Helloooooooooooooooo!! Good to see you here again :)
Now, I consider myself a very considerate person. Very. Which is why in my consideration, I have noticed a certain marginalization on here (this blog). There are people who absolutely ADORE long, boring stories and I have not as a blogger performed my duty in delivering that. This blog post is therefore both an apology and an "I'll make it up to you".
Today, I'm just gon' give a peep into my wonderful life, and I can almost hear you snort, "Like I care". Well, yeah you aren't supposed to. Because this, my friend, is the point of a blog. So, like you figured, today we're talking about me (of course it involves God now!).
And no, this is not because I ran out of inspiration. I'm serious (this is my straightest face -__-
So, here goes.....
DAY ONE: A RUDE AWAKENING
Arrgh! I moaned as the raucous sound filled my ears. Quickly, a signal was sent to my very listless brain which strove through the fog of drowsiness to interpret it. Several seconds passed as I struggled to leave dreamland before it finally started to register as my alarm. After this was done, another signal was transmitted to my body to respond to it. My eyes opened far enough for me to peer through narrow slits but shut instantly as light flooded them. I had left the light bulb on before going to bed the night – or morning – before.
I stretched out my hand – still with closed eyes – and felt for my phone which was still ringing angrily under my pillow. With a herculean effort, I opened my eyes again and stared dizzily at the dancing figures on my phone’s screen. 5:30 Am. Already? I felt like I’d only slept for fifteen minutes. Then, a realisation dawned. Today was The Day! At last!
As if from nowhere, adrenaline pumped my veins as I got up from the bed like a spring wound up too long. My eyes became suspiciously bright then. I got on the move and did all that had to be done. That morning, everyone seemed so excited. Why not? After all, today was a long awaited one. We were all going to Abuja for the NIFES National Missions Conference. A trip I especially looked forward to, not just because of the conference itself but also because I’d be going to Abuja for the very first time. Urbane buildings and incandescent lights filled my mind’s eye. I couldn’t wait. I just knew the campground was going to be a brilliantly massive one.
Several hours later, and I was all prepped up for the journey to the Promised Land. I felt like a kid on her way to Disneyland. Well, maybe not that kinda ‘’excited’’ but you get the picture. I was probably way too old for that kinda thing, but that’s just the way it was. It was all I could do not to start a tap dance. But never let it be said that an about-to-be-an-adult girl was all worked up about something like that. Not good for the image. So, I kept my cool.
Well, there I was, seated at the back seat of a van, book in hand, headphones safely tucked in my ears with a quiet unassuming neighbour whom I was glad didn’t have a lot to say because the last thing I needed was talkative who couldn’t get a hint to shut up, seated beside me. 8:35 Am and we were off!
This is NOT Abuja
I was confused. I didn’t know what to do with myself. The journey was already in full gear and I was still trying to decide my course of action. Should I read first? Take a nap? Or just sit, listen to music and enjoy the scenery? I weighed my options diplomatically. I mused and finally decided on...nothing. Since sleep didn’t have enough patience to wait for me to make a decision, she took matters into her own hands.
Several forceful jiggles later and sleep lost me. I groaned in frustration as the van hopped ceaselessly over dusty, jagged roads. My rump felt sore, really my whole body did. We all murmured in protest, either the roads were super horrific or the driver was. Either way, it was exasperating since it made reading very difficult. Sometime later, I gave up on the book and settled for music and some moping. But all these did not temper my excitement. No way was I going to allow a few bumps – well, maybe not a few – mess with that. After all, nothing good comes easy; no pain, no gain, I rationalized.
Bump! Another jiggle later and I was re-evaluating my rationality. I shut my eyes and played grand cosmopolitan city scenery in my head over and over. I thought of Aso rock, of beautiful lush gardens, grandiose mansions set in idyllic landscape, high-rise buildings of architectural masterpiece, of tarred highways lined by working halogen street lamps. Ah, yes Abuja was definitely worth the pain. It had to be.
Without boring you any further, we finally left Lokoja and entered the Federal Capital Territory, complete with our “jiggly” van and expectant eyes at about 5pm. We flew past villages and hills, forests and then...Kwali! My eyes widened at the sight before me, it was unbelievable!
“Sorry, is this Abuja?” I asked foolishly and immediately bit my lip at such a ludicrous question since “WELCOME TO NIFES CAMPGROUND” screamed boldly on a tall billboard. My neighbour looked at me for the first time since the journey began, in a funny way, like I had just asked if the earth was flat. “Way to go, champ...way to go. You’ve not only proven beyond a smidgen of doubt that you’re a JJC but that you’re also irredeemably blind,” I thought giving myself a mental pat on the back.
I shook my head and gaped. This was it? Where were the tall, sophisticated buildings? Where were the bright lights? Where did the idyllic sceneries go? What about the tarred, busy highways? Traffic lights? I wondered as I stared incredulously at the large, partially-fenced grounds surrounded by nothing but rolling hills that towered over dense vegetation.
Then, it finally dawned like an avalanche. This was not the great capital city. It was a...village! It was Kwali, a town located on the outskirts of Abuja, as I was made to understand later. I was crushed, disillusioned and totally disappointed as I looked around as if expecting the real city to flip up from underground like those hi-tech action movies (no, not Nollywood, thank you very much), but what can I say? Life is obviously not a movie. I felt like a kid who finally found out fairy tales weren't real.
We packed our van and got down, I sighed with relief as I stretched the body that had been cramped up for several hours. We carried our bags from the trunk and headed for the check point where we were searched thoroughly by some people I assumed were NIFES staff, guarded by armed soldiers, before we were let in. Great security, I thought absentmindedly.
Stepping past the check point and onto the ground, I took in the scenery before me. There were several buildings scattered around the massive grounds, with some still under construction. Our campus group was led to the large tent where we found a place to settle while we waited for our registration. There were several other campus groups around and it was very noisy. Typical, I thought. Boisterous students. Some of them were singing and playing talking drums, guitars, others were just yelling. A guy was moving around, hollering; “This is Kwali o, not Abuja. Abeg make una no vex.” I wordlessly accepted the apology as other students threw repartees at him. After a few minutes, some of my tension began to ease as I watched the goings-on around me.
Later on, we were able to get food - for free - and I could not believe how surplus it was, since we were practically begged to eat, I knew we were going to suffer for it later. The main programme was not to start that day, so we were asked to retire early and since the registration could not be done that evening, being for arrivals only, accommodation was survival of the fittest. I and some of my campus group friends got a hostel and some mattresses after a lot of heaving and hustling. But I could not retire as early as I thought since we had rehearsals that night for the NMC mass choir. I could not sleep until past midnight but it was well worth it. Singing has a way of easing me up.
Being the idealist that I was, I was able to look through rose-tinted shades and see the brighter side of the whole issue. This place was idyllic - well, maybe not the main, student-infested campground, but the surrounding landscape was. The hills looked really nice and it was probably better that the campground was far away from the noisy and busy city. After all, no one builds a campground in the middle of a city. I don’t know what I was even thinking. Well, I had obviously been dreaming and this was definitely a rude awakening.
...to be continued
Side note: Stop frowning abeg. I told you 'twas boring stuff. And those of you who just have a penchant for long, boring stories can thank me later. But really, I'm going somewhere with this ok? Just chill and come back later.