Read the first part of the Pristine series here

The soldier did
seem to like Dara. Good thing too that Dara shone at marching. People no longer
snickered at her, they admired her instead—her perfectly timed responses to the
slow match, quick match, attention by number and halt commands, the pride with
which the platoon commandant called her to the front to show other corpers how
it was done.
It all felt so good, so much that
she didn’t even consider joining either the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)
or the Peer Education Training (PET) programmes going on on camp, both of which
would have interested her normally, had she not wanted something different from
what she was used to.
“Excuse me, I think you dropped

Dara turned to find a guy holding
up an orange handband and shook her head. “No, its’s not mine.”
It was the fifth evening on camp,
parade had just ended and she was thinking of stopping over at the room to see
if the twins wanted to eat at the mammy market too. She continued walking and
the guy followed her.

“You were great back there. Did
you have some military experience? Or are you just a really fast learner?”

Dara answered, “I had never
marched prior to this.” Then she glanced at him. “You aren’t in my platoon, are
you? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before.”

“I’m in platoon seven. You were
pretty easy to notice though. Not that I was looking.”

Dara smiled. He had obviously been

When they got to the front of the
girls’ hostels, he asked her, both hands in his pockets, “Isn’t it rather early
to retire for the night? What are you doing till lights out?”
“Actually, I just want to see if
my friends are available to go and find something to eat together,”

He shrugged. “I’m available.”

She went into the room to check
Kenny and Taiwo anyway, but soon returned alone shortly after she had left,
He grinned. “How could I not have
asked for your name? What if you hadn’t come back?
Dara smiled and told him.

“What does Dara mean?” he asked,
really wanting to know.

“Oluwadarasimi. God is good to

He sighed. “Yoruba names are just
so beautiful and meaningful. I’m David.”

She looked over at him, noticing
for the first time how very tall he was.

“So Dara, what would you like to
he asked as they walked past the auditorium and towards the mammy market.

“Noodles. There’s this Igbo lady
that adds lots of vegetables that I like. What about you?”
Then her eyes caught
his wrist and she shook her head, amused, as she said, “I was going to suggest
that you report the handband you found at the OBS, but apparently it was never

“Mmm…yea, noodles…that’s my
he replied, throwing back his head in mock ecstasy.

“Oluwadarasimi Ajoke.”

“Yes, mummy,” Dara answered,
holding her phone closer to her ear so she could hear above the loud music
booming all over the camp from the OBS speakers. Her mum called her name,
Oluwadarasimi, in full most times, but whenever she added ‘Ajoke’, her native name,
it meant serious talk.

“Has anything been said about
relocation forms over there? I hear it should be out by now. You daddy has been
making some calls to his friends at the NYSC headquarters in Abuja.”

“Yes, mum. But I really want to
stay here,”
she really wanted to say, but didn’t have the heart to, so she lied
instead, “No, mum.”

Her mother sighed. “Please just be
at alert and do everything you’re supposed to do when you get the news, okay?
We’re trying our possible best to get you out of that place as soon as the
three-week camp is over, but you know you have to write a letter and fill
relocation forms over there too.”

When the call ended, Dara slid her
phone into her waist purse, increased her pace and caught up with David. She
had had to reduce her steps while she received the call, leaving him scrolling
through his phone with one hand, the other hand in his pocket. He smiled at her
as she apologized, “Sorry for the break in transmission. That was my mum.”

“Did you tell her?” he asked. They
had talked about the relocation dilemma, debating on whether staying in Gombe
for the whole year was worth it. His excuse for applying for the relocation was
that he had a job to get back to in the South-South.

“I couldn’t. But I will, sooner or

“This is like the best evening
I’ve had since I got to camp,”
he said, when they got back to the girls’
hostels area.

“I told you, that lady makes the
best noodles ever,”
Dara replied with a giggle, facing him in front of her
hostel block.

He smiled. “Nah. Well, yeah, it
was a nice meal, but I meant meeting you, getting to talk to you—“

“Tricking me into talking to you,
you mean?”

“Well, thankfully, it worked,” he
replied with a grin, then added in a more serious tone, “So I’ll see you
Unsure if it was a question or a
statement, Dara nodded before she turned to make her way into the room.
To be continued…..

Morountodun is a writer and a microbiology ‎ graduate of University of Ilorin.
Twitter: @Morountosweet

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