I walked down to the nearest mallam’s stall; it was time to get food into my system. After a long day at work, I desperately needed to grab a bite; I was understandably in a brash mood, a hungry stomach is directly proportional to a squeezed face. I ignored the greeting from the mallam and quite simply barked at him “Give me two Indomie super-packs”; the mallam promptly packaged my order and stretched his hand to receive the money I was holding.

It was dark and my street was poorly lit, so he had to peer closely to ensure I had given him the right amount. I was already poised to leave when the mallam said, “oga, na N140; your money remain N40”; I thought to myself, this man must be mad! Practical jokes are not particularly appreciated by hungry men; wars have been fought over lesser matters.

My temper was steadily rising; however, the thought of the daggers usually wielded by most mallams in Lagos kept my temper in check. Mallams were famous for their sharp, short daggers and for their even shorter tempers. With this in mind, I calmly asked “How my money take remain N40? How much be Indomie?”; the mallam promptly replied “they don increase am to N70 oga, no be N50 again”.Oh! Such pain, my ears went deaf! This was true heartbreak! I went into shock; I feared my young heart was going to fail.

How could Indomie super-pack, the last hope of the hungry man be N70? No!The tears weren’t far behind, I humbly returned my purchase and requested for another brand of noodles. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, when Indomie becomes N70, man must decide that it was always too peppery anyway and switch to a cheaper brand. Call it sour grapes but it works.

Before you get carried away and think me miserly or stingy, you must first hear me out. I am a graduate of one of Nigeria’s finest (sic) Universities; proud owner of a B.Sc certificate; all my parents said was to go to school and not do worse than a second class, lower division. I had visions of a six figure salary and at least 5 luxury cars before I was thirty. After all, I was now a graduate, right? WRONG!

The NYSC Scheme simply served as a one year demarcation between me and the suffering that was to follow. Considering the fact that I was subsequently posted to Gombe state, heaven had indeed dealt me a heavy hand. As I was not prepared to lie about a non-existent medical condition, I couldn’t re-deploy.

One year passed swiftly enough and I was back to the big city of Lagos! I started calling uncles, aunts and family friends who, prior to that period had promised me jobs. My CV quickly became like a “Lord’s Chosen Revival” flyer, it was everywhere. I gave out my CV to anyone and everyone that asked. I applied for countless jobs online; nothing seemed to be panning out.I downloaded rare and beautiful fonts on the internet that I used in writing my CV but it barely ever got me invited for aptitude tests. Some lollipop licking rich kid who bought a 2-1 from a private university always got the job anyway.

The most annoying part is that nobody wants to employ a fresh graduate anymore, everybody wants ‘at least two years working experience, like where am I supposed to get the experience from if nobody will employ a fresh graduate? All the people that promised lucrative jobs started giving excuses, they suddenly realized that I should have finished with a First Class; I should have studied Accounting, I should register for an MBA.

The excuses were unending and in time, all those who had promised started to avoid me like a plague. Thus, when I was interviewed and offered employment by an Insurance company, my joy knew no bounds, most of my school mates were still home applying for non-existent jobs. Never mind that the take home pay I was offered was N35,000. My office is at Gbagada while I live at Festac; N35,000 wasn’t even guaranteed to take me home every month. Thus, I was frugal by the nature of my tight finances; my life was the classic example of a budget; I deliberate extensively before I ate and I naturally gravitated towards the cheapest restaurants.

A social life was impossible with this kind of pay; I became a man of “simple pleasures”, constantly reminding myself that my ancestors didn’t require money to be happy. My idea of a perfect weekend was one in which I didn’t have to spend any money. I entered into compulsory celibacy. I couldn’t even take care of myself not to talk of one toothpick legged, jeggings wearing, bucket size handbag clutching, oversize shade wearing Lagos girl. Pardon me; this forced celibacy has turned me into some sort of misogynist. Nobody warned me it was going to be like this.

Back in school, we all thought companies were going to be fighting over us as soon as we graduated. SUCH IGNORANCE! It’s so the other way round. Two hundred thousand job seekers fight for twenty slots. What you studied doesn’t matter anymore. You can throw a stone in the market and hit an unemployed lawyer.

Raise your hand and let your amen be loud as I pray for you: MAY YOU NOT SPEND ALL THOSE YEARS IN SCHOOL AND ALL THAT MONEY IN LAW SCHOOL ONLY TO COME OUT AND BE A CHARGE AND BAIL LAWYER! I became somewhat of an expert CV writer….but I digress.

Back to my original story; I walked home hungry and angry. The world will obviously soon end, Indomie sells for N70; has to be one of the signs of the endtime. My legs could barely carry my body. As usual, I had trekked half of Lagos – with a heavy suitcase filled with all sorts of forms – begging snobbish rich men to take out insurance policies. One of them even released two wolf-like dogs on me. Didn’t know I could jump an eight feet high fence till that day.

I got home and put the noodles on fire and waited impatiently for it to cook. I couldn’t even wait for the water to get hot before i put the noodles and all its seasonings in it.Then suddenly, the hissing sound of the gas cooker stopped. I cursed the gas cooker under my breath. What a time to run out of gas. I opened the pot and behold, the noodles were still as crisp as new with the seasonings swimming on the surface of the water. I dipped my hands in the pot and munched the noodles like that. If the water was hot, I didn’t notice. I drant a lot of water to fill my stomach.

Feeling slightly relieved, I walked majestically to my second hand Sharp TV and switched it on, then slipped an obviously pirated CD into the DVD player. I smiled, a poor man’s Silverbird galleria…Everything went off and the room was dark. My neighbour’s loud home theater was still on. What a time to run out units on my prepaid meter. I completed my day with a mental image of luxurious cars and then cursed GEJ till I dozed off. – NWORAH C.G


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