It was a sad episode but when I thought about it later, I found it hilarious. How on earth would one terminate an employee’s services just because she had been away in Sweden studying?
For God’s sake, I had the blessings of the company to travel and now this!
Almost 16 years later, I still hear the receptionist blurting out those words; “Dorothy, the News Editor said you should not report to work. Not now, not ever!”
I stood there, my legs paralysed and my armpits sweating. It was a cold day. When I finally found my tongue I asked, “What did you say? You are kidding me.”
Without uttering a word, she whipped out a white envelope addressed to me from under her desk. “Here,” she said, “your termination letter.”
I am sure she had read it otherwise how would she know it was my termination letter? What cheek!
Hands shaking and mouth twitching, I took the letter and shoved it into my handbag. Since my limbs could hardly carry me back to where I came from, I sunk into the torn brown chair at the reception and took a deep breath.
After 20 minutes, my feet regained some strength. “Thank God,” I whispered to myself. I stood up with utmost care lest I crumble to the ground. Luckily, I managed to walk without my feet becoming too weak to carry my 60kg in body weight (I was a little heavier those days).
I walked out of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre where the Kenya Times was housed. In another hour, I was at my rented flat in Komarock in Nairobi’s Eastlands going through the contents of the letter as my baby girl Cherono played oblivious of the fact that her mother had just been pushed to Jobless Avenue with the stroke of a pen.
Two days earlier, I had arrived in the country from Stockholm, Sweden, where I had gone to study for a course in Administration of Justice, courtesy of Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Swedish Embassy.
SIDA selected me for the fellowship after reading a feature I penned about a 16-year-old Somali girl in Eastleigh, Nairobi, who was forcibly married off to an old man. Thanks to the feature, the poor girl was later rescued and continued her education.
When SIDA’s letter reached the Kenya Times newsroom at KICC, the management and the News Editor had a different idea: They wanted someone else to go for the fellowship. However, SIDA insisted that the scholarship was meant for me specifically.
So, I left for Sweden unaware that some people were mad at me and were awaiting my return so that they could teach me a lesson.
That was in 2000.
Three weeks later I secured a better job which paid me three times what KT paid me.
Sometimes one needs to be sacked to be jolted into reality. That is when you realise that when one door closes, another one opens.
So, comrades when you are shown the door, don’t spend years looking at the closed door when there are several open doors waiting for you to enter.