It had been a month since she had returned to Nigeria. First, it took a lot of adjustment for her to be able to sleep without electricity at night, or to share a toilet once again with her mother and her siblings. Lisa Udeh had paid for the two-bedroom flat that she and Alex shared back in Birmingham, and each room was en-suite.
She had still not found a job. She kept on checking her emails every day, just to see if a company had finally contacted her with a positive feedback. Alex had sent her a web link to a firm that was recruiting. She had gone and written the mandatory aptitude test. Her Blackberry phone beeped, and it was an email notification. She pulled it away from the charger, and scrolled through. It was from the firm where she had just written a test.
It was a regret mail.
Just then, Alex’s call came through.
“Hey, how are you doing?” Alex said. From the sound of her voice, Nora knew Alex had something to say.
“I’m good. What’s up?” She replied.
Had Lisa Udeh found a job for Nora? Nora beamed with excitement.
“Talk! What’s it?”
“I got the job at the bank!” Alex shrieked with excitement.
Nora swallowed hard, then gathered enough strength to speak.
“I’m…I’m so happy for you, dear. Congrats.” She said dryly.
“Is that all you’re going to say? Let me take you out today to wash it jo.”
“I thought you were going to work at your mom’s office.”
“Yeah, but I prefer this job. I don’t really like the Mrs. Udeh’s daughter thingy…”
Alex had sensed her friend was downcast. Maybe she shouldn’t have shared the news with her, but she had no one else to share it with. Nora was her best friend, and the sister she never had.
“What’s going on with your job hunt?” Alex asked.
“I’m trying to find a way. Nothing yet. Sent my CV to your mom last week after you both came back from Paris.”
“Oh…don’t worry it’s going to turn out well, okay?”
“Yeah, I hope so.” Nora sighed.
Lisa Udeh finally walked into her office. She had been in a meeting all day, and had not been able to respond to any calls or messages. She scrolled through her phone, and her system, at the same time listening to what her secretary was saying. She saw Alex’s text that she had gotten a job at the Bank. She smiled, but she preferred her daughter came to work in the oil company. The problem in the economy was that there was no job security in the banking sector, and banks that were once offering a huge pay, would begin to cut back by laying off staff. She also knew the bank job meant late work hours, and she felt Alex wasn’t strong enough for that.
Of course, Alex being who she was, had kicked against the idea her mother brought up, and said it was high time her mother started seeing her as an adult who could take and make decisions for herself. She wanted to build a Marketing Career in the Nigerian banking Industry, and she couldn’t achieve the drive and spontaneity of that if she worked in an oil company.
Before the close of work, Joan Okeke, her friend, and the head of the Sales and Marketing analysis team, had walked into her office.
“Lisa, you’re just shining every day. How was Paris?” Joan teased, taking a seat.
“Yeah, we thank God o. I just wanted to give Alex a treat. You know she made a distinction in her Master’s degree.” Lisa said, trying not to beam with pride.
“That’s wonderful. Tell her she owes me a visit this weekend.”
Lisa laughed, nodding.
“I need your help o. You know my daughter is about to start her NYSC. She needs a good law firm for this NYSC period, at least before we bring her in to work with Ejike’s company.”
Ejike was Joan’s husband. He owned a successful consulting firm in Abuja, and even if Joan had wanted their daughter to work there right away, Ejike insisted that she worked with a law firm first, before joining his firm. Joan actually wanted her daughter to work there so she could keep an eye on her father. It was no news that Ejike had an affair with almost every lady at the office.
“Is she saying she doesn’t want to work with Ejike yet? These children. Alex is saying she got a job with a bank and isn’t interested in coming to work here.” Lisa said, relining in her leather seat.
“It’s because they have everything easy for them now. If I had this opportunity at her age, I wouldn’t even think twice. Anyway we have done all the labour. Let them just get a good job, and enjoy our money. Or who else are we working for my sister?”
“Abi o.” Lisa laughed.
“So, your brother is a Partner in that Law firm at Victoria Island. Put in a word for me now.” Joan said.
“It’s not a problem. Just tell her to send me her CV by tomorrow morning.”
