Living in campus hostels blinds us from the harsh realities of today’s economic situation. In campus we have it easy; we heat water using electric jugs and cook with electric coils without daring to pay attention to the power units that we incur. We wash dishes under running taps with no scruples whatsoever about the dent we inflict upon the school budget. For a meagre Ksh.30 you will eat to your fill at the mess- Rice 20 bob and beans 10 bob. If the school so much as manages a wink in its job, if the price of beans is hiked to 15 bob due to lack of rains, we riot. A blackout lasting more than an hour is a sin.
It is all good until we graduate from campus.
I met a former student who graduated in December. He had these delusions of grandeur in which he saw himself driving three months after being awarded the power to read. However shock was on him when he begun looking for a job, and it quickly dawned upon him that finding employment ‘outside there’ was like a child with no shoes in a world full of invisible broken glasses.
While in campus, he was fond of saying that he wouldn’t accept a job that would not pay anything above Ksh. 30,000. In a year or so he would have his own villa in a suburban neighbourhood.
When I met him the other day, he was a dilapidated soul. He had lost the appeal he had in campus. There was no little Miss Thing hanging onto his arm. Clearly, he was weathered. Right now, he doesn’t mind working for lunch and fare only. Looking for a job has become his only job.
“I thought we are now in a digital government? Kazi kwa vijana, no?”
I prodded and asked about his dream of driving a guzzler after three months. He didn’t respond, but instead he asked me whether it would be a good idea to start a barbershop clinic.
A barber shop? Are you kidding me? Here is a rather capable guy with a fairly admirable degree from a revered university in East Africa, asking me whether he could open up a barber shop and whether I could be his regular customer.
I have always known that life behind these campus walls is unkind, but this is a new low. He didn’t even have the luxury of self-preservation. I could have laughed at him but I will probably be in his situation a year from now. Probably making a living behind an M-Pesa stand. Well, I guess it’s true that having the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.