Warri Nor Dey Carry Last 21
Bola alighted on the way and took ‘Gokada’, a commercial motorcycle transport company that is gradually becoming a part of Lagos transport system. He got to the school where he works earlier than usual, as the school bus from the mainland was yet to arrive. He met a handful of staff, which were mainly those that stay on the Island. Stepping into the staff room, here, he was face to face with Beatrice, Prof Essien’s niece. “Good morning, Bola”, she greeted. “I was told you attended our church yesterday”. Bola was scared to respond as he was not sure of how her aunt had interpreted his surprise presence in their church. “It was a mere coincidence”, he managed to reply. “I spent the weekend with Okiemute, my friend I told you came from Warri that now work in Lagos. The company he works with gave him and his colleagues an apartment on the Island.” He explained, apologetically.
“That’s quite interesting. He must be a big boy to have gotten such an offer in a place like Lagos. But how did you know my church? I never remembered mentioning it to you.” She asked. “That’s why I said it was a mere coincidence because we were driven there by one of Okiemute’s colleagues. None of us knew the church we were going to until we got there. In fact, when I saw your aunt, I was worried as my presence there could have been misinterpreted”. He explained further. “Not at all, though she was surprised to see you there. And she told me you came with a very brilliant guy, as she could tell from the discussion she had with him. I presume that is the Okiemute she was referring to?” She asked.
Now Bola did not know if to acknowledge that the guy Prof described as brilliant was Okiemute. He stared at her, hoping she was not contemplating meeting Okiemute. ‘Of course, she should not, if not for the rules in their workplace, he would have asked her out long ago, and she knows that’. He thought within himself. “Yeah, we were four guys that came together, perhaps she was referring to Okiemute. The guy was just running his mouth yesterday when talking with Prof, making me more worried because he is fond of giving too much information”. He replied, trying to dissuade her from looking forward to meeting him. “I really wished I was in church, it would have been nice hanging out with your friends outside the regimented life in this school”, she added. “There would always be another time”, he replied excitedly, like a teenage boy that just got the ‘green light’ from his childhood crush. Their early morning chit chat ended abruptly as other members of staff started coming into the office.
At Furlong Technologies, Okiemute was finally settling down in the place of work living his dreams, and fully ready to give his very best to be a crucial staff of the company. To him, this was a life-line to escape from the rigours of a classroom teacher, which he so much detest. The task for the week had been pasted on the unit notice board by Mr Agbaji by the time Okiemute arrived at the office. It was the final touches on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) teaching apps they were working on for public schools in Lagos state. The interface that gives feedback from the teachers to the students after they have performed the task was yet to be developed. Okiemute was to work on the design, to see how the teacher-student interface can be perfectly synchronised without glitches. As a graduate of education, he was expected to be more grounded with the teacher-student relationship, and so should deploy that knowledge in perfecting the smooth running of the app. The four of them studied the programming language, as they put Okiemute through the semantics. Mr Agbaje soon left them to brainstorm on the project, while he handled other tasks in his office.
While they were at it, it was time for a tea break. Bayo left with Kenneth for the break, but Okiemute stayed back. He was trying to understand the flowchart that determines which commands comes up first in the programme design. The codes looked perfect, but why it was not giving them the needed result was still not clear. Suddenly he felt the urge to try the quantitative reasoning test in the app. In his primary school days, he fell in love with the subject by default, after being left to do his assignment himself by his mother. She would often say, “we did Arithmetic in my days and there was nothing like ‘Quantitative reasoning’. This came up in your generation, so deal with it.” With an elder brother that was not academically reliable, he would battle with the assignment every time all by himself, and it soon became one of his best subjects. As he treated the first task and got his score, the teacher’s rating response was not there. And the system was not designed to treat previous lessons, as a real live teacher would do. By the time the others were back from the tea break, he had drawn out the direction for the improvement of the app.
“You are really a trained teacher”, Bayo said, as they started working on the new dimension to perfect the app. Okiemute was now very hungry, and could not wait to have his lunch. He kept yawning with eyes partially closed like someone feeling dizzy. He decided to use the gents to clear the sleep from his eyes. On his way, he met one of the kitchen stewards and quickly used the opportunity to place his orders. From the gents, he walked into the cafeteria very hungry and went straight to the counter to pick his meals. He had barely sat down when he had a familiar voice behind him, “lover boy, are you so hungry?” That must be Sandra, but why would she call him a lover boy? He wondered.
He turned back and saw her. She was just coming in and had not collected her meal. They exchanged pleasantries, and then she left to pick up her meal. Okiemute was almost done with his meal by the time she got back. “Why did you call me lover boy?” He asked. “Are you seriously asking me that? Do you think you will tell those guys anything and it won’t become the topic of discussion in this office? We’ve been told that you have the special wand that melts the toughest of ladies”, she added with hush tone and a mischievous giggle. “And I hope that works on you too”, he replied with a wink. “I cannot be your victim, trust me on that. I have handled worse players in my short years on earth. Can any state produce players more than what we have in Lagos?” She asked rhetorically.
He did not know whether to get angry with his colleagues or not, however, he was not bothered as the gossip was not a bad secret per se. He has learnt his lessons, he had to be circumspect in his dealings with these guys going forward. He thanked his stars that he had not shared his fondness for Sandra with them. By now a query letter would have been on his desk. What a relief to have known who his flatmates were early enough. His absence during tea break gave them an unhindered playground to share the gossip with those around. But then, how did Sandra here about it? Did they walk up to her to tell her, or she heard by eavesdropping while they were telling someone else?
He wanted to ask Sandra who told her, but then it would make it look as if he was bothered, and again such traits were seen as what female does. How would his guys back in Warri treat him if they hear that he was bothered with ‘dem say, dem say’? (side talk). “Be a man and let it pass?” he asked himself. “When you see, you act like you saw nothing, and you will see more. When you hear, you act like you heard nothing, and you will hear more”, those were the words of his late father. With that, he laid the matter to rest.
Lunch break was over, and everyone returned to their desk to continue the day’s task. Okiemute went back to his office without speaking to neither Ken nor Bayo about what he heard. They continued the task at hand, working in harmony until they closed for the day.
Bola was right, ‘there are always gossip carriers in every establishment’. Now that Bayo and Ken have shown what they are made off, he needed to find out who among the staff was still in the news carrying business.
Fiction #Warri #Nigeria #Survival #AI #Automation
IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.
He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.
Among his published works are ‘What is Left of What is Right?’, ‘The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader’ and ‘Warri No Dey Carry Last’.
He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.