Saturday, June 13, 2015

Preview: Twenty-One Day Post #7

CHAPTER SIX: Day two

Wednesday, 6th August 2014

Oluomachukwu had hardly even slept when her alarm went off. She had set it for 3:30am instead of 4:30am, as she wanted to have an early bath, then lay on her bed until 4:30am when it would be time for the Wake-Up call and Corps members would be expected to report to the parade ground for their morning exercise and drills.

Events from the night before were still blurry, as she had been drained from all the hassle. She remembered hearing some of her roommates talk about their eventful day — some had not yet completed their registration, like Oluomachukwu, and some had also complained about not eating anything the whole day. Oluomachukwu related to that, because after her stop at a restaurant the morning before, she hadn’t tasted anything all through the day and she didn’t know how she managed, given that she loved to eat a lot — an almost self-acclaimed foodie.

Even in her tired state, she had heard them say that the Wake-Up call was by 4:30am. Some people had argued about it and some confirmed that they had seen it on the notice board, which was just at the entrance of the hostel. Oluomachukwu had found the strength to set her alarm before finally nodding off.

Oluomachukwu’s alarm rang a second time because she had hit the Snooze button, so she turned it off and tried to put it under her pillow when she realised that she had no pillow — the NYSC hadn’t provided pillows, contrary to what she believed, and she regretted not buying one. She came to the camp with a duvet cover and wrapped herself in it, because she was afraid of being bit by mosquitoes and getting the dreaded malaria. And as she moved to the top of her bed, in a sitting position, to say a quick morning prayer, she sat on something small and solid. She touched it and noticed that it was a cell phone. She tried to pick it up and the charger followed.

Just then, she looked at her bed and saw about seven phones there, and three of them were charging. From the way things were looking, it seemed like the only charging port in the room was behind her bed. It wasn’t going to be good. She glanced towards the bed directly opposite hers and saw a similar thing there. There was a port and it had been flooded with phones and chargers, kept on the bed of the girl who slept in front of it.

In the port behind Oluomachukwu’s bed, there was a small white extension box that could charge three phones, and three phones were already being charged. She felt it was rude, and unhygienic, for people to place their phones on her bed without her permission. She wanted to ask the owners to take their phones or she would fling them, but everyone was still asleep. Instead, she moved the phones to the windowsill and some to the floor, hoping that the owners wouldn’t put their phones on her bed anymore.

At the same time, she remembered that her phone needed to be charged, so she browsed through all the charges and found one that could charge her phone. She took off the phone it was connected to and plugged hers in. She then put the phone inside her duvet cover, hoping that she would still see it when she came back from having her bath. She had been told to trust no one, and just about anybody could steal her phone.

She picked up her bucket, bathing bowl, face towel, toilet bag, and left the room quietly, not wanting to wake anyone up. The room door opened from the inside, so it had been locked with a rusty nail that was put over it to prevent people from coming in to steal at night. But if the door was pushed open forcefully, there was no guarantee that the nail wouldn’t snap.

When she entered the bathroom, which was two doors away from her room, she felt nauseous. Dirty water lay still on the dirty floor, ankle level. The drainage looked like it had been blocked for days, and the colour and thickness of the water was enough proof. The only thing was that the camp had been opened the day before, but if nearly one hundred girls had used the bath, then it was sure to have been misused and eventually gotten blocked. The worst part was that no one was obviously going to clean it. It was going to be a use-and-go policy.

As Oluomachukwu stood there wondering what to do, a bird cried not too far away, scaring her. It was still very dark and she appeared to be the only person awake at that hour. At that moment, she contemplated going back to the room until the Wake-Up call, and considered the cry of the bird as a warning.

Before she turned around, a girl, big in stature, walked out of the dirty, flooded bathroom, in a towel that barely covered her up. Oluomachukwu wondered what she had been doing there, because there hadn’t been a single sound from anywhere around in the last three minutes.

There was no way on earth Oluomachukwu was going to use that bath, but when she turned around to go back to the room, she saw another girl quietly coming out of the room next to hers, in a wrapper, holding her bucket. The girl walked past the ‘dirty-river-bath’ and turned towards her right and walked down the hallway.

Oluomachukwu followed her and saw that there were two other baths facing each other, and surprisingly, they were not dirty. They weren’t clean; they were just not dirty. At least they were cleaner than the first one and she was going to have rest of mind when it came to having a bath.

And with that, she knew she was ready to experience community life, because spending twenty-one days without having a bath wasn’t an option.

