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Near and Dear – Episode III

Near and Dear is a fictional story of Ikenna Obi Okonkwo, a college graduate who neglected the opportunities of picking up usable skills alongside academics while in college in Nigeria—where a college degree alone no longer makes the bold promise of placing food on the table. His graduation was an awakening to the ugly realities of societal difficulties. Could he ever get a chance at life, save a miracle of some sort happened? Clenching tenaciously to reverence, honor, morals, values, and persistence, he caught a break via newfound relationships, love, and lessons as he began to breathe a new air of success and relief. You want to know more, follow along.

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Photo Credits: Adobe Stock Photography

Hardly did I contain the smile when suddenly, a question, or should I say instruction, that was as weird as it was shocking, was dished to me. “Young man, would you please remove your tie?” I wasn’t very sure I heard him right; therefore, I quickly ran a search through the few faces my eyes could catch in a split of seconds; for some confirmation. I had hoped for some clue, such that through their facial expression, I could be sure what I heard was what I heard.

“I love your honesty.” A lady who appeared to have simper permanently pasted on her face chipped in from the left.

But that did not happen as everyone wore a poker face, making it difficult for me to read any kind of facial expression from them. There was no time to absorb the effect of the disappointment; therefore, I politely requested for the question repeated, no, the instruction repeated. Thankfully, it was, and this time, I was sure about what I heard. However, in the process of events unfolding, I noticed something else, too.

“This surely was the same man who made an impression on me on his way here earlier this morning,” I reasoned within myself. I did as he instructed.

As they observed my corporate garb from head to toe.

“Please, knot it again and hang it back,” I obeyed, as instructed.

“Take a step back so I can have a better view of your feet, a man on his left instructed.

“Hmmm…what the hell of an interview,” I said under my breath. However, I did as asked, anyway.

“I am sure I noticed you loitering around the gate earlier this morning; why did you not come in and take a seat while you waited?” The first man fired, more than asked. “Oh…he noticed me too?” The hall suddenly became unbearably hot. I could feel an isolated line of hot sweat traveling freely down my back from the shoulder region, to my waist.

“I judged it could be seen as desperation on my part, sir,” I answered honestly, in a very delightful intonation and as confidently as I could.

“Does that say you are not desperate to have the job?” he followed up.

“Yes, sir. I certainly want to be productive through employment. I have also longed for the opportunity so I could be, but I am sure I am not desperate, sir. I answered confidently, making sure my face didn’t give me in.

“I love your honesty.” A lady who appeared to have simper permanently pasted on her face chipped in from the left.

“Thank you, ma’am I returned, bowing slightly.

“God… please help me”, I muttered inaudibly. Beads of sweat that sprouted on the tip of my nose were beginning to merge and crawl down to my upper lip area. You could literally notice a nervous intensity building on my face.

Beads of sweat that sprouted on the tip of my nose were beginning to merge and crawl down to my upper lip area.

“Shouldn’t I have been honest as I was wrongly perceived to be and tell them that I’m desperate for the job?” I questioned myself.

I didn’t recover from the effect of this one too when I heard:

“Take off your shoes and pull up your trousers, just a bit,” another man by the head of the panel’s right side said. I obeyed.

“Move back a bit” Do I have a choice? I obeyed.

The rest of the panel that flanked me peered across the large brown table onto my feet. “No worries, the stockings have no holes; besides, aren’t my feet beautifully shoed in a good pair of Italian craft?” I boasted under my breath.

“Thanks, mister Ikenna…that would be all; we will get mail across to you.” Said the man heading the panel. He quickly glanced at the papers at his front to recall my surname, which he affixed to my name. He did so in a way that interpreted the ‘Obi’ to mean ’a settlement,’ rather than the ‘heart.’ I didn’t particularly care. All that would be of interest to me was how that would birth me a ‘Congratulations and Welcome to…’ I stood up, walked up to the panel, shook each of their hands firmly, thanked the team, and walked away. I was relieved that it was now over but confused about the process’s uniqueness.

I stood up, walked up to the panel, shook each of their hands firmly, thanked the team, and walked away.

