Jumoke introduced us to the first vendor – Mr Omoleghinwa who was to take us on accounting. Mr Omoleghinwa was accompanied by a pot bellied man; the one he later introduced as Mr Femi. It was Mr Femi that started the lectures on accounting. It was he who made the boring accounting course fun by using some funny stories to explain some accounting concepts. It was he who told us that we were not yet bankers until we became managers; that we would be better addressed as bank workers; that we would get to a level in life where the bank will be paying for everything we use in life, even our underwear. It was he who said he never played with his breakfast and dispersed the class for breakfast brake.
The breakfast was a cup of coffee/tea with two big balls of snacks that looked like akara-mama-chi-chi. We had to queue to the table to get the tea. It was on the queue that I saw Emeka Nwafor. Emeka was the guy I met on the first interview at Enugu. He was the one that didn’t wear a suit. He was interviewed immediately after me. He had borrowed my suit when it was his turn. He was so fortunate we wore the same colour of trousers. After his interview we had exchanged phone numbers. He was the first to be called by the HR department to Lagos for another interview a week after. He had called me immediately to say he had been call and I told him “they have not called me yet” with dangling assurance that I will still be called.
“Oh Emeka, how far?” I greeted extending my hand for a shake. Emeka ignored the hand and hugged me gleefully. He shunted the queue and entered in front of me. Nobody said anything but the girl behind me didn’t look happy as I looked at her apologetically.
“Guy you are finally here?”
“Yes I am” I answered smiling.
“How about the other people?” he asked.
“I can only tell about Chuks, who is now in my branch and Amanda who rejected the offer when she was called.” I said plainly.
“Did you say reject? The best bank in Nigeria?” Emeka asked anxiously and turned facing me with jammed quizzical brows.
“She got an admission to Harvard University” I said nodding calmly.
“No wonder” Emeka said and told me about his branch in Okigwe as we moved slowly in the queue to the tea table.
Leaning on the stair case rail was a tall photographer with his digital camera dangling on his neck like a medal.
“paparazy!”, Emeka called him and we took a shot. Some other people called him to snap them too. I didn’t feel like having a personal shot. I took my coffee and ambled into the class while Emeka moved to the computer systems at the wall with the electronic inscription LEARNING MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT that moved like the figures in NSE. Maybe he wanted to chat with some people in his branch while taking his tea. There were many people waiting to use the only three systems there in turns. I sauntered into the class brandishing my cup of coffee gingerly in one hand and the snacks in the other supporting the tea such that it won’t spill.
It was in the class that I met Inyama. Inyama was the handsome guy I dubbed “cat eyes” because of the colour of his eyes. The pupils of his eyes were something between light brown and yellow. His eyes were devoid of the quaky movements of an albino. He was not an albino despite his unusual banana fairness. His long nose stood like okoso cone on his face. His very euphonious voice lacked the irritating nasality of his Efik mother tongue when he spoke. I wouldn’t have believed that he was from Akwaibom if not for his name that sold him out. I only wondered why he would abandon the fortunes in the music industry for the wrenched life of bankers with such a sonorous voice.
“Your suit is good” he said to me and felt the front pocket of my suit.
“Thank you so much” I said and told him my name and he said his as we shook hands.
In front of the class sat Mr Femi with legs crossed on the glass table before him. He drank his tea as if it had something bitter in it. He screwed his face and furrowed his eyes as the cup touched his lips. His phone rang and he stood up to answer leaving his breakfast on the table. He paced up and down the platform with his big belly standing like a clay pot in front of him and his tie an arc on the pot belly as he spoke rapid Yoruba into the phone. His big eye balls reminded me of one ugly character in the lord of the ring. He was a funny man though.
The class ended at 6pm. I didn’t blink through out the section. Mr Femi was a good talker. He had shared us some files containing the principles of accounting mimeographs at the end of the class. Ronke later came and distributed the big white folder with the banks red Z logo boldly displayed on its back. We all filed out to join the staff bus home holding the folders proudly to show off the red Z logo of the best bank in Nigeria. I joined the bus that was headed for Lekki/Ajaa route.
The staff bus was a white long coaster bus with the big red Z logo displayed on the four sides of its body and red cloths veiling the windows. Inside of the bus was chilling with gentle coldness wafting from the air conditioner vents of the roof. I took a seat at the back by the window such that I could be looking out through the window at intervals. I always liked watching the sea along Victoria Island. The bus moved slowly in the congestion of the traffic. Up in the front, an Okada man had been knocked down by a bus. It was a normal sight. “Please close the blinds!” somebody said from the front seat and I pretended not to have heard it. It was then that the girl sitting next to me spoke to me.
“They said you should close the blinds” she said in a masculine voice that got me asking if the words really came from the pint sized girl beside me. I turned gently and smiled at her. She smiled back and told me how an agbero had reached his hand into a bus and tore a staff’s necklace some time ago. I wondered how possible that would be with the windows closed. I had wanted to pop the question before she told me how a staff bus was once rubbed; and how the management had warned that the curtains should never be unveiled so that people would not know if there were people in the bus or not. She introduced herself as Vivian.
“Call me KC” I said and added, “how come I didn’t see you in the class”. She was the type that could be easily noticed with her smile structure.
“I am in class 23” she said
“No wonder, so you will be completing your class next week?”
“Yea, I want them to extend it to one more week for me”. She said and smiled childishly.
“That means you’ve been enjoying it here?” she nodded and told me the best experiences she had had since the school started.
“Why won’t she enjoy the school? Who would not?” I asked inside of me. The lunch on this my first day was a plate of rice with one full chicken and a full can of juice. Chuks had told me it was like that everyday. No wonder he garnered much flesh when he returned to Enugu after his training. We had gone together to his house to check my weight on his scale before I left for Lagos. I weighed 68kg and he wrote it down on his diary and said I was going to weigh 100kg before the 21days training school period elapsed if care was not taken.
I only did the listening and nodding while Vivian chattered till the bus came to a halt in front of Budget guest house along Lekky where she said good bye and ran out of the bus with the other trainees lodged in Budget guest house. I didn’t want to lodge in the guest house knowing that the bank would pay me for accommodation if I didn’t. My friend UC in VGC was there to accommodate me. I felt a little sleepy as the bus drove off. When I came down in front of VGC gate it was dark. It was already past 9pm. We had spent close to three hours in the bus. I met UC at the gate and we went in together.