Whatever Your Hands Do!: By Adunni Elizabeth

“Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might”. This quote was one of the lessons the year 2021 taught me.

Let me tell you my story.

I had been invited for an interview last week, leaving me excited. Even though I had been to tons of interviews, I prepared for this one like it was my first time. My smiles and drip were on point, my expectations were high. 

But at the end of the interview, it was the usual song of “we will get back to you”. They never do though.

My heart sank.

My faith dropped.

And my drip disappeared.

“Oh, no! This should not be happening again” these words came out of my mouth unexpectedly.

I didn’t know when teardrops started trickling down my face.

With tears in my eyes as I walked back home, this song dropped in my heart “When the going gets tough and the right goes wrong, when you’re not just sure enough, Jesus will still be near”. 

As a Christian, I have been taught from childhood to trust in God. To know that he has a better plan for my life. So in good times and in bad times, I have come to thank him and see the brighter side of things. 

I sang this song repeatedly crying in the hot afternoon on my way from the interview venue. Those who saw me couldn’t understand why a pretty girl like me would be crying on the road.

The city I live in is a very busy one. Everyone seems to be in a hurry, everyone minds the business that pays them, no one really cares or or has the time to wait or listen to any sob story from anyone. But a few minutes later, a lady walked up to me to offer her a word of encouragement. I was surprised, 

Oh! So there’s someone who cares in this busy city? I said as she approached me. She had this calm demeanor with shiny teeth as white as snow. From her look, she should be in her mid thirties. 

She began by placing her hands on my shoulders and asking “Why is a fine girl like me crying on the road? As she said these words, she was looking at me as if she was examining the “fineness” in me.

She said she knows it’s not easy to “chop breakfast (heartbreak) from men” as she has been in that situation many times without a number. She said she knows that it is only relationship matters that would make a beautiful grown lady cry the way I was crying on a hot afternoon. 

She added “men are scum and as a lady, you should never cry over a man, when you are served breakfast, dust yourself and move on because God just saved you from a badly behaved man”, she added with all seriousness. 

As she spoke, my tears flowed more freely like an opened tap. 

Lol, she doesn’t understand and as much as I would love to explain to her that this ‘breakfast’ isn’t from a man, my voice got choked up by my tears, it just refused to open up. After her soothing talk, I managed to utter a “thank you Ma” as I continued on my journey home.

But that gesture of hers brightened my mood as I ended up laughing at myself after she left. One moment I was crying profusely, the next I was laughing hysterically, What a world! 

At a point I said within me “So as it stands now, I have “chopped breakfast!( I have been heartbroken) 

It is funny how people assume that it is only romantic relationships that could make one cry, forgetting that there are a myriad of human needs that when they are not met can get one heartbroken. 

Yeah! I’m heartbroken but not relationship-wise.

This was not my first time sending my CV to this company and a host of other companies. 

For the past six months I have been job hunting for my dream job. I have worked the length and breadth of this city that even my shoe soles have become flattened. At this point, I don’t even know if I feel more pity for myself or for my “over chopped” shoe soles. 

I was an Economics graduate with a GPA of 4.3, almost a first class from a very renowned university in my country, Nigeria. Leaving school I had envisioned myself in a very reputable organization where I will be able to put everything I have learnt into use. I was hopeful, enthusiastic and anticipating seeing myself as a career lady and moving in the career ladder as soon as possible. 

I was good no doubt, I knew what I was capable of doing book-wise and even with hands-on experience, I didn’t see myself not being able to get my dream job in the near future. 

So it came to me as a rude shock when after six months of graduating, I was still job hunting. 

“No! This must be some kind of joke”, I said within myself trying to force some smiles. 

For, I  just could not believe my eyes.

Family and friends also could not understand why I couldn’t secure a job after these months of being invited for interviews.

I sent out CVs to every company that I knew needed my services.

Some, I’d be called for interviews, others I do not hear anything from them. 

I was worried initially but not too worried, because I believed in myself that I will get my dream job soon.

Six months gone, I was still jobless and could not stand one more month of being idle. So I had to pick up a teaching job since I didn’t want to just stay home idle and wasting away.

No! I was actually tired of just being home.

And yes! I do not enjoy teaching but I did not have a choice. All the money I had saved up had been expended and I was broke. Oh, how much I hated being broke.  No more financial aid was coming from anyone as they all believed I should be helping out with money not still receiving. 

So I took up a teaching job at a private school closeby. The salary was just fair enough but not up to what my mates would be earning even at entry level in an organization that isn’t a school. 

That was how I became “Miss Susan”.

That was what my students called me.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself being a teacher. 

I? Susan, the bookworm and most intelligent babe in my department in university. It is I that is now conducting assembly, standing for long hours in the classrooms, marking students notes and dealing with students with their youthful exuberances, oh this life is not just balanced.  

Gosh! I guess life just throws surprises at us, not minding if we are ready for them or not. 

