hell.

Welcome to hell. Come back for the sequel.

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