What do you want?

Half of the time we walk around…going through life, fumbling…uncertain of what we want. Do I want to go to law school? Do I want to write? Sometimes we have everything we want…but we don’t realize it…so we go through life, searching… and searching for that perfect thing…perfect job…perfect partner…perfect house… perfect family…

Question is, what d’you want? Second question is, is there such a thing as ‘Perfect’? Earlier today, my small sis and I were talking about happiness and success… which of the two would you pick? She picked happiness…then, being the ‘devil’s’ advocate, I told her it’s hard to be happy when you’re hungry… I mean, we should know that better…hunger has been the one constant thing in our life. Smh!

So agreeing with me, she rephrased her earlier statement. “I’d want just enough, to enable me to be happy”. I couldn’t agree with her more. Sometimes we get derailed by thoughts of grandeur… so much, that we become blind to the beautiful things happening around us.

A short while ago we were watching the movie ‘Permission’, starring Dan Stevens, Jason Sudeikis… It’s about a man (Will), who wants to propose to his college girlfriend (Anna), but on the night he intends to propose, he is discouraged from doing so by Annna’s brother and his partner. They suggest that Anna should try dating other men before she finally agrees to be tied to Will in nuptials.

Will seems reluctant because he is sure he loves Anna. She, on the other hand, is open to trying out new relations. The movie focuses primarily on these two trying to date different people, while they are still together. Sometimes, the focus shifts to Anna’s brother (Hale), who desperately wants to have a child but his partner (Reece) is opposed to the idea.

Towards the end of the movie, Will realizes he loves Anna and does not want to lose her. Therefore mastering enough courage, which he did not have at the start of the movie, he goes down on one knee and pops the question. Unlike the first time when they were in Hale and Reece’s company, this time they’re alone. Anna says yes, but later in the night, she changes her mind and retracts her acceptance.

Hale on the other hand, realises that while he loves Reece, he cannot continue being in a relationship with him because they clearly have different desires. He wants a child but his life partner won’t support him. Eventually he packs his clothes and leaves.

At the end of the movie a dejected Will is left alone in the house he had personally constructed for himself and Anna, as she sets out on her quest to find her happiness. Hale and Reece go their separate ways. I did not like the movie’s ending because it did not have the proverbial ‘happily ever after’…

However, it is a reminder that such is life. We do not always have everything figured out, and even when we do, we don’t always get it. As I watched the movie, one thing stood out: sometimes we spend so much time, trying to find that perfect thing… that perfect moment… those perfect words… For instance, at the start of the movie, Will knew what he wanted; to propose to Anna, but he was too nervous.

I’m thinking, if he had followed his gut then, and made that proposal, he would have known then, if she wanted to be with him or not. Furthermore, his woes began when their friends suggested they try dating other people before settling down.

In my humble opinion, the company we keep is crucial. Sometimes our friends/family mislead us unknowingly, therefore we have to be strong enough to stand by what we want, even if they do not agree with it. If one knows what they want, they should be ready to fight for it even if means they will swim against the tide.

Furthermore, we need to appreciate the things we have and the people in our lives, so we can treat them with the love and care they deserve. Sometimes we take them for granted, waiting for the ‘perfect’ ones to come along, until we find ourselves at the verge of losing them.

That’s when we realize just how much they mean to us, and ‘perfect’ is pretty much a figment of our imagination. In essence, what we need to do is to figure out what we want… and once we identify it, we should fight for it, no matter the odds.

Seventy times seven

Cold wars are a serious problem in my family and lately they are becoming annoyingly common; for instance, for the most part of last week and the previous week, my big sister and I were not talking to each other. What’s funny is that we’d fought over something so trivial – splitting house chores. At first the conversation had been going ok, but after a while we started disagreeing and before we knew things escalated…next thing we were going our separate ways.

