Saturday, June 6, 2015

Preview: Twenty-One Days Post #6

CHAPTER FIVE: The rush

Registration was a total disaster, so poorly organised that Oluomachukwu wondered why it wasn’t done online and why she had even bothered going all the way to Abuja for verification of documents. It looked as if she was going to redo the whole verification of documents there as well, because everyone came with folders packed with documents. Some even had pencil cases, staplers and every other thing a recent graduate would have.

Oluomachukwu had been out of all education systems for a while, so she had forgotten how to be a student, and the whole idea of that made her laugh. She had only come out with her handbag and a pen that had dried out when she tried to use it, so she knew she was going to have to borrow every other stationery she needed.

As she approached the parade ground, where she had been directed to go for her registration, she met a queue of people, and it was beginning to rain again. A Registration Officer asked everyone to sit under a canopy and collect blue and white forms, one each, and two green forms each. Oluomachukwu collected hers and when she went to sit down, she saw her roommates, Ijeoma, Ogo and Fadeke. They were not smiling.

Apparently they had wanted to go for the registration together as new friends, but Oluomachukwu had gone on without them. They didn’t say anything to her at first, they just went to hustle to get their own forms. The rush was overwhelming, even though the NYSC official sharing the forms had confirmed that there was enough to go round everyone in the whole camp.

Eventually, the girls all got their forms. As soon as they sat down close to Oluomachukwu, they smiled, forgetting that they were angry with her, and started to chat away.

Oluomachukwu wasn’t really interested in the chat. Her mind wandered as she sat there, looking at everyone and what they were doing. She thought that there were at least 2,000 people in the camp and only wondered if the hostels would accommodate everyone. She looked ahead and saw that people were still walking into the camp from the gate.

Oluomachukwu came back to reality when she heard people murmuring, laughing and gazing towards the left side of the camp. Two white boys sat at a corner amongst the crowd, looking lost and confused, and everyone stared at them, wondering if they knew what was going on in the camp, or if they even knew that they were going to be resident in a camp for three weeks. The boys answered the questions everyone probably had when they collected their own forms and sat back, waiting to fill them.

Just then, the Public Address System came on and one of the camp officials started to speak in a very coarse tone. She must have felt she was addressing primary school kids, because she wanted to teach everyone how to fill their forms. She began by reading every line on the forms, from the title to the last word, then taught everyone how to fill them and what to do with them later.

After that, there was scramble for registration and verification of documents, where Corps members rushed like termites, pushing each other in the rain and splashing muddy water everywhere. Insults rained everywhere and everyone seemed to be in a contest for what they were all going to get, no matter who went first or last.

Oluomachukwu didn’t know where the tiny and tired-looking Ogo got the strength, but she ran to the front of the line, cutting every possible queue she could see.

She made it to the front line, surprisingly, then waited for Oluomachukwu, Ijeoma and Fadeke to join her.

Registration was taking place in the dining hall, which was spelt ‘Dinning Hall,’ and inside, there were also about ten queues for different things. At the beginning of each queue, there were ‘seat queues’ such that when one person moved, others would advance to the next chair.

Oluomachukwu and her new friends went to separate seat queues so that it would be faster for them to finish up their registration and meet at the exit. The guy in front of Oluomachukwu was a foreign-trained Nigerian student.

She figured it out because he didn’t stop speaking to someone on the phone in an American accent that went on and off. He was asked to end his phone call and put his phone away when it was his turn to present his documents — certificate, transcript and statement of result. The boy didn’t have any. He only had his international passport and Call-up letter.

He tried to explain to the Verification Officer — a man who didn’t look like he knew how to smile, and who wore square dark glasses that hid his eyes — that he didn’t think he needed to bring any documents since the verification had already been done in Abuja. The officer looked over the boy’s shoulder and yelled “Next.” The boy tried to explain again and the man also yelled “Next” again.

As the boy was getting up, the officer said something that sounded like, “You cannot read. The information is written behind your Call-up letter.” He hissed afterwards, then shouted “Next” again, but Oluomachukwu didn’t go. She didn’t have the documents either and she hadn’t read behind the Call-up letter. In fact, she didn’t know that there was anything written behind the letter. She had just put the letter in the middle of her international passport on the day she received it and put it away.