“Thanks my dear.” Joan said, and stood up. “Are you sure Alex is not interested in the opening at my department? She shouldn’t be scared of writing test now, she’s a brilliant chap. I can make everything easy for her.”
“I’ll talk to her this evening when I get home. Thanks a lot, Joan. Please keep the vacancy open, and give me some time before HR starts sending other names.”
They hugged, and Joan left her office.
Nora got down the bike carefully, trying not to get her pencil skirt torn. The slit was high enough already. She had gotten a call that morning to come for the final interview for an Assistant Sales Executive job at an FMCG company in Lekki. She paid the Hausa bike man N150.00 and straightened her hair, then walked into the office. There were two other people seated; a young man, and a young woman. She guessed they had also come for the interview, because they held their clear bag files so close to their chests like someone was coming to steal the documents from them. The receptionist ticked her name on her list, and asked her to take a seat till the Manager was ready to see her.
One of the two that were seated had come for another position though, so the tie was between her, and the other lady. She looked at the wedding band on the woman’s finger, and concluded she was married.
By 10.30 am, the receptionist called the married lady in. Nora began to fidget. She closed her eyes and said a fast prayer, then tried to memorize everything she had read about the company, and the job-description for which she had applied. She had sworn by her father’s grave that she would get this job, no matter how hard it was. She was already getting tired and stressed out of writing endless aptitude tests and getting the same disappointing news. Many of the companies she had previously applied to were not even moved or impressed with her foreign degree.
Her phone beeped. It was Bright, her younger brother. He had sent a text that he had borrowed N10,000.00 from her bag to do some runs. She hissed so loud that the receptionist heard her, and gave her a puzzled stare. Bright was the least of her problems, but she couldn’t afford to waste Ten thousand Naira on a jobless grown man like him. She had started to text back when the receptionist told her it was her turn to go in.
The office was elegant. The décor was a beautiful blend of brown and silver. She saw his Harvard degree in business school, hung on the wall, beside several other award plaques.
“Hello, Miss Obinna.” The man said. He was in a grey suit, and he wore turtle patterned geek eye glasses. She wondered if they were recommended or not. He seemed suave. His words had an American accent.
“Good morning Sir.” She smiled, and waited before he asked her to take a seat.
“So briefly, introduce you to me.” He said.
She had started talking about her drive and strengths when he cut her short.
“Look, let me cut the chase for you. This job is for one person. I need someone that’s flexible and reliable, not like the lady that just left. She is brains and has some experience, unlike you, but she is married with a kid. So, let’s just say the job is yours to grab.”
Nora’s eyes lit up, and she had started smiling.
“I have the job sir?” She said, elated.
“It depends. Do you want the job?” He said. His tone was suggestive.
“Yes sir, I need the job.”
“The job needs you too. You’re an attractive girl, you know. Is it okay if I call you Nora, because I want you to quit the Sir. Just call me Bode.” He held her hands and smiled.
Nora looked at him. He was probably in his forties. She knew he was married because she saw the ring on his finger.
“I use Haven Hotel by the third street from this office. You can go and wait for me. I’ll meet you in about twenty minutes. I have your phone number so I’ll call you…”
Nora still stared. It was as though he was speaking Japanese.
“Sir, I can’t do this. I thought…”
“Good day, Miss Obinna.” Bode said, reclining in his seat.
Nora grabbed her bag and as she approached the door, she turned to look at him. With some hesitation, she spoke, looking at the window, as the words came out her mouth.
“Okay, I’ll do it. I hope this is not part of the Interview though, to see if I can sleep with big men to get accounts for the company.”
Bode let out a classy laughter, then walked up to her.
“Of course not.” He tapped her butt, and Nora flinched. He then opened the door for her to walk out.
Nora got on a bike, and headed for Haven hotel. Different thoughts clouded her mind, as she sat at the reception. Was she back to square one? How long would she have to keep sleeping with men to get what she wanted? At twenty minutes exactly, she saw Bode walk into the hotel. He flashed her a smile. She sighed as she thought to herself that she might as well just get it done, and get a job already.
As she walked into the bathroom to tidy up, after everything was over, her phone beeped. It was a text from Alex telling her that Lisa Udeh had gotten Nora the job with the Sales and Marketing Analysis department, since Alex didn’t want it.
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