PREJUDICE (SHORT STORY)
“She prayed earnestly as she drove the eight kilometres to the chambers in Kubwa. She had prepared what she considered an excellent brief for the moot court session that should form the principal part of today’s interview. Now the matter was out of her hands and left for God to decide. But the peace that she had unsuccessfully groped for on this job issue still eluded her and she wondered why.”
This short story is about a girl who has an unwelcome experience on a job-hunting mission. She should be feeling very distressed but …. Read and be blessed!
Chikwado appraised herself in the mirror. She had worn a silver-coloured camisole showing the barest hint of cleavage underneath a black skirt suit for her impending interview. But she decided to fasten on a brooch to fully cover her bosom.
Her close-cropped African hair was telling lies already. Although she had combed it after shampooing while bathing, now that it was dry, it was claiming it hadn’t seen a comb in ages, so she oiled it and ran one through it again. Then she balanced herself on an older three-and-half-inch black wedge for its height advantage, rather than her new black pumps.
Before she left the room, she squeezed some cucumber-melon fragrance behind her ears and on her wrists to complement the apple-scented vaporiser she had sprayed all over herself before dressing. Never one to spend too long on grooming, she used her forefingers to smoothen her eyebrows and glossed her lips. She picked up a pair of gold-plaited hoop earrings to wear on her way to the car. Studs would have been better, she thought, as she tightened her grip on her portfolio, but she had no time to search for anything.
She was nervous about the interview she was headed for, not because she wasn’t qualified for the junior counsel position at the law firm, but because she had detected chauvinistic tendencies in some of the senior male partners there during the preliminary interview. They seemed to infer that the firm had traditionally been an all-male establishment except for support staff. She, therefore, had to give a flawless performance if she was to floor the preferred male candidates.
And besides being the only woman who applied for the sole vacancy, she was the only one with a height deficiency standing at a little below 5ft. She wished this interview had come up when she had a full head of hair but she had developed a strong aversion to chemical treatments and weave-ons in the last year and cherished the sense of freedom wearing her natural hair gave her.
From the sniggering when she met the panel last time, it was obvious they felt that leaving a matter in the hands of this dimunitive female would be as good as losing it. One of them also joked that her natural hair made her to look inelegant, like a househelp, rather than a learned “fellow”. He made a point of emphasizing the word, “fellow”.
She prayed earnestly as she drove the eight kilometres to the chambers in Kubwa. She had prepared what she considered an excellent brief for the moot court session that should form the principal part of today’s interview. Now the matter was out of her hands and left for God to decide. But the peace that she had unsuccessfully groped for on this job issue still eluded her and she wondered why.
She didn’t have to wait long to find out why. The lobby was empty when she arrived the firm at 10:48 a.m. She approached the female receptionist who gave her a fleeting sympathetic look before recollecting herself and asking what she could do for her. Chikwado sought to know if she was the first to arrive fot the job interview slated for 11 a.m. The lady consulted a sheaf of papers in front of her and, with a deadpan expression, informed her that a junior counsel had been chosen through an interview which commenced at 9 a.m.
She then handed Chikwado a sealed envelop and curtly added, “You’ll see the formal communication from the firm in there. Would there be anything else?”
“No, thank you.”
Chikwado’s mind was in a turmoil as she drove away from the premises. She had worked extremely hard to get this job and felt cheated, even humiliated, by the way she lost it. She had received no notice of rescheduling and wondered if she was right to have left without a fight.
But on further reflection, she thanked God for shutting that door in her face. She had been too eager to get employment that she had failed to acknowledge the persistent unease she felt about working in that firm. She needed to be where she would be appreciated and treated fairly, not struggling under such a weight of prejudice. The right job would come and when it did, she would have the peace of God in her heart to confirm it. Meanwhile, she would continue to assist her mum in her business.
She reached over to the glove compartment and brought out a Frank Edwards CD. For the past two weeks, she had been wishing she were taller, bigger and so on. She needed to hear an affirmation that she was fearfully and wonderfully made and how better to do that than by listening to her favourite song. As Frank Edwards belted out,
Do you really know how beautiful you are?
The Spirit of the Lord lives and dwells in you
All over the world no one looks like you
You can put a smile on your face
You’re beautiful, you’re beautuful … ,
Chikwado let out her covenant shout and began to sing along.
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2016
Are you searching for a job? How have you handled the instances when your hopes of securing one were dashed?
Or perhaps you have faced discrimination of some sort. How did you react?
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