Students from all levels and classes mingled and chatted with each other in the cafeteria. It was lunch hour, and most, if not all, were more than happy to get away from practicing with guns all day.
Segun and Chuks were seated at a table for four, chatting away while trying to eat lunch. Segun’s eyes were scanning the crowd at the counter, looking for Belinda. Chuks noticed him playing around with his food absent-mindedly.
“So you still dey find that girl, and e no even be like sey you go follow am talk if you see am.”
“I’ve told you so many times, Chuks, this is my business, okay, none of yours. If I choose to stare at her for the rest of my stay here, then so be it.”
“O-boy, shey na because I dey follow you play you come dey vex? Take am easy now.”
“Even you, do you mean that of all these girls walking about, no one catches your fancy?”
Chuks shrugged. “Na because I know wetin I come here come for; to learn, no be to follow woman.”
“You’re making crushing on a girl sound like a crime.”
Chuks arched an eyebrow.
“So that one mean sey I must like one girl for here? Hey, hey, hey! See am there,” he said, jerking his head in the direction of the food counter. Segun looked up sharply to see the empty counter, as all the patrons had been served and had gone to their seats. He was about to take out his anger on Chuks for fooling him when they heard a voice.
“Hey guys, any room for one more at your table?”
They turned up their heads to see Instructor Okolo, smiling down at them. Segun answered promptly, gesturing to one of the two unoccupied seats at the table.
“Oh, sure. Please do.”
She sat down and placed her tray on the table, then looked at them.
“So, how’s your field training?”
Chuks spoke up.
“First of all, that field instructor is too harsh. I’ll never forget our training with that AK-47. Shegs, don’t you remember, almost none of us completed those two thirty-metre bulls-eye shots.”
Segun would probably have answered immediately, but he had the look of blank amazement he usually got when his head was reeling from hearing Chuks speak so many English words at once. When he did answer, it was not as smooth as it should have been.
“Yes, I do. . .I remember. . .yes, yes.”
The stare he got from their class instructor made it clear she was wondering what was wrong with him, but Chuks wasn’t about to make it obvious he had any idea what was wrong with the guy, so he just gave him an identical look.
“But, apart from that, we’re totally good with the AK-47 now. And, whether I believe it or not, sometimes merciless training is the best type of training.”
“I agree,” said their class instructor over a half-mouthful of pasta. “You may not see it now, but in the future, you’ll be glad you had a stern field instructor. And trust me, it gets harder than this. We’ve got a whole lot of training lined up for you guys starting from your next class. We’ve got grenade launchers, sniper rifles, maybe even some machine guns. By the time you carry all that weight around for three whole months, trust me, you’ll need a trip to the spa.”
Both Segun and Chuks stared with mouths slightly open. This time Segun found his voice first.
“Wow, and to think I thought trying to hit a target from thirty metres was extreme,” Segun said.
Maryanne’s fork slipped from her hand, some pasta still on its tines, dropping to her plate with a clatter. She stared at them in disbelief.
“You’re telling me he made you people complete two bullseye shots from thirty metres without a sniper rifle? How on earth did you pull that off?”
“The truth is, we didn’t, which means we had no break for a whole day, and. . . ” Segun flicked his eyes to Chuks. “He was just fronting about us being pros. We haven’t even completed assault rifle training yet.”
Chuks was angry his friend just went and spoilt the image he had been trying to create for their class, but he was more surprised than angry.
“But Maryanne, you were there in the hall that day, now. You were the one moving the targets to where Instructor Max wanted us to shoot. Youmoved the targets to thirty metres. How come you’re now saying you didn’t know?”
“Yeah, I know I moved it, but I just assumed he wanted to demonstrate something. Instructor Max is dramatic like that. And I left immediately after, to my office. I had no idea he would actually make you guys try to hit them from that distance.”
Tbc on Monday,
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