My very first interview; I was a bundle of nerves. I was older than all the other applicants in the waiting room, with no experience to boot. I hadn’t even ever attended an interview; Ken had wanted me to stay at home with the kids until they were older before I could start a career.
I wanted to laugh out loud. If only we could see the future, we would have seen the foolishness in that. Now, he was gone, and I was left all alone to cater for our kids. At the thought of our kids I remembered the other two kids he had with Ifeoma. No. I wasn’t going to let that thought weigh me down. Those children were not my problem, I had been magnanimous enough; the entitlements paid by Ken’s company I had shared on a 60/40 basis. When Ken’s family had come to me to concerning the entitlements, I had wanted to tell them all to go-to-hell. I was the only wife known by his employers and my kids were his only kids on record, and considering how Ken had hurt me I was well entitled to that money. I was the wife who packed him breakfast every morning, kept dinner warm late at night, and sorted out his laundry every weekend. I was the wife who smiled and attended company social events even when I didn’t want to. I was the wife who gave up a shot at a career for him and our kids so he could be free to work the oddest of hours, and take business trips at the drop of a hat, which earned him high flying promotions, bonuses and commendations.
I don’t know what made me change my mind, it wasn’t even pressure from my in-laws; they could go to blazes for all I cared. I think it was the thought of those innocent children; like it or not they weren’t to blame for their parents’ behaviour. Anyways, I split the money with them. Ifeoma could do with it what she pleased, I had put my kids share in a school fees trust for them, what she did with hers, I couldn’t care less, and now was the wrongest time to dwell on any unpleasantness. ‘Today, I will be great.’ I repeated to myself over and over again. I was going to go into the interview and I was going to wow!
The interview went in a blur. The panellists smiled a lot at me, and I think I impressed them. I had all my fingers, toes and limbs crossed lol, I was going to get a job, I could feel it, somebody say Amen.
So, I called Bunmi, my friend who worked in the bank and told me about the vacancy. She said she was aware the interview went well, and we should commit the result to God in prayers. That, I could do, so I went to God in prayers.
Four months down the line, I hadn’t gotten any feedback from the bank on the interview. I was getting desperate, no other interviews were coming forth, everyone was singing the same song; the economy was bad, and no one was hiring. I didn’t know what to do, I had some business ideas; I could either open a convenience store, or I could go into clothes and fabrics trading, I was very good at picking clothes and fabrics, when my husband was alive my friends bought clothes of my back. Like I would buy a dress and definitely someone would want it so bad she wouldn’t mind buying it off my back. I had some savings left but I was wary of committing money into a business. If it failed, what would my children and I eat? I was good at trading, I knew that from the little trading I had done in the past, but I had always had a safety net, I couldn’t gamble my kids welfare now. Besides, if I went into trading, wasn’t it the same people screaming about a rotten economy who were going to be my customers?
Hmmm! It is well.
So, back to the present, I needed to make some money quickly. With the most care and careful budgeting and spending, the cash I had available could only last me two months at the most. We were half-way through our house rent, and if I couldn’t get a job soon, I probably might not be able to make the next rent.
I had considered moving to a smaller apartment, but the extras on it billed by the lawyers and agents were probably going to come to the same as the old rent. I considered subletting; we lived in a three bedroom apartment, I could let out one. My family and friends kicked against it, regaling me with tales of flat-sharing gone wrong, that when they were done, I think I was sufficiently scared. But support me with rent money now? Everyone said ‘they would see what they could do.’
One of my ‘friends’ went further to tell me of a job opportunity, what she had described to me sounded like an escort role, and I was like; really? Was that what life had reduced me to? I told her off, but it hurt nonetheless. Anyways; I can’t be dwelling on negativity.
As though our minds were working in sync, my friend Ijeoma called me. Remember Ijeoma, my friend whom I met Ken at her brother’s wedding all those years ago? She and her husband lived in the United States with their four lovely kids. Ken and I had been planning to go visit them when tragedy struck. Ijeoma called that she wanted to send a shipment down to Nigeria for sale, but didn’t want to send it through family who might not return her money. She called to enquire if I was interested.
I was like; is this an answer to my prayers or what? I almost screamed for joy.
“Offcourse I was interested.” I replied her immediately.
“Ok, I’m yet to ship the goods, I’m tagging them right now.” She said through the phone. “Miriam please, this is a business, and I know what people say about friends and money; please let it not be our story. I’m sending clothes; new ones, and I’m sending them at very competitive prices such that you’ll be able to make a good profit.” She went on. “I could send you pictures of the goods for you to have a view.”
I agreed, and made some suggestions on things I thought she could include in the shipment. We ended the call with sharing tales of our kids just as my doorbell rang.
I happily went to open the door, the kids were away at school, and I was done with the morning chores. I opened the door to Chief Pius mirroring the smile on my face. Chief Pius had been my husband’s mentor while he was alive. He was one of the people who hadn’t abandoned us since Ken’s death. He had a habit of dropping by unannounced, and always with treats for the kids.
“Good morning sir, please come in.” I welcomed him in.
He came in, his driver; Kunle behind him carrying two overflowing shopping bags.
“Please sit.” I ushered him to a seat. “Please drop it in that corner.” I pointed to the corner closest to the kitchen. “Is there anything in it that drips?”
“No ma.” Kunle replied.
“Then it’s fine there. Sir, what can I get you?” I asked Chief Pius.
“Nothing my dear.”
“Ahn ahn Chief! It’s not yet that bad.” I teased. He was probably refusing out of consideration for us.
“Ofcourse I know it’s not that bad, but I’m fine.”
“Ok sir. How’s your family?” I sat down facing him.
“We are fine, and yours?”
“We’re very well, thank God. The children have gone to school. They’ll be sad they missed you.”
He laughed. “ It’s ok, ofcourse I’ll come at another time when they’ll be at home, but today it’s you I’ve come to see.”
“Oh, ok. What’s it about? I asked.