This is my attempt to break out of this terrible case of writer’s block. I have Antony Can-Tamakloe (@afadjato) and Kojo Cue’s album ‘For My Brothers’ to thank for the inspiration to write this story. For everyone who has had to stay at home a little too long, waiting for a job offer, I see you.
Otu picked up his phone to call Sarah. The automated voice on the phone told him his airtime was low. Vodafone always knew how to kick him when he was down.
Come on! I don’t need this right now!
Miraculously the call went through, but her line was busy. He tried again, thirty minutes later and her line was still busy. Who was she talking to at all? This happened a lot lately- her number being busy. Back in the day, she would put the other person on hold and talk to him instead, but then again, back in the day, it was just one of her classmates or her judgmental cousin or someone from primary school. Not so much lately.
Ever since she started her National Service at the Petroleum Commission, she had become super busy. Initially, she was just there as an Administrative Assistant, but her excellent work got her promoted to Interim Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer. He wasn’t surprised at all. Sarah stood out wherever she went and in whatever she did.
She had always been meticulous, intelligent and a team player who could work with little to no supervision. You know, all those things you wrote on your CV that you didn’t mean. She was actually every one of those things.Tweet
The job put her in contact with all sorts of people. She barely even had time to eat lunch, to talk of finding time to laugh at the tweets he forwarded to her DM. They no longer had time for movie marathons and long phone calls, like back on campus. It took some getting used to, but like she always said, ‘We are constantly evolving. That is what makes this fun. No two days are the same.’
The only problem now was he was done with service and he had a lot more time on his hands. To be honest, even when he was an NSS personnel at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, his most demanding task was filling in Excel sheets with data; and that he could do with an entire season of a Netflix show playing in his ear. Sarah thought he was crazy the first time she saw him doing that with How To Get Away With Murder.
‘Won’t you miss out on all the non-verbal stuff?’
‘Nope, their voices tell me everything I need to know.’
‘You are weird.’
‘And yet the most eligible lady in the entire University of Ghana Business School is my girlfriend.’
‘Maybe she likes weird boys.’
‘Good thing there are more quirks where that came from.’
When he wasn’t inputting data or putting the Ministry’s WiFi to good use, he was buying breakfast, snack and lunch for all the women on his floor. He knew Auntie Getrude’s waakye, fufu and omotuo orders like the back of his hand. He could tell whether or not to ask Director’s secretary if she wanted something to eat, based on how loudly she was typing. He also knew how everyone wanted their roasted plantain and where to get the best koko around. His BSc Administration (Human Resource Management) degree might have come in handy after all.
Reality dealt him the hardest blows when he finished service. The money ran out quickly, very quickly. After a month, Mama started dropping all sorts of hints about going out there to look for a job. That had to be Daa’s idea. He could be passive-aggressive like that. He never confronted his sons directly. He did it through Mama. It was almost as if he didn’t know how to relate to them. He never complimented them or shared any Father-Son moments with him.
His aunties started leaving their 4 year old children at the house for him to ‘babysit’. How that even started, he would never know. He woke up from a nap one day and they were in the house. Nobody ever asked him if he had plans or he even wanted to keep 4 year old kids company. It was almost as if his not having a job gave him zero options and opinions. Last week, when he stopped to say hello to Auntie Faustie, the owner of the kiosk he had been buying Nido sachets from since he was a child, he overheard her describe him as ‘Auntie Grace ba n’a ɔte fie no.’ Yep, the whole neighborhood was up to date on his unemployment status.
Whenever he told Sarah things like this, she would laugh and say ‘You will get a job soon and the joke will be on them. Don’t worry.’ He believed her for the first 7 months. After that, he stopped talking about it. Whenever she asked about his day, his response was ‘Same old, same old.’
How on earth was he going to explain to his exceptionally supportive girlfriend that he hated the fact that she was the one who had to pay for his internet bundle every month? How could he expect her to understand how depressing staying at home and shouting ‘keep quiet’ a gazillion times at his nephews was?
How could he explain how the LinkedIn updates from his classmates had made him feel useless? Or that he had muted all WhatsApp group chats? Or tell her how his desperation led him to sign up for LinkedIn Premium to increase his chances of finding a job, only to be hit with that $29.99 charge on his already empty account?Tweet
He was tired of walking down the dusty road for yet another interview in which they smiled politely and lied through their teeth about getting back to him, tired of forwarding his CV, tired of editing his cover letter, tired of Sarah picking up the tab whenever they went out, tired of making excuses why he could not ‘hang out’ on Fridays with his platinum debit card waving classmates, tired of eating beans and plantain 4 times a week and kenkey on every other day, tired of relying on Mama’s benevolence to be able to ‘splurge’ on Papaye every now and then.
Goodness! Yɛɛka splurge aa wose Papaye! 😫 Ah chale, what did I ever do wrong? I went to school, got good grades, made the right connections and yet I can’t find a job to save my life.
One night, he woke up to use the washroom and heard Mama crying in the sitting room. He almost rushed in to ask her what was wrong when he heard her earnestly pleading with God to give her son a job for her sake. He blinked back his own tears as she promised to do anything God wanted if He would just make her son smile again. It broke him to see how his being broken broke her.
If he could get any job, he would take it. He applied to be a waiter at one of the new hotels and a lady told him that he was overqualified for the job. He went by his old SSS to see if they needed a teaching assistant for the Business class. The headmaster told him that they didn’t have any vacancies. He was really open to taking any job, anything that would get him out of the cycle of ‘Uncle Otu, I want to weewee. Uncle Otu, Nhyira has stolen my shoe. Uncle Otu, I want water.’ He had started looking up scholarships to do a Master’s degree, just to end the cycle of doing nothing.
Then there was Sarah. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that she was ‘outgrowing’ him with every passing day. Of course, this wasn’t something he could discuss with her. It would seem as though he was punishing her for progressing, but the truth was that she was becoming a different person every day, a person that he wasn’t sure he could keep up with. The kind of influence she wielded, the kind of men that courted her attention, the kind of places she went to, her entire outlook on life had evolved. He was happy for her. He was just sad that he wasn’t evolving along with her and he knew that to was only a matter of time before they no longer had much in common.
There was this man in the Quality Assurance Department in her office who hovered around her a little too much for his liking the last time he passed by, after yet another fruitless job interview. He had come to drop off a folder for her boss to look at. Barely acknowledging Otu, he swooped in for a hug and complimented her perfume. After three minutes of ‘idle chit chat’, he asked if she had already placed her lunch order and what time she planned to head to the kitchen. Clement, that was his name. A guy who smelt good, was in constant contact with her and who was milking every last drop of his ‘Tall Guy Advantage’. It took every bit of Otu’s self control to not blurt out ‘Back off! That’s my girlfriend’, but that would make him look weak and small. He wasn’t interested in adding that to his ‘rap sheet’ at this point.
He looked at his phone. It was almost 1. Sarah would probably be heading over to the kitchen for lunch and Clement would probably appear there ‘coincidentally’. Just thinking about it made him sick in the stomach.
His thoughts were interrupted by incessant ‘Uncle Otu’ shrieks. He jumped up and rushed to the kitchen to find two of his little cousins in a tussle.
‘What is it?’
‘He has poured my water on the floor.’
‘It’s not me!’
Sigh. Fix it, Lord.
I didn’t think I will make it to the end of this post. Lord knows how many drafts have been sitting here, waiting to be completed. Yaaaayy to overcoming writer’s block, one post at a time! Merry Christmas in advance, guys! ❤️