One of the most difficult tasks I have encountered since returning to Nigeria is job hunting. I knew it was going to be difficult; but I didn’t know, and neither did any one tell me it was going to be an impossibility, almost hellish. I have been all over Mainland Lagos and Lagos Island. I have sent out fifty curriculum vitae by mail and through the internet, hand-delivered thirty, and gave a dozen or so to people who claim to have inside connection. I have been every where, spoken to a lot of people I know and to people who know me. All has come to naught. What must a man do go get a job in Lagos?
Sometimes they tell me I don’t look professional because I am not wearing suit and tie. But hey, why would I wear suit and tie in this Lagos heat. With fumes and smoke every where? I can bet the fumes and smokes are cancer-causing. There are times when I am unable to breathe properly because of the pollutants. Unless you live in Lagos, you can not imagine the amount of smoke and fumes and the dust I have to wade through. And I no longer wear white shirts. Within two hours of wearing a white or milk colored shirt, it turns brown or black at the sleeves and collar.
I am a big fellow, built like an American linebacker. Well, others consider me fat. One mugu even thinks of me as obese. Big, fat or obese is not my problem; the problems is that I sweat every time. I sweat around my armpits and the groin area. It can be really itchy when fat guys sweat in delicate areas. Compounding my problem is the fact that the taxis and buses are not air-conditioned. The Danfos and Bolekajas are even worse. Most of the time we are packed like sardines.
The other day when I tried to form a queue (what Lagosians call a line) at the bus stop, a lady looked at me and wondered what my problem was, and wanted to know whether I was a JJC. I was going to answer in the affirmative when the Holly Ghost descended on me asking me to shout my loud mouth. I would have been robbed. Thank God for such mercies. The other night an elderly lady was robbed at the Mile 2 Bus Stop. When I tried to intervene, I was slapped silly. I have learnt my lesson. To sharraap! I mind my business now. This is Lagos: everybody for himself, Jehovah for everybody.
Every morning, before leaving home, I pray to God almighty. I pray for journey mercies. I pray to him for keeping me safe and alive. I repeat similar routine before going to bed. When I am praying I don’t close my eyes anymore. After all, where there is no light, the Lord can not see that my eyes are wide open. Come to think of it: it is in my best interest to keep my eyes open. You never can tell about some neighbors — especially the ones across from my flat. I am not sure how word got out that I am from Yankee. This is Lagos. Bad bad things can happen to the sheshede like me.
About the only good thing about the said neighbor is that he has three young women, in addition to his two sons and his young wife. Fine beautiful women. The women, ages 20-29, have been of great help. They help with cooking, cleaning and laundry. The other day I came home to find two notes neatly tucked under my door. The younger one professed her love for Christ and wondered if I was willing to come to Church with her at my convenience; the older one said she heard the voice of God and wanted to relay the message to me once her siblings leave for Ibadan over the weekend.
It is the middle sister that has a place in my heart. There is something about her. She kills me with her smiles. Her pear-like bosoms. The twinkle in her eyes. Her never ending legs that originates from her nectar zone. The way she calls my name, as if begging me to take her, to pollinate her, blows my mind. Good Lord! But I have to be disciplined about it. An unemployed JJC with additional katakata doesn’t make sense. There is a time for every thing. This is not the time for bedmatics. I need me a job.
Since returning to Nigeria, I have been faithful to the Lord. I have confessed my sins, accepted Christ, and doing my damn best to live my life the Nigerian-Christian way. Nigeria is not America where I did things on my own volition. I have been faithful to the Lord since my return. And so on this fateful night I heard a voice and saw a shadow in my dream directing me to go to Trafalgar & Locke House — the corporate head offices of The Guardian Newspapers in Victoria Island, Lagos.
But who do I know at the Trafalgar & Locke House? Decades earlier I used to know one or two of the Ibru’s. None of them will remember me now. I was beginning to feel dejected when I head the same voice whispering a name in my right ear. I heard “Reuben Abati.” I heard it seven times. If a voice said it and directed me — who am I to disobey?
On Monday morning I took two crisp copies of my curriculum vitae, my credit report, police report, and academic transcript, along with my state issued ID Card and headed out to Victoria Island, to meet with Dr. Reuben Abati.
Do you know that those meyguards at Trafalgar & Locke House will not allow me to see Mr. Abati? On Monday they told me I didn’t have an appointment to see Oga; on Tuesday I was told “Oga go come tomorrow;” On Wednesday it was “Oga just left for important meeting…come Friday.” On Friday, I was told another story: “Oga sey him no know who you be.” Haba, why is Reuben Abati playing me? Why is he playing me? Is he not hearing the same voice I am hearing?
My people, it’s been three weeks since and I am still showing up and waiting to meet with Reuben Abati. Please oooooo I need a job.