There was something different about that day. It was going to be your 8th job interview in 6 months, still, you were optimistic about getting this job. Your excitement stemmed from everything your pastor said last Sunday.  He said something about the number 8 being a symbol of new beginnings.  This would be your own new beginning.  You could feel it deep inside; and even when you had to borrow some money from your neighbor to transport yourself to the venue of the interview, you were so sure this time around would be the last time you borrow anything from your neighbor.

Not that Nosa had any problems with lending you his shoes, shirts or even money from time to time; you just felt that you deserve better from life.  Many times, Nosa would say to you in the compound you both share with twenty-five other families: “Nnamdi my guy, you go make am one day.”  You believed Nosa. You believed your pastor.  You believed in everything that you could believe in, and much more than ever on this Monday morning, you believed in yourself.

You really did not want to study Microbiology … But, the Nigerian system being what it is…

The ride to the venue of the interview was pretty fine.  Even though you would not normally do it, you gave some money to the early morning Pentecostal preachers that got on your bus.  You felt the need to shore up all the goodwill you could before you got to your destination.  As the bus driver pulled out of the bus park and headed for the city, your mind began to wander.

You remembered your days at the university.  You really did not want to study Microbiology.  You, like almost every other person in your class, had applied to study Medicine and Surgery.  But, the Nigerian education system being what it is, you ended up with Microbiology.

You graduated 6 years later…

You spent a chunk of your first few months in the university trying to pursue a change of course.  However, you heard how much bribe you must pay in the process, so you started to find some love for Microbiology. Your university was not plagued by cults, unlike most of the other universities in the area. However, the Academic Staff Union was constantly on strike; demanding better pay, research funding, better working conditions and so on. By the time you were graduating with your Bachelor of Science degree (six years later),  you had sufficiently convinced yourself you loved Microbiology.

You thought about the fact that you finished with a 2:2 at the university. You really believed at first that you could finish with a 2:1 or even a first class. You said to yourself, “how hard is Microbiology?” However, you would soon find out that in the typical Nigerian school, it matters little how “hard” Microbiology is, compared to the mood and shenanigans of those charged with teaching Microbiology.

You remembered Dr. Chibuzor and how he always threatened to fail anyone who refused to buy his handouts.  You remembered Stella, your classmate and how there were countless rumors about how she slept with almost every lecturer in your department.  You remembered also that Stella finished with a 2:1. She had a CGPA of 3.5.  It was all the more annoying to you because you finished with a CGPA of 3.4 and a 2:2.  As your mind wandered back to reality, you assured yourself that you would not let any setback come between you and getting that job.

It was supposed to be your week…

Eventually, after about one hour on the road, you arrived at the regional office of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Company.  You arrived with hope.  You arrived with the words of your pastor buzzing in your ears, “THIS WEEK IS YOUR WEEK.”  As you made your way to the lobby, you saw a group of young people walking out of the building.  They looked like they had come for the interview too.  You thought about walking past them, but you stopped to ask one of them instead, “Bros’ abeg, what is going on?”  The guy shook his head, you saw the water well up in his eyes, and at that point, you saw a common struggle.

He managed to speak to you and you felt the world sink beneath your feet. It was supposed to be your week, your pastor said so.  You refused to believe what you heard.  You mustered up all the courage you could, praying to God for his favors.  When you located the woman who made the announcement, you asked her for a recap of what she said.  She gave you a stern look and said, “where were you when I was making the announcement?  Anyway, I said that the interview today is for only those who finished with a 2:1 and above.”

You recovered from the shock and made your way out of the building, trying to figure out your next line of action. A woman walked out of one of the offices in front of you.  It was obvious that she worked there — she had on a white lab coat.  Your mind wandered off for a few seconds daydreaming of what it would be like to work for a company as big as this.  As the woman approached you, her face looked familiar.  It was your week after all.

“Nnamdi, what are you doing here?”  She called out to you.  You looked up with a wry smile and said, “Good morning Stella.”

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Oluwatosin Ayeni

Oluwatosin is a Nigerian living in the US. He has a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maiduguri in Borno State, North East Nigeria. He is currently pursuing degrees in Manufacturing Management and Quality Management. He loves to read Nigerian fiction and do some writing in his spare time.
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