The interview

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There are electricity poles hugging posters screaming of jobs everywhere in Karatina. On an extremely hot afternoon in summer, you plodding your way to town, aimlessly because sitting at home ain’t any better.

Summers are extraordinarily hot. Hot that you wish to carry even a tree around over your head. The sun is out all through and naked from head to toe. It’s its dancing time, and with gale it will burn with valiance and splendor, leaving everything that rain made green look grey. During this season, I imagine rain seated somewhere in a corner, watching desperately as His Almighty the Sun tears down the meticulous work of her hands unforgivingly. And the rain will weep, wishing someone mightier would intervene so that when his period comes she doesn’t strain herself to resuscitate everything from comatose again. Rain might be a woman because of its caring nature.

His Almighty the sun doesn’t give a f***. He burns everything that lies on earth, charging and leaving goring memories, transcending the death of others who in the process don’t have strength to hold on. And they die terribly. No one mourns for them because they are all striving for one more day.

Summers are harsh, daunting and indifferent. No one smiles. Faces are contorted, despondency dotted all over, and lips dry like hide. The sun will keep announcing its presence every time by sending gushing dust onto your face, as if to poke you further.

Days like these call for hope. They are treated delicately because people and animals die due to lack of water, food and access to basic needs. Therefore, hope is a prerequisite that needs to be sold, preached and sustained.

Schools are closed, and many of my comrades gone home to be under their mothers’ wings. They can hide there till Rain gains enough momentum to propel the world on her palms again. But me of the second creation doesn’t like it under wings. I create my own. Meaning I am left behind doing whatever I would to survive.

Summer makes you dark, pale, beaten up, miserable, stressed, agonized, dejected, lonely and even suicidal. No one needs to interview you to understand how you felling. The face just tells it. Even on the best day, smiles are a rare gem. Everyone alike, looking like someone stole their puppies. Soaked in despair. The face of a tired man. One who is been thrown to the wall, into the sharks mouth and back, one who has tasted death and back, and all he can do is show the horror on his face.

No shiny shoes or shirts. They are all brown, swallowed in the dust. Same with the hair and eye lashes. People live on the edge. They live on hope, prayers, agony and a day at a time.

Money is scarce. Both the employed and unemployed on equal measure; no money. Without dough, no life. No happiness. No love. No food. No smiles. No good thing. Life generally sucks.

When you come across a poster advertising a job, you rejoice because the gods of fate might have heard your prayers. It’s not about the job, it’s about the dollar signs. And people do things to get the dough.

So I find myself headed for an interview the following morning. One which happens two hours later because that’s when the boss streams in.

I haven’t worn a tie in my life, but this interview finds me in a borrowed tie.

The place teams up with humanity, several youngsters paraded for the job. I might as well not have been the only one who saw the posters, and desperately needed money.

I get to know some of them because as they say- salimia watu pesa huisha. Chatter boxes like I find it easy maneuvering around and making friends. I discover that most of them are university students on holidays. Disparaged and desperate for a job, they didn’t care. So long as it had Mullah at the end, which was not my reasoning because not every job is a job even if it gets you a good salary on payday.

Cupped under our arms are thick CVS and other necessary documents for the interview. Some are heavy others light. All arms are shaking. Interview fright. One where deep inside the stomach is feebly wobbling like Hell’s gate, if at all it does. Interviews can look menacing, frightening and you can pee in your new suit. They instill fear.

And then a few guys, young and beaten up pass by. Their destination is the office. It is then I realize that they work at the office. I start doubting the kind of job they do.

When I finally face this three piece manager, luo, I discover that I’m in the wrong place. The boss doesn’t look like one. I’m dressed better than him so to say. He got this thick tie rolling down and ending somewhere on his stomach, battered shirt, unkempt hair and very ugly upcoming beard.

The office is so indecent. It’s clattered with old chairs that remind you of the village chief’s office. His table creaks loudly as he leans on it. Under his table I can see his mutumba Barmuriat shoes that shout of poverty. You remember of Barmuriat, the one we read in class 6?
He has sausage fingers. The ones you dislike at the first instance.

My mind locks. My 5th sense hops into the line and starts working immediately. It tells me this is not a job, this is slavery. Just as I’m about to ask something, he blurts out

“Welcome to Primus. Primus is an international company that deals with kitchenware…… My name….. ( I don’t recall his name, my mind had already locked), we sell…”

This reminded me of so many meetings I had wasted my time attending. One was selling herbal medicine- Tiens Kenya, another one was also selling herbals- Ginadin or something, another famous one in Nairobi selling online stuff, famously dubbed online opportunity. These schemes ripped people of their money and energy and time as I later came to discover. They will bring a few guys who will lie on your face that they were doctors, or bankers or even cops, who quit their jobs and joined these companies and they are now swimming in opulence. Though they looks like paupers. They will entice you of the benefits of joining, yearly trips to overseas, promotions, plus other nothings.

I have seen individuals with brains of 20 computers get duped. I have seen them get huge loans to register as members of these schemes. Later on they discover that it was all trickery. I don’t blame them, experience teaches them.

Primus wanted me to be primitive. It required me to get a big bag and join them the following day. And then in my tie, carry a bag full of utensils, go around homes, knocking on doors, pretending to smile and sell the stuff. They wanted me to do that daily, get a load on my back, squeeze a tie up my neck, and then go around sweet talking people to buy the utensils, plead with them, use every charm I had to woo them into buying my stuff, wade into homes heavily infested with people who only understood kuyu and sell them utensils. How does that happen on earth?

At the end of the day, you get a commission according to your sells. Which is not much because looking at those who have been tarmacking on roads, forests and paths selling this shit look like primus stole from them instead of enriching their lives. Their soles were asking for water, agape, others given up and bent, while others begging for a rest, or even a cobbler to liberate them.

I understood what waited me after the interview. It stood there ominously thinking I would swallow the bait. It dared me not to say no, the sun outside waited if I said no. It would strike my head bald and send me back to primus.

The excitement died. My plans willowed. Those thoughts of desperation rolled back. A tall order of misery rekindled. But I wasn’t going to take the job. Not even if others didn’t see the big deal about it. I knew the ramifications, what was to ensue as marketing was not my thing. I couldn’t even sell a banana to a hungry kid with a thousand note on his hand.

I look deep into his eyes. Deep in there I can see a battle. He needs more and more laborers. And his darting eyes foretell of the needs he has to fulfill. The need to get more desperate kids into his ship, pull the sails and get into the sea as the captain.

I sauntered out. Jobs that can be advertised on electricity poles are not jobs.

It is much better to create a job than look for one.

-Photo Credit: looksharp

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About Mzangila

Mentor, media consultant, photographer, editor, poet, writer, and counselor.

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