Interview With… is a Zikoko weekly series that explores the weird and interesting lives of inanimate objects and non-human entities.
Zikoko walks into the ICU. National Grid is on the bed, hooked up to various machines. Nurses are walking in and out, connecting inverters and setting up oil IVs. A nurse tells Zikoko to sit down.
Zikoko: Sorry, when I was told to come for the interview, I didn’t know he’d be in the hospital.
Nurse: Yes, we hoped he’d be stable by this time, but his blood pressure suddenly spiked.
Zikoko: Do you think I should leave? I can come back later when he’s feeling better.
Nurse: No, stay. He really wants to do this interview. When I informed him he needed rest, he threatened to make our hospital the only building without light. He just needs a little rest, and he’d be back up in no time. Just try not to stress him too much. I don’t want stress.
Zikoko: I’ll try my best.
Nurse: Okay then, we’d be leaving you here. *points to a red button by the bed* That button there leads straight to the nurses’ room. Please press the bell and let us know if you notice any unusual behaviour.
Zikoko: Absolutely. No problem.
(Nurse leaves and Zikoko starts to binge YouTube videos while waiting for the National Grid to wake up)
Two and a half hours later
National Grid: W… w-water.
Zikoko: (Rushes to give NG a glass of water) Are you okay? Need anything else?
National Grid: You don’t look like the nurse.
Zikoko: The only thing I nurse is heartbreaks, sis. My name is Zikoko. You said you wanted an interview and then gave me this address. I wouldn’t have agreed to come if I knew you were in intensive care.
National Grid: I had a feeling. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t tell you.
Zikoko: Hmm. What’s so important that you made me come to interview you in a hospital?
National Grid: Well, you are known for giving a voice to the voiceless. I have read your interview with Twitter, Nigeria’s Coat of Arms and the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge. I know you have what it takes to tell my story.
Zikoko: Thank you for trusting us.
National Grid: Thank you for coming to an unknown address without asking questions but what if I was a kidnapper?
Zikoko: You’d have returned me back o. Do you want to buy market?
National Grid: Why am I not surpised?
Zikoko: Let’s be asking the right questions. I promised the nurse I’ll try not to stress you. Tell me why I’m here.
National Grid: I wish my bosses were as kind as you. Maybe if they were, I wouldn’t have as many problems as I currently have. Do you know that I’m growing grey hair already? I’m not old enough to have grey hair.
Zikoko: How old are you, let’s check.
National Grid: Honestly, that’s not the point. Zikoko, I’m overworked like a Nigerian man named Kunle on the way to his fifth girlfriend in the week. But at least Kunle is enjoying something. What do I have?
Zikoko: Clearly not enough girlfriends.
National Grid: (disappointed sigh) My job is to provide electricity for the nation. Since you’ve been alive, when have you had 24 hours of light? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question. There’s no light. Do you know what it’s like to be created with a purpose but be unable to actually fulfil it. My life’s dream is to have enough light to power a nation, but I can’t. I’m a failure!
Zikoko: So when Pheelz said electricity, vibes on a frequency, that was your sub?
National Grid; I thought you were nice…
National Grid: How am I supposed to show my face amongst my peers? My employers just keep demanding I work. They don’t care about my mental or physical state. The day before my last collapse, do you know I had not eaten? I even trekked to work that day because I didn’t have money for bus.
Zikoko: Sorry. Is that why you’ve been collapsing lately? Hunger?
National Grid: Yes! This is more than a 9-5 for me. It’s my whole life. It’s all I’ve known and all I’ll know, but I can’t keep trying to sustain based on what we currently have. If you try to provide electricity for about 200 million people, won’t you collapse?
Zikoko: I definitely will frequently be on vibes.
National Grid: Zikoko…
National Grid: High blood pressure, anxiety, depression, high cholesterol, diabetes and arthritis. Those are all the sicknesses I’ve been diagnosed with. I can barely do any work without collapsing.
Zikoko: With all due respect sir, you’re a machine
National Grid: *starts vibrating offendedly* Even machines fail sometimes. This is Nigeria.
Zikoko: Don’t be angry. Have you tried telling your boss to hire assistants for you? Maybe go on leave?
National Grid: You, when last did you go on leave?
Zikoko: There’s no need for all this.
National Grid: Why are you acting like you don’t know the kind of people my bosses are? I’ve been begging them for years. They mentioned hiring someone called Kanji Dam, but I haven’t seen nkankan. Where is she? One day I’ll collapse and won’t be able to wake up. I wonder what they’ll do then.
Zikoko: Not wake up ke? We will suffer.
National Grid: That’s actually not my problem. It’s not like there’s light when I’m not in the hospital. You’re used to the darkness.
Zikoko: But still. What is a country without its National Grid?
National Grid: I don’t know, but I’d be dead. So I won’t be able to find out.
Zikoko: So you brought me here to warn me about your death? Am I a lawyer? Shouldn’t you be drafting a will?
National Grid: A lawyer means only my family will know. They might be planning to coverup my death. I brought you here to tell you that I don’t think I have much time left. I don’t want to die, but I’m prepared if it happens.
Zikoko: It’s giving the last supper.
National Grid: Zikoko, I’m sick. Just make sure you go far and wide. Spread word of my physical state!. Tell them I will probably collapse a couple more times, so they better buy plenty of fuel.
Nurse walks in
Nurse: Just here to check his vitals and make sure he’s doing okay.
After vitals are done, National Grid falls asleep. Zikoko is left with the nurse
Zikoko: Tell me, honestly, will he be able to make it?
Nurse: He’s stronger than he looks, but old age and stress are really telling on him.
Nurse: Let’s hope when he gets discharged, I wouldn’t have to see him here.
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