Friday, 4 January 2008

Wasted Days

There are some days that I like to call “wasted”. Days on which I wake up in the morning and know that there is absolutely nothing for me to do. And so, I spend that whole day doing nothing. Wasted.
Years ago, people in Nigeria used to think that being a university graduate was all a person needed to become established in life. Just flash your bachelor’s degree at any firm of your choice and they’ll go ga-ga trying to employ your services. Well, not so anymore. Nigeria has undergone a terrible metamorphosis since then. Now, you are just one in the thronging mob of unemployed graduates, milling around like soldier ants, with fat files of their credentials tucked under their elbows.
The most irritating part of it is that some of my relatives still don’t understand. They look at me, and at my corper’s uniform, and they exclaim, “Boy, you don’t have any problem! Soon you’ll get a job in an oil company and become a ‘big’ man!” I really don’t blame them. Most of them are traders at Onitsha and Aba, making their living from selling goods in little rows of segmented shops, which they call “sheds”. How do you explain to them that a university degree – a common university degree, for God’s sake! – doesn’t guarantee a job anymore, much less a livelihood. But I do wish they could all see me now, sitting in this empty room, doing nothing. Okay, maybe not absolutely nothing. I scribble a little sometimes, working on a novel I’ve been writing for the past eight months. But most times, I just lie very still on the bed, counting sheep.
I must point out, though, that I’m not actually in the labour market yet; I’m still serving as a Youth Corper. I’m only home for the Christmas holidays, which, I might add, accounts for the idleness. But I still can’t help thinking, what will happen when my service year is over? Will I be staying at home like this? Each morning, I sit by the window and watch young men like me going off to market. They probably spend the whole day at their “sheds”, selling retail goods to customers. And I think, these people are barely educated, but they are busy, busy earning a living – and here I am, a university graduate to boot, sitting idle. Who is better off?
Okay, okay, I can hear the snorts of disgust at my pessimism. Who knows, maybe I’m just being unnecessarily gloomy. Perhaps, I will get a job as soon as I finish my service. Perhaps it will even be with an oil-servicing firm, and I will become a “big” man, like my relatives are predicting. But in the mean time, I am just sitting here, wasting the day.


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