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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Diary of an angry and frustrated graduate…the reunion

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By Mofoluwake Omololu
I’m excited to see my girls today, it’s been at least 3 years since we’ve seen each other. After school we moved to different cities and could hardly keep up with ourselves. We used to be a dynamic trio with beauty and brains.  Ekaette had gotten married straight out of school and moved south with her hubby. Imeredem had moved home to the west, she stayed with her parents, and I had gone wherever the wind blew (I have 6 older siblings)  until I eventually landed my dream job- O.A.P (On Air Personality) in one of the trendiest radio stations in the nations capital. 
I’m super excited to see and play catch up with my friends that I’m out the car before I’m even done parking it. 
We’re getting lunch at a local kitchen we used to frequent back in school, civilization has caught up with the place so I’m here first so I can direct the girls. 
Thank God for the wedding on Saturday we are now all in the same city at once. 
Eka arrives just as I’m about to go into the now posh restaurant, I’m not surprised she recognized me, I’ve not changed much except I now wear a little more makeup. She on the other hand looks better than I would have guessed, being married and with two children, she looks radiant. The pictures she posts on her social media feeds don’t do her justice. 
We hug and I tell her how beautiful she looks, she teases me about not changing and asks when I started caring about my face. We’re laughing and getting a table when a confused Ime calls and explains how she has the right coordinates but cannot seem to find the restaurant, I tell her to chill as I step out to get her. Eka waves frantically at us as we make our way to the table. There’s hugging and complimenting and lots of shrill, high pitched expressions. 
The waiter,  a man, comes and takes our order. We switch accents like we used to do comically in the university, now to get the waiter wondering. We all order for “amala and ewedu soup”  with all the meat details. The waiter’s wonder is incredulous, calaber girls ordering yoruba dishes with such prowess.
He takes the order and promises to be back with our meals in 15 minutes. 
We get to catching up, Eka tells us about her two beautiful toddlers – Udeme who is 2 and Unyime who she still nurses, she didn’t come out with her cause she needs a break and wants to have a great time with her girls. More family pictures, her husband hasn’t aged a wink. They have a lovely home and the car she got after her second baby is a dream. 
Oh! She’s living the life! And now I’m wondering to myself why ladies are so against being housewives, after all it’s man that should take care of woman, that’s how God ordered it, yes? 
Just as our delicious looking aromatic meals arrive,  Ime asks me “what’s up with me now” and I throw it back at her cause you know, I instigated this meeting so I get to go last. 
So she catches us up on her life between bites. She started her Masters immediately after service year and it had cost tons at the private university where she enrolled just so her prospects would increase. She also learnt a skill, sewing, during the time and then she reminds us of how bad her head is for business. We concur. 
So in the last 8 months since she rounded off her Masters excellently, she has sent out numerous applications to media houses, for PR jobs, lecturing jobs, teaching jobs and even marketing job (a person who couldn’t sell a pen to save her own life). 
She decides to put her skill to use, and she’s pretty decent at it too (she shows us pictures of her work). It’s fun and all, except she can’t seem to keep up with the pace of things in Lagos. There’s always changing trends and tastes. 
She is a certified introvert but she says she is trying to push herself out of her comfort zone to, at least, meet new people, network and advertise herself to drum up business or at least for other opportunities. 
Her parents though are not interested in what all of those entail, they’ve always been protective of her. 
Anyways, she met somebody just before she rounded off Masters and he wants to marry her. She says this resignedly and we understand. 
As undergrads we hadn’t been full on feminism but we had all hoped to be independent wives. 
There is a pause and I make a joke for comic relief but it falls short as the melancholy has seeped too deep within us. 
Eka takes it up from there and I’m grateful. 
“I’ll be honest with you, this marriage thing and being a housewife is not all glitz and glam o”
Ime and I laugh, puzzled laughs as we remind her of the image she and her pictures had subconciously painted a few minutes ago. 
She laughs and explains that that’s exactly what she means.
Her husband doesn’t think giving his wife allowance is a thing so she has to ask for everything, he’s human and so she can understand the lift of his eyebrows when she explains how what used to be #300 is now #400, it’s such a trivial difference you would like to think, but not really. 
And the economic state of the nation doesn’t make it any better. 
She blames society most of all because she has a good head on her shoulder. It goes without saying she was the most intelligent of us all and that’s why her immediate marriage hadn’t been much of an issue. Babe ,could prove herself. 
Society thinks otherwise though, especially when she has to tick the married box on the application or when she makes it to the interview and gets disqualified because of her ringed finger. 
Once, she omitted her married status and applied and got this really great international opportunity. She was qualified and apparently must have really impressed the company since the director called herself to congratulate her. She was thrilled but held on to the news so she didn’t jinx it, and then the call came in saying she would be headed to Germany in two weeks for a year long training programme and then she’ll be posted to another foreign country to resume, of course this is based on theassumption that she is single. 
The phone had slid from her hand and she had cried her glands dry, it wasn’t even an option, even if she could lie her way through, she was already pregnant with her second child. She hadn’t even bothered to consider what her husband’s take would be, she had never told him. 
Finding a job as a young wife is the hardest thing there is and not to even talk of one with toddlers. 
And now the trend is to have handy work, her husband looks down on blue collars and wouldn’t be forced into a dream where his wife was one. 
Ime wonders at how hard reality has struck us, we had had such glossy dreams and now what? 
She doesn’t not want to get married, she wishes the circumstances were different though but as it is, the people around her, society, have said its better she takes what she’s being offered and not lose the bird at hand chasing another. At least she’ll have her marriage to show the world when she’s asked what she has done with her life, that too is an achievement, right? 
We all banter back and forth then Eka remembers I’ve not told them, “what’s up with you now” 
I laugh and Ime goes,  “it’s true o, Uduak, what’s up now” 
I’m glad for this meeting, I’m glad we had a great meal and the melancholy hadn’t ruined it, I’m glad we can still talk to ourselves after the time that has gone by, I’m sad that life isn’t as beautiful as we had thought and I’m sad that society doesn’t get it. I think I’m happy with were I’m at.
But how dare I talk?! After all these?! I and my good news be darned, we’ll live for another day. Hopefully.

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