A day later, I’d already gotten over the anger and I was ready to reconcile. My sister, on the other hand, seemed grumpy. I tried talking to her a couple of times but she blatantly ignored me. At some point I started panicking when I realized she was so bent on keeping to herself, that she would use alternative doors, so we wouldn’t bump into each other.

After a careful examination of my conscience, I realized that even though the things I’d told her were true, they were hurtful. Furthermore, the situation had been worsened by the fact that I’d said them with my voice raised. Possibly if I had said the same things calmly under different circumstances, they would not have stung as much as they did. Granted, I had said them in response to what she had told me and that’s why I had gotten angry in the first place. Since I knew she wouldn’t talk to me, I sent her a text apologising.

Still, she did not talk to me. I gave up trying and asked God to soften her heart because I could not understand how she could carry anger around for that long. I missed talking to her, but I did not know how else to reach out. Eventually, she started talking to me after a week. Of utter silence.

Over time I have realised that when I hold grudges, they consume me from within, so if I stay angry for long I end up hurting. That’s why I try not to stay angry for longer than necessary. Furthermore, there’s that reading about not letting the sun go down when still angry; meaning, even if it is alright to get angry sometimes, we should not drag it out.

“If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day… Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you…

Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God as has forgiven you through Christ”. (Ephesians 4:26-31).

Those words keep ringing in my head whenever I’m angry…and I thank God for them because they keep me from holding grudges, even when I feel someone has really hurt me. Coincidentally, the Sunday readings in church the last two Sundays focused so much on forgiveness.

One thing I got from this past Sunday’s reading is that if you want God to forgive you, you must forgive others as well. That is a prerequisite we must fulfil before seeking God’s forgiveness. That got me thinking, most of the time we walk around holding grudges against people, yet when we sin, we ask God for forgiveness, forgetting we haven’t forgiven others ourselves.

Jesus’ parable about the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18: 21-35) teaches on that. In a nutshell, it is about a servant who owed his king millions of dollars, so the king ordered that he be sold as a slave, together with his wife and children. The servant dropped on his knees, imploring the king to be patient with him because in time he would pay everything. The King felt sorry for him and forgave him his debt and let him go.

When this servant was on his way, he met up a fellow servant who owed him only a few dollars. Enraged, he grabbed him by the collar, asking him to pay all he owed him. The poor man fell on his knees asking for more time, just like the servant had begged the king, but he wouldn’t hear any of it. Instead he had him thrown in jail until he cleared his debt.

Other servants saw what had happened and they reported it to the king. Incensed, the king ordered that the unforgiving servant be brought to him. He castigated the servant for not showing mercy to his fellow servant. Subsequently, he had the unforgiving servant thrown behind bars, where he’d be punished until he repaid all the millions he owed the king.

As Jesus told His disciples, that is how God the Father will treat all those who do not forgive others. We should forgive each other seventy times seven times. This is just figurative. What Jesus was trying to say is that we should forgive as many times as possible because our human nature makes us prone to sin. That way, even God will forgive us.

On that same note, we are highly discouraged from avenging ourselves. In Romans 12:17-19 we’re told, “If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it”.

One of the lessons I’ve learnt during this covid period is that being cooped up indoors with your loved ones could easily make them seem like foes, because everyone starts focusing on the small, insignificant things… We need to overlook those trivialities, because it’s in so doing that we can live in peace and harmony…and when fights inevitably break out, forgiveness is key. That way, our humanness doesn’t pull us away from God’s grace.

 

Lord Save me

Since Covid-19 became the most talked about phenomenon of year 2020, I’ve come across several covid-related memes; and, I thank God for humour because in the wake of this invisible monster, it’s one of the few things keeping people afloat.  This pandemic has made life relatively miserable…most of us thought we had problems, then covid came and proved to us that even when we feel things are bad, they could get worse in the blink of an eye.

