The Interview

The interview

© Folakemi Emem-Akpan

The collar of your shirt is well worn, as is that of your only suit. And the elbows and arms of the suit are also frayed. But no one knows, no one will know, except they are up close and personal with you.

But you know, from a thousand or so experiences, that no one gets that close in an interview room. The fellow applicants for the same job will not get too close to you. And the interviewers will be sitting opposite the room from you.

At the door to the single room you share with your friend, you say a quick prayer to the heavens, petitioning the gods of employment to grant you this job, even though you know there will be at least a hundred of you vying for the same placement.

This is your fifth year of seeking employment, and you are bone weary. You remember with numbness the day you graduated from the university. Your parents had travelled all the way from the village to see you walk to the podium and receive your certificate even though it had been absurdly expensive for them to travel down.

But you are their first son, the first of eight children, and you were the bearer of all their hopes. They’d starved and scraped and struggled mightily to send you to the university. Your immediate younger brother, who is only two years younger than you, had sacrificed his education for you, as had the next brother. Both had been apprenticed out after their free secondary school education expired.

Your first sister has started her first year of apprenticeship in a tailor’s shop. The last four siblings are still in school, still enjoying the government’s largesse of free education. The plan is that you will get a job immediately after graduation, and become your family’s breadwinner. You are supposed to sponsor the last four of your siblings in their higher education.

You are five years behind schedule. The weight of the world presses down on your shoulders.

You owe your roommate eight months in back rent, and he has been feeding you for the past two months.

In the past five years, you have been a bus conductor, a Laundromat receptionist, a bus driver, and many other unmentionable things. You have sold sachet water, and recharge cards, and plantain chips, and popcorn. You are bone weary.

It is getting towards the end of the month, and you are aware that you have to send some money home. Yes, your parents are aware that you are not gainfully employed yet, but Pa is sick, has been sick for two years now, and Mama’s back is not what it used to be, so the farm has suffered. Your brothers are helping out as best as they can, as is your sister. But it is tough, near impossible to feed nine mouths.

It is as you expected. The applicants, including you, are at least one hundred and fifty. It is going to be a long day. You are now seriously considering returning to the streets as a bus conductor because it pays a daily wage, no matter how dehumanising the job is.

You take a seat and wait to be called. It is going to be a long day, and you are already tired.

23 thoughts on “The Interview” by Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

  1. The pains of unemployment. God help Nigeria and particularly, families like this. Great job, Folakemi.

    1. Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

      @mcsnol, thanks for your comment. God help us indeed

  2. akinkuade1990 (@Akinkuade1990)

    hummm!!! so true in the country of ours!!! I just there’s gonna be change and increase in employment rate in the country. thanks for the enlightenment!!

    1. Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

      @akinkuade, thanks for the comment. and welcome to NS

  3. Aderonke Daramola (@Shovey)

    it’s so pathetic, 100 applicants just for the space for 1. I can imagine cos I’ve been there.

    1. Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

      @shovey, thanks for the comment. May God help our country

  4. Nnedu. Gideon (@gmoney)

    It is not funny standing on the long queue of applicants to be employed. Most times, the person who finally ends up taking the job might not be the best suitable for the job but connections might be the hedge he/she might have over you.

    1. Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

      @gmoney, thanks for commenting. My heart goes out to the thousands of young people who attend interviews daily, hoping for a breakthrough

  5. @folakemi you know how to put words together.
    I like.
    The only person to blame here is the very poor man that gave birth to 9 children. What was he thinking?

    1. Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

      @chime221, na village mentailty now. Thanks for your comment

  6. Rhoiy (@Roy-journals)

    This is really beautiful. Some fortunate people, even here in Nigeria, hear things like this and say it doesn’t exist. I laugh and simply tell them, ‘You don’t know poverty.’
    This is good, @folakemi Really good.

    1. Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

      @Roy-journals, I was one of those fortunate people. I don’t come from a wealthy background and didn’t have much contacts, but I got a job two months after I completed my NYSC. But I had friends and family members and loved ones face this unemployment issue; it even happened to my husband after we were newly married. The hope and the disappointment can be terrible, and is not to be treated lightly. Thanks

  7. I might not be selling satchet water or doing bus conductor work but my bones are weary, I might not need to send money home for pa and ma but mesef get expenses I can’t keep asking for soap money.
    Bottom line I need a job, my bones are weary, I’m emotional right now because I NEED A JOB!!!

    1. Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

      @ameenaedrees, if what you write is true (that you need a job), my heart and prayers are with you. I’ve had a secondhand experience of being desperate for a job. Newly married, my husband lost his job. I was earning peanuts at that time, was pregnant with our first child and was so sick I was missing work at least twice a week, so there was the fear that I would lose my job too. My husband was desperate, and did some odd jobs even with all his qualification.
      We got over that in a year, but i still shudder to think of that period in our lives. Chin up, be brave, better times are coming. As they say, “The hour before dawn is always the darkest”.

      1. @folakemi your story is inspiring am hoping for that dawn soon before my certificate gets Rusty.

        @olajumoke I received the hugs tnx :-) :-)

  8. Ezeama Chijioke Desmond (@Chijy)

    May God help our country!

    1. Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

      @chijy, amen

  9. It is all over, not just in Nigeria, perhaps it’s a world phenomena.

  10. Yes it is not just in Nigeria like @elovepoetry said. The rates of unemployment all over is shocking. It is definitely high in Nigeria. And of course the lack of support/social funds for people that are not earning and their families makes things worse.
    Sending hugs your way @ameenaedrees. I remember the frustration of waiting.
    Good work @folakemi as usual.

  11. Lol.. @elovepoetry it’s unfortunate that Nigeria looks unrivaled in this one. It’s quite unfortunate that our beloved Nigeria excel more in corruption and unequality than in technology and economic advancement..
    I’m still in my early years in the university, but I pray I’m as lucky as @folakemi , no, even luckier. Before I assumed school, i had to stay home for a while(adverse effect of OAU strike). So I got a part time job in a primary school, it was there I realised that even the little job I had was so desired by others, even university graduates. Weeks in, weeks out , countless university graduates drop their applications to teach a nursery class-married men! Imagine married men jumping and shouting to teach a nursery class just to get a menial #5000 at the end of the month! How would 5k feed a family of six, pay house rent and electric bills, and pay school fees?! In Nigeria if you don’t have a LONG LEG, no job for you..No wonder Nigerian ladies now sacrifice their whole body just to get LONG LEGS. A night at Alhaji’s house and three at the Dean’s place increases the ‘longetivity’ of your leg. In no time, you have ‘Long legs’ too and your long legs connect you to a job.
    What a shame.
    It’s high time a change starts. And it’s not Buhari who is bringing that is WE, US!
    And God too.

    Spread the news.

  12. Lovely story, and what a topic! I do pray things change, I pray our leaders will be sensitive enough to create the right environment for investors to come, and for individuals to grow sustainable businesses.

    Thumbs up!

    1. Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

      @funpen, thanks for your comment. I pray things change too.

  13. albashir (@albashir)

    Inspiring story, may God rescue us from unemployment in Nigeria. Ameen

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