Oluomachukwu suddenly became afraid of having her bath when she entered the bathroom, because she feared that the water was going to be cold. She wasn’t used to bathing with cold water, but it was something that she was going to have to get used to. She filled the bucket up, and with a small bowl, she scooped up water and poured it on her body. The water was indeed freezing cold and she felt a sting. It was as if she was bathing with ice cubes. She wished she could have at least warm, if not hot water, so that bathing wouldn’t be such a rather tough process for her. But unfortunately, there were no hot and cold outlets. It was just a single tap that brought out water, which was awfully cold. And as she continued her bath, she shivered with every drop that touched her body, from her face, to her breasts, to her legs and to her feet.

She managed to finish up, and got back to her room, trembling. She dressed normally, putting on a pair of jeans and a plain black top, then decided to catch some more sleep, at least until the Wake-Up call, but it didn’t play out as she had thought. Most of her roommates had already woken up and the room light had been switched on. Some of the girls were already talking on their phones, some played music with their phones — although the volume was not too high — and the rest, who weren’t disturbed, carried on snoring.

She darted her eyes around the room, trying to take in the faces of her roommates, most of whom she didn’t remember seeing the day before. She stretched her neck and looked towards the door for Dunsin. She still didn’t know why Dunsin looked so familiar. Dunsin had woken up and began to casually undress, and Oluomachukwu was surprised. She still hadn’t gotten used to the fact that she was going to eventually get naked in front of random girls. The way Dunsin easily undressed, it was obvious that she had lived in a boarding house before. Oluomachukwu had not, and she assumed she was going to have to get used to that as well, as most people probably wouldn’t notice her, unless she was going to have her bath fully dressed. She kept looking at Dunsin until Dunsin looked at her too, and their eyes met. Oluomachukwu looked away immediately.

At the same time, Ijeoma looked into Oluomachukwu’s bed space from the top bunk and greeted her.

“Good morning,” Ijeoma said.

“Hi,” Oluomachukwu replied.

“Are you still angry about yesterday?”

Oluomachukwu shook her head. “No, I was just tired, and I didn’t know that there could have been another way to get what I wanted done.”

“So you stayed on the queue for hours just to sign and submit two forms? Hmm.”

Before Oluomachukwu could reply, Fadeke woke up and interrupted, also poking her head in from her top bunk, “You should have joined my own line. There was another one close to the hostel that moved very fast.”

“You should have called me,” Oluomachukwu said.

“I didn’t have your number... I don’t even have it.”

As they were talking, the girls on the other bunk by the right side also woke up — Oghene on the lower bunk and Eternity on the top bunk. Without saying anything to anyone, Oghene got her bucket and bath things, and left the room. Eternity, on the other hand, joined in on their discussion. Ogo was yet to wake up.

Gradually, Oluomachukwu looked round and saw her roommates, some of whom weren’t prepared to have their baths, get dressed in their white shorts, white shirts, white socks that had two green lines resembling the pattern of the Nigerian flag — so the pairs she had bought outside the camp were going to be accepted — white tennis shoes, NYSC cap and waist pouch. Oluomachukwu regretted not collecting her kit the night before. Not long afterwards, the sound of the bugle, very loud and annoying, filled the air, and people started to grumble. The almost monotonous sound went on and on, like an alarm that couldn’t be turned off. Oluomachukwu didn’t know whether or not she should go downstairs, as she hadn’t finished her registration and gotten her kit. She interrupted Ijeoma as she spoke.

“Ijeoma, aren’t you going to get ready?”

“Me, keh?” Ijeoma laughed. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Why not?” Oluomachukwu was confused. “I thought you said you got your kit already.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere.”

Eternity stretched towards Ijeoma and gave her a high-five. “I’m not going anywhere too. I even want to go back to bed now.”

“So you don’t want to know what it’s like, the exercise and drills?” Oluomachukwu asked.

“Is there going to be an award for knowing what it’s like?” Ijeoma laughed, and Eternity laughed too.

Before Oluomachukwu could respond to Ijeoma, the door flew open and Oghene walked in, not smiling. She was wrapped up in her towel, water dripping from her body, grumbling to herself.

“Is something wrong?” Ogo asked Oghene when she heard her grumbling, but she didn’t answer. Ogo had woken up, but nobody noticed at first. She also spoke in an American accent that nobody knew she had. Everyone turned to look at her and she asked her next question to whoever thought to answer. “What time is it, please?”

