The filament bulb lit the room, giving the white shirt on John a faint orange look. He bent in front of the broken mirror, combing his hair and checking the fastened black leather wristwatch simultaneously. He turned and removed a black suit from the nail by the west window, and put it on. He picked the two folded slices of loaf from the stainless plate on the green plastic table. He munched for a while, then, gulped the lukewarm tea from his favourite red mug which had “Face it. Break it” inscribed on it. He dashed out of his room with his one-hand bag and screamed, ” Fìyìn, I’m gone for the interview at UAC Foods.” As he slammed the door, he could hear Fiyin cursing for waking him, but he smirked and soliloquised, “You sleep too much.” He started to jog into the breaking morning sun of Lagos, which had a similar faint orange colour with the filament bulb in his room.
After jogging five minutes, he was on the busy main Oṣòdì road. He stopped to catch his breath, resting his hands on his knees, then looked up to see a crowd struggling for the yellow bus he must get on. If he doesn’t, he will have to face Fìyìn mocking him for losing the tenth job in a row, for not joining in his “yahoo yahoo” hustle, and also wasting his crisp suit and sheeny black oxford shoes. John turns to ice whenever it comes to public speaking or public struggle or doing anything in public at all. This day, he was neither ready for the struggle nor the interview. But, with Fìyìn’s joker-face stuck in his head now, he flew to the bus and his black suit floated behind him like Batman’s cape.
He joined the public struggle in a breathtaking atmosphere of fermented corn breaths, reeking armpits and harsh deodorants. “No chance me o” was everyone’s slogan as they tried to chance the other person to get on the bus. John was sustaining his breath with his face towel while maintaining a conversational volume as he feared arriving at UAC Foods with a cracked voice or none at all, but then he felt hands around his thighs and he lost it. “Who dey touch me oo,” he voiced at his highest volume to make the hands go away as he couldn’t reach for his thighs. A few minutes after, he got on the bus and started rubbing his thighs with his palms. He felt his wallet and he heaved a sigh of relief. He rubbed again. His phone had even robbed.
He rushed to door to scan the faces. He did so keenly as if the thief would have it inscribed on his skin like on his mug. “Comot for road,” said the next man that got on the bus. With his left hand, he pushed John into a seat by the window, and that became his seat for the journey. The bus finally moved but he continued to scan: the people on the bus, the people passing by the window, inside his bag, but he didn’t find his phone. “So my phone is gone just like that” he thought, “and I have to…Face it Break it.” The inscription on his mug popped up in his head.
In minutes, he turned these words into a mantra and he continued reciting until it was time for his interview. The mantra set his mind that the loss wasn’t going to break him. Turning to ice and losing another job, and having to see Fìyìn’s Joker-face was not an option.
His interview eventually ended with a comment from the head of the interview board: “You know, we loved the way you faced us and didn’t bother looking at your crisp suit or well-polished shoe or ours, thus, our agreement that you will be joining us on Monday. Congratulations Mr John Ọ̀kẹ́.”
In euphoria, John replied to the man on the board: “Thank you for stealing my phone.”