Thinking of how to approach today’s topic, I was actually going to write about my U.K. experience(roughly two years) since that’s the ‘farthest’ I’ve been from home. That would’ve been perfect if, mathematically and actually speaking, home = house.
Anyway, the farthest I’ve been from home was just for three weeks. It was at the NYSC Kangere camp in Bauchi state. I’ve never missed home like I did there and then. Screw that, I’ve never hoped to make it back home alive like I did there and then. I sorta had myself to blame. I was the one that rebuffed my parents’ efforts to ‘work’ my service to Lagos after all. I desired exposure and boy did I get more than I bargained for when a friend told me my call-up letter was sending me to Bauchi. North-East. North-East where Boko Haram guys were terrorising heavily. Like, make floor just open make I enter because how I wan take yarn my people for house?
They obviously didn’t take the news well and even threatened not to allow me go. But in spite of my fear, I had faith in God to protect me and convinced them to let me. I went. My reputation of overpacking dealt with me on my first night. And there’s a lot to share on my experience about that night and the following weeks, but that’s for another day. I’ll tell you about a particular night in my room — which happened to be the highlight of my experience because it was always lively; banter everyday. Oh I remember the liveliest guys found me interesting for some reason and wanted me to try smoking a blunt or two. lol Another story for another day.
So this particular night, we were back in the room resting after a usual hectic day. Normally I’d listen to the gists flying around, laugh a bit then listen to some music before praying and sleeping. I followed my routine that night and as I listened, the gist for the night went along like this:
Guy 1: Omo naso I de follow one sojo yarn today. Een clear me say some sojos de normally hang for trees inside camp. Say dem de on the lookout for Boko guys…in case dem show up anytime.
Guy 2: Ah bro. You no mean am!
Guy 1: You don forget say e de news say dem bomb one area for this Bauchi even as we de here so? You don forget say na why we no do endurance waka again? Leave that one first, you know wetin burst my head pass?
Guy 2: Guy you don de fear me. Wetin?
Guy 1: The sojo talk say as for him o, if dem Boko show, een go run o. Fly fence straight unto say een get family for house o.
Guy 2 (and some other guys in the background): Ah! People wey supppse protect us? Every man for himself o. We sef go ja one time. Na fence go sure pass.
That night, as I listened, imagined all I had heard and full of fear, I wished I didn’t follow my night routine. I wished I was at home. I plugged in my earphones to block out the remaining gist and said a prayer that I think was laced with some ‘God abeg.’ I believe it’s safe to say that moment was the farthest from home I’ve ever been/felt.
Your Bauchi camp survivor,