Black Coming of Age Fiction

“So, what is the catch?”

“Why did you always worry about the negative in everything?- start first and when you cruise past the catch, you will not realize”

“ It is always intelligent to know what one is getting himself/herself into. It is called wisdom or looking after one’s ground. It never hurts to know one’s enemy from day one”

“ Yeah, I understand where you are coming from but this has become part and parcel of your entire way of living. Do you know this is the third time you have asked the same question today alone?”

“That shows I must be improving as a person. That is a sign that I am maturing speedily at the rate I don’t even realize you don’t mention it now”

“No, many see it as a sign of fear, self-doubt and not having confidence in oneself. Don’t ask them this question in any interview”

“I asked the question twice during my previous interviews and I did not notice any sign of anything being out of place from the interviewers”

“ No wonder you are still interviewing to date. In this upcoming one, don’t ask that question again and see yourself already as a prospective employee of that wonderful company you are running after”

Thompson smirked loudly as he eyed his friend Smith who at times wonders how he lives the floating life he does. Whatever page life throws at him, he takes it as if nothing happened or even that his ‘what is written is written' philosophy of life. Yeah, he knows as a person that what is written is always written but it doesn’t hurt to know the future even if only 10 percent, and plan for it. Just flowing with life like a downward flowing stream without knowing even the terrain a single percent to Thompson is a direct ticket to a voidable calamity. That doesn’t sound wise to him.

He knows how Smith and other of his friends view him and his inquisitive mind. It is not only his friends who are in the habit of eyeing him askance for a while whenever such a question drops from him but his parents and siblings have also found it difficult to adjust to it since the years they had been together. 

 He recalled one incident vividly when he first passed his common entrance examination and saint John’s seminary turned out to be the first choice given to him. The school was new then and while some were being over joy for him, he was particularly interested to know how equipped the new school was in terms of everyday necessities.

“ This is wonderful news and I heard they have few white teachers as the staff there” that was his father voicing out his joy for his son but the son has other worries that he realized had not entered into anyone’s mind or at least, they are not voicing it.

He had in his characteristic way wanted to know what little things the new school is battling with. “what is the catch?” He had asked. The people had gone quiet, eyeing him with little confusion about the question and his demeanor.

“ The Catch?- Oh, it is not as if you will become a priest afterward or something, I am not for that but good training and quality education are assured.” That was his father again misunderstanding his question. Maybe he did not express himself well. He was interested to know how the everyday needs of the people were equipped and handled there. Water rationing is what seems to be the trend, especially for new schools, and the town this seminary is built is too interior and the people of the town too poor. Being new to a school run by the church that is not particularly known for spending a hell of money and students’ well-being. They view their inadequacies as part of their moral upbringing. ‘Thou shall not live by bread alone' group of managers but Thompson was not interested in excess bread or excess word of God but if all are in a quantity that is enough for all. His family has a borehole in their family house, so since he came into this world, he has not worried about water or shelter or even food, but he has never lacked any.

Not actually that he can't take care of himself by fetching water from wherever to the dormitory, he learned that aspect that has stuck with him for life from his two years of living with his grandmother in the village. His worries about this new saint Johns is whether those requirements are available at all in a common sense quantity for them to serve themselves. Drink, wash shower.

True to his intuition, when he got there then, the water was being supplied by a tanker. There was nothing like a borehole and as he settles, he noticed that the tanker doesn’t come regularly. Water was being rationed most of the time.

   Well, he survived that ordeal and passed through similar ones in tertiary institutions. How time flies. That St John's was where he first met Smith his best pal. From day one, he never worried about anything and seems to have things when he wanted them that bad and never seen to notice that he did not have them when none is given them. Thompson has seen his parents drop him off and knows that they are well-to-do. Where Smith picked up this his “Baquomi” life still puzzles Thompson. There is this saying among poor classmates of theirs that sons of rich people are usually off-the-grid in their brain department. But this Smith?

Throughout their second school together, he had admired his “no-worry” way of living but his spirit wanted otherwise. After secondary level, they had gone to different universities and now shared a flat in a city after tertiary education. Smith’s “Baquomi” life has intensified and Thompson’s inquisitiveness has gone up a notch too. In terms of classroom performance, he is better than Smith. He finishes fourth while Smith finishes eleven. But since graduation, Smith seems by his way of living and luck that comes to him as far as getting a job and a girl is concerned completely mesmerizing to Thompson. 

He has gone to two interviews already and two have gone without even getting rejection emails. Now, the third is in offing and Thompson had done one and gotten the job he wanted with starting pay he wanted too. Now he is being told that his failures have something to do with asking ‘catch’ related questions. And “Please, will you do me a favor, and that your ‘catch’ question from the next interview, please? To think that he had asked the question when Thompson’s girlfriend had appeared unannounced with her girlfriend for the party they wanted to attend and Smith had asked him to take care of the extra girl to create room for him and his girlfriend. But moves like that have hidden potholes all over and one needed to know a few beforehand and now, “so what is the catch” has become his roommate reason while someone had been flunking interviews. 

He sighed silently and told his friend that he is still waiting for his answers.

March 04, 2023 04:48

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