When he came out in the evening, he didn’t bother to clock in at the clinic. He couldn’t imagine anyone been ill considering what the night held in store, and the fact that he wasn’t called further reinforced his thoughts in that direction. Even that ardent doctor who holds work and love for service to humanity wouldn’t sacrifice the BONFIRE NIGHT to take care of some patients, but he was also sure he’d be wrong, knowing that even he could do nothing but attend to emergencies should such cases arise. He quickly erased clinic thoughts from his mind before it could trigger his phone to ring, with someone at the other end requiring his presence at the clinic.
He hadn’t made up his mind about whom to spend the time with that night. All the platoons would be out on the open field for the night. The sociologist wasn’t in his platoon, but he’d have to stay in his platoon to be able to partake in the food and drinks he partly contributed for. If he stayed too long, he’d have to be glued to Mimi if she wasn’t distracted by other guys. He wanted to be with her also, but not before spending considerable time with the sociologist in her platoon. Twas a moonless night, but the moon wasn’t missed because of the huge bonfire in the middle of the field, around which all the platoons were set, each with chairs, and a table on which coolers and crates of drinks were displayed.
Once he’d gotten his food in a small plastic disposable container and a canned malt drink, he made his way to the sociologist’s platoon. Platoon 8 was on his way to the sociologists’, and he couldn’t help but admire the elaborateness of their arrangements. Unlike his platoon, they had alcohol, not just the beers but the spirits. He couldn’t help but make a detour there and ask Chi if she could help him with a bottle of stout, which she easily did even going beyond his expectation to get him the Big Bottle. It turned out that she was even a part of the organizing committee in her platoon hence the ease with which she was able to get the drink, and then food which was far more pleasing to the eye than the one from his platoon, enough for him to begin reconsidering going to see the sociologist.
According to Chi, nobody in her platoon had to contribute towards the “Item 7”, a code in Nigeria for REFRESHMENT. He’d heard that a son of the late Nigeria’s former military dictator, General Sani Abacha was also serving in his Batch (A) that year but didn’t know the platoon he belonged to. In fact, not many people knew because he hardly slept in camp, coming in once a while in his luxury car to catch up on events, or probably when bored with whatever he gets his mind and hands to when not in camp. He it was, who sponsored refreshments for platoon 8 that night even providing a cow, and a standby “Mai-Suya” to make kebabs on the side, such that the platoons’ party was exceptional compared to the child’s play on exhibition in the other nine platoons, the worst in his estimation been his platoon where many of the corpers were more bothered with saving their stipends for the uncertainty of the days ahead, away from camp which was meant to close the next day, than contributing so much for just a night where fun may not be that guaranteed.
If he hadn’t already called the sociologist to tell her he was coming, he’d have lounged at Chi’s platoon for the period the bonfire night lasted. She was influential enough to ward off enquiries from her fellow platoon members who guarded their platoon from corpers from other platoons looking to gate crash and swoop in for the kill, some others who couldn’t be intimidated by her later calmed down after recognizing him as one of the doctors in the camps’ makeshift clinic, and going ahead to offer him more of what he already had, and any other thing he may desire, and that they could offer. Apart from the official DJ doing his thing at the other end of the field, Platoon 8 had their own DJ dishing out newer hit songs from the nation’s commercial capital, Lagos. It didn’t take long before like ants to a discovery of a stash of sugar, corpers from other platoons invaded Platoon 8, more for the music than for the food and drinks which had by then become heavily depleted. He made his exit at that point, with the much he’d managed to scavenge from Chi’s platoon and headed to see the sociologist, but not without waving a goodbye to Chi, who couldn’t care less as she was busy with a few other corpers in her platoon clearing the place of empty bottles and plates.
The sociologist was very cross with him when he eventually appeared, but he managed to calm her down. There was no need to remain with her in her platoon since corpers after eating and drinking were now merging and the platoon lines soon disappeared. He walked her towards the clinic side but found other couples moving in that direction, and changed route towards the hostel. The way she strode speedily alongside him told him she wanted what he wanted as well. His room was locked, but before using his key, he decided to knock and when he did he got a knock back, signifying that one of his roomies was AT WORK!
They had no choice but to make their way back to the field. Platoon 8’s DJ had taken over at the center, and corpers had gathered around the huge bonfire
gyrating in dance routines akin to those in epic movies where ancients danced around fires in worship to their gods. All of the noise seemed so far away from them as they sat on the trunk of a felled tree to talk and enjoy each others’ company. The uncertainty of the next few days soon enveloped them because of the possibility that they may not be posted to the same village, local government or emirate in Jigawa State by the time camp closed in two days. They both knew no one who could influence their postings, so they spent the night talking about how they could stay in touch, even see each other if it happened that they were separated by postings.
When they later parted that night, their embrace was a long one, filled with sadness before she walked into her hostel, and he made his way to the Mammy Market, where he knew Mimi might be, to lighten up himself with some booze. He found Chi on her way to the hostel as he made his way out, she wasn’t in any mood to talk and he feared that she might have seen her in the company of the sociologist the whole night and as such become jealous and decided not to talk to him again. He couldn’t care less, and after cold pleasantries hastened further to the mammy market, where expectedly Mimi was already far gone into bottles, that he simply eased himself beside her with his small bottle of stout. She asked him if he saw Chi on his way to “Mammy” and he nodded. Apparently, Chi had caught Mimi smoking and been disappointed angrily left her for the hostel. He was greatly relieved to note that Chi’s reaction to him had nothing to do with him or whatever he might have done, and then went on to order more bottles for himself and Mimi, while they engaged in jibber jabber conversations that they could never recall no matter how much they tried.