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    Joyce Adaeze Chijioke
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    THE FAINTEST DAWNS ep.1
    ****
    Comparing himself to the other well dressed job applicants that sat in the waiting room, James looked at his worn out sandals, patched pants, desquamated belt, outgrown faded short sleeve shirt with incomplete buttons, his vintage neck tie given to him years ago by luck and a brown rectangular bag patched on every sides. The only edges he had over other applicants were his looks, James had always been a very handsome fellow, while he was still in the University, girls flocked around him like birds on a nest despite the fact that he was desolate. James was an orphan but a determined one. He always managed to feed off his several girlfriends and pay his bills in school. Now, James had settled down and was married to Victoria, a woman on the same level as he was was, desolate like him all because of love. He had two mouths to feed, his wife’s and his six year old daughter’s.

    HRM: Yes, who is James here?
    James: (clears throat), I’m James sir, James Ihenacho.
    HRM: Okay, come in.
    He looked at James’ attire and entered the office facing the waiting room and ushered James in.
    HRM: let me see your resume.
    James: Yes, yes sir.
    He brought out a resume of three pages from the bag. The Hrm went through his resume and was astonished that a man with such scornful attire would be in posssesion of such.
    HRM: you’re a graduant from OAU……hmmmmm. Well, you’re not the only person qualified for this job but, we’ll give you a call anyway.
    James: Okay, thank you sir.
    James noticed the backward attitude of the Hrm towards him but he still had hope on hearing that, he would be given a call. He left the company with just his transport fare. He had nothing else to take home, he was absolutely frustrated. He lost his job of carrying cement three days ago, he refused to tell his wife, she was becoming a nag and she was not making life comfortable for him at all. If she prepared dinner with the money she made from her little vegetable store, she would starve him with the excuse that she provided the food.
    After toiling aimlessly for hours, he decided it was time to go home, that would be the only way to convince his wife that he actually went to work. When he reached his house that evening, he stood in front of his compound looking dejected, he knew what he was going to face. His wife’s nagging, his daughter’s complaints about how she was chased from school, the heat in the middle of the night and the dilapidating noise from the neighbours generators.

    Victoria: Enter na. She yelled after her husband’s several knocks on the door.
    James opened the door fearfully, walked quietly to the bed avoiding his wife who sat on a little stool in their small room, then he dropped his bag.
    James: Sweetheart, how are you?
    Victoria : looked at him like he was a deranged lunatic.
    Victoria : Are you okay?
    James was expecting this, hence, he wasn’t surprised but to avoid much trouble, he had to act concerned.
    James: Ah ah, baby what kind of question is that?
    Victoria: Okay, I’m your baby now, this morning, did you drop anything for I and Laura?
    James: Ehen, that’s true, where’s Laura?
    Victoria: She’s here.
    James: Where?
    Victoria: here na, then she opened her mouth and pointed a finger at it.
    James: Vicky, I’m sorry na, please talk to me.
    Victoria: Now, you care, when I asked you for her school fees two days ago, you said, they had not paid you at work, shey?
    James: Yes, they haven’t. You know if they have, I’m not stingy, I will drop money, I love you both very much.
    Victoria: Okay, you love us both very much abi?
    James: Yes, of course.
    Victoria: I see, that’s why you didn’t go to work today?
    James: Opened his mouth but couldn’t utter a word.
    Victoria: What? You cannot talk?, see eh, I don’t know when you started lying to me oooo but eh, you should know I’m not a fool. So, why didn’t you go to work today?
    James: How did you know?
    Victoria: Nonsensical question but, if you want to know that much, you left your head scarf this morning, you always carry it to work to avoid the cement pan bruising your head. So, where did you go?
    James: Okay, I was sacked, I went to look for a new job.
    Victoria: Liar!
    James: It’s the truth oooo
    Victoria: Looked at him with scorn. She got up and moved to the door.
    James: where are you going to?
    Victoria: it’s 4:45pm, our daughter is not back from school. The school which, I have been settling all the bills.
    James: Eh, eh, okay.
    James was hungry but for fear of his wife’s insults, he decided to keep calm and wait till she left the house to rampage the pots for any meal.
    It was like she read his thoughts, she gave him a suspicious stare.
    Victoria: Don’t you dare touch my pot, that food is for Laura, I cannot be feeding the head of this family.
    He said nothing, then she left.
    James was farmished but, hearing that, it was his daughter’s meal, he wanted to be a good father, so, he drifted his thoughts from anything food related.

    James was sleepless all through the night, he stayed awake staring at his daughter in the middle and his wife at the extreme of the bed. It was dark but, his eyes were accustomed to darkness already, he didn’t want such a life for his family especially, his daughter. He was starved and it was only a matter of time before his wife would also run out of cash, then they all would start starving. There was no way, he would let that happen. He had given himself hope earlier about the company’s call but he knew how it would turn out, there was no way, they would call a man of his standards when, there were other well dressed folks that applied for the same job. He needed to look for another job but, he didn’t have transport to go on another journey. He thought of what to do, when suddenly, he remembered Idowu who was now established, they weren’t exactly friends in university but they exchanged contacts and he figured, he could borrow some money from him. He took out his rickety phone from the bed’s safe. He searched through his phone contacts for Idowu’s name, he was glad when he saw it. He decided to call the next morning as it was very late.
    At noon, the next day, James was alone at home, his wife had gone to the market where she had a small shade for the vegetables she sold and his daughter, to school. He was still really frustrated, he had dialled Idowu’s number countless times all to no avail. Idowu was not picking up his phone as he was a very busy person. James was still not ready to give, he knew, it seemed desperate calling that long but, he didn’t care, he had to put his family first and kill pride. He dialled Idowu’s number again and this time, Idowu picked up.

    Idowu: Yes, who are you?
    James: Good afternoon, Idowu, it’s me oooo James.
    Idowu: James, James, James, okay, James from OAU abi?
    James: Yes, this is James.
    Idowu: How have you been na?
    James: I’ve been fine, thank you and you?
    Idowu: I’ve been fine.
    James: Okay, errrrm, Idowu, I don’t want to beat around the bush but, I need to see you, please can you give me directions to your house.
    Idowu: Errrrm’, okay, James, you can come tomorrow, you should know Crescent bustop na.
    James: Yes, yes, I do.
    Idowu: Okay, when you get there, just ask anyone for number five(5) peace close. My house has a black gate with the number five (5) written boldly at the pillars. When you get there, make sure, you dial my line, I will call someone to bring you.
    James : Wow! Thank you very much, I’m very grateful, I would do exactly as you said.
    Idowu : Okay, I was busy before you called, so tomorrow then.
    James: Okay, okay, no problem, bye bye, then he ended the call.

    James was very excited, he knew that, getting directions to Idowu’s house from Idowu meant he would be willing to help him. James just didn’t know what Idowu had in store for him. In the meantime, he needed to borrow transport from anybody for his trip to crescent bustop the next day.

    TBC………………………..

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