It was evening. The sun was getting old and blind. The sky hung thick and nebulous. It moved lazily, as if afraid of movement.
I had left the house and came outside to take a walk. The day had been very much like the past ones. I’d gone out to look for a job and I’d met with no success. It was just the same old and very sad song, it always left me feeling low, down and miserable.
I’d got to the house, taken off my dusty shoes which were fast losing their soles and strapping on my sandals and walked outside. I was hungry but I didn’t feel like eating.
I wanted to take a walk, to let the anger in me diffuse and dissipate into the air. Sitting inside would be too constricting and confining.
I walked outside, stopping at the maigad’s to buy a stick of cigarette. It was the last money on me. I took one stick of cigarette and a tom-tom sweet, before stepping out of our close and down the street.
As I walked, my mind went to the day I’d just had. It had been a very lousy one.
A friend of a friend, you know how it is, had told me about a company that needed young graduates with a minimum of second class upper degrees.
That was no problem. I had a 2.1. So I’d snatched up my CV and application. I didn’t wait to send it by post. I took it there myself and three weeks later, I was called for an interview. I’d been short-listed with three others.
I got there very early in the morning, long before the gates were thrown open for work. I sat on the fence outside the company and waited.
The office opened and we were called in. The company needed just one person and we were all expected to slug it out to decide who would be the company’s area representative (Sales).
They gave us a written test and an oral. Three of us scored 73 each, so one person was dropped. We had another round of tests and we all scored the same marks again.
That was when the whole process turned into a farce. The interviewer had pushed his chair back and asked if we could drive. I could drive. One of the other group could drive but the third guy couldn’t drive. So he was dropped. Then the two of us were left.
“For how long have you been driving?”
“Six years”, we both chorused and the man looked up at us with a curious gilt in his eyes.
“Okay”, he said, placing his arms on the table and staring us in the eyes.
“Let me see your driving licence,” he demanded and my heart sank. I didn’t have mine with me. I’d turned to look at my mate and he had this big, triumphant grin plastered on his face. He had won.
That was how I left the company.
As I turned the corner of the street I’d been walking on, I looked up and beheld a sight that had teased me two times before. Way up ahead, but still approaching was a young woman in her early twenties. She was walking with a child, a young boy who tottered beside her.
I watched them as I approached and somehow, I began to feel the weight of my problem trip off my shoulders. I sensed some sort of cosmic peace between the two. I’d seen them on two occasions before that evening and I’d had the same feeling.
The picture they cut was of a big sister, aunt or cousin, taking the newest addition to the family on an evening stroll.
I waited until they came abreast of me, then I said, “What a pretty child you’ve got there.”
“Oh, thank you,” she said with a shy smile that lit up her face like a thousand fluorescent tubes.
“Mind if I walk with you?” I asked, feeling suddenly that female company and a pretty one at that, could do me a world of good.
“There’s no problem”, she said and I’d fallen into step beside her and the child.
“What’s his name? I asked.
“Merlin,” she told me.
“Oh yeah, I’m Kerin”.
“Funny how our names rhyme.
Yeah, it’s surprising.”
“Well, now that you know my name, I suppose I could ask yours.”
“So, what is it?”
“It’s a real pleasure meeting you.”
“Same here,” she said, turning to give that same shy smile. We walked for a while in silence. The boy whimpered once and she hushed him. I offered to carry him. She didn’t mind, so lifted the boy into my arms.
“Be careful, your shirt!” She said.
“That’s no problem, “I told her, then as we walked on, I added.
“You know I’ve seen you twice on your evening stroll. You do it everyday, don’t you?”
“Yeah. My house is so boring and I get tired of staring at the teevee or reading books. So, for exercise and a breath of fresh air, I take this stroll every evening. I think it’s good for him too.”
“Fresh air is good for everybody,” I said.
We were on my street when we went past, I heard my cousins yell out from the top floor.
I waved and said, “That’s my place.”
“Oh, yeah? And I pass here every evening”.
“That’s where I spotted you from,” I said and threw Merin, who was getting restless, up into the air. He took in air and giggled in that special way children do, then stayed quiet.
We walked on saying nothing but staying connected. We’d gone quite some distance when she walked up to a gate and rang the bell. The house was a big one. I’d seen it a couple of times on my strolls even though I didn’t use that route much.
…TO BE CONTINUED