De Courte Durée

Adom had been waiting outside the office door of his new work place for about an hour. He had got there too early, it was not even 7am. He hadn’t wanted to be late, it was his first day at work; work that he had sought, for close to 5 years, after he graduated from the university.

After about some 30 minutes, a middle-aged man came along with the keys and introduced himself as Mr. Nkanea. He was to be Adom’s immediate boss. Adom liked what he saw when he entered the building. It was an auditing and finance firm, and like how he had seen in foreign movies, the complex had cubicles, one of which was going to be his. It excited him very much. I’m going to make my cubicle mine, he thought and smiled. But before any of that, he needed to take pictures. He was wearing the suit he had saved over the years to buy for his first job; it was jet-black, with almost invisible tiny gray stripes. He had new shoes on, a peach-coloured shirt and a dark blue tie. He had got a clean shave the day before and bought a bottle of cheap perfume to “enhance his aura,” he had told his roommate the day he borrowed money from him to go buy it.

Mr. Nkanea led him to his cubicle, by which time, other workers had started coming in. One young lady walked towards them. Adom stared as she approached smiling. She had on a brown knee-length skirt which hugged her pronounced hips and a cream-couloured see-through spotted shirt which she had tucked in. Adom couldn’t help noticing her breasts pushing against the first three buttons of the rather interesting shirt she wore. She had on a vest underneath, which barely helped in covering her generous breast and it was only then that Adom noticed she was caramel fair. He coughed slightly when she got to them.

“You must be our newest addition,”

she said and stretched her arm. Adom grabbed it and smiled. He had a beautiful smile; full set of perfectly set teeth. She winked at him and continued “My cubicle is right next to yours so we’re going to be office mates,” she said and winked again. Mr. Nkanea cleared his throat, run a few instructions through the young lady and left to his office.

“My name is Rabia. What’s yours?”


he answered and smiled again. This time, he thought he saw Rabia blush.

Rabia, he thought. A nice name.

They both settled in their respective cubicles and remained silent for a while. Adom had been given some papers to sort, and all the other workers had come in, introducing themselves then after, going back to their spots.

The young could not contain his joy. He was to receive his first pay cheque in two weeks. GHC 7,000. He could not believe it. He was finally going to get himself a better apartment, a car in due time, and to find himself a girl who would finally stick with him. He had everything in his reach already, he knew. Rabia’s body language towards him was something that had never happened before in all his years of unemployment. He was truly overjoyed.

He thought of his father, back in their hometown. The old man had been angry when nothing, in terms of money was coming after he had graduated, and with a first-class. He had ranted about how wasteful it was then to have suffered so much to send him through school. That was going to change soon. In six months, after his probation had passed, Adom was going to get a raise, almost double his first. He had carefully planned it all out. It was going to work. He was going to be able to go back to his hometown, not only in a car but with the trunk overflowing with goodies from ‘the big city’. He was going to finally be able to mingle with his friends from University who were lucky to land jobs right after school. Especially, with Kankam, a mate of his who had started with student politics till he entered mainstream politics and as was expected had hit a gold mine. He was a member of parliament for one such district that he had never cared to know about. He was finally going to be able to drive up to his end and visit him. They’d go out and drink some beer like corporate men do. Adom couldn’t wait.
Then, it suddenly dawned on him where he was. The building in which he sat. A year or so ago, he had seen Kankam on TV, unveiling that very building. It was his district after all. The government, as part of their policies, had built a number of office complexes across the country. His firm, being private, had rented the space. Kankam had been the one to unveil the one in which Adom sat. A rather childish feeling of jealousy washed over him. He was going to get to his level soon; very soon.

It was getting close to lunch time when the building shook slightly. Rabia stood up and stretched.

“This is the 100th time that has happened in the past month,”

She said and leaned over to his side of their square.

“It’s almost break time,”

she added.

“Let’s bolt now, if you wish to try the life-changing waakye I am dying to introduce you to.”

Adom felt tempted but it was his first day, and leaving earlier than the time slotted for lunch break meant going against the rules. He was on probation.

“I’d pass. Thank you.”

He replied and smiled slightly. Rabia shrugged, laughed and proceeded to pick up her purse. She walked out, announcing to a few other workers that she was taking her lunch break. It seemed to be something she already did. Nobody complained.

About 10 minutes later, it was time. Some of the workers got up and started grouping up and chatting when the building shook slightly again. Adom got up and stretched too, his face raised towards the ceiling. He felt the floor beneath him shift, and the ceiling started moving down towards him…it was fast. It all happened terribly fast.

He opened his eyes and it was dark, but he could hear faint noises from a distance. He tried to get up but he couldn’t. He was trapped. Only his head was mobile and his entire body felt numb. The building had caved in. He smile ruefully and coughed. Blood splattered out and he winced. There was no way he was going to survive it, he knew. The entire dark space was silent. No movement, no sound.
He closed his eyes and leaned his head back. Breathing slowly and painfully, his life gradually seeped out from him.
He thought.
I should have gone with Rabia.


7 thoughts on “De Courte Durée

  1. Ama! this is beautiful. while I didn’t think it was gonna end that quick, the values of the story were clearly illustrated by the paragraphs and the rather sudden end to a beautiful start of the young man had a lot to remind me of how elusive this life is.
    I enjoy particularly the corporate setting of the story and for a fresh graduate, I could identity myself with it …..Thumbs up.


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