The next morning, I ensured I provided the necessary things to make the children comfortable and gave instructions to Khadija to take care of her younger ones, warning her strongly not to leave the flat in my absence. I came out and waited for Aisha by the gate. I reasoned that she should be there to pick me at that particular time since she called me earlier on that she was already on her way to my house. I stood there checking at my time piece almost every minute in anticipation that I would look up to see her coming. When anxiety was taking a better part of me, I called her again. Her phone was ringing with no response. I called again, but there was still no answer. I started getting agitated, pacing the little space in front of the gate. The street was seemingly quiet because most people had either gone to work or school.
I hoped Aisha was not trying to play on my intelligence. On a second thought, I concluded that Aisha was a friend I could rely on at any given time. She had always been there for me. She was a friend that had always kept to her words which was why I came outside to wait for her.
I told myself that if she should fail to come, I would not go back to my kids to give them the disappointing story, rather I would go look for the school for them myself. ‘How many minutes should I give my friend before I moved on?’ I asked myself looking at my wrist watch. “Good morning Ummi Imran.” A deep baritone voice said to me and my heart missed a beat. I knew who owned that voice. How I wish I could ignore it because it was beginning to irritate me. ‘But why was I feeling that way towards Yunus to the point that a mere sound of his voice irritated me?’ I asked myself. Hardly have I provided an answer to the question came another greeting and at that point the reality dawned on me. He sounded almost like Abdul. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I bit my lips and wished he could disappear.
“Are you going somewhere I can take you to?” He asked. I turned, but my eyes were hard on him. I told him I was going somewhere but did not need his help. He looked so stunned at my response. He apologised before zooming off. And then I realised how wrongly I have treated him; but another thought made me hiss. I was so embedded in my thoughts that I did not even realise Aisha’s car was right in front of me. She opened the door and beckoned at me to come in. She offered her greetings to me that I responded coldly to.
“Ittihaj you've started again?” She asked with a warning tone. Without mincing words, I told her about Yunus and how hard he was trying to get on my nerves. I went on to blame her for keeping me waiting which gave him (Yunus) the opportunity to meet me there.
“This is what I am talking about Ittihaj. The earlier you stop seeing Abdul in every man man, the better for you. Out there, you will begin to see so many Abduls when you start working or even in your children’s school. So are you ready to fight or show your pains on them all? And if I may ask dear friend, what is the volume or weight of this pain you feel that you think are enough to be distributed to all the Abduls out there?” She asked. I kept mute; Aisha was right. I felt bad particularly on my failure to inquire what kept her long before coming.
“I'm sorry. It was bad of me not to ask why you arrived late,” I apologised.
“It's alright, I had a problem with the Road Safety Officials, but I handled it. Please you need your composure to be able to go through this interview. My prayer is that you don’t see another Abdul in the examiner. Please stop seeing Abdul! Let it go and take charge now,” she requested of me as we headed to the venue.
There and then I resolved to finally push him out of my mind and when I told Aisha of my decision she laughed heartedly. She explained that she was surprised he was there and all her prayers were for me to stop extending my hatred for him to others. I was confused, but had to let it go.
I can not really say how Aisha worked this out, but I was glad that my prospective working place looked so great and beautiful. The gigantic building looked like a place in those foreign movies. The thought of working here gave me a satisfactory feeling which made me smile instantly. I thought of how Abdul and his wife would feel just seeing me on my feet. But when I remembered, that I have neither worked nor been to an interview before, my heart missed a beat, my hope was replaced with anxiety.
The only work experience I had was during my Youth service year, and even then I was pregnant and later had the baby. So, I had a lot of excuses to pass the service year without much experience. The only weapon I had against my interviewer was what I read last night on interview tips and the short lecture I had from Aisha on our way to the venue.
Sitting with Aisha on the chairs in the office of the secretary of the interviewer, my hands were damp and I kept rubbing them together. Aisha kept herself busy with a magazine and pretended she did not notice my uneasiness. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, the secretary finally asked me in; I looked at Aisha who wished me luck and asked me to go in. My weak legs carried me into the spacious office and I spent about a minute admiring the environment. I love beauty, and so, I almost forgot what took me in there until I heard someone clearing his throat and looking up I saw the two men, probably the interviewers looking at me curiously.
I quickly sat on the next visitor’s chair in front of me facing the man on the big chair. When I remembered one of the tips about interview, I jumped out of the chair as if I had sat on a pin. I could feel their eyes on me. I apologised, smiling uneasily. The man next to the seat I sat asked me to sit, and make myself comfortable. I realised that I broke the first and second rules, and so started rubbing my hands again.
“You are welcome to Nuhu and Sons Investment.”
“Thank you sir.” I managed to say, still rubbing my hands together. Then I realised that another rule was broken from the tips. For goodness’ sake, I was supposed to be confident and exude confidence, but here I was feeling as if the ground should swallow me. The two men were talking I think, one after the other, but I was so engrossed in my world that I did not get what they were saying until one of them tapped the table noisily which made me jump out of the seat in fear.
“Easy, Madam what do we have here? We asked you severally for your name, but you were gone which was why I tapped the table.” The man beside the big table said while the other one looked at me amusingly. Now I could not take it any longer. This was the worst examination I had ever gone through. In fact, I would not go through it. I refused to sit back again to face these men who were comfortable with their lives and ready to pass sentence on me on whether to be comfortable or miserable. I knew Aisha would be disappointed but I did not care, I just moved to the door.
“Stop right there!” I did not know which voice from the two men ordered, but I turned.
“With due respect sirs, I don’t think I can go ahead with the interview