It was every corps member’s wish to be posted to MMC. It was horrible when I saw my posting. I was to serve as a secondary school teacher in a rural area. It was a village called Kashimiri.
It was three hours hour from MMC. The scenery of the villages I passed through while on the road to Kashmiri reminded of the movie, ‘the gods must be crazy’. I had seen the movie as a kid. I never believed Nigeria had such rural places that were so neglected. I traveled in a truck. Along the road, I saw children barefooted and almost naked. I noticed the absence of electricity. The environment had a sandy nature. Their women were dressed in an Islamic way, and their men were mostly in traditional kaftans.
I am now settled in Kashmiri. Most of the kids in my class can barely understand a word in English. Their Hausa is terrible. I have to learn Kanuri for their sake.
I find a very attractive girl in a neighboring village, Badimari. Her father is the Bullama of Badimari. He treats me with so much respect.
‘Allah would open your eyes, one day,’ He often tells me. He also wants me to set up a school in Badimari after my service…
‘If God provides the money, I will…’ I always have a reply.
Each time after my replies, he laughs, taps me, and calls me, Corper, in a sweet Kanuri accent.
He always makes it a ritual leaving his daughter and I to chat under the tree in his compound.
Her name is Fatima. She has a sparkling smile. She mixes her Kanuri with neat Hausa words. We talk about my home back in the South-South. She always insists I teach her English. She subsequently improves in her English each time we meet.
On a certain day, she says to me in English, ‘You are my Yaganna.’
‘What does Yaganna mean,’ I ask her in Kanuri.
She does not tell me. But she promises to tell me someday.
Back in the bush house I live, still trying to get used to sleeping on a mat. I told my colleague about Fatima. He was also a corps member. I could not believe his words.
‘How can you fall for a girl in Badimari? This is someone who has never taken her bath using soap. How can you handle her odor when she is in your arms? How can you kiss a mouth that has never felt the weight of a toothbrush?.’
I felt bad that night and couldn’t sleep.
We are in the isolated bush house we discover on the route leading to Kashimiri from Badimari. My hands put away her hijab gently. I undress her. I force away my heart from the words of my colleague. Her mild odor still tries to force a way against my nostrils. But that does not kill my desires. I try to kiss her. She does not know what I am doing. She learns how to kiss in no time. Passions overwhelm her. I mount on her with patience.
‘Wayo Allah….’ She whispers.
It has been indeed a long time since my last lovemaking.
‘Yaganna! Yaganna!…’ she is screaming.
‘Yaganna was a man who fled away from Badimari when he was just a boy of six.’ Fatima smiled noticing my anxiousness in following her story. ‘He fled because he didn’t want to be circumcised. Boys of Badimari are usually circumcised at the age of eight. Yaganna’s manhood was exceedingly healthy at the age of six. People suggested he should join the eight-year-old boys so he could be circumcised. Yaganna fled to a hill, miles away. No one could find him after his escape. No one knew how he ate or survived. Yaganna came back twenty years later, hungry. Not for food. But for a woman. The first lady his eyes fell on, he grabbed her. He was ten times healthier between his legs. His first lady, Amina, could never forget that day of joy. Yaganna went back to the hills, afterwards. And soon the news about Yaganna spread among the women of Badimari, both the married and the virgins. Soon these women started sneaking out of Babimari in search of Yaganna’s hill.
I arrive Badimari after the Hazar prayers. My head is swollen for being Fatima’s Yaganna. I wonder if I am now a topic of discussion among Badimari females. Can the women of Badimari make the long trek to Kashimiri because of me? Hahaha…
From a distance I can see a horde waiting. It is not a horde of females. It is a horde of men armed with cutlasses. My steps become reluctant. I see the Bullama among the men. He is in a blue kaftan. My eyes meet his. He raises an alarm. They rush in my direction. I am not stupid to wait. I am racing in a direction that I have no idea about. I run so hard. I am a good runner, no doubt. Soon they lose sight of my figure. The dust aids in my disappearance. I am now barefooted after loosing my shoes. The sand’s hotness is cooking my feet. I am lost. For three days I wander without food and water. I avoid villages for fear that a message from Badimari may have reached them. I do not come across a single person throughout my wandering. It is during the early hours of my fourth day I slumped down. I am almost closing my eyes and wishing to die when the sound of a moving truck hit my ears. They are mobile policemen. They recognize my NYSC vest. They come to my rescue. I am given water. I am asked questions. My answers are disjointed. They push me into their truck. Their destination is a police patrol point at the Nigeria/Cameroon border.