The journey from Gumel to Hadejia where he was posted was about two hours. He was too engrossed in thought about the future to notice anything on the way to Hadejia. The few times he looked out the window of the Kombi bus conveying his group of corpers, he saw just sparse arid land with a few habitations, as is obtainable with most places in northern Nigeria. He didn’t know any of the corpers with him in the vehicle so chatter between him and them was to the barest minimum. When the bus stopped abruptly by a mosque at some minutes before four that afternoon he thought one of the passengers wanted to alight, wondering how that could be when they were all supposed to be going to the same destination. It all made sense to him, when while going to take a leak by a nearby bush he noticed other buses also pulling up and the Muslim passengers (including corpers) and drivers alighting, made for the water drums beside the mosque with their plastic kettles and other containers, to collect water for ablution and head on towards the mosque for prayers.
Minutes after, the driver returned and passengers (which in the case of the bus he was traveling in, were corpers), reboarded the bus and the journey continued. Not long after he started counting down the milestones they encountered as they made their way towards Hadejia, from thirty-four kilometers to five before he stopped seeing the milestones, which he felt might have been located by the site of the road that had been overtaken by bushes. The KOFAR (Gate) that led into Hadejia town looked impressive, only rivaled as yet by the one he saw in Kano by his estimation. It led into a town bustling with activity, the roads paved and visibly electrified, with Indian MARK II human-powered (hand) pumps strategically placed across the town, though there were also evidence of pipe borne water availability, with pipes passed through drainage channels. They were driven directly to the GENERAL CORPER’S LODGE, somewhere within Hadejia town, to meet excited corpers who eagerly awaited them, along with other corpers who like them had just arrived, and joined also by yet another set of arrivals conveyed in two more kombi buses. It was at the corpers’ lodge that he started seeing faces he was familiar with, especially those in his platoon, of which he could only relate with Ricky. Ay the pharmacist was also there but he decided not to go strike up a conversation with her at that moment.
He was wondering about the next line of action, when he noticed youth corpers from the “Batch B” of the previous year coming in groups to pick a few corpers from the general corper’s lodge, to other lodges that will probably be closer to their Place of Primary Assignment, PPA. Soon enough, three female corpers came and asked for the medicals in the group, and he stepped forward with his luggage, followed by Ay, then another female whom he later came to know as an anatomist. Three of them soon climbed atop motorbike taxis, called Achaba, a variant of the Okada he was used to from Lagos and southern Nigeria. Their destination was GIDAN LIKITA (Doctor’s House) by the Water Works, as one made for the MOPOL (Military Police) BASE in Hadejia. Their hosts were the ever smiling fair complexioned Lech, an optician, and the also fair, taller and talkative laboratory scientist. They had with them, their dark complexioned and buxom pharmacist friend for company. They were made to feel at home, shown to rooms they’d have to share with the hosts, fortunately for him the doctor he was to share his room with was away, so it appeared he would have the room to himself for the while the doctor was away.
The reception by their hosts didn’t end with a mere welcome, but continued with making the guests feel quite at home in the new environment the three bedroom bungalow that was Gidan Likita provided. There was also a sumptuous meal awaiting them after they’d washed off all of the sand and dirt from their journey from the NYSC Camp in Gumel, to Hadejia, to the Corpers’ Lodge, before arriving at the doctor’s house. Once he and the others began digging into their food, the pharmacist from Batch B begged to leave, promising to make herself available to help should the guests encounter any challenge whatsoever. Later that night, while watching a Nigerian movie, the older corpers told the new ones what to expect at their PPA at the General Hospital in Hadejia. Ay soon loosened up, the anatomist whom because of the way she reacted with fear to the news of the presence of Bush Babies in the vicinity, was nicknamed Gwenboh, also felt at ease that night, and it wasn’t until the wee hours of the morning before he, like the others, was able to catch some sleep.
They were punctual at the hospital that morning to see the medical director of Hadejia General Hospital. Once their hosts introduced them to the secretary of the hospital, whose vocabulary started and ended with “Actually”, they left to go man their various duty posts. Three other corpers, probably missed by the party that came to pick them to Gidan Likita had come to join them, and included a medical doctor, a Mohammed from Minjibir in Kano, who trained in Russia, a laboratory scientist, Gabby and another dentist. The secretary who apologized for the inability of the Medical Director to be with them, owing to a meeting he had to attend with the governor, managed to tell his audience that the hospital will be able to accommodate all the corpers allocated to it save for one dentist, while the other will be given a rejection letter, so he can go back to the Zonal Coordinator or Inspector to begin reposting proceedings. He felt lucky to have been the chosen one to stay at Hadejia, not because he felt that there couldn’t be a better place elsewhere in Jigawa, but because the last thing he wanted to do, was begin another journey to the unknown just because he was rejected.