THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR

The day after you resigned on your job, you felt like a bird in the air; free, loose, powerful. You forgot to set off the alarm and it beeped at exactly 4:15a.m jolting you awake. You sighed and felt like throwing the antique nuisance against the wall, but restrained yourself and smiled, forgiving the busybody for being slow on knowing that its service was no more needed. You collapsed back onto the bed, sighed in deep relief and pressed your head into the fluffy pillow smelling of stale sweat, but then there wasn’t any going back to sleep for you anymore; your body had been wired over time to be alert at exactly 4:15am. You stare at the ceiling, your mind wandering even as you tried desperately to restrain it from wondering as to how you planned to spend the day. You thought of so many things until gratefully you succumbed to a light slumber as dawn approached in its young silvery glory.
You crawl out of your bed, stretched and yawned, rubbed your sleepy eyes, scratched your crotch and tried to avoid you sour breath from hitting your nostrils. It is 9:38 am and you are hungry, you stagger towards the kitchen, grateful to have slept for so long, longer than you have ever slept in a while. Even in your university days, you never had such luxurious lazy slumber. You stand in the middle of the kitchen at a loss. The closets are empty except for the few ceramics covered by a thin film of dusts and cobwebs; you never liked the smell of the closets either, so you quickly slammed them shut. You sighed because you realized that your whole life had been wrapped about your job all these many months.
You wriggle into a pair of trousers, the same you had tossed carelessly on the floor on coming home from work past midnight before hitting the bed hard. Your things are still lying about the floor where they had landed. There is time enough for housekeeping you thought, but first you had to go buy something to eat from the Fulani’s kiosk around the street corner. You had so been used to grabbing a quick cup of Lipton tea laced with some sparse milk powder and a large doughnut for breakfast at work while you caught up with the latest gist with friendly colleagues.
You hit the streets. You realized you haven’t had a mouthwash and that your breath smells nearly as bad as a compost pit but then, you concluded that you would just dash to the kiosk and back into the house. In the meantime, if you had to talk to anybody, you decided to be mindful to direct your mouth away from the person’s face. You get to the kiosk. A woman is being attended to. She is fat and has only a worn wrapper tied around her torso, covering only her most intricate feminine parts, but leaving very little to the imagination. You waited behind her so she could finish her purchase while you tried desperately to keep your eyes from lingering at the swell of her buttocks. you can make out no pant lines; she was wearing no underwears beneath the near-threadbare fabric of her cotton wrapper.
“Two sachet Cowbell and two Lipton” you hear her say to the Fulani man. A lazy housewife having a late breakfast after her husband and children had left off for the day, you conclude. She leaves with her sparse purchase in a light black nylon carrier bag and you stare for long at her retreating swinging hips before stepping forward to make your own purchase. The Fulani trader grins at you and you grin back like you are both close friends sharing a dirty secret. You are at a loss for what to buy. Indomie? No. You just cannot put up with doing any cooking at this time. Something quick to eat would be the thing, and so you settle for a loaf of Agege bread, a tin of Peak milk and a sachet of Milo. You have never liked the taste of Lipton in milk, it nauseates you. The Fulani man hands you your purchase in the same nylon bag, he does it in such a reverent way that stopped short of voicing out ‘Oga’, Master. You dip into your pocket, no money. You dip into the other one and for a fleeting moment, curse yourself for being so daft as to come out to buy something without checking that you had some money on you. What were you thinking? You chide yourself. Alas, you fingers feel a damp rolled paper, you fish it out, thank goodness, a worn five hundred naira note. You sigh inwardly and hand the money to the Fulani guy. His face registers some kind of understanding for your predicament like he is used to these kind of drama with the ‘Ogas’. He gives you your change, loose pieces of lower denomination and without counting it you stuff it into your hip pocket, making sure your fingers have driven them it to the very recesses of the pocket fabric.
