I can recall looking at the clouds thinking they were solid ice floating in the sky. I thought the Sun would melt the clouds which in turn lead to rainfall. That was me, some few decades ago. That was me before learning the water cycle in school. Me, when I was carefree. Me, when the challenges I had did not last more than a few days. Me, when I was innocent. I now understand why Peter Pan never wanted to grow up. The hardest thing I have ever done (and I am still doing) is growing up. I had an idea of what happened to people when they left the shelter and I nursed the fear of what might happen to me when I leave.
The first time I left the shelter was during my IT; one good thing about IT is that you get to return to the shelter. There were three people that were my great companions during my IT; they helped me survive via their lectures within that brief period in the rain, that brief period outside the shelter. They were Sheik. Bilal Philips (How to be a better Muslim), Sheik. Jamal Zarabozo (Means of sticking to the right path) and finally Sheik Yasir Qadhi, whom I borrowed the concept of calling the school the shelter. (The piece of the puzzle). But now, I have left the shelter and this time around unlike the first time it’s most likely I don’t return (at least not as an undergraduate). My companions during my IT, served as my raincoat but now I need something better than a raincoat, something that would last much longer. I do not want to cry in the rain cause apart from getting wet, nobody knows you are crying if you are in the rain. Nobody knows the difference between your tears and the rain drops. Why didn’t the shelter prepare me well and then I realized why some of us never try to step up while in school. They must have asked themselves the rhetorical question, ‘What is the point of becoming a better Muslim in school and losing it all after leaving?’
So we have left the shelter, most of us left much unprepared. Truly a lot of us don’t want to leave the comfort zone. You know when it is raining and you do not have something to protect you from the rain like an umbrella, or a raincoat and yet you must leave the shelter, you must go out in the rain. A lot of us decide to stay by the side of the shelter thinking the roof of the shelter would protect us. We want to stay in the comfort zone not knowing that that would not stop the rain from beating us. Most of the time we only make things worse by remaining there.
‘Why didn’t they tell us? Why weren’t we told much about MCAN, We came here (NYSC camp) UNPREPARED! ’, I thought. I felt hurt that my predecessors did not orientate me well even though I had asked a few of them for naseehah. Most of them had given a one-sided advice and to survive in the rain, to avoid crying in the rain one needs a BALANCED ADVICE. That is what I intend to do with this piece (and I hope I achieve that). I have decided to tell this in a ‘storo-article’ form and so we begin….
CALL- UP LETTER.
One of the greatest lessons I have learnt from the NYSC so far is that it contains some events that reminds you of the Day of Judgment and just like Waliyullah Abdusalam said, receiving your call-up letter reminds you of yaomul-qiyamah. No doubt that day would be a VERY HARD DAY because if collecting just a small piece of paper which is not really a letter can make people cry (I mean CRYING, WITH SERIOUS TEARS), can make people run helter-skelter, can make some people smile or laugh. can make a sister say she wish she was married( I heard a sister say this on convocation ground that Friday, even though then I did not really understand why), you did not even remember to ask where some of your friends were deployed to. You are so concerned about yourself, there is no doubt that THE DAY OF JUDGMENT WOULD BE A VERY HARD DAY (May Allah make it easy for us) and let those who think everything ends in the world REFLECT. Imagine what would happen when we collect our records on THAT DAY, a record that did NOT LEAVE ANYTHING of what we have did here in this dunya. TRULY THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT WOULD BE A DIFFICULT DAY cause true is the words of Allah.
‘And what will explain to thee what the Day of Judgment is? Again what will explain to thee what the Day of Judgment is’ Q 82: 17-18.
For Allah, to repeat it twice then it is a serious matter. But then, if you know someone who can assist you and you have good reasons for hat as regards your state of deployment then do it but remember that Allah’s will would take place in the end what you’re doing is just striving. It is paramount to know that someone who would truly assist you would not ask you to go and bring any fee but then if things go as planned it is good to always show appreciation. You would come to find out that many people who tried to process theirs did not get what they desired. When you get your call-up letter and it is not what you had hope for please BE PATIENT and say Alhamdulillahi ala kulli haal (Praise is to Allah in all circumstances). Try to find out someone you know that is also posted to the same states as you that makes you feel better especially if you’re close to that person. It gives you great relief and you can say, ‘I’m not alone’. Posting your state of deployment on groups you have joined (like MGS class or Chemistry class...) will greatly help in locating people you know who have been deployed to the same location as you. But before collecting your call-up letter, it is wise to have prepared for camp as regards material things you would need. I personally recommend the list below.
