By Rukee Ojigbo
I had swam furiously across the traffic in town,to make it in time. Early this morning my phone had chimed with a message from Ade asking me to come to Room 10. Now as I stand here, with my heart pounding away like a jack hammer, a million thoughts run through my mind, as I helplessly try to figure how it all got down to this.
Underemployment wasn’t a term frequently used in modern day Nigeria. With millions of employable people roaming the streets, having a job was all that mattered. I was one of the lucky few who had a job, what some might argue to be a “well paying” job considering the present economic woes the country is facing. My job wasn’t one I was all crazy or passionate about, but like my uncle from warri would say about his work place. “Onome, na my farm be this, I get hold and tight”.
Like a typical famer I had to contend with more than unfavourable weather conditions and weeds. I had to deal with snakes and rodents and pest of different kinds. And of all these, my boss was the WORST one you could imagine.
It had started with lewed compliments, unbecoming of a work place. Then his hands who drift uninvited to unwanted places. He would feel and grope. Actions I would rebuke with a resounding slap on a normal day. But in an abnormal country, there weren’t normal days and everything including this one was normal. It was 2018, yet sexual harrasments was still a thing in a country where many considered themselves enlightened.
To make matters worse, it would seem society has encouraged women to settle for less and tolerate things. “He is a man” they would say. As if that was reasonable enough an excuse. And of course there are those ladies who were all to too glad to play along.
Well I had had enough, so I wrote a petition, and by some miracle what was meant to be an anonymous email had found its way to the same person I was trying to report. Once again the system had failed.
It was my world against his. My job which I wasn’t all crazy or passionate about, was about to be taken from me. And once again the sad reality hit. Passion was a luxury, one I couldn’t afford. My farm was about to be swept away, when i needed it most.
No amount of plea was going to rescue me this time. My body was the only sacrifice that would atone. So now I stand here before Room 10, humbled, ready to do as they please. I needed this job.
The door opens. He steps out. Our gaze meet. His lips curve into a knowing smile. “He is inside” he has says. Then starts walking down the hallway toward the stairs. My gaze follows him secretly hoping he would stay. Ade was the devil’s advocate, the forerunner, the guy who took care of such arrangements on behalf of the boss himself, I shouldn’t want him here, but I had a date with the devil, any company would do.
My gaze returns to the door which was now slightly ajar. A million more thoughts run through my mind as I try in vain to figure out what awaited me on the inside.
I take in a deep breath and brace myself to go in, but my legs wouldn’t move. When I left my room this morning, I had my mind made up… so I thought. But now, as I stand here, I wasn’t sure anymore what I had made my mind up about. I turn around and walk away.
At the stairs I encounter….Ade. He smiles and says…”once again, you made the right choice. But even the right choices have consequences”.
He was right. But I sure as hell was going to be fighting with everything I had left this time. I just wasn’t sure how at the moment.