As it is, we’re living in very precarious times. Even when making future plans, there’s that nagging thought at the back of one’s mind, that nothing’s certain anymore. I have across poignant stories about people who were ok before covid struck, then things went downhill too first…lost job… lost house, and before one could fathom what was happening, they were out on the streets…cold, with no place to call home.

This year has been very hard… Personally, I’ve been trying to find motivation from wherever I can, because what I have realised over time, is that if one has faith and hope, they can withstand, pretty much any predicament. In the same vein, if one has no faith, it becomes a matter of free-falling.

One such story is that Biblical story of Simon Peter, when he was out in the sea. One night, when he was in a boat with the rest of the disciples, they saw Jesus. Peter, asked Him to command him to walk on water, and Jesus did. However, after a while, Peter’s faith faltered and he started sinking.

Simon Peter walks on water

“Lord save me”, he cried out. More often than not, we forget God’s watching over us and the only prayer we need to say, is ‘Lord save me’, and He will come to our rescue. As seen during Elijah’s time when he was hiding in a cave, for fear that Queen Jezebel would have him killed, God appears to us discreetly. Chances us are He won’t come in a powerful wind, or earthquake…

As many may have noticed, He comes when someone’s about to give up. This means, we should not despair when things are not going the way we want… and we shouldn’t get tired of praying. Like I have said in previous posts, God may take time to answer when we call, but when He shows up eventually, He answers our prayers in style.

Destroying bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

If one purposes to nip something wrong in the bud, it means they will stop it from happening by destroying its core part, that way there won’t be any part of it that could possibly sprout again, and give rise to the same problematic issue. Ever seen a Bougainvillea hedge? It’s so thick, and while the flowers are beautiful, it has spiky thorns as well.

As a child, I played around it a lot, because it was easily available. I’d pluck a flower, tuck it in my hair. Sadly, as I grew up I started realizing it was most people’s preferred choice for funeral wreaths around my neighbourhood. Gradually, I stopped fancying them as I associated them with mortality. Sometimes I would come across them and they would feel ominous.

One time I passed by a bougainvillea fence that had been near our house, and I realized someone had sheared the branches off. I felt so elated. I wouldn’t have to see it again. At the time my mom was with me, and I quickly pointed it out to her.

Nonetheless, her reply made me feel like someone had punched me in the gut. “It will grow back again,” she said. “If someone wants to get rid of it completely they must destroy the roots”. At that point I realized, I’d have to get used to seeing the purple flowers, which were the most common. Weeks down the line, the detestable flowers were already starting to sprout again.

To date, I still hate the flowers, and whenever I come across a bougainvillea bush, my mom’s words ring in my head, “One must destroy the roots”. I remembered this flower a couple of weeks ago, when I heard a related anecdote from a Bishop during one of the online Sunday masses.

The story was about a small community, where the residents used to draw water from a communal well. One day, residents noticed there was a film of bubbles on the surface. Without paying much thought to it, the residents had the layer scooped out. At the time no one cared to have the matter investigated further, to know what had caused it.

The next day, the residents woke up and went to draw water from the well as usual and to their dismay, the film was back. They started getting concerned. However, no one thought to find out the cause of the intrusive film. Unanimously, they decided to seal the well, since it had always been left uncovered. That way, they reasoned, whatever was contaminating the water would not have access.

Relieved, the residents went on with their daily chores, satisfied that they had fixed the problem. Nonetheless, their joy was short-lived because when they went to get water the next morning, they noticed it had the same filthy bubbles. That’s when they thought to check the bottom of the well, because clearly, whatever was adulterating their water was coming from within.

A brave young lad, volunteered to go inside the well to check…and as one would expect, the root cause of their problem lay at the bottom of the well. Apparently, a dog had accidentally fallen inside the well and had subsequently drowned. This entire time, the residents had been using water which had been contaminated by the decaying carcass of a dog. Consequently, the carcass was pulled out and the well cleaned.