Oluomachukwu went outside and called Okechukwu to ask for help, but he couldn’t bring the documents to her all the way to Iyana-Ipaja. Besides, he didn’t think he would make it in time, since he was still at work. And instead of proposing a solution to her, he decided to ask her why she had forgotten all her documents and ruled every reason she could possibly give as invalid. Nothing could explain why she would go to camp without all her documents, whether she had done verification in Abuja or not. He also had to get back to work, so he told her to decide what she wanted to do, then call him back later. He hung up after that.

Oluomachukwu started to get agitated. The only option she had then was to go home, get it and come back much later, or go home and come back the next day entirely.

It was a two-day registration process for Tuesday and Wednesday, so she could always come back the next day and meet up with the registration. She sat on a plastic chair under one canopy that was just outside the dining hall to think about what to do. She was about to start crying when Okechukwu called her with some good news — he could send someone to bring her documents to her.

After she had explained where she kept the documents, Okechukwu hung up and headed back home to help her out. He would do anything for love... Sadly, he felt that the opposite was the case for a typical girl or woman — they would ask anything for love, but not do anything for it.

Oluomachukwu looked for what to do as she waited, because she knew the wait was going to be long. She knew how long it had taken her to get to the camp, and coupled with the fact that Okechukwu would have to go home, look for the documents, then send someone; it was going to be a long wait. Instead of sitting outside, she went into the hostel, which was empty, because everyone was still outside trying to finish up all the paperwork, including her new friends. So she decided to lay her bed and rest her head for a while, and eventually slept off.

***

After waiting for more than three hours, the person Okechukwu had sent to the Orientation camp with the documents gave Oluomachukwu a call to say that he had finally gotten there. She ran outside as quickly as possible, and towards the front gate to meet him. She smiled when she saw him, not because he had just helped her out, but because she knew who he was — Okechukwu’s security guard, and he shone so bright as if he had just been soaked in cooking oil. He gave her the envelope and left almost immediately. She was ecstatic, so she called Okechukwu to thank him, but he didn’t pick up. She then composed a text message and sent it in case he was driving or he was in a meeting. He didn’t reply either.

Oluomachukwu didn’t bother trying to contact him any further. At least she was sure that he was going to see the missed call and text message.

Before she headed back inside, she saw some hawkers selling stationery, so she used the opportunity to become a student again. She got everything she thought she would need, including a plastic-like office file to put the envelope in and prevent rainwater from damaging it. She also put in all the other forms she had filled earlier. When she was done, she scuttled towards the dining hall, almost falling down twice because of the wet and muddy ground, to continue her registration.

When she entered the hall, the first queue with the unsmiling man who wore square-glasses was empty, so all her documents were verified within seconds, and she wondered why she hadn’t initially waited until evening to get to the camp. After that, she had to join another queue for something she didn’t know. When she saw people filling out forms, she asked a girl standing behind her why they were filling the forms and was told that the queue was for online registration and that she had to buy a form for 10 naira. Oluomachukwu grumbled, but went to buy one of the forms, and the supposed man or woman selling it was nowhere to be found. No one knew why the NYSC office couldn’t provide the forms for all Corps members.

One male Corps member had decided to join the line even without the form. Finding the form to buy was close to impossible, so his intention was to ask the Registration Officer for a form, but before he got to her, the sound of a trumpet went off and they all wondered what it was. Then there was an announcement for everyone to report to the parade ground immediately.

None of the Corps members moved a muscle until all the registration officers immediately started logging out of their systems and standing up to leave the hall. One of the registration officers, who had a constant smile on her face, gave tally numbers, numbering 1 – 5 consecutively, to the first five people on the queue so that when they returned, they could get back in line to how they were before.   Oluomachukwu was the fifth person on that queue.

It took roughly twenty minutes for Corps members to gather on the wet parade ground, and some were still seen running around, some were still in mami market and some were still trooping into the camp from the gate. Soldiers moved around, yelling at people to leave everything they were doing and report to the parade ground.

When the parade ground was extensively full, so full that one could no longer see the white lines on the ground, a lady, who sounded like she was crying, got a microphone to address the crowd.

“Corpers, wii oh,” she yelled.   Nobody answered her.

“Corpers, I said wii oh,” she repeated.

Still, nobody answered.

The woman shook her head. “Otondos, I said wii oh, do you not know anything? Or don’t you have older ones who have passed through the NYSC scheme?”

When there was still no response, and Oluomachukwu wondered if and when the woman would realise that no one knew what she was talking about, and also how many more times she was going to embarrass herself.

