It’s one thing to wake up late for classes as a student and quite another to roll in bed, turn to your alarm clock and realize you’re thirty minutes late for work and possibly jeopardizing your source of livelihood.
You spring out of bed, your movements youthful but your soul weary. Maybe you stub your toe on a cabinet in your rush, or maybe you spend an extra fifteen minutes you can’t afford trekking, because somehow there’s not one keke with a free seat. It doesn’t matter though; what matters is that you get to work as soon as you can.
While you’re squeezed between two women of considerable mass in a danfo that shudders with every rev of its engine, you look around the bus and see people who are just like you but also very different: the woman with the very interesting hairstyle who has a child or three balanced precariously on her laps, the evangelist – there’s one on every bus – who passionately professes the dangers of fleshly living and the fruits of salvation in a thick Igbo accent. Your eyes don’t miss the young, harried individuals much like yourself, their faces pinched with anxiety from the double misfortune of being late for work while stuck in Lagos traffic. You know these faces; you see variations of them every day.
While you choke on thick exhaust fumes from innumerable vehicles in varying states of disrepair, your mind might take you back to yourself at seven years of age: naughty and caring only about what your next meal would be. You may also flashback to yourself at fifteen: self-assured and confident that you would achieve great things because your teachers, your parents, your pastor all said so. Even at eighteen, you still naïvely believed the world would be your oyster served on a gold platter.
You are jostled back to your rather dreary twenty-five year old present when the bus grinds to a halt at your bus stop. You cannot spare anymore time for recollections because you now face the struggle of squeezing past other passengers to alight. As you walk to your office – to the job that makes you miserable but you can’t quit because you barely managed to find work – you tell yourself that better times and a better job are just around the corner. Once you flip past the required pages of struggling in your story, you’ll find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that awaits you outside this tunnel. Things will get better as long as you just keep trying, never mind the countless rejection letters you’ve received for all your efforts so far.
In front of the office door, you arm yourself with explanations and excuses for showing up so very early. Your last thought before going in is wistful: would that you could return to being the hopeful student that could ignore the persistent ringing of the alarm clock.
This article was written by Dolapo-Odulana Ayooluwa; connect with her on IG here