It was a training programme I had been looking forward to for months and of course, I had planned for it accordingly. I knew when auditions were going to begin and I was prepared. Oh c’mon, I was more than prepared! I had been schooled by one of the best in the industry months before. I was going to nail the auditions, zero doubts! I shared my plans with my parents and they insisted that I visit the training school to confirm all the necessary details. I informed them that I had all the right details since I had contacted the training school secretary almost five times to confirm and reconfirm. Still, they insisted.
I arrived at the centre for the first time around 12:00pm on the 24th June 2011. I was directed to HOD-A’s office and I thought it was just as well, since the secretary was not likely to tell me anything different from what she already had. On the stairwell, I meet with the HOD-B; a very warm and friendly middle-aged man. He engaged me in conversation for a bit and seemed quite impressed with my responses. When he was eventually ready to excuse me, he directed me to the office I needed to go.
I walked into HOD-A’s office as directed and sure enough, he was there. He took one look at me and informed me that auditions had ended for that day. I was baffled but refrained from asking questions. He asked me to return on Monday for my audition. I thanked him and left.
By 8:00am the next Monday, I arrived in front of HOD-A’s office, formally dressed, prepared and armed with all my credentials; I wasn’t taking any chances. I walked into the HOD-A’s office and he told me I couldn’t audition; auditions had closed as at Friday. He added that the girl I had just seen leaving his office was accepted only because there was a girl with an accent he had been looking to replace. I pleaded but somehow knew it was useless.
It made no sense! The secretary told me auditions would start in July, it was June ending as at that time and auditions were off? I wondered. I looked for friendly HOD-B but was informed it was his day off work. I was sad and felt defeated. I was sure my dad wouldn’t let me hear the last of it.
I went home and started job search in earnest; there was no point remaining jobless. The next session of training was only months away and I made up my mind to succeed. Towards the end of November, I started calling the secretary again to keep tabs on audition details and by the sixth call, she was ready to tell me off.
The next audition was set to begin on December 3rd. I informed an interested friend and pleaded that she auditioned first, and give me feedback. She told me she was the third candidate to be auditioned, that although she didn’t have her B.Sc. certificate, when she presented her Statement of Result, it automatically earned her 13 points. The actual audition required that she read a paragraph of text out loud. In 20 minutes, she was done and enlisted.
I took permission from my boss and headed out early the next day for my audition. When I got there, HOD-A wasn’t around, so I waited. While waiting, I was joined by my namesake, Oritseseyisan (kinda). When the HOD-A finally arrived, Seyisan and I headed up to his office. I went in first but HOD-A asked me to call Seyisan in first. Working hard to keep calm, I told Seyisan to go in for his audition. In less than 20 minutes, he was out and enlisted. I went in again and presented my Statement of Result, HOD-A said he would not accept my Statement of Result, he only wanted certificates.
I left his office upset, confused and on the verge of tears. Nah, this cannot be what I think it is! Surely, that would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? I was so lost in thought; it took a while for me to notice Seyisan was waiting for me. He asked what was wrong and I almost lost my composure. He eventually succeeded in calming me down, then, he suggested I go home to get my WASSCE Certificate, “after all, it is a certificate”, he pointed out.
I smiled and ran off. I took the first bike I could find straight to my house and asked the bike man to wait. I grabbed my WASSCE Certificate and zoomed back to the training school. I walked into the compound briskly and found that Seyisan was still waiting. What an angel! He signalled for me to hurry on, so I did. I knocked on HOD-A’s door and stepped in. I informed him that I had gone to get my WASSCE Certificate; he seemed stunned. He sighed and asked me to wait for an hour as he had guests: two girls who latched on to him side-chicks style (I had Googled the man and knew he was married).
Now, I was beyond upset. As I headed down to wait out the hour, I almost ran into friendly HOD-B. He recognized me immediately and seemed pleased to see me; he inquired if I had come for my certificate. I informed him that I was there to audition and I could tell he had become confused; well, so was I. He probed further and as I narrated the whole scenario of the last session; he grew increasingly uncomfortable. He could see I was upset, so he asked about that too. I shared with him all the happenings of that day and I could see the alarm in his face.
Friendly HOD-B pleaded that I calm down and wait for him. I watched him head off to HOD-A’s office, so I sneaked up to the window to eavesdrop. Of course, I had refused to consider the possibility but there it was; the friendly HOD-B was talking in a stern voice about intelligent people who know enough to sue for discrimination. I didn’t want to hear anymore.
I walked away, too stunned to believe what my ears had just heard. Seyisan was still waiting; what a dude! He sat by me for a while and offered kind words. He eventually had to leave, having cancelled two meetings just so he could stay to support me. I thanked him profusely and we said our goodbyes.
I returned to the HOD-A’s office. There, he and his chickens feed me a sub story of how an albino had been admitted previously to the school, Apparently, the school had had to cater for health of the albino when he claimed he had been bitten by mosquitoes on the school premises. The albino had allegedly constituted a nuisance and caused a lot of hassle. There was also the issue of his sight which made him fail his courses, blah blah blah-did-did blah…
As I listened, I grew angry and finally it was my turn to respond. I made no effort to be polite as I clearly stated that I had never been admitted into the hospital and since I had successfully completed my Bachelor’s degree, I sincerely doubted that a three-month training programme would be too hot for me to handle whether intellectually or as regards my sight. I pointed out how unfair and discriminatory it was for him to intentionally try to cut me off twice based on his experience with someone I am in no way related to.
My friendly HOD-B (yes oh, “my”) stepped into the office and asked that I come with him. He took me aside and apologized profusely on behalf of the school. He asked me to return to audition the following morning and promised it would be a smooth sail. As I made to walk away, he called out to me and quietly asked that I do not make an issue of it. I knew what he meant; I managed to smile at him as I walked away. I wasn’t going to make him that promise.
I returned for my audition the next morning with a stern face and glaring eyes. I honestly expected HOD-A to give me some drama that day, so I went prepared, ready to give him a piece of my mind if he dared. I was holding the ace and it felt good; I was ready to use it too. However, just as my friendly HOD-B had promised, my audition went smoothly. I walked away, happy that I had auditioned well but sad that the hurtful HOD-A would get away with his discriminatory behaviour.
I reached for my phone. I needed to call Seyisan so I could update. My smile gradually faded as I realized I had been too upset the previous day that it didn’t even occur to me to get his number. Every time I remember this experience, I pray God bless Seyisan wherever he is.
God bless Seyisan wherever he is!