When you are in secondary school, especially toward your final year, you will be feeling like the world revolves around you. You sag your pants, try to toast all the female students, make conscious efforts to flout school rules, treat your teachers with some disdain and wonder why they wasted their opportunities to be this unfortunate. God forbid! You have a bright future.
In university, you are a big boy. You polish your English, force some ‘wanna gonna’ accent to impress the girls. Wear big Timberland boots and aluminum chains on your neck, put plant fine boy pictures on Facebook. On your street, you are a king, wherever you go you find a way to let folks know you are a Nigerian undergraduate. Nobody asks you but you dey inside bus dey talk of Thermodynamics and Eng 201. Ordinary smelling Year 2 student o. Your dreams are big, your future is bright, even when light no dey your house. In your village, they are calling you Engineer! You imagine when you finish you’d get a 500k a month Chevron job and chance all those your village big men who be feeling like landlords with their smelling Toyota Camry. You will buy a Rolls Royce or a Bentley. Fucking big boy!
NYSC. They post you to Ogun State. Not bad. Still on swag. You wear your corper’s jersey anywhere you go, eager to preach to everyone that you are a graduate, even when your grammar contradicts your claim, say more of the obliteration your reasoning if expressed in a debate could do to it. Beht, you are a graduate. You get a cap, vest, khaki and even boot! Soon you’d be in the real world, where you’d conquer like Alexandra the Great. You prepare your CV, register with Nairaland, Naijahotjobs, etc, monitoring the job trends, bidding your time like a shark that has smelled the blood of a prey hanging by a thread over the ocean. Is it not money? You must hammer. Tah!!!
Now you have your NYSC certificate. This gold medal that gives you the password to the kingdom beyond. You begin to send applications with alacrity, your hopes are high, you even start pricing land at a GRA. No be you again? Money dey come. 500k a month, if you wan manage 350k, last price!
Job ads come out. They want 2.1, below 25 years, 6 ft height, no mouth odour and your late grandpa’s testicles.
You are already 27, thanks to JAMB keeping you at home for three years and your university adding two extra years to your budget. Okay, this is Naija, you will get an affidavit, reduce your age from 27 to 22, a young boy who will easily find a spot in Nigeria’s Under 16 football team. Your height is 5.9 ft but you can wear high heels. Bless God you have no mouth odour and well, your grandpa’s testicles are preserved in the family shrine.
In the passage of time, you realize the recruitment was done offline. A grand show to mask the real deal. Time and money wasted. But you keep trying, like Martin Luther King Jr you have a dream of a Bugatti to challenge that your village big man.
Three years later, no show.
You are a very humble man now if the rapture happened you’d make heaven instanta on account of humility. With the passage of time you have cut your dreams from 500k to 350k to 100k to 20k to at all at all. You see kids in secondary school doing hippie, half the hippies you did. But you call them and counsel them…baba, calm down no be so o, jungle dey front.
You do not dream anymore. You have lost all claim to dreams. Your dreams have all been reduced to the base instinct of sheer survival. Baba, I just need eba to chow abeg, who ‘think big’ epp? You consider your options. Should I start selling Gala, or recharge card, or Alomo cure it all?
But right now you are in a Keke in Uyo, taking a ride from Plaza and this smelling Year 1 student be doing swag and speaking big contaminated English and talking to you anyhow. You tell him to calm down, you are a graduate of engineering and he should forget the fact that you are are a Keke driver. Of course, he goes away looking at you like some clown who wasted his youth.
Reality has no duplicate you admit. You embrace it with the much grace you can muster. Sad as it is.