Disclaimer: still fiction.
It was 4 a.m and Kemi was already awake. Today was a special day, it was different and a lot was at stake. As she prayed in tongues, her mind fleeted over the past three weeks, she was full of gratitude, considering everything that had happened. As she wondered where she would be posted, ‘Abeokuta’, was the quiet response. Her mind began to wander as thoughts of where she would work and live crept in, and she began to worry…”do not exert yourself in matters too great for you to understand”, Abba had spoken again, it was up to her to stop worrying. Jeremiah 29:11 easily came to her heart as she prayed.
She quickly rounded up her personal devotion, and checked to see that her belongings had been packed. She was not about to leave anything behind. She was elated about leaving camp, partly because she couldn’t wait to get out of the same physical space as her camp crush. She was serious about not falling for anyone in NYSC camp, plus there was still the matter of the one that got away and is probably coming back. This line of thought always brought her back to the point where she wondered if she was full of faith or foolishness, or maybe a little bit of both.
As she put her bags together, she wondered if she had made the best of the past three weeks. She remembered having conversations with a few people about Jesus, but was that enough? She recalled the times when she felt really drained, and discouraged, when she had to reach out to her prayer partners on the outside to pray over her, even Funto had not been left out. Kemi had never been one to pretend. Camp clinic alleviated some of the stress of camp, but in a way that’s hard to describe, the three weeks of forced cohabitation with strangers had had its effect on her mental and emotional wellbeing. She was tired of it.
Yes, there were a couple of highlights, but social night was certainly not one of them. Camp clinic was her hideaway on social night days, she was sorry for those who were compelled to attend, it was every introvert’s nightmare. But the carnival was not as easy to escape, it was compulsory for everyone to attend, all they did was wear their platoon t-shirts, and attend yet another lecture, with lots of pictures taken after that.
The NCCF services surprised her the most, she enjoyed every Sunday service, those were the days everyone looked forward to. They were allowed to wear mufti until 2pm on Sundays. It gave a semblance of normalcy. Kemi loved to read so buying books at the camp market was on of her Sunday pastimes. She and Funto would walk through the market after lunch to shop for books. It was a wonder she still had money.
“Hi Kemi, good morning, so where do you think you’ll be posted?”, Funto asked. Kemi thought about it for a moment and just as she was about to say what she wanted, she decided to go with what she knew, ” I don’t know”, was her quick response. Funto replied, “me neither”, and they both laughed nervously. Kemi had done her homework, she had a compilation of all the hospitals in Abeokuta, and how much they paid. She knew she wanted to work at the Federal Medical Centre, it was central and the pay was good, compared to other hospitals that paid peanuts. She had refused help from home, she was not open to ‘working it’, and her parents had told her she was on her own. It was difficult to explain but she knew Abba was going to sort her out with little or no input from her parents. She wondered if she would regret the decision, and quickly dismissed the thought.
The bugle had come again, and this was the last call. She was not going to miss it. Kemi was ready. She moved quickly, dragging her box on one hand, and a travelling bag on the other hand. As it was in the beginning, there was no one to help. Funto and Kemi moved steadily towards the clinic. They had planned to keep their bags there until after the final parade. It was already beginning to drizzle. It had been a rainy three weeks.
Today was different, the clinic was closed for business and everyone had to go to the stadium to collect their posting letters. One could be posted to any of the twenty local government areas in Ogun State. Those who had ‘worked it’ already knew exactly where they were going to work for the next one year. Kemi and Funto had no such luxuries.
Everyone was seated in the stadium, waiting. Rumour had it that their posting letters would soon be distributed.
Everyone was getting restless, where were the officials? Didn’t they know time was going by fast? Kemi had since gotten tired of checking her wrist watch, social media would do for now, but she had to keep an eye on her battery.
No posting letter, no official.
“Good morning, Corp members, please rise up for the national anthem”, the shuffling of thousands of feet could be heard across the stadium as they rose. The rest of the ceremony went by quickly after that. The parade had been cancelled.
“Line up platoon by platoon for your posting letter”, each corp member had been assigned a number, it was the number that would be called. Her heart skipped a bit every time a number was called. 3512, this was her number. She froze, then moved automatically to the front. As she tore open her letter, Kemi checked for the city before the place of primary assignment. ”Abeokuta here I come” was her enthusiastic yell! Her excitement quickly faded as she saw her place of primary assignment.
©Olamide Akappo(nee Oti), 2020
NCCF- Nigerian Christian Corpers’ Fellowship
Psalm 131:2(KJV), “Lord , my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me”