“If I don’t get an answer, no one will leave this parade ground today,” the woman said, then in a high-pitched tone, she yelled again, “Corpers, I said wii oh.”

Surprisingly, about ninety-five percent of the crowd shouted, “Wa oh.”

“Ehen, that’s better.” The woman smiled. “So why were you all pretending before? Corpers wii, wii, wii.”

“Wa, wa, wa.” A chorus answer from nearly everyone, who in a short moment had gotten the gist that ‘wa’ always followed ‘wii’ or maybe they already knew that and purposely didn’t want to give the woman the satisfaction she needed.

The woman didn’t introduce herself, so Oluomachkwu didn’t know who she was. She went straight ahead to introduce the NYSC Lagos State Coordinator, who gave an official welcome speech and shared some important information with everyone.

When the State Coordinator completed her speech, she dismissed everyone and allowed them to go and continue their registration or whatever activity they were engaged in before the call to gather. Oluomachukwu didn’t think the gathering had been necessary. For one thing, she hadn’t paid full attention during the whole speech, and secondly, Corps members were still trooping into the camp and had missed all the information.

***

Oluomachukwu already knew that she was the fifth person on the queue, so before she went back to continue her online registration, she stopped by at a stall in mami market where some men were scanning documents and making photocopies for people. They also sold the online registration forms, but at a hiked price of 20 naira, instead of 10 naira, because they knew that everyone needed the forms. Oluomachukwu paid 50 naira, but there was no change, which she found to be ridiculous, especially as a lot of people had been paying little change for the forms and other services they needed.

Instead of looking for change for Oluomachukwu, the man gave her three extra forms that she didn’t need, and she left. She then ran back to the hall, filled out one of the forms immediately and gave out the rest to people who asked her where she had bought them from.

By the time she joined the queue, there was only one person in front of her, so her own registration was next, and it went fast. The Registration Officer, who had given out the slot numbers for the line smiled as Oluomachukwu approached her. Oluomachukwu smiled back at her and was told that she had a nice smile. They chatted briefly as the woman typed the contents of the 20 naira form that had been filled into the system.

When the woman was done filling it, she turned the screen towards Oluomachukwu to verify the details, and the information displayed was verified. After that step, the Registration Officer was supposed to give Oluomachukwu a four-digit identification code. She explained that there were ten platoons in the Orientation camp and a Corps member’s platoon was determined by the last digit of the identification code, from zero to nine, and those ending with zero formed Platoon Ten.

There were going to be platoon activities and contests, and every platoon member had to work as a team. The Registration Officer started going through the cards on her table and Oluomachukwu wondered what she was doing.

As if the officer had heard Oluomachukwu’s thoughts, she said, “I’m looking for a code that ends with seven.”

“Why, ma?” Oluomachukwu asked.

“Because I know the Platoon Inspector and Assistant, and they are very nice women.” Both Oluomachukwu and the officer smiled.

Oluomachukwu then thanked her, and before she left, the officer wrote her name and phone number on a small piece of paper, and asked Oluomachukwu to call if she ever needed anything. Oluomachukwu looked at the paper. The officer had written ‘Mummy Dorcas’ on it and her cell phone number below it. Oluomachukwu smiled and put the paper in her personal file.

Oluomachukwu stood on another short line to collect her temporary badge, which was just a plain paper, with the code printed boldly, that had been laminated. She was also given a paper file with two other forms to fill, with a space for passport photographs and a pin code for online verification. She couldn’t understand why the registration had that many steps, forms and codes. She was already getting tired of it.

As she left the dining hall, she bumped into a couple of security officers, because she hadn’t been paying attention. They had entered into the dining hall to arrest a girl posing as an NYSC official. The girl had one good eye and one bad eye. The bad eye had a film-like substance blocking it, so when Corps members described her, they said “The girl with one eye,” and it was obviously because they were angry. The girl had been collecting 200 naira from Corps members to help them arrange their documents. Right at the entrance, she had told them that they wouldn’t be attended to if their documents were not properly arranged in their files. So Corps members, as dumb as some of them were, paid the money to have their documents ‘properly arranged’ in their files. The girl was eventually discovered and arrested when word went round.

