Bad things come in threes. I had just finished reading my rejection email from a prospective employer. Why do they call them regret letters? Secondly, Mike, whom I owed a lot of money was already running out of patience. He had been calling me all morning. And thirdly, Susan, my girlfriend, wanted lunch.
For Mike, our friendship was already at breaking point. Whether I gave him the money or not, the debt had caused an irrevocable strain in our once strong relationship. Susan had started expressing doubt in my abilities. She had supported me enough, but lately she was becoming exasperated by my joblessness. She was doing well pocketing a six figure salary at her young and impressive age.
Poor soul, I walked down the street, my mind blank. A street child approached me, asking for money to buy a meal. I had Sh 30 while the child had several coins in a bowl. At the moment I was no better than the child, my suit and tie notwithstanding.
I was temporarily staying with Susan even though I had my small room in the rustic parts of town. I had plenty of my possessions at her place. It was convenient, given it had all the amenities from a toilet, running water, satellite TV, refrigerator, name it.
Susan had shown me every sign that she was sick and tired of my ‘laziness’. You always notice it in women when they become petulant. It is just natural, and unlike men, they cannot hide it. She would kick me out of her house, sooner or later. It happened sooner. I decided to host some of my male friends at her house, enjoying her drinks over a soccer match. She was appalled. No sooner they left than she expressed her displeasure at having ‘taken things too far’. She had to issue a new rule book if I was going to stay with her. Those conditions were just impossible, I quit that night.
With no place to go, I called a friend who had graduated earlier and asked him for any job, even if clerical. He was noncommittal.
“Nothing at the moment, quite slow over here,” he said in his lucid baritone.
As I was just hanging up,
“Ooh, try the Martins Planners, they needed some interns, may be you can hold onto to that for a while,” he concluded his call, really not encouraging me to go for the internship. If only I nailed it…
The following morning I was on a phone call to Martins Planners. Their insistent answer was that they needed university students, not overqualified individuals. I pleaded and promised to do the job even at half what they were paying, which was better than nothing. She must have heard the desperation on my voice when she told me to show up for the interview. I got the job because we had gone to the same university with the boss, and a handful of those in the interview panel.
First day at the work place it was awkward. I was overqualified for my bosses and I made it uncomfortable for them to order me around as an intern. But I did my job obediently with a facetious humility at times.
Like many good things in life, my big break came as an accident. The third Friday after my employment, officials who were to finance some of the projects the firm handled happened to be visiting, a week before the scheduled date. One of the senior colleagues had shown up at work with a pair shorts and a baggy T-Shirt. Incidentally, I was in a suit on that given day for no reason other than that all my clothes were dirty and only my interview suit was clean.
The colleague in school boy fashion asked me to aid him in the presentation. Given they were all ill prepared for the presentation; they asked me to do my best. At the presentation, no one was prepared for the tough questions being asked by the expatriates. However, I was fresh and ready. I took it upon myself to answer their questions. I impressed. They won a financing deal. Everyone was happy for me. I got a promotion. I was now employed in a space of a month since my sweetheart kicked me out of the house unceremoniously.
Next time I met Susan, was during a pre-wedding of a mutual friend three months later. I was doing well. I had arrived in the company car, dressed extremely well and with my new girlfriend in tow. This might sound selfish, but she was beautiful and clingy in the literal sense of the word. She was holding fast onto my arm as we walked into the room as the friends cheered.
As I sat down, I saw Susan malevolently eyeballing Judy as I smiled in acknowledgement of her presence. For some reason, she had inexplicable anger and jealousy written all over her face. Since I like playing mind games, when my turn came to speak, I had to break her heart even the more.
I first acknowledged everyone in the room and most individuals had never learned that our relationship was long over and I was onto something else. As I mentioned her name, smiling, her face was emotionless like a Martian rock. And then,
“I am accompanied by my very beautiful and gracious fiancée, and plans are under way for our wedding. With luck we will invite you for the same in a few months’ time. Many in the room smiled. Most were confused.
After the fundraiser, I tried walking towards Susan to say hi, but she discreetly ignored me and made fast for the door until I had to call her out loudly. When I got closer to her, she confronted me,
“What do you want from me?”
I was taken aback.
“Nothing, just wanted to say hi?”
“And I want to thank you.”
“For what?” she asked curtly and embittered.
“Remember that day you kicked me out of your house indirectly…”
“I never kicked you out, I was just upset by your friends and was opposed to them coming over to our house,” she said, almost apologetically. I mentally underlined the word ‘our’.
“Anyway, whatever, but had we not separated that day, I will not be having the current job that I am having. I made a call out of anger and desperation and see what it got me,” I told her but I noticed she was not even listening, but eyeing Judy, her successor.
“Ooh, that is my new girlfriend, want to say hi?” I chided her, but the sarcasm was lost in her anger.
“No, leave me alone.”
Alone, I left her as Judy grabbed my hand and off we went. Judy, ignorantly blissful. Susan, indignantly regretful.