I have been teaching for the past two years now. What began as a pastime has now become a reality, my reality… a classroom Teacher!

But I realized that I have come to enjoy what I was doing. 

Though, I still wish to work in a multinational organization. Sometimes, I sit  in the staff room and imagine myself working in a financial institution conducting economic research and analysis, forecasting economic trends, providing insights on market conditions or advising on financial decision-making. These are the things I enjoy doing but since life has thrown lemons at me, I am making lemonades from them. 

My students hold a special place in my heart, I teach with every fiber of strength in me and with all discipline. My students know me as a person who doesn’t condone indiscipline, they often referred to me as “small but mighty” this means despite my petite stature, I am very firm in my dealings with them. 

In the last two years of working in this school, I have gotten a few awards of excellence ranging from “Best Teacher award” to “Most Disciplined Teacher” and most recently “Excellence in Teaching award”. All these are a testament to the fact that there are things I am doing well and that I am not wasting my time being in the school system. 

A new student  by the name Precious was admitted to school at the beginning of first term (September) . She was posted to my class, she is a very brilliant girl I must admit. She had this cool and calm composure which made many teachers fall in love with her. I have a very good rapport with her just like every other student in my class.

Soon, it was the end of the term and year and both teachers and students all went home for the yuletide season. 

This was my favorite time of the year, for some reason this season brings so much joy and happiness to everyone, remembering the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Christmas songs and I love watching children and adults role-playing the life of Jesus. The cool weather is the icing on the cake. 

On a cool Tuesday morning, during the holidays, I was home when I got a call from a strange number. I wondered who it could be as I picked up the call

“Hello, This is Mrs Williams Adejare, mother to Precious Adejare, Are you Miss Susan, the Economics teacher at Starlight International School? The voice asked from the other end.

“Yes, I am Miss Susan” I replied, trying to figure out what the call was about. The tone of her voice seemed very calm and friendly just like her daughter’s. After we exchanged some pleasantries, she said “I wish to see you in my office tomorrow or any day within this week  for an interview as we will be closing for the year by next week” and then she gave me her office address.

Everything happened so fast. Few minutes ago, I was enjoying the cool weather in my room, reading an article I came across online and the next minute I got a call from one of my students’ parents inviting me over for an impromptu interview. 

I sat on the chair in my room staring up and down, trying to take in everything that just happened, “am I dreaming? “Is this some kind of joke? I asked myself over and over again.

And that was the beginning of the turning point in my life.

I had gone for the interview at Mrs Adejare’s office the next day. For someone who’s been anticipating a career as an Economist in a multinational organization, this is an opportunity I must seize with both hands. 

She was the Chief Executive Officer at Esteemed Financial Group, the same organization that made me shed tears that hot afternoon. It has always been my dream to work at this organization due to the outstanding work they are doing in the Nigerian financial sector. 

How it never occurred to me that that was the same place I had gone for an interview when Mrs Adejare gave me the address is still something I couldn’t understand but how could I still remember the address after almost three years?

So, what happened? How did the CEO of Esteemed Financial Group get to know about me?

Apparently, Precious, the new student admitted to my class, had been telling her Mom and everyone who cares to listen to her about one Miss Susan, her economics teacher in her new school who is very intelligent, smart and disciplined and who teaches so well. 

According to Mrs Adejare,she sings my praise almost every day and at any given opportunity. So duty demands that she invites me over for an interview to see and hear for herself what her daughter has been singing about.

So she had to place a call to me for an interview. 

At the end of the interview or rather chit chat session because this interview did not look like any other interviews I have attended in the past. It was more like friends having a conversation about the Nigerian economy and the ways forward. 

Given the opportunity to talk about what I am most passionate about, it was as if my tap of knowledge was opened, Mrs Adejare kept on nodding her head and writing things down in the book that was on the desk In front of us. 

At the end of the supposed “interview” turned discussion, I didn’t hear the usual “we will get back to you” rather I heard the most soothing words I had been longing to hear for a very long time, “with your intelligence and smartness, I would be doing this reputable organization a disservice if I do not employ you, so take this from me as an official note of employment here”, she said stretching out her hand for a handshake. 

I grinned from one ear to the ear as I took her hand in a firm handshake.

“The HR will hand you your official letter of employment, congratulations once again”, she added. 

That was one of the happiest days of my life. 

With my employment letter in my bag, I walked down the same street I walked three years ago but this time not crying from the pain of being served “breakfast” but bubbling with joy of being employed in my dream organization because what I waited for for a long time has come to pass. 

And that was how I got my dream job in my dream organization without much hassle because I was diligent in what my hands found to do. 

Starlight International School sent me a message inviting me over for a farewell party. I felt like a very important person at the party. 

This was the first of its kind that the school would be organizing a farewell party for a teacher leaving the school.

Many of my former colleagues considered me lucky but I believe luck only happens to the diligent and ready ones and I was grateful that my years of labor were not in vain.