In more ways than one, most of us are like those residents; we see a problem, but instead of getting to the bottom of it and destroying the roots, we slothfully cut the branches, forgetting that the issue will continue recurring, since the roots are still intact. If something is bugging us, let’s destroy the roots…that way we’ll be sure we’ve destroyed it; because in essence, most of our incessant vexations are recurring issues that we purport to address, but never get to actually deal with.

Let’s talk about sex

How much is too much when it comes to children’s knowledge about sex? I’m under the impression some parents/guardians avoid this topic at all costs, but when you look at the happenings around us, the situation needs to be addressed. As the world is battling coronavirus, and all the untold hardships it has brought upon us, one of the glaring cons is that children have stayed out of school for longer than they should have.

You know some of those old sayings we so often take for granted? Some are proving hard to ignore; for instance, ‘An idle mind is the devils’ workshop’. Children are at home, and as it is, statistics show the number of underage pregnancies have rapidly increased.

These, have been attributed to gender-based violence, where girls are being defiled by male relatives; in some instances some naïve girls are being lured by wealthy men, who are promising them the things their parents/guardians cannot afford…then there’s the larger majority, who are just experimenting, of their own volition because they have so much time on their hands.

The latter is my bone of contention. Thousands of underage girls are getting pregnant…Question is, what are we not doing right? Something had me thinking…majority of guardians/parents are afraid of having the ‘birds and the bees’ conversation with their children; either because they are too reticent, or because in some cultures sex is one of those taboo topics everyone should avoid, except when discussing it with peers.

I’ve watched several movies on various local channels, where basic kisses are censored. Ever watched a Hallmark movie? They are the most family-friendly…they have a very intriguing storyline, which has relatively harmless love scenes. Methinks, the amount of kissing and nudity in these movies is too minimal to be censored.

Thinking of it from a child’s perspective, it feels like one of those instances where I’m watching my parents kiss…and as one would expect, it’s not one of those raunchy moments which scream, “Get a room!’ It’s the subtle type, which doesn’t focus on the physical aspect, but the intense love behind that kiss.

So, begs the question, should we bury our heads in the sand, pretend kids know nothing about sex and let things continue spiralling out of control? Should we let our innocent children get derailed by all the misleading information from their fellow friends, or the misleading pornographic content that’s easily available online?

When looking at a child, it is easy to dismiss them off as naïve, but I beg to differ. Just think of how old you were when you found out about sex. The difference between adults and children is, the former have a good amount of information to help them make informed choices, whereas the latter are still in a stage where they’ve got relatively little information that’s relevant, and ballooning curiosity.

I’ve interacted with children a lot, and one of the things I’ve picked up from my interaction with them is that a kid as young as five, has heard about sex from some older kids…problem is, the information they have is skewed…and that is where, in my humble opinion, parents/guardians should step in.

As a lawyer, one of my areas of expertise is children and the law, and as such, I could use pages expounding on the legal aspect of this conundrum. For starters, anyone found engaging in coitus with a minor should be charged with statutory rape…

However, the greatest challenge is that most of the teens are having sex with their fellow teens. In most jurisdictions, a child is anyone below the age of eighteen. So if both are minors, engaging in consensual sex, who should bear the criminal liability?

In the few years I’ve studied law, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt is that law does not solve all problems. The implication of this is that we need to find non-legal solutions and nip the problem in the bud. When I was a child, the one thing parents and teachers kept repeating was, ‘True love waits’.

From what I gather, most teens engage in coitus due to peer pressure. A kid who wants to appear cool needs to have sexual experience, because this is all kids are talking about nowadays…and the internet isn’t helping either. The way I see it, it’s about time we grabbed that bull by the horns.

Let’s have this conversation with kids…let’s tell them point blank of all the repercussions of teen sex…let’s not wait for them to collect misleading information from the internet, from peers… Let that vital, life-changing information come from a place of love…let’s teach them, that true love waits!

