CORPERS LODGE (NINE)

In case you missed the last episode click HERE

Helen had gone back to her school. She had stayed a week but it had borne a month hole in my pocket. I now owe Micah 3000 naira, IBK 12,000 naira, my personal okada rider 2000 naira for a thousand trips to and fro Ikirun, and Agu one thousand naira for working a miracle on the toilet. Total debt, 18000 naira. My monthly allowance, 19,800 naira. This means that as soon as I pay my debt I would have less than 2000 naira for the whole month.

But I wouldn’t pay back all the money this month. No, I dare not. I would only pay my okada man, and half of what I owe IBK. If Agu complained I would ask him to sue; the toilet served Queen Helen, but now serves every one so why should I pay for it? Micah and IBK might not like this but I would only apologise. They might say I have blocked the road for tomorrow. I would say ‘whatever’ because I know there can’t be a tomorrow. If anyone calls me and say, ‘Shey youare serving in Osun?’ I would say ‘No, I have been redeployed to Borno state. Sambisa Local Government.’

Helen had come and gone, and I was counting my loses and sipping my garri one by one. I remember when we arrived here as Otondo Corpers, how we all boasted about saving 150,000 naira at the end of our service year. But as soon as NYSC blood money began to hit our accounts we knew better. Nearly half-way into my service year, I owe an amount which I would only settle in two months’ time. God, help your boys. What if at the end of it all, I saved no kobo and had to hitch a ride home, and stay for months without job, what would I do? Return to asking papa for recharge card money?

My personal debt aside, there are official debts on my head. I owe 2000 for NCCF shirt and 1000 naira for the welcoming of Batch C corps members presently in camp.There is also the money we pay monthly in our respective CDS groups (used for one useless project to another) of which I owe four months. And don’t forget your tithe, God bless you(and bless you too).Sigh.

Now, there is this one they call capitulation at NCCF. This is donating one full month allowance toGod. As we have actually ten working months, and earn nearly 20,000 naira a month, the payment could be spread over the months, 2400 naira per month. Dayo had mentioned this to me and I told him I would seek the face of God first (halleluiah). One good thing about NCCF stuffs, nothing is compulsory. People like Agu and Micah do not pay one naira to NCCF. But they are sinners, hell-bound. Sigh. I shall not relent. Who knows, the angel in charge of the Book of Life might just pity me and write my name there. With pencil. I don’t mind.Or he would write the name in NNPC pay list. With pen of course (I don’t think NNPC allow pencils).

Even though we all know that any money required from us at NYSC is compulsory, people like me wouldn’t stop kicking whenever dues were mentioned for payment. When the Welcome Committee announced 1000 naira, I rose to my feet and spoke glowingly about the beautiful concept of brotherhood, youthful elevated sentiment and gracious hospitality. Then I suggested that the money shouldn’t be made compulsory, it should be opened for free will donation as people like me could donate as high as 3000 naira. The whole corps members clapped, the committee thanked me and said the 1000 naira remained but would appreciate if I gave my 3000. I sat down, smiling sheepishly, but inside I cursed them.

Everyone was mad at me when they discovered the principal’s death was mere prank. But because they didn’t want to embarrass me while Helen was around, they kept their displeasure bottled up and cursed me silently. Edwin had called the principal but the number didn’t go through. We later learnt that the poor man was in Saudi Arabia, performing Hajj. ‘Is Facebook allowed in Mecca?’ I overheard Edwin asking Micah.

Edwin still nursed serious grudges. I am not afraid of him. He cannot do me harm, although the other night I dreamed he was pricing an AK47 rifle. When I woke up, I fasted six to six.

On the issue of Agu’s pregnant girl, well, I played detective and found she had ran with her pregnancy to Ilesha. I even got a phone number of an aunt. When I get paid I would go to Ilesha and bring Jumoke back so Agu would do the honourable thing. When we came here, the traditional ruler had warned all corps members against putting babies inside their girls. Anyone who disobeyed this would marry the girl or face the wrath of his highness. No, he didn’t threaten lagoon, but we understood the repercussion well enough. As a law-abiding corps member, I would ensure that the girl returned to marry Agu. I would be the best man and it would be the happiest day of my life. Agu weds Jumoke. I can’t wait.

