Unapologetically Shewa — job hunting

BY ABIOSE ADAMS

He had many aliases and many alliances—emperor, d-don, senior man, baba, honorable, but my aunt called him dear, because, for that period, he was her dalliance.

He visited our apartment at Shitta every evening, wearing his gift of garb and wearing a starched linen shirt on corduroy trousers and Timberland boots. I do not remember having him as an immediate relative, but my aunt described him as her brother de ella. I don’t know who made who happy—whether he or she, or both, but they looked happy together—my aunt, a retired society woman of 76, who was still seeking companionship, and seeking whom to spend her retirement benefits on and he, a bon vivant, fifty-something-year-old man, who had refused to outgrow his childhood rascality and playfulness. His well-cropped hair contributed to his youthful look. It must be dyed in black ink as it wasn’t possible for a man of his age not to have a single strand of gray hair.

“Adeshewa, how is the job hunt…,” he often asked, eating cat-fish pepper soup and gulping beer. When he arrived every evening, he sat on white plastic chairs on the terrace, humming and nodding to the retro beats of highlife music. My aunt, who seemed to be grateful for another chance to fall in love at her old age, would eagerly withdraw all the monthly allowance sent to her from her children de ella, to buy him catfish pepper soup.

I answered him: “I signed up to www.jobopportunity.com, 234employ.com, skills001.com, so I could get job opening alerts. I applied for so many jobs. I was invited to come and write many aptitude tests, at the end of which they told me, ‘only successful applicants will be contacted.”

But I was never contacted.

On another day, D-Don came in his usual fanfare, with his full entourage- his grassroots political alliances and the area boys, in Shitta, who would hail his name and sing his praise. And he would return their gestures (not with cash) but with his characteristic uproarious laughter that sounded like a long chain crawling over a roofing sheet and promises to grant them dividends of democracy if elected.

“Adeshewa, I have a job for you…it will turn you into an instant millionaire,” D-Don said, his perfume smelt strange and I suppressed a strong urge to vomit.“Do you want to become rich…? You can win a million naira, a plot of land, and a laptop. You can see my laptop… my car… all you need is to list 1000 people in one week.”

I answered him: “I will think about it.”

I was two months pregnant and it was a poignant reminder of my need to get a job most urgently. But as I was hunting for a job, I was being haunted by fear and fever, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and low energy. Everything had a smell and everything was a chore. But I had to mix mettle with some risk—I was going to give my child a successful life. I was going to relocate to abroad, maybe a better society to give my child a good life. I was going to make Tunbi regret his action of abandoning this child. So I was ready to do almost anything for money.

The following day, my aunt, Rolake had excitedly arranged table and chairs on our terrace to welcome, as usual, her dalliance. That day, she wore her boubou(gown) the usual way—with one shoulder slanted and exposed. Her afro wig and her red lipstick polished her dark complexion and it shone in the setting sun’s brilliance. She sat next to him, their shoulders touching. I sat on the other side, listening.

I had always known him to be a scrooge. So I wondered why this job had not taken him off dependence on my aunt, in the first place. So I wasn’t just looking at the offer, but the motive behind the offer. It must be a Greek gift.

“What kind of job,” I asked.

“It is called marketing. Life is about marketing. You have to sell yourself to everyone. It is those who sell themselves that become rich and famous. If you have a talent and don’t market it, it will become rusty.”

I normally won’t be sweet-talked multi-level marketing, but I allowed myself to be.

That Friday, D-Don came to pick me up for the induction programme. Incidentally, I woke up that morning with a first-grade fever, accompanied by vomiting and nausea, but out of desperation for a job, I donned the T-shirt of ImmorTea (Immortal Tea) and followed him. The tea was a medley of ginseng, multivitamin, immune booster, antioxidants, guaranteed to provide immortal life—according to the manufacturer.

And suddenly, I felt dizzy and collapsed. The next thing was that I saw myself in a hospital room with a doctor and D-Don.