Oluomachukwu replied after checking her phone. “It’s 4:35am.”

“4:35am?” Ogo repeated, only that she pronounced ‘thirty’ as ‘thuhree.’

Everyone kept quiet.

Ogo then got up, and as she prepared herself to go and have her bath, she looked at Oghene directly, and asked, in an American accent, “Sorry, how did the bathroom look?”

“Very dirty, I can’t live here. I can’t even manage here. Even pigs can’t use those baths. I need to get out of here, because I cannot suffer here.” Oghene’s facial expression indicated disgust. “Plus, there are two other cleaner baths, but everyone is in there, and there’s a queue. So you’ll have to forget about the bathroom this morning and use it after the drill.”

Ogo didn’t say another word. She simply started getting kitted for the morning drill. She wasn’t going to waste her time. As she got ready, she complained about everything, things she wasn’t sure of, just hearsays. Oluomachukwu didn’t know if the other girls were in her platoon, but they weren’t yet ready, and she wasn’t going to wait for people who didn’t know if they wanted to go for the drill or not. She unplugged her phone, surprised that no one had come to ask her why she had removed their phone. She put it in her handbag, carried her file and headed out of the room. As she was leaving, she heard Oghene lament again. She murmured, “I can’t suffer, not in this camp.”

***

Corps members lined up in four lines for each platoon, starting with Platoon One on the far left end of the parade ground and Platoon Ten on the far right end, so Platoon Seven wasn’t too far from the right side. Oluomachukwu had to count from the end to find her own platoon, and she also asked the people who stood in front of each line just to be sure. That was how she knew it was four lines per platoon. None of her new friends seemed to be in her platoon and she wondered what the odds were. She felt awkward coming out in mufti while others were kitted up, but she didn’t feel too bad anymore when she saw about three hundred other people in her platoon and in other platoons in mufti as well.

One guy who came out of nowhere, also dressed in mufti, looking like he hadn’t completely woken up, walked to the end of the four lines of Platoon Seven and said that all Corps members who hadn’t gotten their kits were to go and sit under the large canopy and wait until the morning drill was over by 7:00am. Oluomachukwu smiled at the news, as she didn’t want to do any exercise in tight jeans and ballerinas, so she walked happily to the canopy and sat down comfortably.

Only a couple of seconds after she sat down and before the drill began, the Drill Instructor, who looked more like a boxer than a workout instructor, grabbed a microphone and made an announcement. “I do not want to see any corper sitting under the canopy. Get up and join the others on the parade ground right now,” he said.

His voice was coarse and threatening. So he didn’t have to repeat himself. As soon as he completed his sentence, everyone stood up immediately and rushed back to the parade ground, looking confused, and not sure if to stand in front or behind. Oluomachukwu wanted to look for the guy that had given them the false information and give him a knock on the head, but she didn’t.

The morning activity started with a prayer, which was the second stanza of the Nigerian anthem, recited instead of sang:

O God of all creation... Direct our noble cause... Guide our leaders right... Help our youth the truth to know... In love and honesty to grow... And living just and true... Great lofty heights attain... To build a nation where peace... And justice shall reign.

Right after the prayer, the Drill Instructor corrected everyone, saying, “It’s where peace and justice reign’ and not ‘where peace and justice shall reign.’”

He repeated the correction since he had said it without using the microphone, and not everyone heard him. Only those standing in front, and closer to him, actually heard him. He was supposed to be standing in the middle, but he seemed to be closer to Platoons Seven to Ten, than to One to Six. Perhaps standing between Platoons Five and Six would have been his best bet. He didn’t ask the crowd to recite the whole anthem again, or repeat the last sentence, he just assumed that everyone had taken the correction.

After that, the Nigerian national anthem was sung, and it was the first stanza of the national anthem only.

 “Arise, O compatriots... Nigeria’s call obey... To serve our Fatherland... With love and strength and faith... The labour of our heroes past... Shall never be in vain... To serve with heart and might... One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.”

Ajuwayah, Ajuwayah,” the Drill Instructor yelled into the microphone, but everyone continued singing. He yelled it a few more times, before Corps members understood that he wanted them to stop singing.

“The next time I, or any other official, say ‘ajuwayah,’ it means you should keep your mouths shut, whether you are singing, talking or reciting anything,” he yelled, sounding very angry. “Ajuwayah!” he yelled again, and this time everyone kept quiet and listened. And the many other times they heard the command in the camp, they kept quiet and waited for an instruction.

