Sojourn far north-home too far
I didn’t wait for my phone to ring twice before I picked it. “Jummy, how far?” (I said hysterically, knowing she has information as regards our NYSC posting, as we were all basking in the euphoria of going for service).
“Guess what? You’ve been posted to Sokoto, Mosun, Abia, I, Ogun State, but I didn’t check for Dupe’s own,” she informed.
There was no how I would believe Jumoke because she was one of those girls in our class with mischief.
Fear clothed me instantly. I was destabilised. I had always wished to serve in any of the eastern states or south-south (particularly Cross-River State.) “Me? No way! Sokoto bawo? It’s not possible! Jumoke please be serious for once,” I snapped. “I mean it,” She retorted. “Don’t even worry, Mosun and I are already on our way to school, we’ll check it ourselves,” I said.
That was how our phone conversation ended. I didn’t even allow Mosun to ask before I began to tell her jumoke’s news. Mosun wasn’t composed too and so were all other fresh graduates that were in the shuttle with us enroute Osogbo, our school’s main campus.
We were all lamenting and doubting, whereas the bus driver was enjoying the music that blared from the stereo. The other fellows in the bus too were making frantic phone calls to some of their friends that had earlier gone to the campus ahead of us. It was a scene that portrayed a saying which connotes ‘all man for himself, God for us all.’
Eventually, we arrived at the main campus amidst tremor and anxiety. Multitudes of students were at the notice board, some were pushing others so as to pave way to the board, some were aside discussing, whereas; while some were jubilating, some looked sober and dull because of the unfavorable posting. I was tensed as I began to walk alongside Mosun to the board; “eni ori yo, o di Sokoto” (he who scales through, goes to Sokoto) chorused Drogba and Lembo. It was then it dawned on me that Sokoto was where I’ll spend the next one year.
My friends started teasing and making jest of me as I was known to be mocking people with such statement while in our final year. I was always prophesying northern states for my course mates as we were rounding off our Bachelor of Arts degree from Osun State University.
I summoned up courage and moved to the board to clear my doubt. Behold, I saw –state of deployment…SO. I didn’t need any soothsayer to tell me that the only state in Nigeria that begins with an S is Sokoto State. My hope of going to serve in the south-south was dashed. I picked up my phone and dialed my uncle’s number. I told him the situation and he said “it is well, collect your call-up letter and begin your journey back to Lagos so as to start an early preparation towards your Sokoto trip. Pele” Uncle Tunde, you mean I’ll go to Sokoto? I asked. “Yes you will,” he replied, adding that, “even if you will only stay for the three weeks orientation programme then we’ll work on your relocation to Lagos.”
I was a bit relieved, so I made another phone call to my elder brother. He on the other side wasn’t a party to my going to Sokoto. He had wanted me to serve in Lagos. But immediately I told him it was Sokoto State, he had nothing to say other than; “good for you- after all, you had always wanted to go far away from home. You claim to love adventure. So, good luck to you. If not, you would have given me your call-up number when I demanded for it so as to facilitate your youth service in Lagos, and what happened to the woman you claim was helping you with it? Oh! You can’t talk?” He asked.
I was speechless though I wasn’t expecting less than his comments. I broke the silence as I told him I would be in Lagos the next day.
Jumoke was patiently waiting for me in order to affirm her earlier-made assertion about my posting. We joked about it as we begin to move around, asking our friends and mates about their postings and the likes. I searched endlessly for those posted to Sokoto, but alas! I found none. We were actually six in number. According to what I saw on the list; each potential corps member from each campus as the school comprises six campuses. Invariably, I was the only one posted to serve in Sokoto from the faculty of Humanities and Culture, not so lucky. Dupe was lucky to be posted to Zamfara State, together with the likes of Lembo and Ada. Mosun too had people going to Abia State. Tayo had Nicholas in his Nasarawa-State-posting. Drogba got Seibofa to move with to Ekiti State. By that, several people began to acclimatise with others posted together with them.
Instantly, the thought of travelling alone to Sokoto with neither friend nor course mates engulfed me. I was once again downcast.
Later on, we converged on the auditorium to collect our call-up letter and everyone dispersed. I searched for few friends heading back to Lagos that day as I had prepared to leave Osogbo for Lagos same day. Luckily for me, I saw Lembo, Paul and others. We exchanged pleasantries and learnt that we were all returning to Lagos which makes it a fun-filled journey. We talked and laughed over our different postings to the northern part of the country, even with the cases of insurgencies, killings and bombings prevalent in the northern zones of the country; all the way through to Lagos.
*Written by Ronke Daramola