It was a chilly morning when I woke up after a cat and dog rain the night before had sent me to sleep earlier than usual. I had set my alarm to bring me back to the land of the living at 5.30 am from the dream world but couldn’t help waking up around an hour earlier, no thanks to PA John’s cocks from his mini poultry beside my house which constantly send early morning pleasantries to fellow birds in the heavens and warm pleasantries to humankind.
My eyes were still heavy and releuctant to open wide with the persistent urge to go back to sleep, but the prospect of encountering the dreadful traffic slapped me into my right senses. I quickly said a prayer and dashed to get water to bathe.
The Power Holding Company had decided to live up to their name by holding power for about a week, so the only viable option was to get water from the well in Pa John’s compound. After fetching the water, I hurried back home to bathe and met the usual queue in front of the bathroom door. Those not standing there had placed their buckets of water in line while attending to other things inside their rooms hoping it would be their turns soon to go in.
‘Oh boy! You no go do quick comot for inside the bathroom Abi na all your sins you dey try wash comot?’ an angry voice howled from behind at the person inside the bathroom, it was Chimezie, my next door neighbour. He had to be on his way to work before six.
‘Undertaker, come carry me comot from here nah’, the voice in there taunted in reply. Everyone had become impatient and were murmuring at the presumed time waster in the bathroom. Our murmurs could be likened to voiced heard on a busy Eke Market Day in Enugu.
Finally, he came out after what seemed like an eternity and the next person went in. It was already 5.45 am before i could go in which I did with a speed that even The Flash could barely keep up with.
I had been job hunting for a couple of months without any success. It was I who usually waves goodbye to neighbours going to work and also the ones who sheepishly welcomes them back from work. The cynical looks and sarcastic remarks from neighbours when something gets missing in the compound was out of this world (of course in the most negative way). “And I kept it here before going out this morning and there was no one at home only Nkechi. Who could have taken it now?” was their usual statement. Mentioning my name as they always do makes me irate but I remain silent since I have never been directly accused of theft as most often the missing items are later found.
So when I was asked to come for an interview at Umilde Schools I was super excited and became blissfully ecstatic when I finally passed the interview. Today was to be my first day at work and since ‘first Impression last the longest’ I was trying hard not to make an awful first impression . I had borrowed a charcoal iron and pressed my clothes to be worn for the wpen for the whole week and was more than eager albeit anxious for work.
It was 6.05 when I got to the bus stop, the aroma of Mama Joy’s hot akara and ogi greeted my nose making my olfactory nerves send cryptic messages to my brain. The end reaction was me gulping saliva down my throat as a result.
Men in ties and even women are seen flocking around her so they could quickly have their breakfast before dispersing to ‘who-knows-where’. I couldn’t join in because I was running late as all staff are expected to be in school before 7.00am, moreso anxiety had taken over the better part of me and in that state it was impossible to eat anything.
Umilde Schools is one of the biggest in the state, attended by the kids of the creme de la creme of the society, little wonder that my anxiety was heightened.
I was fortunate to arrive at school at 6.50 am and in my mind I said ‘God bless Pa John for his cocks that made me wake earlier’. If animals could be blessed, the cocks would have gotten one from me.
The assembly was done in 20 minutes and I went off to class. An assistant was assigned to me, Miss Jane, a pretty light skinned girl with curly hairs probably in her early twenties richly endowed with great feminine pulchritude.
After the first two periods, my stomach started to complain bitterly about it’s void. It seems the worms are now blood thirsty for food like spectators shouting ‘Killed him, Kill him’ in a gladiatorial match in ancient Rome. I could understand the current grumble, so I promised that I’ll fill it’s vacuum once it’s time for the lunch break.
“Congratulations Miss Nkechi”, the head teacher Mrs. Onyeka had said after she had notified me on the day of the interview that I passed. “Well, you would be assigned to Nursery Two and an assistant will be assigned to you. But there are a few unique rules guiding teachers here that you should know. Teachers are not allowed to come to school with black polythene bags or nylons, they are not permitted to come with food in plastic plates or disposables neither are they allowed to go out of the school compound during school hours unless under extenuating circumstances. Furthermore, teachers shouldn’t bring sachet waters but should come with table waters”.
As soon as I remembered that discussion, I knew that I was going to have a difficult first day. I hadn’t had breakfast and I could not go outside for lunch as the school doesn’t have a school canteen for teachers.
“Well, I can manage till evening, afterall this isn’t the first time of going hungry, e don tey wey belle don dey front” I had said to encourage myself. Not long afterward, the bell rang for lunch, Miss Jane approached to tell me that the Director had asked her to come during lunch and as she would be gone, I had to help her with ensuring that the kids had their lunch.
“It’s no problem Miss Jane, I’ll help you out” I replied.
The aroma of the kids’ food filled the air and was tormenting my stomach. The pangs become more frequent, now it was as if the Ghanaian dancing pall bearers were already dancing to Astronomy’s beats in my stomach.
I checked around and saw that almost all the kids were done eating save for two kids. I went over to them and found out that one was already with his last bite while the other said he couldn’t eat anymore since his stomach was full.
He hadn’t eaten much out of his meal of fried rice and two big pieces of meat, so I urged him to eat a little more which he refused. I asked him to go to his seat so I could pack their plates inside their lunch bags before the cleaner comes to sweep. As I was about convering the food, I felt a sharp pain again in my stomach, it was probably a warning sign not to miss this opportunity. Haba, how could I eat a child’s food, that’s stealing and moreso, it is unethical for a teacher to do that.
My stomach was unwilling to understand anything about morals and in a swift move, my hand dipped a spoonful into my mouth. My taste buds came alive savoring the yummy food that just touched it. Just then I heard a voice call my name ‘Miss Nkechi!’ it was the School Director, she had seen me through the window, I was caught red-handed, it was an embarrassing in flagrante delicto. Needless to say, my job there ended even before it had started.
Now I am back to hunting for jobs, but should I include ‘Teacher at Umilde Schools’ as part of my working experience in my CV?
Humble Ogbonna, a Diction and Phonetics Instructor with a passion for writing sent in this entry from firstname.lastname@example.org