Below is a list of items that are relevant to your stay at the orientation camp in two categories. Items in Category A must be taken along from home. YOU MUST NOT FORGET THEM. Items in Category B necessities – they make your life more comfortable in the camp. It is advisable that you take these items also along from home else you may have to pay exorbitant prices to buy them at the ‘Mami Markets’ in camp.
... 1 Original notification of result (or To Whom It May Concern Letter) from your school
2 NYSC Call Up letter
3 At least 8 copies each of 1 & 2 above.
4 At least 12 passport photographs
5 School ID card
6 Medical certificate or marriage certificate and evidence of change of name. (If you want to apply for redeployment)
1 2 white shorts(make sure it covers your knees very well for the brothers) & 2 white T-shirts
2 Waist pouch/bag (To hold your valuables e.g. phones, wristwatches, etc. during parades)
3 Cup, food flask & Cutleries
4 Mosquito net (very important)
5 Torch and batteries
6 Pen and writing materials
7 Stapler and pins
8 White tennis shoes (preferably a water proof one)
Please note that you do not need to take along more than 2 muftis as you will be required to wear your shorts and T-shits most of the time. Don’t take along expensive personal effects like laptops for security reasons – it may be stolen. Try to ensure everything you have packed can fit into one bag. You can pack all you want when you are going to your place of primary assignment. Above all, hold cash that can last you at least two weeks – you won’t be paid your ‘allowee’ immediately you arrive.
NIGERIA IS VERY BIG
If you get to be posted to another geo-political zone, then you would have no doubt that NIGERIA, no be small country and realize it is a miracle that we’re one nation because we’re very DIVERSE. You would be on the road for hours unending and if you used to fall sick while travelling by road, I would advise you try to board a plane if you can afford it but travelling by road helps you know places though the situation of our roads might be very discouraging but then it is all part of the experience. It is advisable to travel along with someone you know, that should have been gotten from info through Facebook or any other means of communication. That way you do not get bored or scared during the journey. It is advisable to be in your state of deployment a day before camp resumes. As to where to spend the night, you could go to your camp location, they would welcome you and if not try to locate the MCAN lodge in that state. (This is one good reason why the MCAN and the MSSN need to collaborate especially with the graduating students of a school, a list indicating addresses of MCAN lodge and phone numbers of some MCAN officials should have been known to prospective corps members before they are deployed, this is very important because one could lose one’s deen just because of accommodation for one night. The MGS executives should work with the MCAN officials in their state and organize a proper ORIENTATION or include it as a special topic during any of the MGS program, THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT).
WHERE ARE THE MUSLIMS?
In school we often complain of lack of manpower, we whine about our 10 people are assigned to a committee and only two people show up. Well school is much better, at MCAN level things are… From the camp gate you already see the non-Muslims helping you with filling your forms, stapling them, the way they act as if they had memorized Dale Carnegie’s HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS & INFLUENCE PEOPLE. Before you know it they invite you and a lot of people are thrilled by their hospitality and then you ask ‘where are the Muslims?’ Well, I know where the Muslims are, they are on their beds still sleeping and I pray they wake up soon before things get out of hand( I think things are out of hand already). It is not as if MCAN is not there but the man (& WOMAN) power is SO LOW that such little things which would have great effect is lost. I think it is important that I state here lest I forget that if you’ve gotten an admission for a post graduate program somewhere and you do not intend to go for it. DO NOT RESUME CAMP, DO NOT EVEN COLLECT YOUR CALL-UP LETTER, and do not worry when you return you would come and serve Nigeria. If you try to ‘sort things out ’, by running your service year concurrently with the program well ,let me put it this way don’t let the sacrifice of a year make you have a long time regret.
