Con­fes­sions of a job­less NUL grad­u­ate

Lesotho Times - - Leader - Lipuo motene

When she was six years old, she wanted to be­come a sol­dier like her fa­ther. When 10, she had a change of heart; she wanted to be a nurse. When 15, as­pi­ra­tions changed again, now she wanted to be a teacher. When she was 18, she was told by her english teacher: “You write good es­says, your ex­pres­sion is ex­cel­lent, your ar­gu­ments are sound, there is al­ways logic and co­her­ence.” At this stage, she thinks she has to be a lawyer, but she is con­fused.

At the age of 23, she gets a Bach­e­lor of Arts de­gree, the fu­ture looks so bright be­cause the pro­gramme she en­rolled in of­fered a wide range of ca­reerop­por­tu­ni­ties. She was of­ten asked by her fa­ther: “So you have a de­gree now, where are you go­ing to work?”

She would re­ply: “I can work as a di­rec­tor, a project man­ager, an edi­tor, a lin­guist, a colum­nist, a re­searcher, and an an­a­lyst.” The list could go on, but she with­drew her­self as she could sense the cloud of con­fu­sion that sur­rounded her fa­ther. he could not grasp any of these pro­fes­sions as he was just a mere sol­dier. It felt good to her when recit­ing these oc­cu­pa­tions as they showed an el­e­ment of so­phis­ti­ca­tion.

The job-hunt­ing process be­gins, she has so much hope. For this rea­son, she be­comes an avid reader of va­can­cies in news­pa­pers and sub­mits job ap­pli­ca­tions ev­ery week to po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers. In good faith, she ap­plies for po­si­tions she qual­i­fies for and those that she does not due to lack of ex­pe­ri­ence. While on this mis­sion, she is con­fronted by all sorts of neg­a­tiv­i­ties but is de­ter­mined and un­de­terred. her heart is set on only one de­sire; at­tain­ing any of the ca­reers out­lined in the in­for­ma­tion sheet of her pro­gramme.

Six months pass while still in the re­lent­less pur­suit of her dream ca­reer, noth­ing has come up so far. She is still per­sis­tent in drop­ping ap­pli­ca­tion let­ters, hop­ing that she will get some­thing some­day. In this pe­riod, she is even ap­ply­ing for jobs that re­quire peo­ple who hold diplo­mas; how­ever, she is told that she is over-qual­i­fied.

The next strat­egy she em­ploys is propos­ing to vol­un­teer so that she could be con­sid­ered a suit­able can­di­date when a po­si­tion is available. none­the­less, this fails as well. A year has passed. There is still noth­ing. She has not been called to a sin­gle in­ter­view in all the at­tempts she has made.

At the age of 25, she is scared, deeply threat­ened by the thought of be­com­ing noth­ing. All her ef­forts seem to be in vain and hope is be­gin­ning to fade. She feels like she has been over­whelmed by a dark cloud. The pres­sure com­ing from the par­ents, sib­lings and neigh­bours is mount­ing and un­bear­able but she does not let them see that she is fal­ter­ing.

The pain is sub­dued yet sear­ing. In re­sponse to their nag­ging ques­tions, she of­ten told them: “I will find some­thing some­day.” This is a deeply soul-crush­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. In real­ity, she has grown weary of the end­less search as she feels as though her count­less ap­pli­ca­tions are just be­ing shoved into some long for­got­ten files. It is grad­u­ally dawn­ing upon her that the sys­tem has be­come too sat­u­rated to ab­sorb her.

Peo­ple would nor­mally ask, “So what are you do­ing now?” And she would re­ply: “I was at the na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho (NUL).” Of course she knows that this an­swer is ir­rel­e­vant, but she can­not bring her­self to say that she is not do­ing any­thing. That is a doc­trine of de­s­pair she can­not up­hold. It feels like ac­cept­ing un­der­achieve­ment open-heart­edly.

For a while, this re­sponse seemed to of­fer a worth­while sanc­tu­ary. how­ever, two years go down the line with­out a ca­reer, the an­swer stops to of­fer the much-needed refuge. It starts to be­come mo­not­o­nous. Her spirit be­gins to flag, she feels as though all dreams have been shat­tered. She has al­ways dreamt of be­com­ing some­thing, but now she is grad­u­ally be­ing re­duced to noth­ing.

While de­luded in the per­pet­u­a­tion of her ideal pro­fes­sion, the bi­o­log­i­cal clock is tick­ing. Feel­ings of in­fe­ri­or­ity keep es­ca­lat­ing. She feels as though she is ex­tremely lag­ging behind in com­par­i­son with age-mates who are mak­ing re­mark­able de­vel­op­ments in their lives. ev­ery now and then, she is con­stantly in­fested by thoughts of be­ing a fail­ure. She also feels like an ob­ject of ridicule when her de­gree fails to se­cure her a ca­reer that would en­sure sus­tain­abil­ity. She plunges deep into a murky cesspool of de­pres­sion. Gloom and doom find res­i­dence in her mind. She can­not for­give her­self for not mak­ing her par­ents proud. They have noth­ing to say about her when other par­ents brag about the safe ca­reers of their own chil­dren.

At this stage, while hyp­no­tised by the hal­lu­ci­na­tions of a white-col­lar job, the vic­tim men­tal­ity steadily creeps in. Whims and caprices keep spew­ing out of her mouth. All the time when try­ing to pro­vide the rea­sons for her mis­er­able sit­u­a­tion, she cries cor­rup­tion, op­pres­sion, nepo­tism, dis­crim­i­na­tion, ex­ploita­tion, this, that. If given the op­por­tu­nity, she would even blame the weather. When in this con­di­tion, she wants to dis­ap­pear and sink into the dusty walls of the earth or fly away into the sky to hide from the harsh facts of the bit­ter and bru­tal real­ity.

At the back of her mind she keeps hav­ing vague mem­o­ries of her sweet child­hood when ev­ery­thing seemed pos­si­ble. She wishes that she could have just been a sol­dier like her fa­ther be­cause that job does not re­quire a myr­iad of qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Not even a diploma is needed. All that is needed is to show the will­ing­ness to let the au­thor­i­ties de­cide your des­tiny. The ut­most qual­ity needed is be­ing sub­mis­sive. Obey or­ders with­out ques­tion­ing, or­ders of whom to kill or who to keep. Who to elect or who to elim­i­nate, stay loyal to the politi­cians; pro­tect their in­ter­ests by stag­ing coups when­ever they deem fit.

en­list­ing in the mil­i­tary seems to be the only op­tion left in or­der to es­cape the scourg­ing stigma of be­com­ing noth­ing. With a tear washed face, she reaches for her pen and pa­per and be­gins to draft an ap­pli­ca­tion letter ad­dressed to the army though per­fectly aware that she still does not qual­ify, she feels there is no harm in try­ing. This seems to be an un­usual ap­pli­ca­tion letter; it is seven pages long but she can­not stop her­self from hur­riedly scrib­bling. She starts to feel a long lost re­la­tion­ship de­vel­op­ing be­tween the three of them; her­self, the pen and pa­per. This con­nec­tion feels very much dis­tant, yet so lib­er­at­ing. She finds the so­lace she has been long­ing for and she starts to dream again.

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