Meanwhile, the day of the welcoming of Batch C met me in the zenith of my biting poverty.My head was bushy as I didn’t want to get it cut on loan, and I was so thin since as you know, there is nothing glorious about soaked garri and sugar. I didn’t even want to attend the welcome ceremony at the owa’s palace but Micah wouldn’t hear of it. Pretty girls would be posted to our PPA and we had to catch them young or early, I wasn’t sure which. So he put on a smart shirt well-tucked with shining shoes. I just put on my cap to hide my bushy hair and a long-sleeved shirt to cover the veins that littered my hands like iroko roots. In spite of me, first impression mattered.

When we reached the venue, the corps members were already there. There were five of them posted to our school and all of them were men. Not one lady. And of the entire twenty-something corps members posted to the village, there were eleven girls and, to quote Micah, only two or three of them would pass in a crowd. I tried to meet the macho group sent to my PPA and discovered none of them studied English, none graduated from Ahmadu Bello University and none of them is of the South East. I hurried up with my rice and Fanta Pineapple and sneaked away.

I hadn’t gone far when Dayo called me on phone.

‘Where are you?’ he demanded.

‘I am going home…’

‘Why? Don’t you know that one of them will stay with you?’

‘I think…’ but the call had ended. I dragged myself back to the owa’s palace. I saw Dayo in front of the hall with a short, hefty fellow who must be in his late thirties standing by him. Why do old men insist on participating in NYSC? I fumed, prepared to dislike the guy.

‘This is Corper Kings,’ Dayo said. I extended my hand, a false smile playing on my face. ‘Kings, this is Gowon.’ The smile disappeared from my face like a scrubbed spit. Gowon! The same Gowon who fought my people in the civil war? Oh no! There was no way I would take a Gowon home. But Dayo was looking at me, daring me to say so. To hide my evil intent, I bent down and picked up General Gowon’s bag and quickly turned to go. Gowon caught up with me. ‘Dayo say you are speak Hausa.’

Poor grammar, I almost said aloud but I managed to keep my mouth shut. ‘You are speak Hausa now?’ he pushed. ‘See, let’s hurry up,’

I said, ‘the place is far.’

‘Maybe we should climb bike,’ he suggested.

‘No, we will take helicopter.’
# #
I and Micah were squatting in the bush, tissue papers in our hands. We were a few metres apart and as it was dark we couldn’t see each other. But we could hear each other and feel the frustration in the air. Micah was really aching over the absence of the fairer sex in our PPA. He kept hissing like a snake. I told him to stop so that we would know when the real snake arrived. He hissed again. ‘That corper staying with me is a nonsense guy,’ he said.

‘What did he do?’ I asked. And Micah just hissed. If he was hosting a female corper, she wouldn’t be nonsense.

‘What will our guests eat tonight?’ I asked. ‘Do I know?’ was his reply. ‘I have garri,’ I said, ‘what of you?’

‘I have sugar,’ came his reply.

‘What else?’

‘Twenty naira for groundnut.’ I sighed when I realised where his answers were leading to. ‘See, man, we can’t give our guests soaked garri for dinner.’

‘We can only give them what we have. You have garri, what were you expecting me to have? Egusi or ogbono soup for eba?’

I sighed. Micah was sounding like me and I was playing his role. ‘See,’ Micah pursued, ‘we can only love our neighbours like ourselves, not more than ourselves. You taught me that. And moreover we are better than Agu who would feed his guest marijuana.’

I laughed. ‘The corper I pity most is the one staying with Edwin. If Edwin and his six months pregnancy mistakenly lie down on his body, the guy is dead.’ Micah chuckled as he began making out of the bush. I hurried up with my excretion and joined him on the pathway.