Alternatively, there’s the issue about safe sex education. If they cannot wait, there are safe ways of doing it. I know for most parents/guardians this might be unnerving, because children are angels, whose innocence should be protected. However, avoiding this topic is only worsening things.

The only way a parent/guardian can know the options available to them is by talking to their kids and gauging their position with regards to matters sex. What’s obvious, is that silence is not a viable option; because while we’re busy ignoring this, hoping our kids are still little angels, they are busy having sex…

 

7th Blog Anniversary

Lovely happy work anniversary clipart collection

Today’s that day of the year, when I get to celebrate this blog’s anniversary. How time flies… For the last two years, I’ve been forgetting this day, save for the nagging thought at the back of my head that’s always making me feel there’s something special I’m forgetting.

However, today it was different. Not that I didn’t forget the anniversary at first…lol…but because my big sister reminded me. Unlike the past years where I’ve been forgetting it owing to my legal studies/work, this year I had forgotten it because somehow my days are all mixed up. I’ve lost track of days. This whole concept of staying at home has been disillusioning.

Weekends and public holidays are meaningless, in terms of those mid-week breaks we eagerly await. Sometimes I find myself wondering if anyone will ever want to stay home again when this pandemic is behind us. Still, we should thank God for His mercies; for instance, an online page like this, through which I can get to communicate with anyone in any part of the world. Thanks to the internet, we might be far from our loved ones, but we are not alone.

This year as I celebrate my blog’s 7th Anniversary, I’m celebrating all my readers, and my loved ones, who give me the motivation to continue writing; because truth is, writing can be hard at times. As explained in my ‘About’ page, part of the reason I write is because I find writing therapeutic, because it unclogs my mind.

7th Blog anniversary

Somehow, my mind is always working overtime, I guess because of my anxiety. Writing therefore acts as my safe haven, where I can lose myself for a while…vent, and this helps me unclog my mind. Furthermore, most of the times, as I put down my thoughts, I get a moment to reflect on things, with regard to what happened and the lesson learnt. That’s why most of my articles are categorised under ‘Reflections’.

Nonetheless, anyone who reads my posts constantly might notice that nowadays I don’t post much; and the reason for this is that I’ve been too held up with work and school… I’m immensely grateful to each one of you who spares a few minutes of your time to stop by and read my posts. I celebrate you all. You’re the reason this blog is 7 beautiful years today. Here’s to you all…

Happy blogging!

God, where are you?

When is today? Same day as yesterday…and the day before that, right? Nowadays it’s hard telling days apart. Even before this distressing pandemic befell us, when staying home wasn’t the new ‘normal’, I could tell Monday from Friday, because at the least, I had Sundays to break the monotony. Now that is not possible as well because churches have been banned as a way of curbing the spread of COVID-19.

In all my life, I have never experienced so much uncertainty as I am now. Each day passes by with every moment angst-filled. Once upon a time, watching TV was fun…but nowadays, there are the incessant live updates about the state of COVID. Nothing’s normal anymore…

I miss going out and not having to worry about touching things because they could be contaminated, or getting close to people…I miss walking into several stores in a day, and not having to rub different sanitizers on my hands before getting in each store…I miss walking outside, inhaling the fresh air, without the irritating inhibition of face masks…I miss walking into a mall, without being subjected to ‘hospital-like’ protocols, such as screening before going about with my business.

I miss waking up to the cheerful sound of children playing outside…I miss seeing jolly neighbours laughing at a barbecue, clinking bottles of beer on a warm Sunday afternoon…I miss hearing the occasional happy birthday songs when my neighbours’ kids are all gathered in one of their friend’s house cutting cake…or seeing them jumping on a bouncing castle… I miss…[sigh]… I miss…many things…I miss normal!

