Admin’s Note: This was supposed to be the first part of the ‘Love in Gamawa’ series of stories. For completeness sake, it is being published.
When I had first seen the letter sending me to Bauchi, I had been really disappointed. Inspite of the bold face I must have tried to portray back then, I knew deep inside me it was not a trip I was happy to make. However, after a few calls and discussions with friends who had been to Bauchi or whose friend’s friend or friend’ brother or sister or whatever permutation one wants to make with those three words, and after hearing tales of how exciting it will be in the midst of fellow corpers, I actually looked forward to the trip.
The first three weeks at the orientation camp had been all that was promised and more! I met different people, graduates like me scattered from different Universities around the Nation. The daily early morning excersices, the afternoon march parades under the Bauchi heat, the evening relaxations, and all the trips to mammy market was fun. It was kind of refreshing meeting people who came to the camp for diferent reasons apart from the main one of serving our nation. Story has it that people come to the NYSC camp to meet the bone of their bones and flesh of their flesh, some just to sow their oaths, some to have fun and the rest, to actually play their role in Nation building. Whatever the reason for coming to the NYSC camp, those first three weeks were bliss! ok…apart from the food! The weather was also not too good. Bauchi probably due to its closeness to the sahara desert has very dry weather. The dust from the desert makes sure that no matter how much time you spend in the bathroom in the morning, the moment you step out of the house, your hair is covered with dust! Its so bad that people go about with handkerchiefs tied around their noses and head.
I remember the feeling we all had when the 3 weeks were almost over. Apprehension and fear of being posted to a remote village, excitement for the coming adventure. Some people were so sure they would be posted to Bauchi town or nearby towns becaus ethey had ‘settled’ those that needed to be settled. Some of us who were either too principled to settle or who didn’t know who to settle had to wait and accept our fates. I fall into the former and so I wasn’t surprised or disappointed when I got the letter posting me to Gamawa local government area. I accepted it better than I did when I was posted to Bauchi afterall, I was inBauchi already and thus, I was ready for the challenge.
One day in Gamawa and all the excitement was gone. I was suddenly aching to leave this place! The heat, the dust, the fact that I couldn’t communicate with the outside world as there was no mobile network available nor internet access, all contributed to my sudden hatred for the place. What was I thinking coming to this place??? How could I have even contemplated it, I had to get out and quick too. All this was going on in my head when I went to bed last night and as if that wasn’t enough, someone thought it wise to wake me up so early in the morning.
‘knock,knock’ I heard it again. ” Who is that!”, I bellowed. The clock on the mantle piece showed 5am. Who on earth wakes up at 5am in the morning on a saturday for goodness sakes? “Good morning sir, my name is Hauwa and I just wanted to find out if you need some water for your bath this morning”. I never heard or saw Florence Nightingale but if I was to assign a voice to her, the one I had just heard wouldn’t be too far frommy choice. Quickly I jumped off my mattress and put on my trousers and rushed to the door to see if the face will match the voice I just heard. I gently opened the door and there she was, the angel God had sent to me to calm me in the sand storms of the desert called Bauchi, beautiful, perfectly shaped, lovely eyes that looked like you could drown in them if you stared too hard. Outside my door stood Hauwa, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen and the girl who would eventually not only turn my life but the entire state upside down.