After that episode, Oluomachukwu went to an open space, which was behind the dining hall and saw about five more long queues. They didn’t seem to be moving and noboby knew why. Oluomachukwu saw Ijeoma on one of the queues and was shocked. So instead of staying at the tail of any queue, she squeezed her way to the middle of the first queue and met up with Ijeoma.

“You are still here?” she asked, still shocked. “I even thought you would have already finished by now, and be back in the room, resting.”

Ijeoma shook her head. “It’s moving too slow for my liking. I’ve been standing here for a very long time. Did you get your documents?”

“Yes, someone eventually brought them not too long ago, and registration has gone rather fast since then.” Oluomachukwu looked around. “Where are the others?”

“We sort of separated when we joined different queues, so I’m not sure where anyone is.”

“Okay. So what is this queue for again?”

“It’s for online registration.”

“Didn’t we just do online registration in the dining hall?”

“That one was to create an account and get a pin code. With the pin code, you are supposed to log in and start uploading documents.”

“What documents?”

“Passport picture, personal data and others.”

“That’s just nonsense and a complete waste of time,” Oluomachukwu said. She used her British accent this time, then immediately switched back to the Nigerian one. “Why can’t we just do it by ourselves? I’m very sure that’s what’s taking time.”

“You can, if you have everything.” Ijeoma held up a slip that Oluomachukwu also had. “You can log on to this website, use your user name and pin to enter your account, then start filling it in.”

“Have you tried it?”

“No.”

Oluomachukwu raised an eyebrow. As she was about to ask Ijeoma why she hadn’t even thought of trying it, someone interrupted them.

“Please, does anyone of you have 200 naira?” It was Fadeke; She was the girl on the top bunk to the right side of Oluomachukwu and Ijeoma’s bunk.

“Why, what’s going on?” Oluomachukwu asked.

“It’s almost my turn in front and they are asking for 200 naira to do the online thing.”

Oluomachukwu exchanged glances with Ijeoma, then put her hand in her handbag and took out a 200 naira note. “Here you go.”

“Thanks.” Fadeke attempted to leave.

“Wait, please, can we come and join you in front?” Oluomachukwu asked. “It’s getting late and I’m not sure we’ll finish this up tonight.”

Fadeke shook her head. “It’ll look somehow. I can’t just bring someone in front of me when there are a lot of people there.”

“But there were a lot of people in the dining hall when you were brought in front.”

“I can’t. People are grumbling.” Fadeke turned around to leave. “It’s almost my turn. Thank you for the money, I’ll give it back to you later.”

“Can you believe that?” Ijeoma asked. “She can receive help, but she isn’t willing to help.”

“Well...” Oluomachukwu said, but didn’t complete the sentence.

“Anyway, I’m not even able to jump from queue to queue. I’m not that fast, plus I’ll feel people are judging me. It’s fine. I’ll just stay here.”

Oluomachukwu laughed. “So let’s see if we can do the online thing on our phones instead of wasting time on the queue.”

Ijeoma didn’t want to try, but Oluomachukwu did. She managed to open the account and fill in all the data. But she didn’t have any passport photograph on her phone to upload. She had thought of taking a snapshot of one of her passport photographs and uploading it when she saw that her cell phone battery was already getting low. So she logged off, locked the screen, remained in line with Ijeoma and waited for her turn.

As they advanced gradually in the line, Oluomachukwu asked, “So what platoon are you in?”

“Platoon?”

“There are ten platoons. Corps members will be placed in different platoons and each platoon will participate in all the camp activities and contests.” Oluomachukwu opened her palm. “Let me see your temporary badge.”

Ijeoma showed her the four-digit pin.

“You are in Platoon Six, just next to my own platoon,” she said. “It’s determined with the fourth digit of your code. Mine is seven.”

“Oh, okay,” Ijeoma said, smiling. She kept looking at the badge as if something new had appeared on it since Oluomachukwu told her what the fourth digit signified. When she was done looking at it, she asked, “How did you know?”

Oluomachukwu smiled. “I have a new mummy in camp. She gave me all the information I needed.”

***

After the online registration, there was another queue to get the paper file that had been given out earlier on, stamped, and Oluomachukwu wondered why the people collecting the 200 naira couldn’t just stamp the file. The queue to stamp the file took another long hour for reasons unknown. So after the final verification and e-registration, some Corps members, who had agreed to snap passport photographs at the main camp gate, grumbled at the fact that passports with red background weren’t a requirement for registration. Oluomachukwu had forgotten about that until someone mentioned it and complained about the money she had wasted. Oluomachukwu was glad she had not done the same, because all her passports with different colour backgrounds had been accepted.

