Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - afternoon sleeping session, morning, men’s washroom, facilitators or training organizers, Volkswagen Beetle that would refuse to star.
When my alarm went off, I got up washed my face and went back to training. I have to admit that the food was great. They fed us twice a day. They really took time to put those orishirishis together. Anyways, one of my friends during training found out that I was in the habit of disappearing every afternoon and coming back later. “Where do you normally go during the afternoon sessions?” He asked. “You must tell no one,” I warned him. “I described my exercise in the toilet to him. “I need that too. I have been struggling with sleep deprivation,” he said. Soon he and I were sharing cubicles next to each other in the wash room. Somehow, he told some other guy and told him not to tell anyone, and he did exactly the same thing. One afternoon, I walked happily to my regular cubicle only to realize that it was locked. I peeped underneath and there was a pair of shoes there. Someone had beaten me to it, and from the look of things, the person balance gidigba for ground dey snore like a drunk elephant. I check im shoe, so I could work out who it was later. The next cubicle was occupied too, and the next, and the one after it. I, the inventor of sleep in the washroom during afternoon training session was left with no cubicle to practice my invention. I took a back seat when I returned to class and inspected every pair of shoes that walked into the conference room. When the ‘intruder’ returned to class, I grinned to myself. So it is you abi? I thought to myself. Okay, you and me go put leg inside one cubicle, I concluded as I tried to work out how to deal with the situation. I could not have this. My friend Prince had ruined my afternoon experience, but I was not quite ready to give in yet. The next day, I sat beside a girl from Anambra State. Let’s call her Amara. During a short break in-between sessions we started talking about hobbies. In the previous class, one of the facilitators has asked about our hobbies and most people were shouting, reading, traveling, writing, watching movies…the usual culprits.
“Do you know what my hobby truly is?” Amara asked me. “Tell me,” I urged her. “You must not tell anybody. While everyone was yelling, reading, writing and all that, I kept quiet because my hobby is sleeping,” she whispered to me. I could not hold back the laughter that exploded in me. “Shh!! No one must hear it,” she warned. “They will think I am lazy.” “Well I can’t really say that sleep is my hobby, but I like my sleep. And talking about sleep, I have been doing something to recoup some of the sleep I have been missing since this training started. Now I am having problem because other people are competing for the same slots,” I explained. I went on to tell her about my afternoon trips to the washroom, which left her laughing raucously. “You must not tell anyone,” I warned her. “I need your help though. I need my spot back…with little or no competition. Here is what you can do. The guys know my voice, but I doubt that they know yours well enough. This afternoon, around 1:00PM, I will need you to go to the men’s washroom, yank the door open and yell something like – guys, we know what you are up to. If you don’t want to be thrown out of this program, you had better return to the conference room now!” She bought the idea. She shared my adventurous spirit. Soon, I noticed the usual guys trooping out of class ahead of 1:00PM to take their spots in the washroom. I waited until they must have happily fallen asleep, then I gave Amara the signal to go and do her thing. She executed the plan to perfection. Before the guys could come out, she quickly entered the ladies washroom. They came out embarrassed and sacred that they might be in trouble. They hurried back to class with concern scribbled all over their faces. I watched them hurry back into class with a considerable degree of discomfort and bemusement. They wondered which of the facilitators or training organizers had caught on to their afternoon sleeping session. Their eyes darted in all directions, clearly betraying their guilt. I smirked broadly as I watched them with satisfaction.
Quietly, I went to the washroom and got my afternoon nap. It felt great to have y rightful plot back. The next day, I did not see anyone in the washroom when I arrived there. Later in the evening, some of them warned me that I might get in trouble if I continued the same routine. “Really?” I asked feigning ignorance. “Yes,” Prince warned me. “They are unto us!” I promised to heed his advice. From that day, I sat at the back so nobody noticed when I went out to perform my afternoon ritual. Amara did the same thing too in the ladies. She and I became good friends afterwards. After training, I was posted to the head office. That was when I realized what banking was truly all about. I was stuck on the same routine – waking up at 4:00AM, but even worse, I worked until 9 – 10 PM from Monday to Friday. I got home about 11:30 PM – 12:00 AM. I would eat hurriedly, jump into bed and sleep for barely four hours. By 6:00AM I was in the office the next morning. I was stressed to the max. Everyone seemed to be experiencing the same thing; I guess I should say most of us because the higher ranked officers left about 6:00PM.
