Posted by News Express | 6 December 2021 | 1,329 times
We don’t get to choose our families, and that is the first determining factor of what shapes us. The gods certainly chose well for Obiefuna. Not so much in riches and wealth, but in that which sets a man apart; a family which in all fairness could not be considered poor. Civil servants parents with modest earnings. Comfortable upbringing but nothing luxurious.
Charisma and charm fully bestowed. They say there’s no man who has no enemy, but that’s a hard nut to crack for the Mbanefos family, for they were revelled within their community. The Mbanefos kindred were a family whose good name stems from long lineage of good-fated men. Indeed a family suitors were lucky to marry into and men were proud to sit with. They had just enough to flourish on their own, and never have their name been sullied by a land dispute. Hardworking and never greedy; it’s as if the gods lit a candle on their foreheads. They don’t beg neither do they brag. And when they spoke, it was pin drop silence, for all listened.
Some struggle to make a name for themselves, others resist all attachment to theirs. But a few are born with the name which men answer to. The name that opens doors. Being born into such a family, means manna has already fallen for you.
Obiefuna walked briskly from the gate as he gave his keys to the valet. Hurriedly yet skillfully not to seem desperate. He had mastered the footsteps that said "I'm sure of myself." The steps of a confident man. The swagger that tiptoes between purpose and a dust of arrogance. That was fairly easy, for he has always considered himself elite when it comes to his achievements. First position in all classes, primary and secondary. First class and valedictorian during his graduation from the university. Seems his life has been well mapped out par excellence. Working with the Lofty Eyes Corporation could be seen as well deserved. Only that academic achievements was the barest minimum for Lofty Eyes Corporation.
“You need the panache, the je ne sais quoi that comes with an outstanding skill. And your good looks, my good man, is the icing on the cake.”
“Good looks,” Obiefuna interrupted with a scorn right before Mr. Patrick turned to speak to the looming tall guy, whom he observed had been stealing glances at them earlier.
Come to think of it, Mr. Patrick could be right on good looks as a criterion. He thought as he scanned the room. Everyone in the room seemed handpicked. Tall, broad shoulders and dainty looking.
How did they pull it off? Did they hire someone to look through the whole applicants’ pictures?
“Alright my good man, see you soon!” That was Mr. Patrick as he patted him on the shoulder and walked by. Obiefuna was trying to say something but he was swift and swith.
“One more stage to go!” The slicky blonde lady was saying. “Not again,” he thought, exasperated.
“You’re going to love this part, gentlemen," she continued as she made eye contact with Obiefuna as if she had heard his murmur, with a sinister smile and a perfect flow of cadence.
"You're going to party all night long! Further details and address would be delivered to those selected. So check your inbox and Good luck!" She directed her gaze back to Obiefuna before she walked off the stage or so it seemed to him.
Such self-indulging thought could stem from the fact he had always been the catch all his life. But here, in this room, he was just a 5.5 out of ten.
Between the wilderness of sin, which is between Elim and Sinai
The disco light danced from north to south. The men stood in pairs each with a tumbler in hand. They seemed to be paying no attention to the music. The room oozed more of testosterone, with a few ladies leaning on the arms of their partner swaying hip to hip to the music. One of the girls was clutching the arms of two young men as if for support than for a dance.
At the far end were two brothers whispering to each other's ears and making body contact with each whisper. They laughed in unison with red hearts dangling in their eyes as they gazed at each other.
"What in the Lord's name was this?" Obiefuna thought.
"You might as well enjoy it while it lasts" a voice yelled behind him. He turned startled, how did he read his mind? It was Mr. Patrick in a navy blue tuxedo and a red tie. His bald head glittering as if a tin of Shea butter has been empty on it.
"How's this supposed to be part of the selection process?" Obiefuna asked impatiently as they shook hands.
"Careful, lofty eyes are watching," he replied.
Murmur: A hungry man is an angry man
The hunger for success drives the passion to excel. For an unsuccessful man have no zeal to meet with his peers.
"Relax you're being scored" he added
"By who?" "I'm here to be selected to work with a prestigious company not to frolic in a club with strangers. He said. But Patrick seemed carried away as he smiled at a distance. Obiefuna followed his gaze to see who he was beaming at. There he was; he walked up to them and bent to give Patrick a peek on the cheek. He was the tall guy from the previous meeting who had whisked him away. Patrick's head could barely reach his chest. He turned and nodded at Obiefuna.
"Um meet my partner Alex, Alex my friend O-bee-fona," Patrick said
"Fair enough, Obiefuna smiled as he shook hands with Alex and said "Obiefuna."
"What part of Africa is that?" He asked perfunctorily.
"West Africa. I'm Nigerian," he said proudly.
What extent of love
Out of thousands of applicants, he was amongst the finalist. The least he could do was act grateful by pretending to enjoy the party or whatever this gathering was. Getting this job would be great on his résumé. But with each stage he advances closer, he couldn't help the irk feeling in his gut.
It's as if he didn't belong here. He was a nobody in their midst. Whatever achievement he had meant nothing here. Yet he felt he needed to prove himself. To maintain the excellent record of his life.
The length God would go, not to prove his love, but to show his love.
"Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate everyday." (Exodus 16:4).
Obiefuna was offered a job at an oil company in Nigeria with a six figure salary, which he gladly accepted before the quest for a greener pasture drove him to Aberdeen.
Greed: A secret potion an overachiever drinks from with the purest of hearts.
On his way to the bathroom, a door at the corridor/lobby stood slightly ajar. Men on suits stood speaking in hush tones. They seemed to be in their late sixties, fifties and mid forties. He couldn't resist the urge to eavesdrop. They passed a purple envelope around, each observing the envelope without opening it and passing it on with a nod of approval.
"What could be in the envelope? Was it the final result?" he thought with anticipation. but before he could recollect his thoughts, his eyes caught something that made them want to jump from their socket.
To be continued!
•Esther Chizaram Ngele, a write and Law graduate,writes from Enugu.
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