Gloria, a very beautiful Facebook friend had adviced, “join every camp group you can join if you want to be posted to Benin”. So I did. I dragged Dorothy, who wanted to join the band, to the Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS) interview. We were accepted into the OBS. We were happy, and then I was removed. Apparently, there were too many people who passed the interview. I was adviced to keep attending the meetings, that our boss will eventually acknowledge my perseverance and still get me posted to Benin. I was deceived!
I didn’t want to put all my eggs in the OBS basket so I joined the parade squad. We would rehearse morning and evening, under the sun and in the rain. It was for Benin, so it was worth it.
Then finally, some members of my platoon feasted their eyes on me and decided to make a beauty queen out of me. They wanted me to contest for Miss NYSC! Of course I laughed and told them to go find someone who was better suited for pageantry. Of course they stalked me day and night, even to my bed in the hostel.
I accepted. I read my service guide cover to cover. After lights out, I would turn the hostel verandah to my personal runway and practise my catwalk. I took selfie after selfie to get the right smile. I even thought up a pet project I was going to busy myself with. I wanted my impact to be felt by the people of Edo state.
The D-day finally came. I smiled. I catwalked. Not too fast and not too slow, just like my instructor had taught me. I wore the right clothes and answered my questions effortlessly. I even danced!
I came fourth. I looked at the second and first runner up and I was filled with confusion. I didn’t understand how it happened but I kept my cool. My platoon members wouldn’t let it go. Further investigation would reveal that the judges didn’t want my platoon winning all the pageants, as we had won the other two. I lay on my bed that night and sobbed as Benin slipped farther away from my hands.