My new name “Otukpo”

My new name “Otukpo,” which has literally replaced my real name and a pat on the back with the words “stand up there, morning don reach”, from a roommate, woke me up this Monday morning. It seems like a new week of hope and excitement to everyone around here, where I live; in two single rooms with ten lovely guys and four nice ladies. I wished the night never came to an end because the morning only brings home to me the reality that I am broke, left with only five hundred naira, from my thirty three thousand naira allowance.

I still have unresolved issues with my place of service and an increasing desperation to carve a niche in life that meets with frustration. Well, I managed to put on clothes, and then took a long walk to the place I want to serve, to get a letter of request. At the office, I met the General Manager, Mr. Chris; a true definition of a jolly good fellow. I never wanted to stop talking with him even though our conversation was like a police interrogation, he asking all the questions and I giving all the answers. One of such question that I couldn’t answer was: “when was the last time you read a book?” Indeed the last book I read was for my final year exam paper. I had sworn not to read anything including a sign post. Now, that decision is about to haunt.

I saw her again today, looking so artistically beautiful in the office. She smiled at me and all through the day I had kept on smiling. In her presence I was filled with unimaginable strength and had completely forgotten that I haven’t eaten anything, as I sat and stole glances at her I just prayed she would feel the same way I feel for her. I didn’t get the letter but I felt happier than a treasure hunter that had struck gold.

Tuesday. They woke me up at 4:45 for morning prayers. I’m feeling like a log of wood. I detest this early morning call for prayers so much that if it were possible, I would never be a part of it but the image of a corps member that was involved in a car accident while coming from Nassarawa state yesterday, cleared every atom of sleep in me and turned me to a prayer warrior. Stories of ghastly car crashes on our roads have become a common occurrence, owing to the death trap that our roads have turned to.

Gracious God! I didn’t ever imagine that today will turn out good, having only 300 naira in my pocket as I moved on my “leggedize Benz” to the office. If I were a lady, I would have fallen in love with my oga, Mr. Chris; the guy is just too nice. After cruising around in his air conditioned car to see the “oga at the top”. I ended the day in his apartment eating a meal that I only see on TV or eat in my dreams. It beats me how can one treat a complete stranger like a son? Gestures as this is indeed very rare back home where I come from everyone looks at each other with great suspicion.

Thank God for people like oga Chris, there is still hope for a better world.

Oh! My artistic beauty, I looked out for her in the office all day but I didn’t see her. She didn’t show up in the office because a public holiday had been declared in honour of one big oga who died of COVID-19 infection. I missed her fleetingly thanks to Oga Chris who saved the day.

Wonderful Wednesday! I dreamt about home last night and all through the day I had been longing to be with my family and friends back home. No matter what, there is no place like home. I just hope I would ‘make another home’ here in Makurdi since I have finally got re-posted back here. The NYSC public relation officer, Mr. Ajaneku taught me a virtue today. For a man of his status to write a letter and give to an ordinary “coper” like me to vet, and after vetting he implemented my suggestions, demonstrates an extraordinary humility. From the look of things, Makurdi wouldn’t be as bad as I had imagined; I have a nice boss, lovely people around me, and my office crush. Yeah, I saw her today looking so stylish and classic in her navy blue suit and gorgeous blue gown, she didn’t smile as usual, maybe it was because of the formal attire she had on. As she greeted me, she called me “my son”. Wow I didn’t know what to feel, maybe she likes me, may be some day I will be more than a son to her.

What a stressful Thursday. I had a straight six hours community development meeting in the secretariat, coupled with long hours of waiting for my letter of place of service posting. Got thinking of traffic policeman I always see on my way to work. He dances more than the legendary Michael Jackson. I wonder how much he is being paid and why he carries out his duties with so much zeal, enthusiasm and happiness in spite of the condition of his work. Dignity of labour in deed.

I was informed by the NYSC officials that I would go back to the Wanunne NYSC Orientation Camp to serve as an ad hoc staff. Regardless of the tediousness of this task, I am excited about the offer because it simply means I won’t have to worry about what to eat for the next three weeks. I will miss my new place and the lovely people in Makurdi.

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