As we walk home, my conscience kept flogging me. New corps members, fresh from 21 days in the hell called camp, kept under our guidance for few days and we feed them with soaked garri the first opportunity we had. I can imagine what Uncle Dayo would say if he heard that we fed our guests garri. He might say, ‘Haven’t you read about it? On the last day, God will tell you, ‘‘I was a Corper and hungry and you gave me garri soaked in water!’’ ’

That judgement day, phew, would be terrible, terrible. Personally, I don’t think the likes of Agu should be judged. They should just proceed to hell with a wrap of weed in the corner of their mouths.But God wouldn’t send anybody to hell without fair hearing. And these hearings would take a heck lot of time.To save time, I believe God wouldhave to create two judgement lines—one for corps members and the other for normal human beings.

Click here for Episode Ten
Tweets to @oke4chukwu

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34 thoughts on “CORPERS LODGE (NINE)

  1. Adeleke Julianah

    Wow!
    I can imagine!
    Oh well. This is sure a superb read
    I love every bit of it. And can’t wait for next week to come o!
    Great narration excellent captivation!
    Kudos Kingsley, well done!

    Like

    • HARD VOICES

      I am somewhat relieved to hear this because this particular episode gave me unusual trouble. If it’s your favorite then perhaps it ain’t so bad. I will aspire to make a better next episode. Thanks Serah for this, and for the buzz on Facebook. You rock pieces

      Like

  2. Yemie

    Its pretty uncanny, this semblance Helen bears with that proverbial Chicken from whence I come, who’s famed for feeding on money as opposed to corn! So on the heels of her departure, you’re left ‘nairaless’, having fallen in on deep, extremely dire financial strait….a financial hole, yikes! 👿🙉😆

    All’s not totally lost, at least, you get to plug into the sweet memories you made, which can neither be stolen nor taken away from you! Moreso, moments such as those are priceless and no amount of money could possibly buy that! 😉😂

    Just when I was thinking your host community was just bout set to becoming smaller in the wake of your FB stunts, the Principal dude winds up in Holyland! Yuck! 😔😭Someone up there must REALLY love the duo of Edwin and you! That was a very close call; phew! 🙊😂

    Thanks for this Kingsley, if anything; I’ve learnt your unending love for ‘bush attacks’ and continuous sighing! Those are real eye-openers! 👀Eew!!! 💩😂

    Like

    • HARD VOICES

      Ah Aunty Yemee, what sweet memories? I, a man of God, certified by Cardinal Dayo cannot derive any memory from the fruits of a woman. Behold, old girls have passed away and all things have become new… I am not quoting anything o.

      My redeemer liveth. Eg, Mr Principal that I killed resurrected, not in Jerusalem, in Saudi, after 24 hours.

      What is bush attack sef? What are you saying? Lols.

      Beautiful comment from the best Hard Voices can boast of. Jah bless. Thanks for stopping by. #Winks #Sue

      Like

  3. Kelvin

    It’s just crazy… I was hoping things will get better for you since Helen is gone but nay! Trouble in paradise.
    To be sincere am scared of Gen. Gowon o… The fact that he’s not complanning about the garri routine gets me worried (that guy fit get plans o) I just hope it’s a good one Sha!
    😂
    my vrother, I understanding the gowin trough of things as as now, pls carry heart and be hard like pam canel. Lol
    Good to have you back Brother, really felt your absence.
    I officially welcome you back {not like MTN Sim o}
    Once again you’ve done what you do best (or one of those things you do best)
    👍 great work, see ya next week.

    Like

    • HARD VOICES

      Kelvin, I should be one telling you welcome. Have been back siiiiince, where were you hiding sef. Anyway, fear north, Gowon cannot do nothing. I took garri, I gave my guest garri. No one can condemn me. Maybe Uncle Dayo. But no one with sense should… What am I talking about. Kelvin please do not lead me to sin. Carry your wahala dey go. Until next week.

      Thanks for blogging with us, this week. Next week, it is.

      Like

  4. chinenye

    Hilarious episode. I felt like I was there,chai. As for helen and ur cash less state,all I can say is ntooo! Erm, biko endeavor to feed your guests o. No soaking of virgin garri for them o. Anyways,I like the way ur mind works kingsley!

    Like

    • HARD VOICES

      Enemy. But God will make me a table before you. Enemy. I shall conquer. The garri I drink today, l shall drink no more. The same applies to your boyfriend Gowon. Ntoo.

      You have become a regular presence in my site. One day I will surprise you. One of these years, that is.

