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Temi and I were playing Ludo in Temi’s room, when we heard a voice call from the sitting room.
“Helloooo. Corpers wee.”
We must have been too engrossed in the game not to have heard the person come up the stairs. We stepped into the sitting room to find a guy clad in the complete NYSC ensemble. The school was on holiday, and Temi, Zahra and I were the only Corpers still at Aguaba. A head count was slated to hold sometime during the month and because of the distance, we couldn’t afford to leave for home and come back. Dennis had gone to his uncle’s place at Onitsha, while Amaka went to her boyfriend’s at Benin. Bankz and Jeff had also travelled.
“Good afternoon.” He greeted.
“Ehm. I was posted to C.S.S. Aguaba, but there’s no one in the school, so the bike man brought me here.” He gesticulated. “That this is the Corpers’ lodge”
“Yes. Welcome oo.” Temi said, and offered him a seat.
“The school is on break that’s why it was closed.” I informed him. “How come you’re just reporting now? I thought they posted you guys since last month.”
“I was redeployed here. My posting just came out.” He answered.
“Oh. Okay. Where did you camp?”
“Wow. I’m coming let me get you the principal’s number.”
I went inside to pick my phone and gave him the principal’s number. After a few tries, the principal finally picked up the phone and told him he’ll come to the school the next day to attend to him. He introduced himself as James, and we talked about the school he attended, the course he studied and whether he would be able to spend a whole year at Aguaba alone. An hour or so later, Temi, who had started cooking Jollof rice sent me downstairs to get eggs.
“I’m coming. I want to get something downstairs.” I said to him.
“Let me follow you, I want to buy something too.”
“Oh. We are cooking o.”
“Okay. No problem.” He smiled. “Let me still follow you and look around.”
After purchasing the eggs, he asked me to go on to the lodge, he wanted to take a stroll. I shrugged and asked him to look out for snakes.
“What is smelling like this?” Zahra burst into Temi’s room.
“It’s Igbo. Weed.” I answered her.
“Shhhh.” Temi said, holding a finger to her lips. “It’s the new Corper that is smoking it.”
“The new Corper?”
Zahra had been sleeping and hadn’t met James yet. When we had first perceived it too, we had thought it was coming from downstairs. We also thought it odd, as it was the first time we were perceiving such a smell at the lodge and in broad day light too. We had stepped out to see if we could locate the person, when we found James at the balcony smoking it. To say I was shocked would be an understatement.
“James. We don’t allow smoking in the house please. If you want to smoke, you can go sit under the tree on that field.” I had said, pointing to the field.
He had stared at Temi and I for a minute before saying sorry and putting out the light from the weed.
“Where is he?” Zahra asked, apprehension in her voice.
“He’s eating on the balcony.”
Just then, James knocked on the door. He was going to the field for fresh air, He said, and thanked us for the food.
“We have to do something o. We can’t let somebody like this stay here with us.” Temi said, immediately he left.
“The more important thing is where will he sleep tonight?”
We eventually decided Temi would sleep with me and Zahra in our room, because it was the one with a good lock, while James would sleep in Temi’s room. That night, I could barely sleep. I kept tossing and turning until the sun rose.
The next morning, we told him horror stories about serving at Aguaba. The distance to school, the unclean well water, the muddy strip and a lot more, and then advised him on how to go about getting a reposting to Obollo-Afor or even Enugu town or even become a ghost Corper, depending on how much money he had to part with. Luckily for us, he was looking to ghost corps, so he jumped at our advice. So, instead of calling the principal to ask for the appointment time, he called to cancel the appointment. We were more than relieved when he left. Living with an igbo smoking Corper was not an experience we were interested in having.
After the headcount, we all travelled home and didn’t report back to Aguaba until a month later, which was about two weeks to our passing out parade. Amaka and Dennis laughed their ass out when we narrated our ordeal with James to them.
“But how did he locate where they sell it that fast?” Amaka asked.
“I wonder o. He had just spent 1 hour o. Me sef that I’ve been in this village for months cannot point out where they are selling it.” I answered.
“Forget that thing. People like that always know how to make enquiries and they also know each other.”
Time flew past pretty quickly, and 10 days later we passed out of the National Youth Service Corps. We had all spent 10 months in the middle of nowhere, and we survived. After everything, I can say that we served the Fatherland with Core Passion. Yes, even Jeff and Bankz, I think.