The first thing I noticed as I stepped off the huge rickety excuse for a luxurious bus that conveyed us from Onitsha to Gombe was how cold the weather was. Very much different from the mild weather in Anambra state. Gosh it was bone chilling!
The worst thing about the chilly weather was that it came with a whistling breeze, you know? Like you hear in horror movies before a ghost appears. I would have given anything at that moment for a ghost to appear as I stepped off the bus, at least it would had scared some warm fear into my freezing body.
Gombe weather is a tale of two weathers. In the afternoon the weather is so hot you could fry an egg in it. I remember after like two weeks in camp, we were all sun burnt! Part of our torso not covered in clothing was burnt black and the parts covered by our T-shirts were their original colours. It was funny looking at the T-shirt shape mark that was your naked torso.
The mornings were a different stories completely. By 12am it was so cold, you felt you would freeze. By 2am the breeze was so harsh they shook they loose zincs and louvers, making it seem the house was about to collapse all around you. This breeze didn’t whistle, it howled. Woe betide you if you were afraid of the dark and woke up in the middle of the night to pee! Those who left their clothes out to dry over night, soon learnt the hard way; after they woke up in the morning to find their washed clothes gone with the wind, that it took an utmost of 3 minutes for your clothes to dry, so if they waited they wouldn’t have to leave them unguarded or if they were too lazy to wait, they would have to secure them with heavy objects.
Because of the weather conditions I hated all the camp activities, especially those in the mornings. I would rather have curled up in my bed and slept instead of rambling about in them. In the mornings when we came out for parade at about 4.30, you could barely make out the person in front of you as we stood freezing in the vast football field we used for parade practise, because of the mixture of thick mist and dust that encompassed you! It was so cold then that when the officers commanded us to spread out, we were reluctant to do so and when we did, it wasn’t long before we were hurdled together again. I found myself wondering more than once why we weren’t issued cardigans.
I remember this particular morning, it was so cold, more than I have ever experienced; it was like bathing with chilled water and then standing dripping wet in front of an air conditioner at full blast! Kai I swear my bone were rattling from the numbing cold!
But I wasn’t the worst hit. There were these ‘wise guys’ who felt that they could dodge the morning parade by hiding out in the dormitories. What they didn’t count on, was the CC catching them. And the CC was STRICT.
He marched them to the field and ordered one of them to fetch a bucket of water and asked them to soak their shirts in them and without wringing them, put them back on! In that chilly breezy morning!!
Ah!! I felt I was gonna die, but seeing what they were put through, I knew I had it better. Hmm I for just enter epileptic shock, sharp, sharp!!!!
My case got worse though (or did it?) when I was slow to getting up from where I was casually seated; resting my tired body, to join up with the others who were practising. The RSM ordered us to be taken to the guard room! Choi!! I have heard so many stories about guard rooms and none of them good ones. Plus wouldn’t going to the guard room ruin my chances of a favourable posting in town?
My mind was engorged in these thoughts as I trudged reluctantly to the guard room.
My disappointment soon turned to a blessing, the guard room was nothing like all the stories I had heard and what was more the officers didn’t lock us up but allowed us sit out the parade in their lobby, which was warm and provided an escape from the harsh conditions outside. I soon slept off and before I knew it, the parade was over and we were released to go and eat.
Day well spent won’t you say?
I have heard that Jos has one of the most extreme weathers in the countries and Gombe is nothing compared to it! If that’s so, then I think there is serious gbege there oh!