I probably should have written this sooner but I kept putting it off till I was in a mood to write something. The words were not coming though and it did not seem like I was not going to hit the mood anytime soon so I decided to just go ahead and play around with my pen and paper anyway. This title came to me while I was on my way to Lagos from Ondo state (I was just leaving Ondo by the time) at about 10pm. Why I was bound on this seemingly ill-fated journey is a tale of many stories, intertwined and twisted, dating back to early May this year. It is the history of my unexpected tour round the country. It is quite lengthy so I might have to break it up into a series of mini stories. It actually has not ended but I’m a bit more stable now and might now get to travel as much I used to. I would try to remember as much detail as I can so sit back and relax because it’s been a long, bumpy ride.
Answering the Clarion Call
It all started from my school troubles. I never thought I’d actually get to open up about it but well, I was dumb enough to let it happen so screw it. Last year, while my mates were pursuing other ventures after graduating from the university, I was still there spending an extra semester for something really stupid. It was really a waste because all I did was sleep through that period. I was always doing nothing. I didn’t want to have to go out and start telling ‘stories that touch’.
Well, fastforward a couple of months to this year and I was done with the whole shebang and was preparing to go serve my country. Now the NYSC scheme is one where you are posted to a part of the country to serve in any capacity you can. It’s supposed to be about helping to build the nation by working in an important industry (either a ministry or you end up as a teacher) and community development which is all about bringing some form of progress to the community you now live in. It’s supposed to be a wonderfully new experience (which is a huge pack of lies. It has infact been tagged Now Your Suffering Continues). Anyway, a lot of people tend to want to influence the posting process so they can get a favourable place. It’s usually through one strongman in the Abuja Head Office or in the case of a particular good friend of mine, the Director-General of NYSC himself. But poor me didn’t have those kind of connections at that time. I was stuck with hoping for the best. The wait was long and the closer it came, the tenser I was.
On the D-day, I and a couple of friends in the same boat gathered together so we could check. We drew straws and somebody had to go first. The first person got Bauchi, the next Plateau, and the next one was Kaduna. The way the trend was going, it seemed like we were all getting posted up North but still I was hopefully because I didn’t have any plans to leave Southern Nigeria. It got to my turn and with a held breath, I click on the button. I had to abandon all hope because I was posted to Jigawa. Jigawa!!! Like I didn’t even know where it was on the map so instinctively I searched for it on the map et voila, it was as far north as the North could get. I began considering not going but if there was anything I learned from the past months, it was that staying at home to wait wasn’t an option at all. So, with that as my motivation, I decided to head to Jigawa to ride the storm (more like dryness) for a while and see what was going to pop. I armed myself with a fake medical report, packed my bags and headed for the orientation camp.
The Flight to Kano
I discovered that to get to Jigawa, you’d have to get to Kano first and then, take a car going to Jigawa. Now I decided to go by flight. The flight to Kano is the main reason I’ll board Arik Air for anything in this life ever again. It was my most horrible flying experience albeit, my first flying experience. I wanted to get to the camp as early as possible so I booked my flight for a day before camp was to open and although, it cost more money, I was willing to spend it because I hated uncertainty. On the day of the flight, I raced to the airport as fast as I could but when I got there, there was confusion. All the flights were delayed. Apparently, Arik didn’t have aviation fuel and most of their flights were grounded. I couldn’t fly again that day and had to leave the next day. I was happy to get to fly though and tried not to show my excitement as I boarded the plane. I even met an old friend who made me feel comfortable as we were settling down.
I kept on bracing myself for take-off and when we finally did, I tried all I could to hold in my fear. There was a girl sitting beside me and I didn’t intend on letting her see me flustered so kept my cool. Then, somehow, midway through the flight, the plane suddenly started dropping. It may have lasted about 6-7 seconds but those were the longest seconds of my life. I gripped the sides of my seat till my knuckles turned white. Now, you know how people say when you stare death in the face, your life flashes in front of you, it wasn’t my life that flashed in front of me. Flight, Non-Stop, Con Air, the beginning of Lost, Snakes on a Plane and many more airplane movies were what flashed before me. The passengers in the plane were in an uproar. The girl besides me had already burst out in tongues and remained like that for most of the flight. We were all in a state of panic. Then, as sudden as it started, everything went back to normal again and we ascended back to cruising altitude. The flight crew tried to apologise but we weren’t having any of it.
Sleep could not come and after what seemed like a while, we were finally hovering over Kano and it was a sight to behold. It looked like a desert from up there. The sights of civilization were small when compared with the desert. I was shaken but as a hard man, I had to compose myself. Touchdown Kano and the first thing that hit me about the place was the dry, hot weather. My skin began to lose water immediately. Next were the flies. They came in swarms to welcome us. They were persistent as fuck and we kept trying, without success, to swat them away. I got my luggage and headed to the park where I boarded a car headed for Fanisau, Dutse in Jigawa state.