It was 1:28 pm by the time I left the hall, walked through the waiting room, into hundreds of worrying eyes of those who were waiting. I saw so many questions on their faces and wished I could tell them what to expect. But I wasn’t even sure of what to expect as an outcome of my exercise. I left the building musing on the interview as I walked straight to the spot where I parked and headed home. “I have attended hundreds of interviews, and I haven’t been subjected to this kind,” I thought to myself. “Nothing was asked about my training and, or experience, not in the very basic. Would they not want to know why I wanted to work with them?” I kept questioning myself. “Didn’t anyone of them remember the tricky question, ‘how much would you want to earn if the company decides it’s you?’ What then was I awake all night getting ready?” I guess they were more concerned about appearance rather than the traditional interview drills. “It was quite an unconventional interview,” I must say.

Anyway, my garb was fantastic and should suffice—a pair of Gianfranco black Italian shoes and a nicely cut double-slit navy blue Santander suit, on a white shirt and wine tie. They have the potency of doing the magic,”—that’s if they were not alluding to be typical Nigerians, so to say. Real Nigerian employers would have offered the slot to relatives and yet organize interviews for formalities—and this looked likely, judging by the entire interviewing process. That was where my mind went to. However, there is no need to put the cart before the horse. All I can do is hope, pray, and keep my fingers crossed that something positive pans out from it. I should allow the whole process to play out instead of tearing my sanity apart from the myriad of assumptions making a constant incursion on my mind like a raging tsunami.

All I can do is hope, pray, and keep my fingers crossed that something positive pans out from it.

Upon getting home, I took off my suit jacket and loosened the tie. I flipped the suit jacket inside out, hung it on a hanger dangling on the line at the back of my apartment for some fresh breeze. I then climbed the short steps unto the corridor where I pulled off my shoes, abandoned them there for the same reason I hung the jacket, then walked in.

I went upstairs and sprawled spread-eagle, facing the fancifully designed POP-ceiling; dialed Ayo’s number and narrated all that happened today; just as I have done the seventy-eight other times since he went overseas. He sure had a good laugh and made jokes about the whole interview process I had just narrated to him. He did all that to help me ease the tension of it all.

Life is what we create for ourselves.

“Quit further interviews; consider setting up something for yourself.” He advised on a final note.

“Ayo, I won’t blame you. Aren’t you so lucky that you will never have to go for an interview in this life?”

“Iyke, someone told me that “Life isn’t about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself.” I believe that all will pan out well, just stay optimistic, bro.”

“Life isn’t just fair,” I caught myself saying thoughtfully after I hung up the call but musing over what Ayo just told me.

“First-class honor in this country isn’t worth more than that piece of paper that spelled it.”

“First-class honor in this country isn’t worth more than that piece of paper that spelled it,” I concluded sadly.

I managed to shake off some depressing thoughts, entered the kitchen to fix my first decent meal in two days. Boiled yam tomatoes and egg sauce was favored, and I got busy. I ate like a recently freed prisoner, after which I turned off and slept for the rest of the day.

…to be continued.

Watch out for Near and Dear – Episode IV on Oaekpost.

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Caleb Ogbonna Onwe is a guest contributor of Oaekpost LLC, a US-based online media company. He is a seasoned on-air personality, a communication expert, an entrepreneur, and a writer specializing in the prose genre. He recreates experiences using fictional tales in the hope to impact, alter and influence character positively. His area of specialty on Oaekpost are the categories, Fiction and Good News. You can reach him at cogb.onwe.gc@oaekpost.com.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Youngark

    March 22, 2021 at 11:29 pm

    Nice one! I can’t wait for Episode IV!

    • Caleb Onwe Ogbonna

      May 10, 2021 at 1:13 pm

      I’m glad you like.
      Episode 5 is here, so is 6; and 7 too.

  2. Ani Chijioke

    March 23, 2021 at 11:03 pm

    This country ‘Nawa’ but we keep moving.
    Well done

    • Caleb Onwe Ogbonna

      May 10, 2021 at 1:15 pm

      Yeah brother, a lot is wrong with country, but help is on the way.
      We need to do right, that’s all.

  3. Patience okorie

    March 31, 2021 at 1:43 am

    This is so captivating, your descriptive prowess is topnotch.

    • Caleb Onwe Ogbonna

      May 10, 2021 at 1:17 pm

      It’s exciting to have you think so about my little effort.
      Thanks a lot Pat.

  4. Tomlen Brenda

    May 10, 2021 at 12:05 am

    I still wonder why he didn’t express his desperation.
    That interview though…

    • Caleb Onwe Ogbonna

      May 10, 2021 at 1:19 pm

      I think I know why…he is a human.
      Most of us would do the same thing he did.
      Yeah, the interview was out of the ordinary.
      Thanks for your thoughts Brenda

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