We the foot soldiers could not afford such luxury. There was always something to do. I remember working in a very stressful unit in my office and the leader of the unit was an unyielding lady whose word was law. One Monday morning, my first day in the unit, she said, “No one is going out for lunch. We have a lot to accomplish today.” Really? I thought. I could handle sleep deprivation, but depriving me of food at the same time or independently was like denying my friend Amara sleep. I get terribly cranky and devoid of clear thought when I am hungry. “How do we function without food?” I asked her. Everyone else, especially the new staffs were too afraid to question her. “You should bring your lunch with and eat here in the office, period,” she said as if that was easy for all of us. She had house helps that got her meals ready for her. All she had to do in the morning was take her packed lunch box and hit the road in her car. Me I dey hustle for staff bus for morning, and by the time I dey reach house, I no fit prepare lunch. Besides, there was a restaurant near our office. That woman could cook. I preferred her food over mine.
“I am sorry, I can’t do that,” I said. “What?” She asked as if I had spoken the unspeakable. She glared at me disdainfully. If she fit do am, she for slap me. The look on her face was like, how dare you challenge my authority? You little brat; a greenhorn for that matter. I could not care less. Don’t come between me and food, I thought. “You do as I say here!” She said with impudent audacity. I ignored her last comment and poured myself into my work for the day. Around 1:00PM, I could hear my stomach growling. Like an old battered Volkswagen Beetle that would refuse to start in the morning, forcing a fight between itself and the owner, my stomach warned me – “old boy you wan starve me today? No try am oh!! E don reach time to chop, please make we go pay that fine restaurant down the street a visit,” my stomach complained bitterly. Try as I might I could no longer focus. Before I carry another man money put for another person account, I comot. Like sey I no even notice as my boss Fiona dey look me, I waka straight comot outside. Everybody else in the unit looked at me like; you are so in trouble Victor. When I came back, I was revived; full of energy and vitality. Fiona was in a corner downing her lunch when. “Victor!” She called to me. “Yes.” “Come here.” I walked over to her and she said, “What did I say in the morning?” Her eyes were red with anger. “Fiona, I remember telling you in the morning that I have to eat in order to function. What you said is practically impossible. Here you are having your lunch but you deny us the opportunity to do the same.” “You should bring your lunch with you,” she said raising her voice. “You told us that just this morning, maybe I should have gone home to bring my lunch then. Even at that, I don’t have a house help at home. By the time I get home I barely have time to sleep, so I am better of eating around here than making lunch that late.”
“I can see that you like to argue. You are very rude and arrogant. With this type of attitude, you will not go far in this bank,” she announced ominously. She dumped her lunch and went to our main boss to report me. Soon, I was facing the main boss. I carefully narrated my side of the story in a pleasant and colorful language. “I see your point. I don’t know why Fiona would make that sort of rule. It is not bank policy. Not to worry, I will have a word with her. Did the others in your unit have lunch today?” “No.” I said. She went and ordered them all to take their lunch break. Fiona’s hatred for me deepened after that. The hours continued to be grueling though, and for some reason there was always someone having one function or the other at the weekends. One Friday morning, our main boss announced that Funmi, one of the mid-level managers was having a child naming ceremony. “Everybody must be there on Sunday to support her,” she said. It sounded more like an order. I knew that was going to be my first big row with our main boss. I did not want to be in her bad books, but old boy I needed every hour of sleep I could get at the weekends. On Sunday afternoon, one of my colleagues called, to ask if I was going to the child naming ceremony. I had just returned from church and was making lunch and dinner as well as preparing meals for most of the week for my elder brother and I. He had been cooking for the better part of the previous weeks, out for pity for me due to my punishing schedule. “I am afraid I can’t make it Okenna,” I told my colleague. “You go hear am from Madam Patricia on Monday oh!” He warned me. “I sabi, but I have to cook now. I have to sleep after that too, by tomorrow another grueling week starts. Wetin you want make I do? Leave my food for fire abi put am for ground begin find Madam Funmi house now?”
“The only thing wey my body dey ask me for right now na sleep, but I dey drag myself dey go there. I no want wahala,” Okenna explained. “Anything wey I meet for Monday morning, I go take am,” I told him. “E be like sey you don scrape your hair like gorimakpa dey wait for jail,” he teased. “I don ready for them finish.” As he had said, I was the topic of discussion at the naming ceremony. “I knew he’d be the only not to attend,” Funmi said. The others agreed in unison. “He is so stubborn. Who does he think he is?” Fiona asked, stoking the fire.
Story Continues… CLICK TO READ EPISODE 4
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