Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Mr Adedeji was a middle aged man who prided himself on a few things in life, namely his two wives, his five sons, and his job. He was excited about today because they were expecting new corpers in the Ministry of Health. The office had been buzzing with activities in the past few weeks to prepare them for new staff. They would be at the bottom of the food chain, doing all the grunge work. He was particularly excited about the doctors, those ones had money, and were entitled. Two great combinations. He was not a sadist but he enjoyed making them squirm.
He needed to look good today, he thought to himself as he ironed his well-worn striped T-shirt and brown trousers. Mama Segun was on breakfast duty this week, and she was still sleeping at 7am in the morning. Thankfully the children were old enough to get themselves ready for school. “Mama Segun!”, Mr Adedeji didn’t like to shout, but his first wife got on his nerves too quickly. Within minutes, his breakfast was before him, ‘Akara and Ogi’. He hated going to work late, so he rushed his meal and barely enjoyed it. He got to the office just a few minutes before 8 ‘o’ clock.
Kemi woke up that morning more at peace than she had been the night before, but slightly annoyed that she was forced to wake up at 5am for morning devotion. This was one of the many ‘house rules’ she had to obey. She didn’t consider herself a morning person, “look on the bright side Kemi, God is preparing you for work,” she muttered to herself. Today was the D-day, Monday had finally arrived, and Kemi could not wait to get her posting sorted out.
She was in a strange place, in a different city, and she could not wait to return home for her two weeks break before she had to resume at work. She had a plan, and it was pretty simple. She knew where she wanted to work, and she would politely ask to be rejected so that she could reapply at the Military Hospital. She really hoped NYSC would repost her there. The posting still had to come from them. They paid quite handsomely, and there was good accommodation in the barracks. Kemi had always fancied the idea of being a military doctor.
She wondered about the others. No one really knew what awaited them in their place of primary assignment. Some would find out that they had been posted to defunct companies, companies who no longer needed corpers, and companies who would refused to pay even a stipend. Kemi felt a little sorry for herself, but quickly brushed the feeling aside.
“Have I not commanded you, be strong and of good courage”. God was speaking and she was all ears. She knew what she had asked for, she still had the list of what she wanted from her PPA, and desk work wasn’t part of it. She knew all of God’s promises for this year by heart already. As she contemplated what to wear, she settled on a navy blue skirt and white T-shirt, silently hoping that rain would not fall, as it had all weekend. She put her things together quickly, silently praying for a way out of this hostel. She knew rent was expensive and she could not afford it. She needed a miracle.
The journey to her PPA was a little confusing. The names of places in Abeokuta were strange and difficult to pronounce, partly because she was not very fluent in the local dialect. She had to take a motorcycle, cabs were scarce in this part of town. She was so lost in thought that she did not realise they had arrived nearly 30mins later. She quickly alighted, paid the fare and made her way into the building. She asked for directions from someone who looked like he worked there, and quickly followed the instructions.
She had heard of one Mr Adedeji who like to give doctors a tough time, especially the ladies. “God, I know you’re here, please help me”, was her quick prayer. She found his office with no difficulties. He was a short dark man, with a receding hair line, and a protruding abdomen, she guessed he was in his late fifties. “Welcome, Dr, we’re happy to have you here, you will be involved with data collation”, he was talking with so much gusto, she almost didn’t want to interrupt. “Sir, I can’t stay here”, was her quick reply, as she rattled on with her rehearsed speech. She could not afford to stay here with no pay, no hands-on clinical experience, and no accommodation. She tried not to look at his face as he huffed and puffed in between her words.
“Let her go”, Mr Adedeji looked over his shoulder, he wondered who just spoke to him. This one was not like the others. She knew what she wanted, and she was not going to back down. He quickly assessed the situation. He knew he had to let her go.
Kemi had had a long day, it was a mix of small and big victories. Her rejection slip in hand, she could not contain her joy even though she was officially jobless. Better jobless than here was her victory chant.
Excerpt from Part 6
Kemi was staring at her reposting letter with so much intensity, she had quickly scanned through it, expecting to read that she had been reposted to the Military hospital. Her facial expression was a mix of disappointment and disdain for the system. She sat down wearily, feeling more alone than she had in the last couple of months.
She silently wished she could call him. Things were pretty messed up between Jerry and her, almost to the point of no return. She remembered how he’d looked at he’d that last time, and wondered why she was holding on to something that was clearly over.
The sound of her phone ringing startled her, and jolted her back to reality. It was an unknown number, her heart skipped a beat as she answered the call.
©Olamide Akappo, 2020
NYSC: National Youth Service Corps
PPA: Place of Primary Assignment
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9 NIV