My Father’s Shadow

image credit: Flickr
image credit: Flickr

First published on Afreada

“How long have you been here?” His colleague asks, fleetingly.

“One year, three months.” He responds with a despondent icy tone. He tries to force a grin and paint a perfect picture, but all that comes out is a broken smile.

“You have tried, they never last more than five months. They just stay long enough to get experience and they’re off.”

His face stays clenched as he grits his teeth. He’s been here for an eternity.

The open plan office resembles a prison. The walls are closing in on him fast. His daily commute feels like walking barefoot on broken glass. He can’t stand the small talk from his colleagues, the noise from the printing machine, nor the receptionist who smiles at him with her white teeth spreading across her entire face.

He had vowed to ignore her smiles but today he can’t resist. He smiles back – a sheepish, nervous smile. She chuckles and calls him to the reception desk in that seductive way women do with their eyes.

“Uko na five hundred bob kwa Mpesa unikopeshe?” She says with a certain conviction.

“Niko na thao tu ya kulipa bill ya stima.” He responds, sternly, annoyed at how easy it is for people to take advantage of others.

“You must be very poor to have stayed here this long.”

Her lousy attempt at humor gets under his skin. He laughs, a painful laugh. He is poor but his Dad is a corporate honcho in the banking sector. He remembers, with a pinch of salt, how his Dad had connected him to a credit control job in a bourgeois bank. He remembers how he turned it down.

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