HE TURNED AWAY
He turned away; he did not want to see her like that. He did not want to remember her like that. He wanted to remember her the way he had known her in school, the way he had seen her while they were in the shelter. He wanted to remember her in her Jilbaab and not her wearing trousers. “So this is the fitnah of the NYSC”, He thought. That was what happened to my friend. I don’t know the sister in question but then I understood what my friend felt and then I thought of my sisters back in the shelter and then I could not just imagine them going through this. There must be another way. I recalled Abu Nassir’s answer to a question regarding the NYSC. He had advised that it is better one evaded the NYSC but one has to have it in mind that you would not work in any government parastatal or even further your education here in Nigeria but it would be a grave mistake if all the Muslims evade the NYSC. We will be indirectly killing ourselves but there’s another way (at least for the sisters ) is to have a Marriage certificate(and we both know this certificate is the only certificate in the world that you are given before you attend the institution as opposed to the normal certificates we have). So how does marriage save the sisters, well this is the plan. Immediately after your opening ceremony in the camp this takes place one day after camp closes, The PRO would announce that all married women should GO HOME! How cool is that but it is not compulsory because you would still see some married Women who don’t want to miss out from the ‘fun’ things in camp. I recall my bunkmate (a graduate of No Venna University) telling me about a lady in our platoon he intended to go and woo only to find out that she was MARRIED! The guy was disappointed but at least I was glad he had the sense to let her be, but you know some other guys would not do so as the Yorubas will say. Nkan to fe je ni ko je ko gbon (what he wants to eat did not make him smart). So if you are married it is advisable to try and process your posting to the state you reside in, resume late to camp so preferably on the last day so at least you would not spend more than 48 hours in that camp. To my sisters you would really wish you were married before going to camp especially if you value your deen, ask Ruqoyyah Abdusalaam to confirm my statement.
OH THE BLIND, HOW FORTUNATE YOU ARE.
I recall visiting the blind center alongside some members of MSSN LAUTECH’S Welfare committee, I think then Abu Abdullah was the welfare officer. (Even though a lot of us know him as Abu A’ishah but Abdullah is the confirmed one) in Ogbomoso. I envied the Muslims amongst them. It was such a wonderful sight to see them learning how to read the Qur’an using the Braille system but then I envied them. I envied the fact that they would not account for what they have seen, their eyes would not testify against them. ‘How fortunate they are’, I thought. In camp you would see evil, it is practically inevitable and I don’t mean dressing in terms of tight fitted clothing (that one is constant K on parade ground). I can’t count how many times it was announced over the public address system that the ladies should not take their bath outside (in most camps toilet and bathroom facilities are not available. I know someone who tried not to answer the call of nature throughout his stay but on the eight day in camp he had to give in). Even in the clear day light some people would take their baths outside totally nude. Is it compulsory you take your bath? Where is the modesty, the shyness? Or did going to school make us MAD? I don’t know how true it is but I learnt a lady asked a male passing by while she was taking her bath to help her pass the soap, I know it sounds bizarre but after what I have seen in camp I do not doubt it’s possibility. Where did we put this hadith, Narrated by AbuHurayrah:
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "Modesty is part of faith and faith is in Paradise, but obscenity is a part of hardness of heart and hardness of heart is in Hell." (Ahmad & Tirmidhi).
Well if you were a day student in your secondary school and also attended a non-residential University like LAUTECH, then you might be at a disadvantage in adapting to the hostel life but nevertheless you will survive insha Allah. You room might be overcrowded and then your bunk mate and your bunk neighbors are people you practically do not know, They could be cultist, doing drugs, ‘breweries’, smokers of ‘igbo’ , they could be doing anything just brace yourself and try to be smart. Be up very early like around 3a.m. to take your bath in the very limited number of bathrooms. If your camp has a Mosque (I didn’t want to imagine what KSK was going through in Benue), then know you are blessed. The only thing you should do in the hostel is to sleep most especially if you’ve got crazy roommates and no doubt you will have them. I recall my Bunkie saying ‘Mujeeb we no dey see U, where U always dey go sef?’. I replied I was in the mosque. After all Allah says:
‘And keep thy soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening seeking his Face; and let not thione eyes pass beyond them seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life; nor obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us one who follows his own desires whose case has gone beyond all bounds’ Q 18:28.
Endeavor to keep your belongings safe, if it is possible to move the very important ones to the mosque do that.
After having said mostly the challenges in camp in this piece. Inshaa Allah the part two of CRYING IN THE RAIN would concentrate on the benefits that the NYSC has to offer to us has Muslims, which sadly many of us were not told or are too afraid to leave the comfort zone to try. Till then inshaA Allah.