Till date, my service year remains the most peaceful period in my life. I understood the essence of the cocoon. although I would not go back in time to relive that year, I am glad I didn’t miss the lessons in that phase of my journey.
During the placement period, I decided i was not going to influence where I would be sent. Not like I had much choice anyway. I no Kuku sabi any oga at the top that can make that happen. My two closest friends in school got posted to Lagos and ogun state. One in zenith back where he currently works, the other in the defunct bank PHB in ota. they sent me to one secondary school in a village called effiong in eboyin state. No light no water!
I nearly went crazy with misery. I berated myself for not trying to runs it. That there was no hustle in my spirit. I was suffused with the usual fear that almost all Nigerian graduate experience when faced with The prospect of the labour market. I was thinking “how can I network and stay connected a place like this?It is the back of the universe.” It was like the whole world was moving on without me.
I spent 8 weeks wallowing in this state of mind. During which I never spent a weekend in the village. I would travel to abakaliki (Eboyin state capital) every Friday and come back to the village school on Monday.
Everyone was complaining ; About the sandflies, or how dumb the students were, or the inconvenience of throwing short put( taking a dump in the bush). I was part of them too until one sunny morning…
I experienced a shift in perception. A thought ran in a repeated loop in my head “Life is what you make of it”. And with this other realizations kept creeping up.
That I had a choice to be or not to be miserable.
That Lagos would always there and I am only here for a year. I might as well enjoy it and live in the moment.
Soon as I made that decision, it felt like a fold was lifted off my face and I began to see the miracle that has always been around me…
I discovered nature. (I still cannot find the right words to articulate exactly how this makes me feel). The early morning walk in the woods to witness the sun rise to the songs of birds. The beautiful array of dew drops like diamonds on cobwebs. The oxygen rich air scented with crushed leaves and grasses. Breathtaking solitary creatures that lives and dies with no one noticing.
I remember sitting on the root of a Mahogany tree and struck in awe of its majestic presence.
I discovered my talent for teaching. This surprised me too. I have a knack for dummying technical and complex stuff in a way that is understandable to anyone. My students, teachers and eventually the principal validated this. I thought SS3 biology officially but the student organized themselves for extra lessons in other science subjects when SSCE was near. I didn’t ask for money but they paid me anyway. Extra money for copa shun! This skill came in handy when I was laid off my first job. I taught in every JAMB tutorial center around my area. I even had to turn some down because my plate was too filled. I made enough money to weather the storm.
I Felt valued. Every time I walk down the street I was always hailed. Multiple times. Copa shun! Copa shun! Even in the dark, They know my shadow. I remember thinking “this can never happen in the street of Lagos.” Who send you for Lagos? The kids help get water every morning and most of the time I don’t even have to buy food. I was given all the food I needed By the kids and parents.
I was invited for lunch a couple of times with some of my student’s family. As I cannot speak Igbo, we couldn’t converse properly.
So I would sit there, eat my food, drink my small stout, smile and nod my head from time to time. It was awkward at first but they were such graceful people it didn’t matter that I did not understand them. Every act was filled with love and my heart was filled with gratitude.
By the way I stopped going to abakaliki. The village was so much fun now. Every night there is always something to do. I had an endless supply of the finest Palm wine. Let me not tell you about the girls but that was fun too😀…
I was sorry when it was time to leave. My students cried Including the seemingly tough guys and showered me with abundant prayers. Prayers Which I believe was effective and still is. The following years I was the recipient of series of undeserved blessings.
Two months after service, I got a job in Lagos with one of then leading security and finance companies. All my fears of missing out was for nothing.
I made a few life long friends whom I am happy to have in my life.
I did a lot of introspection and got to know myself better. I gained confidence in my abilities and public speaking. My changed attitude also influenced most of my fellow corp members.
The morning after my passing out parade, I placed all my Copa gear on the floor in the Local government compound And walked out of the place without looking back. I took the next ABC bus. All road leads to Lagos.
Sorry for the epistle. I know you said in summary🙈