I miss going about with my normal routine, and not having to constantly worry about the people close to me, who I cannot see every day; because Corona is like an armoured thief lurking in the dead of night, waiting to creep in when someone’s guard is down. It’s like being in the battlefield, and knowing any bullet fired could be the ‘one’…

I miss days when one could just cough or sneeze freely, without fear of being suspected of having corona. I miss days when COVID-19 updates were not the main focus on TV. It’s even more disturbing, thinking all those numbers denote actual lives… It feels like we’re in a twilight zone…

Million dollar question is, when this invisible monster is ravaging the world at a terrifyingly callous rate, where is God? Of the things I have learnt to appreciate during this imposed ‘quarantine’ period, is the fact that I can ‘travel’ to the Vatican any day I want and attend mass, celebrated by His Holiness, the Pope.

One of the memorable masses is Good Friday’s mass, where the homily was given by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa. He said something that answered that million dollar question, which I believe so many people around the globe are asking, “God, where are you? If you’re real, why have you let this monster run loose?”

Fr. Cantalamessa said, “The pandemic of coronavirus has abruptly roused us from the greatest danger individuals and humanity have always been susceptible to: the delusion of omnipotence. A Jewish rabbi has written that we have the opportunity to celebrate a very special paschal exodus this year, that “from the exile of consciousness”. It took merely the smallest and most formless element of nature, a virus, to remind us that we are mortal, that military power and technology are not sufficient to save us…

While he was painting frescoes in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the artist James Thornhill became so excited at a certain point about his fresco that he stepped back to see it better and was unaware he was about to fall over the edge of the scaffolding. A horrified assistant understood that crying out to him would only have hastened the disaster. Without thinking twice, he dipped a brush in paint and hurled it at the middle of the fresco.

The master, appalled, sprang forward. His work was damaged, but he was saved. God does this with us sometimes: He disrupts our projects and our calm to save us from the abyss we don’t see. But we need to be careful not to be deceived. God is the not the one who hurled the brush at the sparkling fresco of our technological society. God is our ally, not the ally of the virus!

He Himself says in the Bible, “I have…plans for your welfare and not for woe” (Jer 29:11). If these scourges were punishments of God, it would not be explained why they strike equally good and bad, and why the poor usually bring the worst consequences of them. Are they more sinners than others? No!

The one who cried one day for Lazarus’ death cries today for the scourge that has fallen on humanity. Yes, God “suffers”, like every father and like every mother. When we will find out this one day, we will be ashamed of all accusations we made against Him in life.

God participates in our pain to overcome it. “Being supremely good”, wrote St. Augustine, God will not allow any evil in His works, unless in His omnipotence and goodness, he is able to bring forth good out of evil”’’.

The homily was relatively long, but in a nutshell, Fr. Cantalamessa assured listeners, that God does not bring about disasters. You know that concept of free will given to man by God? Nature was given that freedom to evolve as well. This is because when God created the world, He did not intend things to just function mechanically, in a manner that would be so predictable.

I know these words won’t do much to calm all the anguished hearts, but I pray, they will bring some slight comfort to all those who are afflicted and grieving over the loss of loved ones. This is not easy, but we will triumph over it, the same way Jesus triumphed over death. God is with us.

Here’s to… my first legal job: Part 3

Toast to 2

As I read through the letter, I figured my friend and I had been dismissed for absconding work. Interestingly, it had only come barely four hours after us failing to show up at work. Even the legal provision cited did not hold any water. After getting over my shock, I wrote down a 9-paged letter in response, detailing my miserable experience at the office.

I also told him I had noticed his partner’s flawed perception of my friend and I, had ruined our previously good work relation; subsequently leading to our ill-timed dismissal.  By the time I was done, I could breathe easy. Writing had been therapeutic.

At first, I had contemplated not replying, but then I thought, I would not want anyone else to be treated the way I was. It was callous, to say the least. After everything, I told my boss I had accepted the dismissal because I had prayed for that job a lot, asking for guidance on the way forward. I believed this was God guiding me, and I wouldn’t fight Him.

