“Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is one of my favorite books. I love the wisdom and enlightenment contained in the book. It’s so full of practical steps to usher you out of poverty into your promised land. In fact, I believe that with the knowledge I have gained from that book, I can serve your company effectively and efficiently. I have gotten to understand that once the mind is determined to accomplish a certain goal, even the forces of the universe aid its accomplishment. With my resilient mind and ability to manage pressure effectively, I can assure you that hiring me would be the best for this company’s growth and development.”

The lady on the swirling chair stared at me like I had grown an extra head. Of course, she should be amazed. I had been rehearsing that speech since I heard about this interview. My friend, Kola, had explained to me the ways of the world and how to get rich quickly without any ritual. I remembered the vibrancy in his voice as his words echoed through the walls of my home. I had inherited the house from my father but it was now falling apart. I needed this.

“Tunji, you gats shine your eyes,” he had said. “You see this world we’re in ehn, there’s no excuse for anyone to be poor again. If you don’t have certificates, create one and go for job interviews. Google speeches online and cram them. Go for interviews and shock the HR people and just like that, you’ll be making big money. Forget school o. Who school epp? Just do what I’m telling you and you’ll be counting millions in no time.” He called this “The Financial Intelligence Lecture” and said I was lucky he was giving me the lecture for free. He explained that people paid hundreds of thousands of naira for that one single lecture and he was only helping me because I was his friend.

I valued his advice greatly and determined that I would do all he had advised, or commanded. I was also going to be rich. I would soon start swinging my car keys for no reason, in the middle of a discussion to emphasize my wealth. I would make enough money to silence Olu’s mom and even his teachers. They’ll stop sending him away from school just because we owed them three terms’ fees. They’ll respect my son because his father will soon be counting millions. I’ll close his mum’s mouth with jewellry and expensive clothings, especially the ones she’s always pining after in the market.

I’ll acquire this Financial Intelligence that Kola has taught me and I’ll be rich in no time. Our house will be so big and I’ll buy three cars. I’ll…

“Excuse me, Mr Tunji”, she called me out of my reverie. “But you seem overly qualified for this job. The vacancy was for an assistant to the Managing Director and with all your qualifications and certificates, I’m sorry to say but you’re overly qualified for the job.” she gently announced, almost as if she didn’t want the world to know that they were denying a man a job because he was overly qualified.

“Ma, do you mean these certificates make me too good for the job?” I said, pointing at the fake papers Kola had prepared and forced me to memorize.

“Yes. This one shows that you bagged a degree from Harvard University and our office can’t afford to pay a Harvard Graduate.” She said, swinging one of the pages in my hand.

“Ma, please how much was your office planning to pay?” I was sweating profusely now.

“Only #500,000 monthly but it’s too small for you, sir. You should be earning more with your qualifications.”

I wiped my sweaty palm on the trousers Kola had given me for this interview. My mouth tasted bitter as it reminded me of all the sweet lies I had memorized. The sweet lies that were denying me #500,000 per month.

“Ma, please. I don’t mind. I don’t mind the #500,000. In fact, please give me that Harvard certificate. Just forget that you saw it and give me the job. Please.” I choked on my tears.

“Sir, I’m sorry. But the authorities will sanction me if I give the job to a man more qualified than the MD. I’m sorry sir. You’ll find better opportunities.” she said and ushered me out.

I remembered the final words of Kola’s Financial Intelligence Lecture.

“This opportunity is the only one I have o. So do all you can to get the job. With these qualifications we’ve created, they’ll definitely accept you. No fall my hand o… ” I looked at the woman’s hand ushering me out. I looked at the certificate on the table. The one that was denying me the job. I took one more look at her and quickly threw the certificate in my mouth. Her eyes were full of horror.

“Sir, what’s the matter?” she asked as she jumped from her seat. “Why are you eating paper?” she asked, trying to ascertain if I had lost my sanity somewhere during this interview.

“That’s the Harvard certificate. Forget it. You didn’t see it. It doesn’t exist. Please give me the job now.” I pleaded, desperately.

“SECURITY!” She screamed.

Soon, I was bundled out by two hefty men. It took the collision of my bottom with the hard floor to show me that I was nothing but a failure and maybe Kola’s Financial Intelligence was not for everyone. I threw the fake certificates into the trash can and went back to where I worked as a bricklayer. I’ll do what I can with what I have. If that doesn’t make me rich, then maybe I wasn’t destined to be.

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