The rest of the gang called last night to check up on me. In case you didn’t already know, I’ve just taken up the mantle of servitude to the motherland, which means I would be spending the next couple of weeks in camp, dressed up like an excited kid in pre-school, taking orders from soldiers who don’t particularly like us.
I was rounding up reports at the OBS studio when the video call came in from Eddie, who was already at Metroville with the rest of the gang.
I could see Mallam Hassan in his trademark China-white Jalabiya, looking at the screen through his curious spectacles. Mr. Cele is wearing his Benue cap and Senegalese overalls. Tokunbo beams and waves, getting distracted by her phone every now and then.
Mallam Hassan asks how I am settling in. I tell him the weather is strange but the locals are nice.
Eddie asks me to elaborate on what I mean by nice. I tell him they seem kind and courteous. Eddie asks me to elaborate further please.
I hear Tokunbo asking him to stop being ambiguous with his questions.
Eddie readjusts the screen to focus on himself alone and then asks me to speak to him “man to man.” Then proceeds to ask me if all that had been said about Akwa-Ibom women are true.
I pretend to not understand what he’s talking about. I hear Tokunbo talking from behind the scenes about how Eddie should not give me ideas.
I press Eddie to be more elaborate. He asks if I have started to form an intimate rapport with anyone in the camp. I tell him that I’m just here to serve my country.
He counters that if I served the country well enough, that the country owed it as a responsibility to reward me with luscious Akwa Ibom women.
Even though Mr. Cele wasn’t in view, I could almost literally hear him shaking his head.
Mallam Hassan asks if I’ve had Ekpang Kuko and Afang. That’s Mallam Hassan, who has been everywhere that was needed to be in the country, and had made sure to always immerse himself in the culture of wherever he traveled to.
I answer that I would indulge myself fully in the culinary excesses of Akwa Ibom folks before my flight back to Abuja.
Mr. Cele starts to ask me if I’ve found a Christian Fellowship to attend in the camp but Tokunbo cuts him short by telling him that I had more to worry about than corpers’ fellowship.
Eddie starts to tell about the Akwa Ibom woman he once met in a flight from Dubai to Lagos. Tokunbo asks if the story ended in the flight. Eddie says that it ended in the airport hotel.
I ask him to give a honest consumer review about the encounter but Mr. Cele cuts in by saying I should not indulge in such amorous conversations with Eddie.
At this point I start to walk back to my hostel, through the stretch of tarred road connecting the studio with the boys’ hostel through the kitchen. There are street lights lined up on each side of the road, illuminating the environment well enough for the gang to have a better look at me.
Mr. Cele remarks that the environment is beautiful. Mallam Hassan says that street lights serve more purposes than just security, that they also ameliorate the ambiance of the estate or properties.
Eddie contends that sometimes he wishes the streetlights in his estate goes off any time he’s bringing a new girl home. He says his neighbors are snoopy, and may have the propensity to deliberately address a new girl with the name of an old flame.
Mr. Cele informs him that he deserves whatever he gets from the neighbors.
A light skinned girl walks past me, into the reflection of the light. Eddie says I should drop the call and be a gentleman enough to walk her to her hostel.
Tokunbo says a gentleman does not walk a girl without her consent. Mallam Hassan remarks that children of this generation have driven chivalry into extinction with their suffocating sophistication.
The call ends with Mallam Hassan admonishing me to keep my head up while I march, so I don’t miss the face of the woman in whose possession my missing ribs are.
I ask him if he found his own missing rib in camp. He says I’m asking a question whose answer is too heavy for my comprehension.
The electricity goes off and the ambiance of my environment instantly drops into a gloom.
The gang finally lets me go, but only after promising Eddie about finding out if what they say about Akwa-Ibom women are true.