A day after receiving the dismissal letter, I sent my reply to my boss and I copied his partner. That same evening, he sent me a very moving text, apologising for everything I’d gone through. I did not reply. The next day in the evening, he texted me again, asking if he could call me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk to him yet, so I did not text him back.

Thursday at around noon, I texted him telling him he could call. About an hour later, he called. At that point I was anxious because I did not know what to expect. I had already made peace with the dismissal and I was afraid he would tell me things that would agitate me all over again. Unexpectedly, during his call, he made admissions, subsequent to the recommendations I had made in my letter.

He admitted that he regretted sending the dismissal letter. Furthermore, he also admitted that it took my letter for him to realize how much influence his partner had on him. I did not want to think too much, whether his apology was genuine or not.

All I knew is that prior to the dismissal, I had made a decision to quit, so either way I would have left. Moreover, given that he was my senior, the fact that he lowered himself to a level where he was admitting he had greatly wronged me, is what made all the difference. I know how hard it is to say sorry, so the mere thought that he apologized was enough for me.

As I had mentioned, I had prayed a lot, asking God for guidance on the way forward because I had gotten to a point where I felt the job was taking a toll on me, physically and mentally. Therefore, much as I had not expected to receive a dismissal letter, I chose to think of it as Joseph’s predicament that landed him in Egypt. God used it as a way to uplift him.

If you’re wondering whether I forgave my boss, I did. He told me he’d had sleepless nights since I sent him my letter because the picture I had portrayed of him was not who he really was. He asked what I wanted him to do for me as a way of atonement, but I did not want anything. His apology was enough.

However, we both agreed I could not go back to the law firm because his partner was still working there and clearly we were not getting along. That said, he told me his partner would be sending an apology letter as well, but it is yet to pop up in my mail. Not that I’m expecting it though. It’s enough that she knows I condemn how she treated my friend and I.

I had made recommendations with regard to the changes I hoped my boss would make, for the sake of his staff, and he assured me he would. That was all I needed, because I knew, there would be people joining his law firm after my untimely departure, and I would not wish upon them, the treatment I had received. So as I contemplate my next move, I toast to my first legal job. It did not last as long as intended, but it taught me many things.

My lessons learned are: firstly, if you do not like the treatment you’re receiving at work or on any other forum, by all means speak out. Not for the sake of being argumentative or insubordinate, but because by doing so, you could be saving someone else; secondly, do whatever work you’re assigned in the best way possible, so that if you’re faulted for anything, you will confidently speak out against it; and, lastly, forgiveness heals. I am now at peace because I’m not holding a grudge against my boss and his partner. I did my part and left everything else to God.

Here’s to… my first legal job: Part 2

Earlier that day, my boss had arrived at the court late, and somehow thought it would be wise to put the blame on me. This was despite the fact that I had found someone to hold brief for him, requesting for the case file to be set aside. I had even notified him about it, detailing what had transpired in court in his absence, and even texted him the exact time the matter would be coming up again.

However, previous incidents of me shouldering blame for faults that were not mine had made me realize I could not continue carrying myself as a martyr. I would only, own up to my mistakes. Furthermore, stoicism wasn’t working for me, because the anguish was ravaging me, from the inside.

That day, a fellow colleague and I were summoned to my boss’ office, to be reprimanded for being incompetent. The lady partner was also present, and all she was doing was fanning dying embers. That is when it became vividly clear, what her intentions were. She did not like me one bit and she would do whatever it took to make my time there miserable as hell.

Unbelieving, and unable to fathom what was happening right in front of me, I explained to my boss all the concerns I had; all of which he seemed to understand. For the first time in a while, I felt the weight on my chest ease. I laid everything bare, detailing the instances they had faulted me for their own mistakes.

Afterwards, my boss went back to how he was in January; calm, and soft-spoken. However, that was not meant to last, as I would later discover. Two weeks ago, my colleague and I expressed our concerns about going to work amid the coronavirus outbreak, seeing how fast it is spreading and our work entailed filing matters in court and serving. On a good day I would spend about two hours in the office. The rest I spent out, running office errands.