The Drill Instructor eventually made everyone stop halfway and start all over again, and it was done about six times because he felt the Corps members were not adding life to the singing, or that they were still sleepy, or simply being lazy. He made sure he shared his thoughts with them.

The next thing was the NYSC Anthem. It was actually sung, and had a nice rhythm. Best of all, it was short, so it was easy to memorise. It was only the first stanza out of three.

Youths obey the clarion call... Let us lift our nation high... Under the sun or in the rain... With dedication and selflessness... Nigeria is ours, Nigeria we serve.”

After that, someone came out to read the Meditation for the day. Oluomachukwu could hear a voice, but she couldn’t see the person. The Meditation was a compulsory activity, which came up every morning, except on Sundays. And during the period, a representative from the platoon on duty would recite a Meditation write-up usually centred on national development, and it was written and prepared under the supervision of the members of the Publicity and Protocol Committee.

The Camp Director had arrived at the moment when they had just finished singing the NYSC anthem, but after the Mediation, she took the microphone and introduced herself. Her voice was a bit husky, so it was difficult to put a face to it. And even at that, she sounded very pleasant and made everyone laugh. She called the Corps members her children, prayed for them, then blew them kisses, and that actually made them laugh.

After that fun part was over, she made them all recite the NYSC anthem again, platoon by platoon, because it was supposed to help them memorise it in a short time. She actually said each line, and each platoon repeated it one after the other, so it took quite a very long time for recitals to be over. After that exercise, she then asked them all to sing it together.

Someone in the platoon just beside Oluomachukwu’s own said ‘Selfishness’ in lieu of ‘Selflessness’ and everyone roared in laughter. As Oluomachukwu recited the anthem with her platoon members, she said, “Under the sun or in the rain,” then remembered the security officer at the gate who took her umbrella and told her those same words.

It started to rain shortly afterwards, but just mildly, and Oluomachukwu didn’t know where to keep her file. She didn’t want it to get damaged and she hadn’t expected to be on the parade ground for long, especially as she was yet to complete her registration. So the girl standing behind her, who was also in mufti, offered to put the file in her big bag to prevent it from getting ruined. And in the rain, they all worked out and did their drills until it was 6:00am when the bugle blower came.

Every movement stopped until he was done playing the national anthem that sounded nothing like the national anthem. Everyone stayed silent, until it was over. Work out and drills resumed afterwards until 7:30am.

After the drill, there were a few more announcements on the programme for the day from the same lady who had introduced the State Coordinator the previous day. Oluomachukwu didn’t know the woman’s name or title, but she recognised her voice. After the announcement, the Camp Director assigned names to each platoon, ranging from Humility, to Teamwork to Selfless Service. Platoon Seven was named ‘Unity.’

After that, she informed Platoon One that they were on duty for the whole day, which meant that they would help out with the security at the gate; sanitation at the hostels; cleaning of the environment and arranging chairs under the canopy if and when needed; and cooking in the kitchen, serving of food in the dining hall and washing dirty pots and cleaning up the kitchen afterwards. Platoon instructors were supposed to assign the Corps members to either of the duties and ensure that the duties were duly carried out.

The next day, Platoon Two was going to be on duty, then Platoon Three the day after and so on. Summarily, every platoon was going to be on duty twice during the twenty-one days in the camp.   When the session was over, the Corps members were told that it was time for their Bath and Breakfast, while the ones in mufti had to go and complete their registration.

Oluomachukwu and her new friend, who had offered to keep her file when it started raining and who she later knew to be Ekene, went to finish up their own registration and get their kits.

All the while, Oluomachukwu was starving. She hadn’t eaten anything in almost one day, and didn’t know at that time where to get any food. She didn’t understand why the lady had stated that it was time for Bath and Breakfast when she had no clue of how to procure the breakfast.

As she waited to get her kit, she decided to play games on her cell phone. She had wanted to write about all her experiences in the camp so far, but she changed her mind. For one, she wasn’t a writer, and secondly, she didn’t have any writing paper, notebook, note pad, jotter, journal; she had nothing.

As she put her hand in her handbag for her phone, she realised she hadn’t checked the phone in almost one day and didn’t know if the sinister trio — Okechukwu, Kayode and Nnanna had called her or left her a message. She pulled out her phone and checked it, it was switched off.

