Celebrating East African Writing!
I have heard of first days from a lot of people. But I have had so many first days in my life, I cannot tell which is the first among them all. Back in primary school, the compositions were so full of days that whenever I see anything starting with “the day I…” or “my first day…” I freak out. But these first days seem to follow me wherever I go. So let me look at another first day.
Lest my English teacher sees red, let me begin the way she taught me. My first day in this place. This place happens to be, well, here.
I arrived early on the appointed day. 8.00 am to be precise. They had drummed it into me that punctuality is vital. (They, being those guys who go to schools to tell students what they already know but are convinced that they do not know). To cut the long story short, I met my fellow interns and this HR guy who said that the dress code is formal bla bla bla. A necktie from Monday to Friday! Talk about change. Then we were off to our section heads. I had used the lift so many times by now that even when I sat down in a chair I could feel it move.
I was left in the hands of one Nancy; I don’t know her second name. There are not enough sitting spaces, so I have to hang around somewhere. I am not very foolish, back in my second year at the university, some guy tried to teach me logic. Now I finally have some use for it. I eventually find a spot to sit several floors from my supposed working station and go into logical reasoning. At least I think the lecturer called it that.
I come in at 8.00 am, and then just ‘hang around’ as the veterans have filled all the seats. So who will even know that I am in? I will find a way, at least I have a will and there is some saying about wills and ways.
Have you ever tried to look busy while doing nothing? It is really difficult I tell you. I have been trying to look very busy doing absolutely nothing. But I cannot stay idle. Not when these people in the newsroom, where I am seated, look like they have a grudge with their computers. I was once told that the computer gives out what you give it. I never really got the gist of the idea. Why give it anything in the first place if will only give you the same thing back? That aside, these people look like they are trying to get something from the poor machines without giving them anything in the first place.
I finally get a spot on my floor. I don’t know who sits here, so I get on to my feet whenever anyone stops near me. I finally decide to stay put until the resident identifies themselves. And he does. “Hey, who are you my friend?” very loud, and I have never met him before so we cannot be friends. So I assume he is talking in future tense. There are many ways of answering his question but this guy could be the MD for all I know. So I humbly introduce myself, “I am…” in very correct English. Then again, “Who are you?” Now this is exasperating. I feel like saying something outrageous but I resist the urge.
After a lot of explaining he goes, “Oh, so you want to be a writer?” Jeez! This guy is really something. Does he think I came to be a game hunter on the top floor of a media house, in the middle of Nairobi?
He finally shifts attention from me and even leaves me seated as he goes round the office. He is noisy. This guy is creating such a racket I am left wondering what happened to the sanctity of the office and all that bull stuff. But then whoever thought about the ideal office environment did not probably have a press or newsroom in mind.
I am seeing the people behind the names I see on the papers. In the late afternoon this guy I had once been told is called Tony Mochama breezes in from some place called Vienna. I thought that was in Italy but I get from the talk that it is in Austria. I need a refresher course in contemporary geography or some other fancy name. I am sure the city colleges have a name for it. Someone calls him Smitta and I am utterly lost. So if this is Smitta, who is Mochama? Very dense indeed, but this is my first day.
I have been given some article to work on. I have to do some interviews and a lot other things. Among the people I have to interview is a cabinet minister. Now that really freezes my intestines. The nearest I have ever gotten to one is on the television screen, and now I have to interview one. This is the stuff of nightmares I tell you.
I go back to my logical arena. I am supposed to do interviews, correct. I am a new face so someone will probably want to check back. You can’t say you don’t know your immediate superior’s phone number. That would be really dumb. But I don’t know it, logical reasoning ends here, I am not dumb. Someone once said that kuuliza sio ujinga but he was not in my shoes. My friends’ advise? Jipange. I can already see I have a lot of kujipanga to do. This is turning out to be a really fast first day.