African StoriesEditor's ChoiceLife and General FictionNaija StoriesSeries

Kamsi—Tales of a Young Chinese Translator (Part 5)

Continued from the last part…

I looked at my phone, silently edging the minute hand to reach 12:00pm. It was 11:58am, exactly two minutes to break time. I was hungry and much in need of my afternoon nap. Break period was two hours, and those two hours were very dear to me.

As soon as it clocked 12:00, I carried my bag and left the building. My eyes were already heavy with sleep, and without greeting anybody, I marched to the hostel. I ignored the greetings that were thrown my way as I entered the room. I climbed my bed, set my alarm for 1:30pm and slept off immediately.

The loud sound of a phone ringing jarred me awake…

“Who is that one again?” I murmured sleepily.

“Sorry,” Prisca, one of my roommates said as she reduced the volume of her ringing tone. I checked my phone knowing that it would be hard for me to get back to sleep. It was remaining fifteen minutes before my alarm would ring. No use again, I thought as I switched on my mobile data.

I replied the comments from the pictures I had posted on Facebook and WhatsApp, chuckling when I saw a comment from a guy that had been on my contact list for over two years. This was the first time that he was sending me a message in four months. It was always the same circle:

‘Whatsup, Long time’

And I would be like, ‘Yea, long time. How far?’

‘I’m cool, and you?’

‘I’m fine.’

It would continue this way for a few days adding lines of ‘How was your night?’ or ‘Hope you’ve eaten?’ It was an endless circle that I was tired of. Why would you chat me up if you had nothing to talk about. That was plain waste of time. But I replied his message. Not for any reason, just because…

When it clocked 1:30pm, I freshened up and rushed to Mama Jolly’s place to have my lunch.

Our translator, how you dey?” The owner of the salon beside Mama Jolly waved at me. She was braiding someone’s hair.

I’m fine o. How work today?” I returned the pleasantries.

E dey slow, but wetin we go do,” she said shaking her head.

I went into Mama Jolly’s place, glad to find it free from its usual crowd especially at this period of the day.

Kamsi, wetin you go chop today?” her daughter, Raina asked.

“Jollof rice, as before. Put two meat this time around.” I sat down at my usual table at the corner farthest from the entrance.

“Two meat with fish?”

“Yes.” I felt proud as I said it. Back in school, I had to forfeit eating meat when I bought food. But now, when I bought food, there was meat, there was fish. And since, it was approaching the end of the month, I could indulge myself by eating more than one cube-sized meat.

It didn’t take long, a plate of jollof rice with salad, fried plantains, fried meat and fish covered the orange rice. The sight of the food filled my heart with a thrill. A bottle of fanta was placed in front near the plate. With a smile of thanks, I picked up the spoon and dug into the rich meal.

I was halfway through the meal when a man entered the restaurant. He walked towards me. I looked up at him questioningly when he stopped in front of my table.

“Good afternoon ma”

The polite greeting went straight to my head. ‘Ma’, someone older than me referred to me as ‘ma’, greeted me so politely. I was filled with some sort of pride, yet the fact that it was an older person that greeted me doused the feeling.

“Good afternoon.” I already knew what he wanted to ask for, but I wished he would wait until I finished eating. I went back to my meal hoping he understood. He still stood there, shifting from one feet to the other.

Wait make she chop finish before you disturb her na,” Raina said as she placed toothpick and serviettes on the table.

The man mumbled and sat down on another table.

The meal lost its taste. I started thinking of ways to escape the man. It was obvious that he came to look for work in the company, but that was something that was beyond my power. While I had a small level of influence in the company, but I had no power over the employment of workers especially when the workers had to go through the scrutiny of my sensitive boss. The woman that hated the words, ‘He is my brother’ or ‘He was introduced by me’. And so I always avoided the people who sat in front of the gate asking the security men if there was any vacancy.

I shook my head at the situation. What people went through to get jobs… I sighed. Life wasn’t easy at all.

To be continued…

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