Submerged in the delightful horror of job hunting, we were sunbaked in the guise of waiting for the exam to begin. The scorching sun burnt out the fats in us. We oozed of its smell. And our white t-shirts and shorts were the wet dump of that burning.
From a distance, we were like a white spray of dots moving aimlessly in the non-existent space as in the metaphysical reality of the monster of malmesbury. Caught up in the web of hopelessness, and the feeling of leaving without achieving the aim of being at the venue, to leave or not to leave, was an unwarranted numbing dilemma in a stadium in which we were our own spectators.
The exam never began. When it did, it was more or less a farce: a mirthless one. Two of my friends got their scripts before me. One got his without any struggles at all. It was just placed into his hands as he sat. The other went madly over seats to get his. Phew! They had got theirs and I was still there? That resultant rebuke that came from the feeling of being naïve found me jumping seats, yelling, pulling, staggering and falling.
In one attempt I got one, but it was quite rumpled, dirty and got holes on it as a result of dragging on the floor. Then I went on another escapade. This time, I pulled away a bunch of scripts from the holding hands of another. At least, I got some before the hands escaped in the frenzy. But, it was my turn to get pulled and shoved by the trench of grabbing, snatching, paddling, fluffing hands and rustling feet, in the din of madly excited voices whose decibel ricocheted against each other. My timid voice yelled out of me into that mix, as I too, dragged and overpowered the owners of hands.
I knew as I sat down to attempt the questions that I was not going to make any headway. In as much as I tried to reflect on the questions so as to choose the right answer from the options, I felt blunt in the wake of the frenzy that stared at me point-blank.
Then, in the midst of my troubled-blank-mind and the unyielding cacophony of the ambience, I heard and my mind began to work out the pieces of what it heard. Voices called out: no. 25= a, 26 =b, 27= c. I listened. I circled mine too. Guilt and pride combined forces with the helplessness of the situation, preventing me from even moving close a friend to seek answers. He appeared composed and unruffled after all. My other friend who had felt uncomfortable about the damning frenzy, went and collected the answers from a female sitting behind and in the same place from where the answers were previously called.
Eventually, the strings of my ineptitude pulled me into asking. He called out and I ticked. But in the depth of me, I wallowed shoulder deep in the pool of despair and torture. I tried to pray to God but scarcely found the courage to do so. My eyes felt blurry as I tried to read the questions. I merely looked but saw nothing. I needed to concentrate, yet my imagination was tied around by a certain rope of noncompossure.
”You Have Five More minutes”, baritoned the tired looking immigration officer in his now untidy outfit, with hypocritical sense of duty that was not unaware of the lie of time that didn’t exist, and the ineffectiveness of his announcement. This joke that had brought this crowd here had to end. Announcing a nonexistent time precipitated the end.”Two more minutes”, he toned out.
The sun closed its eye and night came in the wake of the sun’s sleep in the usual darkness assigned to it. Its initial effect on us, our sun-baked bodies, got dried up in the chill of the evening breeze. Our cloths wore mapped designs of yellow-edged patterns especially at the armpit, as if accentuating the already plethoric anguished feelings on our minds. And so, in bunches of wounded, frustrated, disappointed, and angered fellows, we left the stadium.
Who is to blame? Who do I blame? Whose fault? There is no one to blame. It’s nobody’s fault. If at all there was blame or a fault, then it was me. What for? I should blame or fault myself for blaming or faulting at all.
My country! My nightmare! I wept in myself, hiding my tears resolutely by shaking my head with frantic despondency as I walked home. It felt awful and regrettably bad. It was a feeling of shame, of being mocked, of being abused, of being used and of being cheated. My conscience felt betrayed as my conviction proved right. I even tried to laugh in the midst of my spasmodic heaves, but the mirth of the laughter laughed at me mirthlessly.
Was that an exam at all? Applicants drenched in a mud of waiting, scampered around excitedly and furiously for questions papers? To write an exam they applied for, they had to fight it like excited wolfs at the sight of a game, just to get the scripts. For some, it was fun while for others it was as if their life depended on it—-with a seriousness that knew it was all hopeless though.
But what does it mean to be a graduate? To be a perpetual job seeker confined in the prison yard of a hopeless job hunting routine like a god forsaken prisoner condemned to die, to be murdered or to be wasted away like worthless fowls? The graduates’ quagmire! My country is my nightmare. But must this be so? No. It is up to the graduate to decide.
The experience brought me face to face with the stark reality of a graduate and the more appalling issue of unemployment and the hopelessness of it all. I felt terribly useless: the pointlessness of having a degree hit me hard in the face.
This piece on the 2014 Immigration Exam, first appeared on the Kalahari Review.