The boss’ reply was, if we skipped work without leave, we would not get paid. Given what was at stake, I opted to pass on the money, and so did my friend. We even agreed to quit because the office was becoming too toxic. As my friend had put it, even other colleagues had started showing their true colours.

One thing I’m not sure I like about the legal profession, is that there’s a hierarchy, where someone is regarded, based on when they were admitted to the bar-‘seniority’. In layman’s term, it is an equivalent to how in the society young people are supposed to respect their elders. In this case, an ‘elder’ could be a twenty six year old, who was lucky enough to join the profession early, lording it over a fifty year old, who decided to become a lawyer after completing a PhD in an entirely different field.

Therefore, due to this concept of seniority, the ones at the bottom of the chain such as my friend and I, who are merely pupils, might end up getting overworked or maltreated by the rest. That is something my boss’ partner was keen on implementing, because she told my boss succinctly, that pupils should be the ones doing the bulk of the work.

This is what made my friend and I opt to skip work, given that most of the work assigned to us was clerical work, which ordinarily would be assigned to the firm’s clerk, or a certified process server. Next thing I knew, I was reading a letter of summary dismissal. Honestly, the letter caught me by surprise because I had not done anything to warrant dismissal.

Here’s to… my first legal job: Part 1

Toast to 1

Last year December was not a very good time for me, reason being, I was so anxious about starting my pupillage. See, I went for my interview in mid-August when I was still in bar school. At the time I was still preparing for my bar exams. Ergo, the mere thought of starting on a tasking job was automatically out of topic.

My supposed pupil master seemed so eager to send me on errands, even before I formally started working. Due to this, I feared once I started working, he would overwork me. I had heard several ‘horror’ stories about other students’ horrible experience during their pupillage, so that made me very cautious. I prayed I would not have one of my own to give after my pupillage.

However, when I reported to work in January this year, everything I had worried about seemed like an unnecessary fear. The first few weeks felt like heaven. Every evening when I got home, I would go to bed eagerly awaiting to rouse early the next day, so I could go to work. My job, actually felt like a dream job.

In late January my good work relationship with my boss  turned sour abruptly, and my ‘dream job’ became the sole cause of my anguish. I dreaded going to work, and whenever I sensed my boss’ presence, I would get knots in my stomach. I hated being at work, because every encounter with my boss was awfully stressful.

I bet one would wonder what I did to damage my once good relationship with my boss? Saddest thing is, even if I went back in time, I wouldn’t be able to change a thing; because all of that was not because of anything I had done.

See during the first few weeks, my boss’ partner was still MIA. I had only met her once during an end of year party I had been invited to by my boss. Funny thing is, my instincts told me she and I would have trouble getting along. Interestingly, at the time she had not done anything specific; it was just my intuition.

When she finally started showing up at the office constantly, she and my immediate boss started having constant impromptu meetings. Coincidentally, every time they met up to discuss ‘God knows what’, my boss would become visibly hostile towards me. My guess is, she had admonished him about seeming too friendly. Consequently, he started nit-picking, invariably blaming me for everyone else’s faults, literally. Sometimes I even got the weird feeling he was getting a kick out of making me miserable.

I know this might sound like I’m trying to ward off blame, but truth is, my personal work ethic dictates that when I’m working on something, I should give it my best shot. For the longest time, that has been my guiding principle. Even at the office, everything was running smoothly, until that lady showed up. Every time I found myself at the verge of quitting, I would ask God for the grace to push on; because my completion of the pupillage was, and still is, a prerequisite to me getting admitted to the bar.

After a careful deliberation, I decided to have a discussion with my boss. He had to know my perception of things, if we were to continue working together. Thankfully, I did not have to ask him to spare me a few minutes of his time; the opportunity presented itself in a very unprecedented manner.