Last Friday I met a friend just to catch up. The regular restaurants I go to are usually packed by 6pm, so you cannot hold a meaningful conversation there. But my friend told me she knew a decent but quiet place tucked away somewhere, not far from the Nation Centre in the CBD. The place did not disappoint. It was almost full, yet not crowded. There was minimal noise, so you could actually hold a conversation there. I grabbed a mug of tea masala and she took some herbal concoction and we sat down to talk.
As I was talking to Fai, I remembered our curious days after campus. She and I left school with high hopes. We both had done a unit called the Law of the Sea, and our teacher, Prof. FDP Situma, had forwarded our names to some company that was looking for legal assistants. I remember I was in my room on a Monday morning preparing for the last semester exams which were starting the following week when the call came.
“Hello, good morning?”
“Am I speaking to Edward Maroncha?”
“Yes, you are. Who am I speaking to, kindly?”
“My name is XX, I am calling from XX Limited. We have been given your contacts by Prof Situma. We are looking for legal assistants, are you able to come to our offices on Friday morning for an interview?”
“Sure, no problem. Where are your offices?”
“Westlands, along XXX Road”
After the lady terminated the call, I looked at my phone, stunned. Then I turned to my room mate Oty and told him what had just happened. The excitement was palpable. Here I was, not yet even done with school, and jobs were starting to look for me. I could not continue reading. I could not even sit still. I needed to go somewhere and digest the news. Oty was reading so I did not want to disturb him. Valarie’s room was out of question because people were always walking in and out. Besides, being exam time, chances were high that she was not there. She often left people in her room and escaped to the Library to study.
So Fai’s room was the place to go. She and her room mate did not operate crowds of friends, so there I would find some serenity. So I grabbed a mug of coffee and walked across the corridor to the other wing of the hostel where her room was. She had also received the call. So we just sat there, drinking coffee, and singing the praises of Prof Situma. Her interview was scheduled for that Friday afternoon, after mine. As it turned out, about 10 of us had been called. On that day we hired taxis to pick us from school and drop us at the place. It was a bit in the interior of Westlands where Matatus don’t go, and none of us wanted to be late or reach there sweating. Come to think of it, where did I even get 400 bob to hire a taxi at the end of a semester?
I was interviewed by three ladies. The lady HR who had called me, the company’s legal manager and an elderly white lady whose position in the firm I wasn’t sure, as she did not say. We talked for about an hour, before they let me go. Three weeks later the HR lady called. She said I had passed the interview, and needed to go and do a second interview. Turned out Fai wasn’t called for the second round. This time I was interviewed by the Managing Director, an elderly American man. We talked ethics. We talked politics. We talked about my legal career. It took about forty five minutes.
After the second interview the call did not come. I assumed I had failed so I went about looking for an internship in a law firm. By that time we had finished school, and my friend Meja and I had co-rented a house. We would go on separate days to drop CVs. Other days I would spend the day watching movies in the house, and Meja would go to visit friends. Dude couldn’t seem to be able to stay still in the house for a full day.
Then Meja started receiving calls from firms he had not even applied to. Apparently he was on the dean’s list. Within a short while he was in a firm. Soon after he started going to Centum Investment’s interviews and he soon got the job. By now a majority of my classmates had gotten places. So when we got together for our monthly class fellowship the discussions gravitated around their work places. Now peeps, when you are jobless, it is very uncomfortable when you have to sit and listen to your peers talk about their jobs.
But I had company in Fai and another friend called Auma. One day we decided to do a major joint tarmacking exercise in the CBD. So we printed many CVs and went together from street to street. Only making sure we did not drop at the same place. At lunch hour Fai bought us chips and 300ml sodas at a fast food kiosk along Moi Avenue. Auma and I were broke, and Fai was the only one with some cash to spare. The other day I passed there and found the kiosk has since been closed. You don’t do that. You can’t close historical places like that. Anyway we hit the streets again in the afternoon, energized. But by evening we were so frustrated that Fai packed her bags soon after and went home to Kisumu.
Auma and I knew that was not an option. We are villagers and the only thing we would go to do in the village is to settle disputes between hens fighting over spaces on which to lay eggs. We were staying in the city and trying harder. That was the only option we had. Then Auma found an online writing thing and she introduced me to it. It still remains the most boring thing I have ever had to do to earn a living, but rent had to be paid and man had to eat. We had not yet graduated so we still could use UoN facilities. And since we lived in Lower Kabete, the business school was easily accessible, and we would go there to use the wifi to do the research.
It was around this time that the lady HR called me again. She said I had passed the second interview, and that she would call me later that day to tell me when I would go to sign my employment contract and agree on the reporting date. She did not call again that day. Or that week. I found out that I had been picked together with another classmate called Brenda. About a month later I called the company and asked to speak to the HR lady. She told me that she would call me later that week. She didn’t. Brenda went there about two months later. She was told that the legal manager was on leave, and that when she came back she would draft our employment contracts so that we could start. I think she is still on leave, two years later, because we still have not been called.
Two years later, I am sure Auma and Fai will agree with me that God has been faithful. It is easy to stand where we are today and forget where we have come from. But I find it important to always look back and be grateful to God for the far I have come. And appreciate those who have helped along the way. Because there have been many kind souls who have helped me reach where I am today. To my friends who are completing studies at the University of Nairobi law school this December, Moses Edward, Salome, Carol and the rest, here is the thing. Some of you already have jobs. Some of you will get them soon after clearing. But others will struggle a bit like I did. The greatest disservice you can do to yourself is to compare yourself to others. Because each of us has a unique route to follow.