When I informed my family and friends that I was posted to Ondo State for my National Youth Service, after spending the last year in Ile-Ife, Osun State most were of the opinion that I held some kind of bond to the Southwestern part of Nigeria.
I have always loved the West as a child, without (good) reason, and even though I make frequent trips to Lagos, it was not until last year that I experienced the West for all that it embodies. I have never had to geniculate to greet an elder, attempt to eat amala with ewedu or say, ‘Mi o gbo Yoruba,’ when someone says something to me in Yoruba that I do not understand.
When fate had me returning to this part of the country, I decided it was either to learn something I missed out in the course of the last year, correct a misconception or understand better a few things that puzzle me.
For whatever reason I have to spend the next year in the West, I am open to the thrills, new experiences I will have and new persons I would meet. This time, in a largely different setting, a livelier city, and on much better terms – a Nigerian Corp Member with an abundance of time and goodwill.
Papa lives in Sothern Nigeria. Even though there are tales of its sojourn in the South-South region of Nigeria, it appears that Papa makes its home in South-West Nigeria – these people are more acquainted with Papa’s escapades.
I first heard and came into contact with Papa in November, when I was sent to the NYSC Orientation Camp, Ikare-Akoko, Ondo state.
Papa was in our vicinity, its presence felt in increasing measures as our days turned into weeks.
Being a corp doctor, I was mostly in the clinic, attending to sick corp members and other NYSC officials who were camped with us.
At the beginning of the year, I set a reading goal to read two fictions and one non-fiction every month, to foster both my writing skills and mental wellbeing. Even though I was not meeting this goal, I became more intentional about my reading and talked about its benefits in this first quarter recap.
Shortly after that, two months went by without me reading any book. They almost went unnoticed but stemmed from me running out of books I was desirous of reading and lacking the time to source for new books.
Upon completing my housemanship, the gap in my reading became evident and an abundance of time was thrust back into my hands. Thankfully, this coincided with the time Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime and Okey Ndibe’s memoir, Never Look An American In The Eye found their ways into my hands.
The titles were promising and made me eager to delve back into reading. Following my appreciation for Okey Ndibe’s memoir, I picked up another of his book, Foreign Gods Inc, making it the third book I was reading in a space of three weeks.
A little over a year ago, I packed my bags and relocated to the ancient city of Ile-Ife to begin what would be a one-year-long paid internship in the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife.
Before arriving Ile-Ife, I am not sure if I knew about the hospital, but I was already on what my friends and I optimistically termed, Medical Tourism; traveling across the federation and visiting its various medical institutions in the search for placement for housemanship.
If you follow me on any of my social media handles or view my status updates on WhatsApp, then you might have come across a photo I shared of myself in the clinic, attending to patients with an inflamed right lower eyelid – a condition I termed blepharitis, which seemed to have erupted out of nowhere.
I didn’t think I would seek specialist medical advice and care until a friend mentioned it. I saw more reasons to do so when he pointed out, ‘The eye clinic is just opposite your department. You can take a break from work to see them.’
What started as a barely perceptible swelling and discomfort around my right lower eyelid, transformed overnight into a more obvious swelling, and throbbing pain around the affected eye and the adjoining temple.
Three months ago, I was on the verge of completing my internal medicine rotation and proceeding on my one-week leave, with thoughts of my next rotation – Paediatrics, caressing itself on the surface of my mind.
As an eight-year-old, I sagely declared to my mum’s listening ears that I would specialize in Paediatrics if I wanted to do something out of passion or choose Surgery for the money.