Interview With Toothbrush: “Please Let Me Rest”

October 1, 2021

Interview With… is a Zikoko weekly series that explores the weird and interesting lives of inanimate objects and non-human entities.


If you are asked to mention the hardest worker in Nigeria today, you probably won’t mention your toothbrush, even though that poor object does the difficult work of cleaning your mouth. As though that hard labour is not enough, so many Nigerians have refused to change their toothbrush and buy a new one.

Today on Interview With, Toothbrush narrates its daily ordeal and begs for Nigerians to please give it a rest.

Zikoko: It’s great to have you here.

Toothbrush: [Yawns] Thanks for having me.

You seem tired, are you okay?

With the things my eyes witness on a daily basis, I don’t even know what answer I can give to you.

What things?

I don’t even know where to begin. But my job as a toothbrush is the most difficult job ever. You should experience life as a toothbrush, maybe then you will understand what I mean when I say my eyes have seen a lot.

Surely, it can’t be that bad…

Whatever you think I am going through, please multiply it by 10. It is worse. I’m overworked, underappreciated, and when I’m supposed to retire, Nigerians convert me into something else.

You won’t let me live, yet you still refuse to let me die. Why? 

The reward for hard work is more hard work. That’s the honest truth.

My work is hard enough! My entire life is hard! Do you think it’s easy to enter someone’s mouth and wash away their morning breath? You people refuse to kiss your partners because of morning breath, but it’s me that has to enter your mouth and scrub everywhere to make the morning breath disappear.

Well—

And as if that is not enough, some people will put me in their mouth and scrub everywhere forcefully! It’s like they are washing a dirty rug. By the time I step out, I’ll be dizzy for a few moments because all that scrubbing has disoriented my system. Why? What did I do to you people? Is it a crime to try to help your dental health?

Is this why you injure people… ? 

Why won’t I? When you are dragging me across your smelly mouth without any regard, why won’t I touch your gums and cause small blood to flow? 

You’ve really been through a lot.

But think about it. Why do Nigerians like to overdo things? Why? Brush like someone who is all right, not like you are fighting with your mouth. And even if you are fighting with your mouth, resolve it amicably. Go to your dentist or something. Don’t use me to do your dirty work.

Pele. We will be sure to communicate your message.

It’s almost like there is no escape. When it’s time for me to retire after three months, Nigerians refuse. Sometimes, I go on brushing people’s teeth for close to six months. It is until I fall down on the bathroom floor before they realise it is time to change me.

Sometimes even, when I fall down, some people pick me up, rinse me, apply a fresh coat of toothpaste and continue using me to brush. Ah, people are stingy! Even to their own mouth.

Inyama! But you can’t blame them sha. The country is hard.

The country is hard, that is why I must now come and die inside someone’s smelly mouth? You better tell them that once it is three months of hard labour, I cannot do any more cleaning. If I am older than three months, and you are using me to clean your mouth, you are on a long thing.

You might as well carry your mouth odour and enter the streets.

You’re wicked oh. 

A little wickedness is sometimes necessary if you want people to act right.

Between brushing teeth and brushing shoes, which one do you prefer?

Should that even be a question? Please don’t annoy me further.

Sorry oh.

Sorry for yourself. Oh, and for those people that use me to brush their eyebrows, one day will be one day for all of us.

Now please, I need to leave. My owner has just finished eating breakfast and he wants to use me to brush his teeth.

People brush their teeth after eating breakfast?

Mr. Interviewer, this is Nigeria. Wetin my eye never see?

[Toothbrush hurries out]

Check back every Friday by 9AM for new Interview With episodes. To read previous stories, click here.


Read next:

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