The registration stress wasn’t over for them after that, because after getting the file stamped, the next step was to get the NYSC kit — white tennis shoes; two pairs of white socks; two white tee shirts; two white shorts; orange jungle boots; khaki pants and jacket; a crested face-cap; a crested ceremonial white shirt with NYSC’s logo printed in front with and just ‘NYSC’ printed behind; and a khaki belt with an NYSC crest as the buckle.

Oluomachukwu was walking towards the front of the hostel when she heard the sound of the trumpet again and wondered why they were calling them for another speech, when they were yet to complete the registration exercise for the day. She reluctantly started heading towards the parade ground when she saw a soldier gesticulating at her. She turned around and there was no one behind her. In fact, everyone behind her had stopped moving, following an instruction from a soldier.

She stood there and watched as the whole camp stood still. She could see the main gate from where she stood and everyone was standing still. She listened to the sound of the trumpet, which was still being played, then realised that it was supposed to be the Nigerian national anthem. She smiled, because she was impressed at the uniformity of everyone. When the anthem finally ended, Oluomachukwu looked around her first to check if people had resumed movement before she continued her journey.

“Otondo,” a coarse voice yelled.

She turned to the source of the word and saw a soldier looking at her. He waved her over to him. She looked at her wristwatch and it was 6:04pm. She wanted to answer the soldier, but she also wanted to go and finish up her registration since it was getting late.

“Corper, am I not calling you?” the soldier yelled as he approached Oluomachukwu. She started to walk towards him. When she was close enough, he added, “Don’t you know you have to stand still when you hear the sound of the bugle?” He pronounced it as ‘beegool.’

“Bugle?” Oluomachukwu repeated, pronouncing it the right way, as ‘byooguhl.’

“Yes, that trumpet sound you were hearing. Apart from the 5:00am Wake-Up call, everyday at 6:00am and 6:00pm, the national anthem will be played, and you must stop whatever you are doing, stand up and stand still.”

“Okay.” Oluomachukwu’s mind was under the canopy where she had been directed to for her kit.

“Okay, what?” The soldier sounded fierce.

“What?”

“You don’t have respect?” The soldier raised his voice. “We will teach all you useless olodo youths something in this camp.

“Sorry, sir. I meant to say ‘Okay, sir,’” Oluomachukwu said, but the man looked at her as if she was speaking in tongues. “I understand sir, and next time, I will stand still.”

The soldier seemed to have calmed down a little bit. “Where are you off to?”

“I want to hand over my forms, sir.” She looked at his badge and it had just ‘Elijah’ on it. She looked back at his face. “I believe that is the only thing left to do in order for me to collect my kit.”

“Okay,” the solider replied. He pointed towards a small canopy that wasn’t situated on the parade ground. “That’s where they are sharing the kit. Check the last digit of your code, then look for the number pinned on the canopy for your own platoon.”

Oluomachukwu thanked him, then hurried off. She got under the small canopy that had the sign ‘Platoon 7’ taped to one of its rusty poles. It was already getting dark, as it was almost 6:15pm. The women she met there were extremely nice, as Mummy Dorcas had told her, and she wondered if she had been truly lucky to have ‘seven’ as the last digit of her identification code.

The Platoon Inspector was called Auntie Vera. She wore a big dress that looked oversized, and she had no hair at all. Her head was shinning, so it was obvious that she had just cut her hair. Even with that, her smile was still captivating and it appeared to be the reason why she felt comfortable with no hair. The Platoon Assistant was called Sister Mary, but she didn’t do justice to the name. She wasn’t dressed like a Sister. She wore a very tight pair of jeans that hugged her hips firmly, and a sleeveless shirt that was open in front to reveal some cleavage.

Oluomachukwu found it funny that the women would purposely add ‘Mummy,’ ‘Auntie’ or ‘Sister’ to their names as if it was normal.

After the chitchat and the laughing, Auntie Vera asked Oluomachukwu to hand over her paper file. The paper file was full, because all the documents were complete, which was a problem. Apparently, Oluomachukwu had to submit the blue and white forms for signing and collection before going to get her kit. If someone had thought about telling her that before, she would have felt a lot better. Everyone followed each other blindly in the camp, and sometimes people stood in queues for hours only to realise that they were in the wrong queue.

