Mum, can we talk?
Mmmh. This must be something. You have FINALLY gotten the time to call.
(Giggles) You know how tricky working in Nairobi can be. Wake up early, get to job, leave late and by the time I want to talk, it’s past your bedtime.
Work son, work, and spare sometime for your mother. Anyway, are you bringing her home this Saturday?
Mum, we have been through this; what’s with the PRESSURE? I am still very young.
Haya. Miaka hairudi nyuma, minji minji hawasimami; wanenda kwenda. Ask your uncle Bonnie; at 47, his best shot now is mama Njira. You know her history? Married four times with 6kids, Bonnie will be the fifth.
(Women! can’t they just read the mood?) Mum!
What is it?
I don’t know how to break this. (Long pause) I am quitting my job.
At last you got a better deal. Yes! I told you prayers get answered my son.
No better deal. I am quitting engineering.
Uuuui. What? Are you sick in the head? Chris! You are the envy of the village; people will start saying you were sacked. Can you at least consider that we sold cows so you could be an engineer? Don’t start bringing jokes in life Chris. (How we think in Swahili)
Let them say. I hate my job mum. It’s boring. Every day I feel caged.
Watoto wa siku hizi!! Force yourself to it. They pay you handsomely. Isn’t that good enough? Do you know that millions are jobless? Kina Dan na degree zao wanafanya kwa mjengo, have they influenced you too?
No influence. There comes a time when you get real with yourself mum; I am not at a happy place. Now more than ever I realize that there is more to life than just money. I have thought about it, I’m quitting.
Are you mad? So you will come back to the village after quitting? I will talk to Uncle James to have a word with you; this is not good.
No. I will find my way into script writing and directing, and survive. God answers prayers. Good luck with uncle.
You must have woken up with your left leg. This is madness. Your father will be more disappointed. Don’t do it. Consult him first.
Mum, it is my life; whatever you think, I have decided to quit. Pass the message to dad. Bye!
Chris hangs up.
Meet Chris, a 29year old civil engineer currently employed and earning a net salary of 90k. His lifestyle is healthy; rents a 2bedroom house at Donholm, drives a yellow Subaru impreza, and uses a Huawei mate 9. He has zero investment. Girls have a crush on him. In Muteno village, bwana engineer is every kid’s role model. Among his peers, he is a yardstick; his friend’s girlfriends want their men to be like him. Can’t you just dress like Chris? Ask Chris where he does his haircuts.
Chris feels lifeless, directionless, `happyless’. He feels sad for himself; dissatisfaction flows from his heart, no one prepared him to deal with all this. He hates his profession, his job, and every waking day he knows he does it for the money, lifestyle and status. His number one regret is having pursued civil engineering but what better choice did he have after scoring a straight A? James, Lilian, and the entire society expect that people with A’s ought to pursue deep courses like medicine, engineering, and law. He settled for engineering; Biology was not his cream of ice, and he hated history; numbers and Physics were his cherry. Civil, he was told is very marketable and upon completing school, he would be gold and land a job immediately. Having listened to the elders, he went through 5years studying; using weed and alcohol (these hard courses require stimulations to relieve stress or so they say). He kept uncombed afro, his room could remind you of a cabling room; he had a top-of-the-game woofer and zero utensils. He would eat chafua (4mandazis with bean soup added for free) at Mama Carol’s. He got a paid internship and upgraded to a home theatre, bought a fridge to store alcohol, and bought no utensils. Girls loved him more. He was lucky to graduate with a second class honors upper division.
3months after campus, the firm he was during internship put an offer on the table and he took it. Indeed, this course is golden. People who did Statistics and Political science were still job searching. In campus, guys knew him as Chris wa theatre, he was the brainchild of the theatre and king of directing. The number of classes he missed while in the theatre is almost equal to infinix users. He was a celebrated team leader. Their plays would show in the theatre, people would pay, but the profits were not as much. They were building their skills and that is what mattered.
As a civil engineer, Chris performed as expected and did what needed to be done. He misses directing, and it’s hard to find the time for it while in a 8-5pm job and working on Saturday half day. Recently, he took a two weeks’ leave to find direction for his life. He is very tired of his current job. It doesn’t come with significant satisfaction whatsoever. He knows he did civil engineer for the society and for his father who wanted an engineer, a doctor, and a teacher. He had helped him accomplish his goals. But now, he has to make a hard decision, swallow a bitter pill and do what he wants. At least he can enjoy something for once. 29 is still young enough to try and see the offer on the other side of fear. He plans to quit in good faith so that if this stage thing doesn’t work, he can find his way back to engineering.
He longs for a life he enjoys deep down and the journey has just begun. Stones will be thrown his direction and he is ready for the scars, and the disappointment he will cause to his parents in the short run. He is now hunting for a bedsitter and thanking God that he was not in a stable relationship, otherwise, his heart would have suffered a break.
“In this world full of uncertainties, making such a decision is not an alphabetic matter. Help your kids know their passions and talents early enough and while at it, work in nurturing and getting ways to even monetize them. I would hate my kids to spend an hour doing a thing they don’t enjoy’’, Chris wa theatre said in conclusion.