From the airport, He went straight to his cousin’s house in Iyana Iba. He couldn’t face his old friends, it was embarrassing. His cousin Ode, was not too happy to see him. He complained that Oche never returned any of his calls when he was in America. “Anyway the only tin wey no make me N your load for outside na say, na your Papa train me for school”.

Things were tough for Oche. His cousin didn’t spare him. He was dead broke and though he tried to get a job, he was turned down at every interview. He was often told that, because he had no certification or Masters, they couldn’t employ him. As months went by, it was clear that Oche would have to take any job whatsoever. Ode, was threatening to kick him out because he wasn’t able to contribute to the bills.

One morning, a Neighbor informed Oche that a security company was recruiting security guards. It was a hard decision but eventually Oche had to apply. It was amazing just how many educated people came to attend the interview. Some of them even had Masters, but had been looking for jobs for years. They didn’t care about the pay. They just needed sustenance, and they hoped to meet someone who could help them out of poverty. Out of what seemed like a village full of candidates, Oche was one of the chosen few to be accepted. He had been advised not to speak his oyinbo English.

He was posted to a pharmaceutical company somewhere in Ikeja. He had gotten himself a pair of thick glasses and pulled his cap well over his forehead to avoid being recognized by anyone he knew from his banking days. After about 2 months of work, he was summoned to the HR office. When he got there he was taken to the HR Head’s office .He had made it a point of duty not to look at people in the face when he was spoken to. The HR Head was a Lady. She spoke slowly and calmly and tried to make him comfortable. She had been on a study leave and had just resumed work. She asked whether he was paid whenever he did overtime. He lied and said “Yes”. He had heard that the CSO was in the habit of ‘kolobying’ junior staff overtime. He didn’t want any trouble. She pressed him more for the truth .He didn’t budge.

Back at the gate the CSO wanted to know what had transpired. Oche told him everything. The CSO patted him on the back and called him a “beta pesin”.

Days after, the HR Head asked to see him again. He was shaking by the time he got to her office. He didn’t want wahala. The HR Head was typing away on her laptop, when he got to the door .She asked him to sit without looking up. What’s your surname?” She asked. She then asked him to take off his cap and glasses. He did. “Did you go to Unijos? “Please Ma… I don’t want trouble they said I should not …she shut him up. “Did you go to Unijos or not? “I did Ma” he replied looking down at his boots. You read Economics right? ”Yes Ma” he replied again. They used to call you “Che-momen”….At this point Oche burst into tears. She really knew him. She got up and shut the door. “Oche, it’s me Gloria. Gloria, that was in Biz Admin, Mercy’s friend. For the first time, he really looked at her. She was lighter and had put on some weight, but there she was. This was the Gloria he had often laughed at with his friends. She had had a bad crush on him then. She was one of those nerdy clumsy looking girls boys often laughed at. Amidst tears he told her his story. Gloria sighed and asked him to return to his post.

Oche didn’t get to see Gloria much except when her driver brought her in the mornings. He was told that “Madam” had asked that he be put permanently on morning shift. He tried to see her to say Thank you, but she wouldn’t see him. He didn’t get to see her again for months.

One Afternoon, after about a year of being a security guard, he received a DHL package. He has suspicious of it and had to go to the toilet to open its contents. Inside were two letters. One was handwritten, the other typed. He opened the handwritten one first. He didn’t recognize the handwriting.

Dear Oche,
I can remember our days at Unijos I really liked you and I know you knew. It’s funny how life is full of tosses and turns. Fancy meeting you in my workplace. You may not know it, but I have resigned and currently working in another company. I never stopped liking you, I still do. It took me some time but I was able to convince a former colleague who now has a company of his own to accept you as an assistant procurement officer. The pay is not bad and he has agreed to hire you based on my recommendation. I have followed your progress keenly and I have seen how diligently you worked as a security guard. You have changed for the better……..”

The other letter was an employment letter. Oche wept. He read the offer letter for the 6th time and said a quiet prayer.

The End

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