Whenever I apply for a job, I like to include in my cover letter, the phrase that “…Am geographically mobile and would be willing to travel and/or relocate for purposes of work and business.” Most times I mean it, but other times I just include it in there to give me an edge over other applicants who may not have thought of including it in their cover letters. Nobody has ever called me out on it. That was until I walked into an interview room on Tuesday last week. Now, the last time I went to a job interview I was still struggling to burst out of the cocoon of boyhood. Well, am yet to shed that skin of boyhood completely but the process is damn nearer completion today than it was those four years back.
Because I have been out of formal employment for so long, I do not have official wear to speak of. So I threw on a nice shirt, a decent tie, and an ill-fitting trouser then slid into a pair of rubber sneakers and whistled as I walked into the interview room. Looking all Ellen DeGeneres and serious. Suffice to say, the receptionist who ushered me in to the venue had the laugh of her life, as did the lady who sat across from me in the interview panel – and who saw my full portrait as I walked in. She is the one who would later ask me whether I really meant it when I claimed I could relocate or travel to any corner of the nation for purposes of business.
See, four years ago, if called upon, I would have gladly picked up my backpack, gently put my laptop and my documents in there. Then packed a week’s change of clothes and my phone charger into my duffel bag and maybe carried my bible and a note book to scribble my obsessive thoughts in, then set off to wherever the wind would have chosen to take me. I was a free soul. A sail boat without a destination, riding the tides of life under the thrust of the rough winds of life. Now, not so much. When she asked me that question, I realized that I had started putting down roots (that I can’t even see yet). And that I would not be as willing to move to a new town as readily as I would have been in 2014. At the interview, I held a brave face and stuck to the claim because I really wanted the job. So I even agreed to go to Garissa, on the border with Somalia, if that’s where my qualifications and skills would best serve the organization. Oh the things I have had to do for money…
I don’t know if you know Garissa better than I do, but my image of the place is crazy and obviously very wildly misinformed. Whenever I hear the name Garissa, I imagine a place where rocket propelled grenades could hit you as easily as you could pick a tub of shower gel from Nakumatt Supermarket. Or a place where you could buy camel meat as easily as you could take off your shoes when you walk into your house. Or drink camel milk for lunch in the hot midday sun of the Chalbi Desert as easily as you would order the Colonel’s sticky chicken wings from the KFC outlet at West-Side Mall. My mind imagines a place so hot you would be forced to go to the office in a vest, or a kanzu – which would be very dope. The kanzu, not the vest. I know, because I wore a kanzu during my fourth year in college, and boy was it a freeing experience. Then Lloyd borrowed that kanzu and I haven’t seen either of them (him and the cloth) ever since.
Anyway, I realized, after the interview (of course), that I may have been less than honest with the panel. Obviously I was kissing ass and trying to look determined and ready for the job. I realized that if I were posted to any town more than three hundred kilometres away from Nakuru where I currently live, I would have a bit of a problem. And I would possibly decline any such job, unless the pay was really really persuasive enough to blow away my imaginary roots. Or if the job was in Uganda because there is something about the Pearl of Africa that dances to the tune of my heart’s melodies. Anyway, the reasons for that realization are yet to come to me. Because I have no real roots to speak of in Nakuru, expect for my preference for cold weather and rain. But if all I wanted was cold weather then I believe I would fit perfectly in Limuru-Kenya, or Kampala-Uganda, or Halifax-Nova Scotia, or the North Pole. But something in me just wants to live and die in Nakuru, and it insists so.
Often times I feel like am a bird and this here town is my nest, where I will have to come back at the end of the day. I may fly away from time to time but I will always find myself back here. There is something about Nakuru that speaks to my soul. The relaxed pace of life, the ease of hustling for pieces of the national cake, the reasonable cost of living, and the freedom of not worrying about being hit by a rocket propelled grenade. A bullet may still hit you though, but only if you live by the bullet. This is my haven. My safe place. The pond from which my soul drinks. Where I find my peace and contentment. If I were a boat, Nakuru would be my dock. If I were a bird –which I sometimes feel my soul is- this place would be my nest. Because am just but a small-town boy living life as best as he can.