      Like

  5. Ugwu Psalmuel

    ‘See,’ Micah pursued,
    ‘we can only love our neighbours like
    ourselves, not more than ourselves.

    true talk, Micah!
    I’m beginning 2 lyk dat guy…

    9yz wuk Kings

    Like

  6. Adewoyin Joseph

    Feeding the general garri isn’t such a terrible idea, except you would like to give what you don’t have and let your debt portfolio engorge more than amiable Sis Helen has already made. Let Uncle Dayo sign an agreement to come to your rescue should General Gowon decide to stay true to the name and stage a coup to your detriment.

    If I may digress, I think Helens are erm, er…something like trouble (*scratches head* *look out for slaps from a mother hen… no, another Helen*). Remember the Helen in the Troy Story (Greeks and Trojans)?

    Evocative piece; I laughed hard at the memories it brought, and the signature humour and wits.

    Well done Kings. Una no dey fall pessin hand!

    Like

    • HARD VOICES

      Senor Joe, aswear I no understand every single thing you wrote here o. But then, such is the way of the learned. Mysterious is thy way. But from what I deciphered so for (having consulted the Oracles of the hills and the caves), I urge you to remain calm. General Gowon will drink garri and still behave. If he tries anything, him go see anything. Fear no slap, for the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women/Helens and blessed is the fruits of your Helenic memories.

      Thanks oga for making out time to entertain us in the comment box. Since you have refused to do so in your blog box. God pass you sha

      Like

  7. Saint Gab

    That blood money is not something to save. Please tell Gowon to suscribe to mtn english learning package or better still, be your neighbour’s helper.
    That your village doesn’t deserve corpers. Atleast the guys posted can tolerate the toilet at the lodge, thank God the ladies are not with them.
    I love what you are doing. You really gat talent. Keep it up.

    Like

    • HARD VOICES

      Haha, man you are a real case study o. Gowon should subscribe to what, for what? Don’t you know that a general is equal to a professor? Please leave the innocent general alone. English is a borrowed language. You mustn’t be a lady to appreciate the absolute lack of toilet welfare. In fact, the ladies have the tendency to adjust quicker. As for the village, I laugh in OBJ’s voice.

      Thanks for this really funny comment. It takes talent to recognise one. Keep blogging with us.

      Like

  8. Roborkaybee

    is IBK nt a corp member?? yet she had 12K to spare.. dear corper Kings, is der a hole in ur pocket or somfin…lols nyz one bro.
    Excellent narration..

    Like

    • HARD VOICES

      Guy, you haven’t seen anything, some corps members can afford to dash all their neighbours 12k each and still be bouncing, most especially international business corpers like IBK. A big hole in my pocket. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, bro. We always look forward to seeing you here.

      Like

  9. myekleticafair

    Hilarious bro…simply hilarious *rotfl*
    Every other sentence elicited a deep belly laugh. While I enjoyed it tremendously, I also fear the series is fast tending towards a farciologue…or was this the progression planned for the tale?
    Also, we (I believe I speak for all your esteemed readers *smile*) were all looking forward to having the lowdown on Helen’s visit *wink* But instead, all we got was a sorry lament on the aftermath.

    Why must we
    Who partook not of the feast
    Be invited
    To crack the revellers’ bones?

    But great work as usual bro *thumbs up*…I’m eagerly looking forward to the next episode already.

    Like

    • HARD VOICES

      Of course not. This series was never pure farce. Just that some of the events happen in manners that cannot but pierce the balloon of mirth. That said, my writing style is soft on humour. But keep reading us, we may yet find reasons to cry. We may. Now, on the issue of Helen I suspect some actually expected more drama from her but I fear her character which began in episode six might be overstretched. Some characters are like that. They come into your life, entertain you and break your heart after three episodes and be gone for good. Thanks dear for the thoughtful comments, I appreciate and will put it to use. Keep up your presence here. It’s a great deal

      Like

    • HARD VOICES

      And Mee has updated her Corpers reading, this calls for celebration of. Better never believe what you read here. It’s stranger than true life. Otondos aren’t that fresh you know, camp isn’t that sweet. Thanks for blogging with us

      Like

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