Kojo could not stand the pressure anymore. He was reeling from self-pity and shame. He could barely provide for himself, for his wife and his children.
Already, his wife was the breadwinner and now his son had gotten a fancy job. He sighed.
Kojo glanced at a young man sitting near him. He was wearing an official shirt with the sleeves rolled up. His car keys were next to his glass.
‘He’s probably a white-collar employee running away from his problems too’ Kojo thought to himself.
He was a decent looking man. Kojo studied the man.
He was staring at the drink in his glass, with his mind far away. He seemed troubled.
Kojo was tempted to talk to him but he thought, ‘I have troubles of my own,’ He gulped the last of his drink.
The man started a monologue about how tough life was and how he blamed the government for every problem he was facing.
Well, it had to be a monologue because he hadn’t even looked up to acknowledge Kojo’s presence.
But Kojo laughed, “Things are hard, eh?”
He looked up, “You don’t think so?”
Kojo shrugged and stretched, “Oh, I know. You just don’t look like you know what hardship is,”
The man stretched his hand, “I’m Kofi. What’s your opinion?”
Kojo took the man’s hand in a firm grasp. “Well, you drive to work every morning in thick traffic and are frustrated by the time you actually reach your office. You may be working at a – law firm or Insurance company?”
“Bank,” Kofi corrected,
Kojo nodded, “You work at a Bank! And you get tired of the monotony and having to deal with ungrateful customers and pampered clients. It’s too much stress for you especially when you have to go home to poor electricity supply. To worsen the case, the constant delay in receiving your six-figure salary is intolerable! Na lie?”
Kofi looked stunned but didn’t lose composure. “That was a good try, you were close enough,”
Kojo was good at studying people and exceptionally good at the guessing game.
“I’ll try and figure you out as well,” Kofi joked.
Kojo didn’t laugh. “There’s not much to my story,”
He went on to explain to Kofi how fortunate he was to have a steady job, satisfying the basic needs of his family.
Kofi watched as Kojo’s emotions were displayed in the contours of his face as he poured out the pathetic reality he lived in. ‘This man may have drank too much,’ He thought to himself.
Otherwise, why would a total stranger be completely honest about how much of a failure he was?
“…So yes! In my opinion, life is hard. But not everyone should have the audacity to say the same with as much ease,” Kojo said, as Kofi motioned for the bar tender to refill Kojo’s glass.
“No, that’s fine. I should be leaving now,” Kojo said, staggering to his feet.
Kofi quickly picked out his call card and shoved it into Kojo’s hand.
“Give me a call. Maybe I can help you do something about the job search,” He said.
Kojo nodded and wobbled away. He felt pride welling up from his gut. He tried putting the card in his pocket and forgot about it.
“I’ll fix my life on my own,” Kojo was speaking to himself. The sharp smell of liquor hit his nose and sent a shiver down his spine.
It was a strange familiarity he had come to hate.
He was an alcoholic but he didn’t want to live that way.
His blurred vision caught the last of the sun’s rays as darkness hit the sky.
Once again, he was drunk, trying to find his way home and confused.
This is who he had become and as he sat down to rest in front of the A-Life Mart, he couldn’t help realizing that the ‘closed’ neon sign was apt for the moment.
Years ago when his world turned upside down, he had a tiny window of hope that things would change.
He felt the tiny window closing as sleep overpowered his aching eyes.
***to be continued***