He walks down the street observing, he hasn’t walked this long in a while. He notices two men about his age sitting on a bench just long enough for two of them to sit comfortably, under the enormous mango tree. He has history with that tree. He had broken his lower left canine after he fell from that same tree when he was seven, about twenty-three years earlier in his hunger for a mango fruit that turned out unripe, coincidentally the two young men are sitting just at the spot he had fallen long ago. He walked to the two young men.
“Guys what’s up? How wuna dey?” He asked, stretching his right hand towards the darker fellow of the two whose build alleged he was a manual worker.
“Baba we fine oh. Men just dey chill small after man hustle”, replied the other fellow, trying to avoid an awkward moment of silence as his companion seems dazed and just gone dumb as though hit by an imaginary tranquilizer. He returned the hand shake.
“I just wan know if any place dey wey I fit watch arsenal match around here”, Inquired Uche.
“No wahala. Just walk down this road till you reach one container wey dem dey sell recharge card, you go see one lungu by the left side, follow am go till you reach one zinc house after one small field. Dem de show football there”, Hamza answered with every of his word associated with a gesture.
“Thank you”, Uche said and left.
“No be that rich man wey dey drive hummer pass be that?” Emeka, who seemed to have awoken from his trance asked with a puzzled look on his face. His face always looked puzzled anyways.
Hamza burst into a throaty laugh. Just when it seemed he was about to get serious he burst into another phase of laughter until this time, his stomach couldn’t hold any longer and felt like it was going to explode.
“How you go even think like that? Na wetin you been dey think wey make you look like imbecile when him wan shake you?” Hamza asked, still laughing. “How that chief go leave him house wey get all kind satellite and twenty-four hour light comot with three-quarter jeans and T-shirt come waka alone to find where to watch match?”
“Ahn ahn! Na him you come dey laugh me like say I be fool? Him really look like the chief sha. E fit be him younger brother”, Emeka replied.
“Even sef, him younger brother no go comot to find where to watch match. Na just look alike”. Hamza replied, and after a short pause continued; “maybe him get that new sickness wey the cure na to sit for heat for two hours with dorty boys”. Hamza burst into another round of laughter.
Emeka looked at him with an eye that seemed to say; “how on earth is what you just said funny?”
Uche brought out his phone from the right knee pocket of his shorts but looked back as he made to unlock it and wondered why the less built of the two was laughing so heartily. He then thought on the excuse he had given to end his planed but failed attempt to hang out with the two when he noticed the bigger guy’s unwelcoming demeanour as he arrived. He could have cracked a joke to loosen the guy up and assuage his insecurity towards talking to a millionaire his own age. Anyways, he wouldn’t let anything hamper his mood. His favourite Mark Wahlberg’s line from “the other guys” popped in his head; “I’m a peacock, let me fly”. He continued walking down the road admiring the surrounding. He saw beauty in the uncut grass, a sight that on another day might have been an eyesore. The bleached blue colour of the sky seemed unusually attractive making him wish he took a picture with his Samsung note three. The smell of wet dust from the heavy rain, the day before, refreshed him. He took a lung full and gave out a heavy sigh of relief. Deja vu. He remembers this feeling from before.
Yes! Six years ago was the last time he remembers being this happy and optimistic about the future. He was so happy and optimistic all he saw was the positive and good. He walked into a muddy pool ankle length as he was blind to negatives and couldn’t see the “bad” puddle. He was walking home from an interview that had gone really well, or so he thought, that day.
He had walked in tall, shoulders square and chin raised. His gait showed confidence and was in longer strides than he normally took, he couldn’t have been sloppy. He was well dressed, to the “T”. A female interviewer had complimented him on walking in.
“Thank you. I learnt from your workers. If I hadn’t known other important facts about your company like hard work and diligence, my first reply will be your workers dress well, if asked what I know about your company.”
“That is flattering” she had replied.
“Good day sir!”, “Good day ma!” he had greeted each of the interviewers accordingly on the other side of the conference table shaking them all firmly with a strong yet gentle eye contact. A smile never unglued from his face. There was six of them, two beautiful ladies. He remembers vividly
As the interview went on he remembered thinking, wondering actually how he had suddenly gained all the confidence he exuded. Just moments before then he had been overly dosing himself with Wikipedia articles-“how to develop confidence”, “how to talk in front of an audience”, “how to look charismatic”, “how to this”, “how to that”- whatever “how to” he felt could help with his interview. Some he had read trice, some five times as he sometimes felt he wasn’t comprehending. He was too cautious to read any just once. Now all he had read play themselves out in his actions as though he authored them, all hail the Mighty Guru Subconscious mind.
He had gotten an email three days after the interview from the company and the five or so minutes from the notification to reading the mail had been the longest in his memorable life. His heart had galloped like a thousand horses, his hands shook like a millet grain on the aged local grinding engine his mum always sent him to grind beans for the family Wednesday night “Alele”(moin-moin) when she was alive. If it weren’t for his tremors the anxiety moment would have lasted longer. In his tremor he had pressed a button on his third-hand Blackberry Curve revealing the message;
“We appreciate your time in making yourself
available for the company’s interview.
We regret to inform you though that the
vacancy has been occupied by a more qualified
applicant. Please try us again some other time.”
His initial thought as the dust raised by a thousand horses prevented lucid thinking was to slam the phone on the floor. No, get a sledge hammer and smash the phone then pick the pieces and flush down the toilet. Luckily for him he was able to wade through the dust and realize that action wouldn’t hurt the company in any way.
He found out later that by “more qualified” they meant the other guy has the same second class upper degree on his certificate but from a foreign university. The name of which he heard for the first time with that gist, hasn’t come across ever since and can’t even remember. He had been bitter. Would he have gotten that job if he had a first class? If his lecturers hadn’t called him and a few others in his class just before they graduated to tell them “you all merited a first class but wouldn’t be given one as we your lecturers graduated with second classes, and you will disrespect us if we give you a first class and you return for post graduate” but instead gave each of the students what they deserved, would he have gotten the job? Some questions never get answered. Those didn’t.
Uche was jacked back into the present as a reckless driver drove too wide into the pedestrian area and almost hit him. He was startled and dropped his phone. The driver made no effort to stop and inquire if all was well his narrowly escaped victims as he accelerated more. Uche made to pick his phone and smiled at the site of his lock screen photo. Executives of a company at their five year anniversary with the company’s Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O). The company he had started five years ago, about a year after that faithful interview. The C.E.O Uche Okadigbo Mbamalu. The picture was taken earlier on that faithful day he decided to leave the comfort of his air-conditioned house and hummer jeep to spend the evening how he usually spent it in his early twenties.
Thanks for the time spared to read this. Please check out my other post Taking a leap