MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Tag Archives: NYSC


Growing up as a kid we were made to believe one terrible thing, something no one really had a clear cut understanding of, until age and little intelligence caught up with some of us. I must admit I am one of such kids whose life had been dragged up and down in the mud of life riddles. 

It was just last two month ago that the real deceit of life caught up with me. I sat under the mango tree close to the road and I was counting every one of the cars, motorcycles even bicycles that pass me by. Don’t ask me why, because I will tell you before you do. 

I happened to be the third born of my mother. My father died before I could even learn how to walk. I was just six months old when he died and left us in the crazy world. Mum didn’t have the opportunity of continue her secondary education before she got married to dad. Unlike other families dad refused to sponsor her higher education after marriage. The reason was visibly clear like the sky is even in the thickest dark night. 

Mum was extremely beautiful and young when dad married her. The fear of other men snatching his angel from him made him not to send her to further her education instead he setup a business for her.

Dad worked with a Lebanese construction company and never had much time to spend with the family as the nature of their work was such that they hardly spend up to three months in a place, so I never had the opportunity of knowing him.

Two months after I was born, my elder sister, the second was admitted in the clinic. It was confirmed she had pneumonia. According to hear say that was when dad was rushing home to meet his only daughter and had the unexpected accident that took away his life. It was a devastating situation for mum as her life came crumbling down. Her hope and future was shattered. 

Few days later, to make the situation worse, my beautiful sister died even though I never knew her, I was very sure she was beautiful. Most people say she was the exact copy of mum.
Even though mum was young she refused to remarry but took a hard decision which was to give us a better life through her petty trading business. She struggle and cry just to make sure we were happy and ever smiling. 
When went to private schools, both primary and secondary school and one thing that made her not lose hope was the fact that we were always in the top five every of the sessions.

It was after secondary school that everything changed for us. Mum made a decision that we were all happy about because we understood our conditions. I was made to wait for my big brother to finish university before I start mine. May be he might be lucky and get a job immediately after school and therefore reduce the stress mum had to go through to provide money for two of us. I was just 17 years old when I finished secondary school, so it was a good thing that age was on my side. At least starting university education at age of 21-22 wasn’t too bad.  I learnt so many things such computer graphic design, electronic repairs and other minor things. 

It was a great news that big brother had finished school after four years with a first class in Economics. We were overjoyed and celebrated him like a king. Mum looked straight into my eyes and I already knew what she wanted to say.
“you better do more than him when you start soon” 
“haba mum what is better than first class”

We joked and laughed at them. That night it was as if we had no problem at all.
About five months later, big brother went to camp for his NYSC in the far northern part of the country. I couldn’t wait for him to come home for Sallah break that November. 
Preparations were made as big brother told us he was coming home for Sallah. Our hero was coming home and we couldn’t wait a bit as we call him every hour to ask about his journey. 

Towards evening that day we received a call from big brother but the voice was a deep cracking one. 
“am I speaking with Muhammad?”
He asked and my heart was already beating against my chest heavily as though people were pounding inside of it. 
“Please what is wrong” 

-you may be required to come to Federal Medical Centre Lokoja for identification please. 

“Identification of what?” I asked but this time no reply came through.
In my mind I already knew something terrible had occurred but how do I break the news to my hypertensive mum! I mustered the courage and lied to mum that big brother was at FMC doing medical checkup as directed by the NYSC officials.
“Mum we may be require to meet him there”

-but why can’t we wait for him to come home? She said as I search my head for another lie. 
In midst of our argument another call came through mum phone but this time they broke the news in black and white. 
“madam we are sorry we lost him” was the last statement I heard from the call on speaker phone. 
Like a dream mum fell to the ground too and she too never woke up, and that was how life gambled with my destiny.
                  


Sitting under the tree remembering all these from the fountain of memory I became devastated and not minding the road I crossed without looking and got collide with a car. The car passed over my left hand.
“am sorry we will have to cut it off” 

The doctor said as though I were some sorts of a tree in a lonely forest. I cried to stupor as I watched my destiny being cut off. I didn’t finished education and the handiwork I learnt also had become irrelevant. 
Mum used to say everyone’s destiny was in their hands and now the doctor has chop off and buried my destiny…. 



