ANNIE

The mean generator stopped roaring around 3am, leaving receding echoes in Annie’s eardrums. She was relieved and troubled at the same time. This same thing happens everyday and in the morning, she wakes up feeling drained. Everyone in the face me I face you compound has gotten used to Bros Zik’s I better pass my neighbor generator but Annie doesn’t think she ever will because, her room was just next to his thus, she suffered the noise the most, coupled with the smoke that came with it. On this particular night, Annie was more troubled because, she has an interview by 11 am at Lekki. This is the 15th interview she will be going for since the past nine months of applying to over thirty companies. She didn’t even prepare for it cos she was already tired of studying her G-Math textbook and rehearsing the right answers, her smile and her grammar. No one can ever fathom what employers want in Nigeria so she was done trying to impress anyone.

She checked the time again; it was past 3 am now. She hasn’t been able to sleep at all partly because of the noise and partly because of the interview. She was almost broke again and this time around, if it happens, she would have no choice but to go back to Calabar and resume patching up with her parents who were already fed up of her joblessness. She went on her knees and eyes closed with her hands together in supplication, she whispered into the hot room.

“Dear Lord, I’m at my breaking point. I’m tired of this place, this house, this rat race in Lagos and worse of all, these fruitless interviews. Just make this one work, okay? I don’t mind going all the way to Lekki from here. It’s gonna cost a lot but, just let me into the system first and I know you’ll handle the rest. And please, could you just finally destroy this Bros Zik’s generator? It’s making me sick! Okay, I’m sorry. That was petty of me but, I’m just fed up of the noise, the smoke and all. Anyways, thanks for answering cos I know you’ve done it. Amen”

……………………

Annie walked into the board room and stiffened when she saw that the panel waiting to interview her was totally different from the type she was used to. She had applied for the role of  a PA to the CEO in this Audit firm and from what she had read online about them, they’ve been in existence for over twenty years now. They’re a huge deal with clients such as the who is who in Nigeria. Annie had developed a particular interest in that position cos she saw it as an opportunity to finally work in a field where she could grow and put to practice what she studied in school.

So when she walked into the board room, she was surprised to see that there were 6 men and a woman waiting for her in the room. They looked impatient and when she noticed the crease on their foreheads, she hastened to the seat that was meant for her. She had on the only corporate gown she had. It was black and clingy, accentuating her curves. She wore flats and carried her everyday bag which was a second hand nude colored Balenciaga bag she had purchased at Boundary Market. Her hair was pulled back in a tight knot and she had no makeup on because the heat from the Danfo Bus would have melted the hell out of the makeup like she usually saw happening to most ladies that boarded those buses.

The room was awfully quiet and she became uncomfortable.  One full minute passed and nobody said anything. Somehow, Annie couldn’t look elsewhere so she kept her eyes fixed on no one in particular but on the seven of them. They in turn did same and Annie felt her heart beat accelerate. She felt thirsty too and thought if it would be rude to ask for water but thought better of it. Then, the woman broke the silence by saying with a voice that sounded milky but sure, unhurried and confident.

“Hmm, I’m impressed. You’re not a chatterbox.”
Annie was confused. She didn’t know what to say to that. So instead, she shook her head. But the woman continued, smiling this time.

“I like the fact that you didn’t try to fill up the silence with unnecessary chats. That’s key for us. We value silence in this organisation but the issue we have with you is, you don’t have any experience in such matter” she paused, flipped through Annie’s cv and glanced at the other men who nodded in agreement while doing likewise. Annie sighed and spoke up finally.

“Ma’am, I want to assure you, I can perform every function in the job description. As you rightly said, I’m not much of a big talker but my actions far outweigh my words. In a positive, productive and effective way I mean. And I know I’m the right candidate for this job cos, I’m detailed, smart and I do not compromise standards for anything” she stopped and waited to hear what would come next. She felt she sounded cheezy but she had to. She needed the job and hoped they would consider her.
The woman smiled knowingly like she knew something only Annie and her knew then she said the familiar words that Annie was fed up of hearing.
“We’ll get back to you. Thanks for coming. Do have a nice day” and with that, they all stood up.
Annie replied, “Thanks for having me. I look forward to hearing from you” then she walked out of the room, holding her head up and struggling not to slouch in dejection.
………………

The traffic was hell and by the time Annie got home, it was 6 pm. She had been called into the board room by 3 pm cos she had met a crowd of candidates by the time she got to the company. Bros Zik was at it again.The moment Annie walked into her one room apartment, she heard their moans and groans and this time, she felt like screaming out loud or breaking something. She plugged in her ear piece to her phone and played Magic’s “Let your hair down” to block out the noise but she could still hear;
“Ewo! Zik, hei! Ah! easy biko. Ewu! Chimo!”
“Who’s ya daddy? Who’s ya daddy? You want am?”
“Yes. Yes.”
“Oya take am. Ah baby. Take am.”
Annie was furious cos she could still hear the noise so she changed into a jogger and a tank top then left the house to take her usual evening stroll. I can’t deal with such crude sexual expressions today she thought to herself as she left the Compound.

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