Editor's ChoiceLife and General FictionNaija Stories

Karma of Life

As I sat down in the little cafe, waiting for the worker to access my information through the school’s portal, my head blared with thoughts. Blared with happy, remorseful and retrospective thoughts. I tried to shake them off, but I couldn’t. It was like a cloud hovering over my head, it was imprinted in my head like the papal’s seal of Roman Catholic Church.

I watched the young man work, his eyes fixated firmly on his laptop’s screen, the luminous LED light glowing duly on his eager teenage face, making his eyes glow in an eerie-like manner.

As he typed gently on his keyboard, I took that little time I had to observe the cafe fully. It was a little bit extravagant, choked up in tight corners with empty cans of soft drinks, apparently from previous sales. Chairs were aligned in a rectangular pattern for purpose of the customers. I noticed with obscene detail the fading colour of the cafe’s wallpapers. Drapes rolling over. The little refrigerator moaning behind me, apparently from the cord inserted in it, and the shelf filled with crates of eggs and soft drinks.

The air reeked of something nice. Probably from the snack’s strong aroma emanating from the vitrine. I ignored the beast in my stomach growling for a taste of the exquisite scrumptious snacks. My head was way engaged in something more preoccupying. My head was clouded with rainy thoughts for my future.

A sound from somewhere in the shop riveted my gaze. I craned my stiffy neck, trying to locate the noise, but then as if on cue, the young worker said something to his assistant. I watched as the younger boy frowned, and mumbled something unintelligible, while he headed lazily for the printer. Then it dawned on me that it was the printer making that humming sound before, printing my transfer file, or perhaps printing my doom. I exhaled. It was sorta funny.

Few years back, back then in secondary school, I remembered in a very lucid way when our school teacher asked us what we wanted to become when we grew up; I recalled voices reverberating through the class thick walls. Careers adrift in the air, floating above the stars, it was beautiful. A world full of dreams. I recalled yelling out mine, my voice filled with joy, happiness and enthusiasm.

Reveries, I smiled. It feels crooked, askew, felt alien to my face, but I know it was genuine. Another voice emanated inside my head. It was unexpected. It was the teacher’s voice asking us if we’d like to be teachers someday when we grew up. The outburst of rebuttal negativity that filled the class was incredulous. Everybody yelling “NO! NO! NO!” I thought the teacher would get mad at us, or punish us or something, but he only laughed out heartily, like he knew a joke we didn’t.

Now sitting back in this cafe, I understood everything. Everything was pellucid. I almost chuckled out loud, but I suppressed it. I didn’t want to look like the female version of Arthur Fleck. That would’ve been very funny. It was quiet for a while, my head and my thoughts in a state of taciturnity, the only sound was the incessant rotation of the ceiling fan (which for some weird reason, wasn’t working, because I was still perspiring), the hushed conversations, the humming of the printer, and the thudding of my heartbeat.

I exhaled. Minutes felt like hours, hours felt like days, days felt months, then out of the periphery version I saw the younger worker walking towards me, a paper flapping in his hand. My doom, I thought.

“Madam, see your TP (Teaching Practice), transfer paper.” I took it, looked at it with growing passion of hatred for it.

What in God’s name was I supposed to do in a classroom? It was a rhetorical question to myself. My insides burned. I never wanted this damn course, I never did. Who goes to the university with the legitimate intention of teaching? My eyes were getting blurry. Nobody does, nobody flipping does.

I pictured myself mentally in blue scrubs, rushing to the EMT center, adrenaline kicking in, the tyres of the emergency gurney screeching behind me, the smell of medicine invading my nostrils. I smiled, I wanted to become a nurse, not a teacher, but life has a way of messing with your destiny..

I must have forgotten about time, I must have forgotten I was staring at the paper for too long, because just then, I heard the younger worker’s voice resonate through my eardrums,

“Madam, your money na five hundred naira.” I nodded absent-mindedly, my weary lanky phalanges digging inside my purse. I brought out the money, gave it to him, and walked out.

He must have poured out gratitude, but I didn’t seem to care. How could I, when the world doesn’t?

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