Shortly before getting fully kitted at the NYSC camp, you would hear of the perquisite of a corper. The freebies, access to places your usual ‘mufti’ won’t get you to. Everyone talks about the cool stuff of being a corp member, you probably might never hear of any crazy thing that could happen to you while wearing the uniform. I mean, you are paramilitary right?
Well, I heard all the juicy stuff just before I wore mine. In fact, I didn’t hear of the camp stress nor the fact that the uniform was just a uniform to transporters. Rather, I heard that the uniform would give you a little discount. For where? These men will bill you and still shout ‘corper shun’.
The more serious moments are the unnecessary ‘waka’ after camp and the fact that those must be done wearing the complete uniform. You will hear ‘corper shun’, ‘ajuwaya’ at every turn you make. One man almost made me sing the NYSC anthem with him in a ‘Keke’.
“Ah, Oga. You really want me to sing this song?”
Yes na! You are a corper,he said laughing.
Well Oga, shebi you too served? I asked him.
Yes, oo! In fact, I still remember the song, he said with all seriousness.
‘Oshey’, I hailed him. Okay, sing for me. The next thing I heard wasn’t anything close to the NYSC anthem. Trust me I had a good laugh that day, enough to sustain me till I alighted from the tricycle.
Bye bye corper oo, he called after me as I alighted.
Bye Oga, I replied still laughing.
Well, I had my fair share of fun and stress on the uniform. The hailings and unnecessary ‘famzy’ as my fellow Nigerians will say. No one ever told me that the uniform will bring me this encounter I’m about to write to you.
This morning, I was already having a crazy day. I was rushing to my Community Development Service venue and was seriously discussing with my friend completely oblivious of the stranger approaching us.
Hess! Hey! Corper! Someone shouted aggressively. Before I could look up I was standing face to face with a mad man. By mad man, I don’t mean an angry man or a terribly upset man. I mean a completely insane man with his torn and dirty clothes.
What? I didn’t even know what to do as I tried to reason with reality and the cold fact that a mad man was that close to me.
“Shake me! I say, shake me! He shouted angrily waving his hand at my face.
Shake you? I asked with all the calmness I could muster. Heavens! What have I done to deserve this?
You know no say I be corper too, he shouted in his pidgin English. Shake me now!! He said angrily while also saluting me.
Now those where two conflicting expressions. A salute with anger? I couldn’t tell which one I should pay more attention to.
I just hailed him back with a salute and said ‘okay sir’. Still not knowing how to wiggle myself out of the situation as the man blocked every move I made to run away.
Suddenly he got angrier and almost pulled me by my backpack. Thankfully, I saw that move quickly and dodged it. He looked like he wanted to raise his hands then I heard another man shout at him.
A bike man came to my rescue and scared him away.
Why you no slap am? The bike man asked me. Slap am? I asked bemused.
How do you slap a mad man who has nothing to lose?
Next time, if they stop you like that, slap them, the bike man said and rode away.
Hehehee! I laughed. Slap mad man? With this uniform abi? God! These people want me to see fire and brimstone, I thought aloud. I had my fair share of laughter and shock recovery all at once. It’s not enough to think I was stopped by a mad man, I should slap him too? By the time I had fully recovered, I turned to see that I was alone the whole time.
My friend whom I thought was by my side the whole time had disappeared like the rapture had taken place. I scanned the area only to see the young lady taking her beauty steps far behind me.
Ah! Did you leave me in this mess? I questioned her as she approached me.
Hah! Mad man? I can’t deal babe, she said laughing. Hope he didn’t hurt you? But you were calm oo! She said laughing.
He didn’t, I replied to her. Apparently, he approached me because of my uniform, can you imagine that? I asked laughing.
Corper wee! She hailed mockingly.
Silly you! I laughed. It was very funny thinking about it afterwards. I was grateful things didn’t go south, because I wasn’t sure how I would have reacted to it. Well, today, the uniform came with a rather unexpectant surprise.
Under the rain and in the sun! “With or without madmen” is what the anthem missed.