Professional Massacre


A lot of persons have asked me repeatedly why I chose Engineering against something I’m more accustomed to, like Arts or specifically Literature. It was a tough decision, but that was the only viable option circumstances afforded me…

I was 12
My age when I made the decision
Three years before I was done with high school
Life was pretty tough, not cool
We’ve got no food, no fish in the pool
I had five other siblings stuck in school
Money was necessary else, they were doomed

Mum hawked bananas and fruits
In all neighboring streets and alleys
She always leaves for the market as early as six
Just to purchase as much fruits as she’s got on her list
From thence she would head to motor parks
Brothels, streets and everywhere she could sell her wares
She’s beautiful. Too beautiful for a mother of six
But with her beauty came harassment
She knew harassment
She was accustomed to it
From touts, bus drivers
And unfaithful married men on the streets
But she had to go through the pains
So her kids won’t end up in the streets

Dad wasn’t much different
He was driving a “danfo” for a man in my church
He leaves as early as mum
Else, he won’t make enough money for his boss
Early he leaves, late he returns
Very wearied and worn out
I must confess, he had a foul odour
The stench made me deny him before my friends
He often left his beards unshaved
For according to him,
“Being handsome is useless without money”
Soon that became my watchword
Dad was going to do anything just to get extra cash
But sadly, he spent more time in the bar than home

Don’t be surprised he went to school
Mum too had a college degree
Though I never cared to know what they studied
Of what use was it if there was not food on the table

My five siblings aren’t left out in the maze
Always looking impoverished and malnourished
They often stayed hungry all day till mum comes back
Eche, the last one was renowned for crying a river
It wasn’t long before he was diagnosed of ulcer just before he turned 5
Mum and dad had to borrow some money from a relative
So that Eche would be treated and not die
It was sad. Seeing my family go through pains
While neighbours gossiped at every instance
“I won’t end this way.” No! Not like mum and dad

One evening
Dad called me to the sitting room
He came back from the bar that night with a spare bottle
That only happens whenever his worries were at the peak
He looked at me for a long while and lamented endlessly
I could swear I saw tears in his eyes
It was a sight I couldn’t bear
Yet I restrained myself from crying
He opened an old file beside him
And carelessly pulled out two old documents
He gave them to me and beseeched me to read
They were dad and mum’s NCE certificate from the same College of Education
For the first time ever, I realized they both studied English Language
Little wonder mum always faulted my grammar
That’s what she was good at, but she had no job to show
Dad saw the sadness in my heart
He dropped his bottle of beer and walked into oblivion

I didn’t need him to explain further
I needed no more words from him
His certificate said it all
In his silence, he blamed his poverty on his wrong choice of course
He believed he would have been rich if his years at college
Were spent bagging a #Professional degree in Law or Medicine
Seeing me, he was scared.
He was scared ‘cos he was seeing his poverty reincarnated in me
He was scared ‘cos he had learnt I had no passion for Medicine
Engineering or the Pharmacy he so much love
He was scared that without studying a professional course
I would end up a danfo driver like him
I always wanted to be a News Reporter or a Librarian
Just a portfolio that would allow me read books and play around with words
But my dad was scared.
He was once in my shoes and sensed poverty would make a feast out of me

That night, I slept on my mat crying
I thought of poor Eche and Amara, my immediate younger sister
My ambition was worthless if I can’t deliver them from this bondage
Dad’s happiness was more important.
Mum’s struggles won’t be in vain
Since computer engineering would secure me a job
In a big firm as I made to believe
I humbly bowed to it

I went back to school the next session
And enrolled for the science department in SS1
Learnt physics and chemistry
Just to make dad proud.

Nine years after
I’m a certified computer engineer
With no passion for coding or tech
I’m just another failed project
A victim of professional massacre.
A young man who chose money over passion

But ain’t alone
I’ve got others in my shoes
I see music artistes seated in the banks wearing suits and ties
With wonderful songs in their hearts that they’ve not sung
I see footballers in courtrooms defending cases they don’t understand
I see the gifted painter who is yet unknown to the world
Simply because she is in the hospital practicing medicine for her dad
And I know the actor who just dropped out of college
Because he couldn’t survive the heat in his Pharmacy class
They are just victims of professional massacre of dreams and destinies

I’ll tell my child this story
I’ll let her choose her career freely like a bird
‘Cos I’ve realized that dad was wrong
It’s not just about the money but the passion
Without which there is no joy or happiness
I spent 5 years in the College of Engineering
But all I learnt beyond X and Y were big engineering words
For that was what I was wired by the Creator to understand
I applied for a so-called “professional” course
And I almost had my writing dreams massacred

Did you study a course simply because you were told it was lucrative? Or are you trying to tailor your child’s career to suit your personal desires?

As good as studying petrochemical engineering and law may be, you’ve got to understand that everyone is wired differently. There are tons of unemployed barristers trekking the streets of Lagos. And there are many undergraduates who have lost bearing for their lives. It’s never too late to make a U-turn.

Preach the message.

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