By Ishaka Mohammed
Sometime in April 2021, an interviewer told me that there were only five kinds of nouns. She went further to reject some of the concepts I used while trying to disagree with her. For example, she claimed that neither ‘uncountable’ nor ‘mass’ could be used while discussing kinds of nouns. Surprisingly, however, she accepted ‘countable’. Before I could say anything further, she had mentioned her qualifications, perhaps to prove her superiority to me. Although I apologised to her, I wished I hadn’t encountered such a drama, thanks to Covid-19. I’ll explain this in the following story.
Due to my observation of many state civil servants, especially teachers, I’m usually afraid of relying on a state government job in Nigeria. Although I’ve applied for some government jobs in Kaduna State, I’ve never thought of depending totally on any (if employed). Besides, it’s highly unwise to rely on a single source of income.
However, as a private school teacher, my Covid-19 lockdown experience made me see one advantage of government jobs. Government workers received their salaries despite being away from work for months. Unfortunately, it was a different story for most of us (especially teachers) in the private sector.
Most schools in Kaduna had been on lockdown even before the federal imposed the same. I thought normalcy would return within a short time, but I was wrong. I had to stay for five months without a salary but not without food. To complement the assistance from some friends and relatives, I did some menial jobs until I decided to post my story on Nairaland. All I needed was a daily income of N500.
About an hour after posting the story, a lady responded and asked me to chat with her via WhatsApp. I wasted no time, and we reached an agreement. She would send snapped or scanned copies of handwritten notes from Ibadan, and I would type them on my phone and send them to her. We agreed on N30 per page, but she usually paid me higher than that. However, the biggest amount of money I received at the time was N1,200, and it took me three days to complete the task. Moreover, it was difficult typing the contents of the photos on the same phone containing them (the images).
With the lockdown experience, I became so much interested in government jobs. So, when the Kaduna State Teachers’ Service Board (KSTSB) advertised teaching vacancies in December 2020, I responded at once. I was shortlisted for a test, and owing to my high score, my hopes were high. So, expectedly, I was invited for an interview.
I prepared well and looked forward to facing the interview panel, but little did I know that I would be asked a question similar to the number of times President Muhammadu Buhari has been shocked. By the way, despite answering the last three questions correctly, the first one had already created friction between a member of the panel and me.
The woman insisted that there were only five kinds of nouns. I immediately disagreed with her and mentioned more than eight. Surprisingly, she accepted ‘countable nouns’ but rejected ‘uncountable nouns’. I quickly drew her attention to the fact that uncountable nouns are also called mass nouns, but my assertion infuriated her. She claimed that she had never come across ‘mass nouns’, and to prove her authority, she had to boast of the number of degrees she had, with the first being in language arts. I kindly said, “I’m sorry, ma.” However, that was like appointing a campaign director after one has already lost an election. I didn’t get the job.
Since then, I’ve consulted many sources to know how many kinds of nouns there are, but I have
yet to get a definite answer. Should you have an answer to that question, please share it with me.
Ishaka Mohammed wrote from Kaduna. He can be reached via email@example.com.