‘….are glad to offer yo the position of an IT consultant in our firm. Effective 4th Sept, your job role requires…..‘
He stared at the line, reading and re-reading the sentence, excitement bubbling in his chest and making his palms sweaty. He folded the letter back into his bag; wondering how good news could make the world shine brighter. Finally, after months of slaving away at this derelict job, months of dreaming about his future, months of wondering what his purpose for life was, months of wondering if he had made a mistake picking computer science as a course of study, months of receiving insults while working as a security guard, he could finally say goodbye and walk into the future of his dreams.
A hand on his shoulder made him turn and he saw Bashiru, his colleague.
‘Guy wassap‘ Bashiru said as he clapped him on the back.
‘My guy, I dey o. Kilonsele‘ Emeka replied in his less than fluent yoruba.
‘O boy eh, abeg no dey try speak this yoruba. E no sweet for your mouth‘.
‘Na you know‘ Emeka replied laughing. They chatted for a while as Bashiru got ready for the night shift while Emeka changed his clothes, getting ready to leave work.
Just then, the intercom buzzed and Emeka picked it.
‘Hello‘, he said into the receiver. He was silent for a while as he listened to the speaker at the other end of the line, his expression changing by the minute. By the time he dropped the intercom, he was frowning.
‘Wetin happen na?‘
‘Tolu no fit make am, so i gats cover him shift for am’.
‘Kai,’Bashiru sympathized. ‘No be say them go give you extra pay o. This Tolu guy sef. Na so so miss miss work the guy dey miss. If na another person dey miss work like this, they for don sack am’.
Emeka refrained from making a comment. It was public knowledge that Tolu was ‘servicing’ some of the top madams in the firm. With his fine boy looks and his certificate in creative arts, he could be doing something better for himself. But he was content as a security guard, collecting ‘allowances’ from his sugar mummies who made use of his sexual services. He sat oh the chair for a while and started to change back into his uniform.
It was 5:30am and work for finally over. Emeka carried his bag and hurried out of the office premises. In a few hours time, he would be resuming at his new office as an IT management trainee. After four years of frantic job searching and odd jobs, the sun was shinning brightly. He made his way to the bus-stop and waited for a bus going to Ketu from Yaba. That was when he heard the screams. He turned and saw the three men harassing the girl.
‘Leave me alone‘ she cried and the touts laughed, pushing her from left to right. Emeka debated whether to help her or not. This was Lagos and most times, chivalry didn’t pay. It was best to mind your own business and walk away. Having made up his mind, he backed the group and turned deaf ears to the noise. Just then she screamed. Emeka turned and saw the guys force her towards a dark building.
‘Please help me,‘ she screamed. Emeka rushed to the trio, forgetting his resolve to stay away. He got to the group and tried to speak to them.
‘Ta le leyi (Who is this?)‘ one of the touts said, sifting his attention to Emeka.
‘Omo ibo‘ another one said. That was when Emeka realized his mistake. These touts were drunk and badly in need of release, hence the unfortunate young woman. Emeka opened his mouth to speak but one of them gave him a dirty slap and he saw stars. His resolve to handle the situation calmly fled as he threw an akpu-filled punch towards his assailant. The others gathered around him and started to attack him at the same time. He tried to defend himself but he was no match fpr three guys. He felt his strength failing and tried to run but they held him down.
‘Next time, if you see matter wey no concern you, you go run‘
‘Na if you see next time. Make we finish am jare‘
Emeka heard this and was filled with strength from on high. He shoved the guy next to him, punched the other guy and ran for his dear life. As he ran with his precious backpack, he told himself that he would never interfere with any matter that didn’t concern him.
‘STOP THERE‘ a scream rang out from the distance. He turned and saw a policeman making his way towards him. He slowed down, panting and waiting for the policeman to reach him. The policeman got to him and gave him a one over.
‘Who you be?’ the policeman asked, a slight fulani accent tinged his question.
‘My name is Emeka and i’m a security guard. I was just attacked by some guys down there. They were attempting to attack a girl….’
‘You dey attack girl?!? Na small small boys like you no dey fit control demsef….‘
‘No sir. What I’m trying to say is that….‘
‘Shut up! You still dey follow me talk abi? Oya follow me go station‘
Emeka realized that if he followed this policeman to the station without proper explanation, he might never see daylight again. He took a gamble and ran for his dear life for the second time in one morning. Just when he thought he had put a healthy distance between him and the policeman, a shot rang out in the air. He felt a sharp searing pain in his lower back as his legs gave way. He crumbled to the ground, groaning as the pain shot up his spine. He tried to sit up or drag himself to a corner but his body refused to give in. He felt the blood flowing from his lower back as his vision started to dim. He reached into his bag and brought out his letter, clutching it desperately with bloodied hands.
‘You will be great‘, his mother had always told him, and she had repeated it the night she had passed on in his arms. That dream, sadly, was not to be fulfilled.