Oluomachukwu was asked to go under another canopy to get it done, then return to the Platoon Seven canopy immediately for her kit. So she left hurriedly. The queue to hand over the blue and white form had about 1,000 people standing in it, and she was sure that she wasn’t going to meet Auntie Vera immediately for her kit.

She stood on her toes and looked in front only to see that just about four NYSC officials were attending to the crowd of frustrated Corps members. It was now 6:25pm and most of them had been there from as early as 6:00am, as they professed while on the line, standing, stressed and starved.

When Oluomachukwu asked someone on the queue, she was told that only two out of the four officials were attending to the Corps members. The other two were just sitting there, doing nothing. By the time an hour passed, Oluomachukwu wanted to call it a day and go back to her room to settle in, but she decided to hang on. She just wanted to get everything over with, collect her kit and call it a night.

There were not too many lights under the canopy, so it was very difficult to see anything or the faces of the Corps members that queued. But there was one bright light far off, positioned over where the four officials sat to sign and collect the forms. Oluomachukwu used the light as a guide. So the closer she got to the light, the closer she got to her mission.

Two Civil Service Corps officials had been trying to manage the traffic, because Corps members were rushing and pushing each other. But they later got irritated and left when it was evident that no one was listening to them. In fact, some people were listening, but simply refused to act as instructed. As soon as the officials left, there was chaos everywhere — seven queues were trying to converge and form two queues, and many people insulted others who tried to jump the queue. The registration officers even threatened to stop signing and collecting the forms if the Corps members didn’t behave themselves. Another hour passed and Oluomachukwu was still not close to the light.

At about 9:00pm, two other officials came to help with the signing, and the crowd broke out into four additional queues. Oluomachukwu must have entered the wrong one, because everyone seemed to be moving around her, except for her queue. Even the new fourth queue that had been formed moved very fast, but soldiers had come to organise them and didn’t allow people jump from queue to queue.

Even with the two extra hands that joined, it felt like things had gotten slower than they already were. Also, one of the registration officers kept reminding the crowd how long they had until they closed for the night.

“Thirty more minutes,” the official stated, when it was 9:30pm, making everyone grumble. Tired Corps members wished the man would just concentrate on the task he had to do, and not on the time that was left, because each time he stopped working to make a needless announcement was enough time to sign one document and collect it.

When it was fifteen minutes to go, the official made his announcement again and the crowd yelled at him. He got annoyed, stood up and made the announcement again. He threatened to stop the process if anyone dared respond in an unruly manner to his announcement again. No one did. They had come too far to be sent away at the last minute.

When it was five minutes to go, the official yelled again, “Five more minutes to go and it’ll be time for Lights Out.”

Corps members started to mumble. They had all heard from one source to another that the NYSC camp observed Lights Out by 10:00pm each day, but they wanted to see, or hear it to believe.

“You all will have to come back tomorrow. Man must rest,” the official added, making more people grumble at the time he was wasting.

“I’ll take three more people,” one of the officials said, and there was an uproar. Two other officials also said how many more people they were going to attend to. The one who announced all the time, said he was going to take ten more people, making everyone like him all of a sudden.

Oluomachukwu hadn’t even noticed how far she had advanced. She looked directly above her and she saw the light. She had finally reached her destination in the nick of time. The girl who was standing in front of her presented her documents and was sent away, because the documents were rough and torn at some edges due to the heavy rain and drizzle during the day.

When the girl stepped aside, Oluomachukwu took her place. She brought out her documents and presented them. While the official was signing them, she looked at her wristwatch and it was 9:58pm. She closed her eyes and thanked her stars.

The signing was done in less than a minute, so the reason why it took that long for the queue to go down was not understandable. As Oluomachukwu ran off, she saw the number of pissed off Corps members who were going to be disappointed and angrier once it was Lights Out.

Oluomachukwu got to the small canopy for her kit, but the platoon stand was empty. They had already closed for the day. Before she could react, she heard the sound of the bugle — it was time for Lights Out and soldiers started moving round the camp, making sure that everyone went into their rooms. As Oluomachukwu went to her refugee camp of a room, she hoped that the next set of Corps members wouldn’t have to suffer what she had suffered on her first day. She got to her room, didn’t speak to her friends, who all successfully got their kits, and called it a night.

*****
Copyright © 2015 C. M. Okonkwo