She immediately turned it on. The battery life was full, as she had charged it for more than an hour before going out to the parade ground. And just as she thought, quite a number of notifications and voice messages that totalled almost fifty came in.

Oluomachukwu never knew that voice mails worked in Nigeria or were even used, so she didn’t bother checking any. She didn’t even know how to check them, either way, and she didn’t care to know.

***

Oluomachukwu wasn’t sure if team Unity — Platoon Seven, was a blessing or a curse. The Corps members in the team were all nice people, that is, the few people she had met and spoken to. The Platoon Instructor and the Assistant were also very nice; but the services they offered weren’t really nice. They were always the last to arrive at their canopy for anything, and the Corps members were always the last to be attended to amongst other platoons.

The team Unity Corps members stood and watched as other platoons issued kits under their assigned canopies. It was one canopy per platoon, but Platoon Seven had taken two canopies — theirs and that of Platoon Eight, since it looked like Platoon Eight had finished giving out their kits or they had moved to somewhere else.

After almost thirty minutes had passed and nothing had happened, team Unity Corps members sat down and gave each other tally numbers as they came, deciding on who had arrived first and who was behind who. It had started to rain again, and the two canopies couldn’t accommodate everyone, so some people migrated to other canopies. But all of that didn’t amount to anything, because when Auntie Vera and Sister Mary came, they told everyone to go under the big canopy, that they were going to set up there.

All those who were behind the queue, who probably couldn’t remember their numbers, ran quickly and were now in front, while the ones who were initially in front had to go behind. Oluomachukwu was now behind — from number four to a number she didn’t even know. Auntie Vera had arranged chairs, so they were now all on a seat queue. Oluomachukwu complained to her, that they had all allocated numbers on a first-come basis, but she simply said “Don’t worry, everyone will get their kit. You are all accounted for.”

Auntie Vera pointed out that she had waited endlessly for Oluomachukwu the day before, until she got tired and left. Oluomachukwu also pointed out that her colleagues had taken their time to sign all their forms, and she finally finished just before the Lights Out call.

*
The wait for the kit was long and annoying, but after nearly thirty minutes, Oluomachukwu found herself close to getting her own kit. It looked like Auntie Vera, and her assistant Sister Mary had finally woken up, because things started to move very fast. They even asked other Platoon Seven Corps members, who had completed registration the day before, to help them out.

After another ten minutes, Oluomachukwu got her kit, carried it in front of her like she was carrying a baby and was seriously smiling as though she had just won a lottery. She looked at all the items and saw that something might have been missing.

“Isn’t there something missing?” Oluomachukwu asked herself, but loudly enough to make Auntie Vera turn and look at her.

“Something like what?” Auntie Vera asked.

“The waist pouch. Everyone has it.” Oluomachukwu pointed at one Corps member who was already kitted and was helping to distribute a small rectangular booklet.

Everyone laughed, making Oluomachukwu feel slightly embarrassed, then Auntie Vera responded, “We don’t give that here, but it’s sold everywhere in mami market. People usually bring their own from home.”

The only thing Oluomachukwu could say was “Oh.”

Still carrying her kit in front of her as though she was carrying a baby, Oluomachukwu was given a small yellow card to fill in and sign, then she was to attach a passport picture to the card with an orange-coloured watery gum. She had to press the picture on for a few seconds for it to stick and stay on. It was going to be signed by the Director General of the NYSC later, laminated by camp officials and returned back to Oluomachukwu, like for every other Corps member.

Oluomachukwu got into another queue to collect her meal ticket. Apparently, breakfast, lunch and dinner were going to be made available for everyone. Oluomachukwu wasn’t expecting that, but it was good to know. She only hoped that the quality and quantity of the food would also be good.   And that marked the end of her registration process. It had taken her one day plus a morning, but it felt like it had taken the whole week. Oluomachukwu hoped, for the sake of the next batch of Corps members to come, that things were going to be done differently.

*
Oluomachukwu dragged her feet and went up four floors, wanting to jump into bed and rest her head before the 4:00pm drill. When she got there, she didn’t see all the phones on her bed as she had seen in the morning, instead she saw a girl, a strange girl, lying on the bed, eating. It wasn’t certain if it was Oluomachukwu’s shock, the look on her face or the way she shook her head that made the strange girl jump out of her bed, then sit on Oghene’s bed instead.