You get home, you eat. You have still not had a mouthwash, you have all the time. You throw yourself into the sofa and switch on the TV. You flick through the channels, there are not very interesting programs going on. You make a mental note to renew your DSTV subscription tomorrow; there is no going anywhere for you today. You feel sleepy; that is one thing you had with tea, it lulls you to sleep. you doze off on the sofa and wake up by 7: 12pm when you had that mouthwash, took a long hot bath had a dinner of fried potatoes and fish you bought from that woman who fried them in the open wood fire by the road side. You spent the whole night watching television programs, you watched the national news at 9 for the first time in a very long while and then you slept off in the wee hours of the next day, happy at the bliss of freedom.
The next day.
You go shopping in the morning. You stuff the fridge and cabinet with lots of food and provision to last a fairly large-sized family a month. You renew the DSTV and internet subscriptions, you desire a much better job than the one you just left behind. You so hated the job that there is no negotiating your going back even if starvation stares you in the face. The job drains the essence out of your life; you worked very long hours, multitasked so much that you forgot so quickly and ended up making a mess of the whole thing and there was Miss Esther your boss always screaming at you so much that you doubted your capacity for ever doing anything right. Of course there were the colleagues who sold bad information of you to Miss Esther so as to curry favours from her. You hate such breed of Nigerians who have hatred ingrained in the very fibre of their being, the kind that are so fearful of the joblessness out there that they sold away the very thing that made them members of the human community for just a shadowy assurance of survival. They clutch so desperately at their slavish jobs that even the red- horned devil with the four toothed garden fork would be at a loss on how to make them let go on their jobs. They could hold onto the crazy job for all you cared, you saw no fulfillment in the job, there isn’t any prospect with it either, and not that the welfare package is anything close to good. You have better plans and there isn’t any going back on it. You make a pot of egusi soup with fish and periwinkles. You eat heartily, surf the internet for jobs for thirty minutes and watch television far into the night. You sleep on the sofa forgetting that you are prone to backaches.
The third day a Sunday, you go visiting friends. You tell them you are looking for a new job. You tell them that you are not in a hurry and that you will never settle for ‘just any job’. You spend most of the evening drinking beer with them. It has been a long time and you have almost forgotten the taste of beer.
The fourth day. You spend almost the whole day submitting your CV online.
The fifth day, your landlord came knocking on your door; security levy is due for renewal and the septic tank is full, it had to be evacuated immediately. Your share of the levy is forty three thousand, eight hundred and thirty naira. You make withdrawals with the ATM and your available balance reads #22, 330.88. The landlord accepts the money, he doesn’t notice the grudge in your face. He is more interested in your money. You are angry because you believe the levy was inflated, and you are also worried that you are on the verge of being broke.
The fifth day,
The sixth day,
The seventh day,
…………. The twelfth day, and nothing has still happened, no call for interviews, nothing. You get tense; you realize that should you get broke, nobody was willing to lend you any money. You are beginning to desire a job, any job to get going. You have begun to despise your freedom, it is now a burden, a constant strain, a brand of laziness. Your sleep pattern becomes inconsistent; you fear the night and dread the approach of every new day. You hate the dawn because it sneaks upon you unprepared, you hat those mornings when you lay awake planning on how best to spend the day.
The thirteenth day, the phone rings.
“Joshua, can you please come to the office. We have things to iron out. should i be expecting you?” Miss Esther said meekly on the other end
“Sure Ma. i will be right there within the hour” you answer, trying to hide the eagerness in your voice.
You don’t have to lie awake planning on how to get the office, but you hurry about getting dressed. You flag down a taxi, your left shoe lace is not tied properly, but you don’t care much for it, there will be time enough for it when you get to the office building. As you sit in the taxi, squeezed between the door and a bulky unwashed man who smelt like he slept in his wooly shirt, you have made just one resolution; even the Serpent would have to be more crafty than the episode at Eden to be able to deceive you into letting go on your job this time, at least for now.

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