The building was a shopping complex the colour of dirty faded jeans. I checked my phone to make sure I was at the right address.
The air was stiff and the sun was working extra hard. I shielded my eyes with my hands and tried to read the signposts within the premises. I had received a text to come for an interview at a scheduled time. With my CV being on a couple of online platforms, this wasn’t new. The building was in a busy area, near a petrol station which was good and bad.
Good because it wasn’t secluded place, bad because the building wasn’t what portrayed modern business.
There were signposts within the premises and on some shops. The company I was looking for wasn’t indicated on any signposts. I took another look around. I was in the right place. I looked for the most approachable face and headed towards them. I asked for the company and showed them the message.
“This is the building, but I don’t know them.” Approachable face said. She asked the guy in the next shop.
Just then, a vehicle pulled up into the compound and a man stepped out. Looked to be in his forties. He wore a blue t-shirt with something about herbal products on it.
“Maybe you should ask him.” Approachable face said.
I went ahead and asked Mr. Blue T-shirt. “Oh Ok. Go to the back and climb the stairs. You will see the office.”
I nodded. I looked towards the back of the building. It seemed empty. I should at least have seen someone walk out or go in within the 10 minutes I have been here. I looked back at Approachable face and the other guy. They were watching me. I know they heard what Blue T-shirt said. I stared at them again hoping they would give me a clue as to whether I should go to the back of the building.
Their faces were blank.
I headed towards the back of the building cautiously. It looked like a courtyard. Not so big but spacious enough. There were numerous doors. Probably intended to be shops. Doors on the left and the right. Then a stairway that led to just a couple of doors. I stood still. I was in the middle of the courtyard. There was no one here. I could not hear anyone anywhere. I took a step forward. Was I willing to go up those stairs? How badly did I want this job? What if I went in and wasn’t able to come out? How will my family find me? Who would I call for help?
Clearly I was almost panicking. I looked at the doors again, trying to find something to give me an idea of what was going on here. Then I saw it. Two doors to my left. On a door, written in paint. Green paint. Not like calligraphy but like writing with your finger or a stick.
Written with paint on the door was – House of Babalawo …
I did not finish reading it. I did not need to finish reading it. I do not know the name written after Babalawo because I turned around so quickly in shock and began walking out. In case you don’t know, Babalawo means Traditional Herbalist or Native Doctor. Meaning someone who supposedly has traditional powers. When I hear Babalawo, in my mind I see an old man with long unkempt hair, chipped rotten teeth, and shabby clothing chanting. I also see the old man making another person vomit money in the corner of his shrine. That is what comes to mind when I hear Babalawo.
I see Blue T-shirt guy locking his car door. He hasn’t seen me in my panicked state. I turn back to the court yard. How do I get past Blue T-Shirt guy? I hear him approaching. I pull out my phone and pretend to be on a call.
“Yes. What did you say?” I said to my phone.
“You’re still here?” Blue T-shirt guy says when he sees me. “Come Upstairs.”
I smile and nod. I point to my phone. “Let me just answer this call.” He nods and walks up the stairs. I continue my fake conversation and walk out of the premises. I didn’t even glance back at Approachable face and the other guy.
To hell with the job and the interview.
‘Come upstairs’ my foot.
Written by Praise Ajewole. You can follow her on instagram @praisewrites
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