“When did you last see your period,” the doctor asked. I couldn’t answer.

I have pressed my stomach. D-Don was watching.

“Looks like you are pregnant.” I have turned to D-Don; “Are you her husband of hers?”

“Yes,” D-Don answered smilingly.

And it is?? I said in my mind, giving D-Don a querulous look.

“We need to confirm with a test,” the doctor told him.

“Alright I’ll do that,” D-Don answered and paid the lab for the pregnancy test.

I tried to draw the attention of the doctor, but my mouth was full of saliva. Why did D-Don say yes to that question? Why would he pay for me to do a test? How is that his concern? Why does society assume any man around a woman must be some romantic partner?

D-Don stepped out with the doctor and re-entered the emergency ward where I lay, bringing fruits, and smiling sheepishly.

“Congratulations.”

“Over what?”

“…the baby on the way…”

“Why did you make the doctor believe you are the father of my child? Why did you pay for a pregnancy test without my consent?”

“I was just trying to help… Where is the father by the way?”

“…help? without my consent?…how is that your business..”

“….no…no.. No test has been done….I only made down-payment for the general care… any crime in being kind?” He opened his mouth, preparing it for laughter.

“If no test has been done why are you congratulating me…”

“…Adeshewa…Adeshewa…… I was only joking…you are too serious… too stuck up….relax..,” he began laughing.

“If my aunt finds out, she will not consider it a joke…please go and tell the doctor you lied about being the father of my child….”

“Can’t I stand for you anytime? I can be the father of your child if you want… I can’t protect you if you want…”

“I don’t need your protection. Aren’t you and my aunt’s intimate?”

“Well your aunt is older than I…moreover, she is menopaused!”

“Menopausal!!! What are you driving at?! How dare you say that about someone you call your intimate……?”

“Don’t get me wrong….Adeshewa….. I am only pulling your legs… I have genuine feelings for your aunt, of course…. I just feel sorry for you, a single girl, pregnant without a partner?” I have swallowed.

“You’re just a nosy old man! Did I tell you I need your pity? Did I tell you I have no partner? Did I even tell you I’m pregnant?”

“I’m only teasing you,” he laughed aloud again.

“And I’m not enjoying this tease. I’ll report you to the doctor that you are harassing me…you’re making light of my emotions…you’re aggravating my pain. I will report this to Aunt Rolake,” I almost screamed.

“I’ll also tell her I was only joking about your pregnancy.”

He began making retreating steps out of the ward. I quickly called him back not to tell my aunt. Once she knows, the news will spread to my parents. And damnation awaits me—for bringing a child, without a father, to them!

I had to change the hospital. And change my address. The doctor said I was suffering from hyperemesis gravida. Morning sickness—I was dehydrated and lightheaded. My head was spinning around the world, and the world was spinning around me in perpetual dizziness.

While I was in the hospital, I received an invitation for a job interview from one of the places where I had applied. I jumped at the offer.

Aunt Rolake later told me that D-Don (whom she had called her brother) had been cheating on her with younger girls. I smothered the urge to narrate my experience with him too. The following week, I packed my things out of her apartment for her in the guise of a new job.

I kept spinning around, not knowing where to. Maybe to Sheri’s. Even when it looked like I was not welcomed there.

(To be continued)

You can read the last edition HERE


Unapologetically Shewa” is a story of Shewa and Sheri. Both of them are single mothers who live in a society which judges them. While Sheri keeps seeking where and what to hide behind, Shewa decides to stop hiding or withering under the condescending glare of society. She was ready to shed no more tears, but shed off the scales of self-judgment and begin a journey of self-actualization. Coming against societal norms, will she change the norms or the norms will change her?


Abiose A. Adams, a journalist, creative writer, and senior program officer at Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation, can be reached on [email protected]

Author’s Disclaimer: This story is purely a work of fiction. Any coincidence of the characters with real persons is highly regretted.

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