She smiled gently. ‘Aren’t we all?’ I was taken aback. She continued, advancing towards me, ‘you see, we’re all here to help each other. I am sure that you have something there, especially if you want to step out that door.’

My mouth was wide open. This wasn’t happening I tried to tell myself but i could not erase the lazy smile on her lips.

There was so much meaning behind those words, so, I humbly brought out #1000 Naira from my purse.

She shook her head and asked for the purse. This was daylight robbery. The guys who were indifferent were looking at me and the two guys who were obviously not in the know. We all submitted our monies obediently. Then, she asked for our phones. I wanted to protest but one look at a guy with a scarred face(I had  just noticed) made me succumb.

They searched our bags and gave us #500 Naira each for transport fare. I had the most amount among the three of us. The other applicants were taking longer than usual but I did not care. I just wanted to leave the den.

Finally, we were out. Like Chiwetel Ejiofor in Twelve Years a Slave, i did not look back at the others. I just ran until i reached the road and jumped into a bus without asking. Thankfully, it was heading towards Berger. I didn’t bother checking if there were more men than women. And, I did not know when my bladder gave way in response to the  frequent trembling of my legs.

I could not attend any interviews afterwards. I just focused on being a better fashion designer. I was sewing, embellishing dresses and doing occasional beading until one evening when I got a call.

‘Good evening. This is Mr. A. I am calling you from the HR of University of …you have been invited for an interview on …at the Senate building. Please, respond to the mail sent to you.’

I didn’t want to say thanks but the line was still on then, I said, ‘why?’

The man simply replied,

‘As one of the best two in your department, you were retained by the university.’

‘Oh, thanks sir!’

‘You are welcome.’

I had forgotten that during the convocation ceremony, the VC had announced that the best two would receive automatic appointments. Hmmn.

I read the mail and confirmed from my friend. He also got the call.

I was at peace and prepared. On the day of the interview, I went to an ATM to cash some money. It was out of service.

The End.

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