Without saying any word and refusing to let that bother her, Oluomachukwu simply went to her bed, dusted off the crumbs of bread that was on it and lay down to rest when she felt four phones charging under her duvet cover. That didn’t annoy her immediately. What annoyed her was that the phones she had seen charging the day before, and also that morning, were the same phones charging again. It just meant that a group of girls were bent on monopolising one of the charging ports in the room and Oluomachukwu wasn’t going to let it happen.

She used the opportunity to check her phone, and there were a few missed calls and messages from the few people she knew in Nigeria. Some other calls had come in and she wasn’t sure from whom exactly, but she knew they had to be from her new friends in the camp. Oluomachukwu got comfortable and closed her eyes, then slept off in no time.

*
The loud sound of the bugle woke her up not too long afterwards. She contemplated going to the parade ground to know what was happening, and she eventually did. The girls in her room didn’t even bother going downstairs to check out what the announcement was for. They preferred to stay in the room, talk, laugh, and charge their phones. Oluomachukwu smiled when she was leaving, because power went off when she got towards the stairs. It meant that the girls were not going to have to charge their phones until whenever the power came on.

The State Coordinator addressed the Corps members, calling them ‘prospective Corps members.’ She told them about the Opening and Swearing-in Ceremony, which was going to hold the next day and after which they would pass from prospective Corps members to Corps members. She told them the dos and don’ts, and what else there was to know about the ceremony, including the dress code, which was the khaki pants, white NYSC crested tee shirt, NYSC cap, crested belt, white socks and jungle boots.   There was also some special marching, recital, saluting and other things they were all going to learn during the evening rehearsal on the parade ground.

As the Corps members stood there, listening to her, platoon instructors shared a white form, which was the declaration of oath to build a united, peaceful, prosperous, hate-free, great and egalitarian nation. The Corps members were to fill the form and sign it the next day, then present it to the Chief Judge. Once the information session was finally over, everyone returned to whatever it was they had been doing.

Oluomachukwu saw some people walking and eating as she was going back to the hostel. She realised she hadn’t eaten since she got to the camp because she hadn’t had the time. She didn’t feel hungry yet, she just wanted to keep on sleeping until it was time to report to the parade ground, dressed in all white and her NYSC cap, to rehearse for the ceremony the next day.

Some Corps members who were going to march at the Opening Ceremony were already rehearsing. A group of drummers, who were Corps members from the previous and current year — Batch C 2013 and Batch A 2014 —, were also rehearsing for the ceremony. Some new Corps members had joined them to see what they were doing and how they were doing it in case they wanted to be a part of the team much later.

When Oluomachukwu got back to the room, she saw Ijeoma, Ogo and Fadeke, and the others, Eternity and Oghene, the serial phone charging girls, were also there, but Oluomachukwu wasn’t really in friendly terms with them yet. The room leader, who she was still trying to remember, wasn’t there. Other roommates were there, looking at their kit and comparing them.

“Hi Oluoma,” Ijeoma said. “Have you finally collected your kit?” Oluomachukwu nodded. “I’ve packed it up for now, but I’ll bring it out and try it on before the end of the day.”

“You better try it on now,” Ijeoma said. “Mine was so baggy, I had to go and drop it off in mami market so that a tailor would trim it down for me.”

Oluomachukwu stopped to think for a few seconds. She didn’t think it was necessary or that she would need to go to the camp market.

“Babe, try it on oh,” Fadeke chipped in as she struggled to climb her bed, stepping on Ogo’s bed in the process.

Oluomachukwu looked at her.

“Mine, too, was baggy, even for a plus size like myself,” Fadeke concluded. After a few seconds, she got on her bed and Oluomachukwu wondered why she hadn’t just asked to swap beds with Ogo who was smaller and slimmer, and more athletic-looking.   Oluomachukwu unlocked her box that stood by her bed and brought out the kit she had kept carefully. She opened up the pants, and lo and behold, a bedspread was the only adjective she could use to describe what she was seeing.

When she wore the pants, she swam in them, and when she tried on the crested white shirt, it was oversized. She also sank into the khaki jacket when she wore it.

“I told you,” Ijeoma said, but the words echoed into Oluomachukwu’s ears. “You should have tried it on before now.”

Oluomachukwu removed the kit and placed it on the bed, staring intently at the extra-large balloon-looking sacs. She imagined herself in it for the Opening Ceremony and it didn’t look so good. So she decided to go and mend it. As soon as she packed up the clothes to leave, she heard the sound of the bugle again, and it was time to go to the parade ground for rehearsals.

*****
Copyright © 2015 C. M. Okonkwo