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Almajiri boy holding his invaluable plate

Seeing these indigent lads gives me nothing but depression. To keep body and soul together I had opted to perpetually navigate my ears to the sound of their drum beats to tranquil myself from the turmoil portrayed by these lads.The so called recession has dreadfully hiked the number of these boys. Trotted in a single file along Jos-Abuja express road, beating their fragmented plates, gawking at the sky intently begging to cater for themselves and their masters. The name Almajiri sounds mammoth but it’s meaning was unfathomable to me at first.
Almajiri as the lads are frequently referred to spring forth from Arabic word Al-Mahaajirun, which precisely means (a migrant). Fadan karshi, a Southern part of Kaduna where I sojourn is predominantly dominated by these Almajiri Boys.
At about 9.am on Wednesday, I stepped out of a friend’s hummer Jeep fully kitted on my NYSC regalia. It was one of those days we flaunt our military uniform for admiration and to stylishly solicit for people’s help especially for a lift. With only #300 on me I was waiting for a vehicle to covey me to gwantu for CDS. Was flagging down any car possible. As I stood with unwavering optimism, my attention was driven away by a pitiable sight. ISMAIL, a famous Almajiri Boy deserted under a scorching sun, piercing into his pores. Weeping uncontrollably with his tattered duds, in-sensuous hair and cracked lips filled with blood stain alluring flies like abattoir where Shanu (Cows) are being slaughtered. Flies fed vigorously on the fresh wound at his right arm and his broken plate which serves as an identity for any almajiri. As I stood lost in thought, he jilted me with his pity-beckoning voice. So shallow a voice like a suckling scrambling for the mother’s breast. ”Corper, don Allah taimake ni ba da kowa” (please help me I have no one).
I Looked at him with much disdain clothed with a little bit of sympathy. How do I go to Gwantu if I treat him with my transport fare? Pressing that I needed to thumb print for the month of January, even though December allowee hasn’t popped-out. An act we are accustomed to. Immediately I shook both of my hands inside the khaki pocket in search of my wallet, just like a dream I was rounded up by these lads. the tempo of drum beat has gone atrocious as they plodded towards me with frowned faces like a hungry lion looking for a prey to devour. they are being compelled by their empty belly and licking pouches that has vowed never to retain anything valuable nor gratifying. I already had unhealthy disdain for their parents and their so called Mallams behind this unlawful act with the sole aim of enriching themselves and at the same time denying these lads their right in the society as well as decent and sound upbringing propelling them to litter the road, endangering their lives and causing heavy traffic every seconds for the Travellers. Invaded with these thoughts in the mist of confusion as to whom to offer help to like MMM. Obviously, like the MMM ponze scheme, I have been merged with the ALMAJIRI’S by the turbulence that betide us which has transposed the language of many even the snug Nigerians. Just like a soldier sent to the war front without arms. The boys have been unleashed to the street neglected, metamorphosed to beggars from background. Undeniably, the essence of the Almajiri has been defeated. Weeping bitterly for the sake of survival, he deserves to live. A voice whispered to my ears, thrown to the ground by a whirlwind from an unknown source, my hands got injured amidst this scene. The boys in their impoverished state took the saddle upon themselves to raise me up from the dust. The cry of the poor lad sank deep inside my heart, stood up like a statue of New York. Gave them #50 out of the #300 which was almost torn into pieces by these boys out of excitement. Rest the poor Almajiri boy on my shoulder in an attempt to cross, we were both knocked down at the middle of the road by a motorcycle and the lad swayed from my shoulder. Found myself later at the hospital bed but the abused, neglected Almajiri boy “Ismail” gave up the ghost. My community development service was done on that hospital bed. Ward 2A, room 15. Will live to remember that fateful day in the course of my service year. My heart wept for Ismail, the Almajiri boy.



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