Myles Ojabo would spend the next few weeks writing a 3 to 4 part series on some of his life experiences. The title of the coming series is ‘AK Dad in Nursing School’.
AK Dad in Nursing School
I am an Afro Kiwi Dad. A proud Nigerian man who has made a home in Auckland, New Zealand. The day I matched on the Auckland University of Technology podium to receive my doctorate remained a significant event in my life. The vice-chancellor announced my name along with the resounding ‘doctor of philosophy degree’. My children, Kyle and Leona, along with my wife Tega, sang my praises from the crowd. I waved and smiled at them. As I walked toward the vice-chancellor to get my certificate, I wondered if my children knew what the certificate meant. I had begun the Ph.D. journey on the same day that my firstborn, Kyle, was born. This was four years ago. I collected the certificate. A Ph.D. in Creative Writing. A dream received.
Later that day, I hosted friends, mostly Nigerian students, at the Sky City Hotel to celebrate the day. Kyle, seated next to me with a drumstick in hand, asked, ‘Daddy, what are you now?’
‘A writer, Kyle,’ I said, stroking his head. ‘Your daddy is a story writer.’
‘Are you going to read me stories?’ Kyle responded.
‘Your daddy always reads stories to you, Kyle. I would write a children’s book someday and read it to you,’ I said.
I thought about the question my son asked me. I have been working in a mental health hospital as a Psychiatrist Assistant for about three years to support my family. My wife, Tega, worked as an engineer and was living her dream. I wondered if I was living my dream. I was yet to make any money from my writing.
In the next couple of weeks, I found myself lost and confused in these thoughts. One time I rushed out of my thoughts only to realise I had crashed into a car while on a morning school run in West Auckland. What could I do? The damage to my car was minimal. It was not the same case for the other vehicle. I exchanged details with the driver, who indicated her insurance company would contact me. Kyle and Leona, at the back seats, looked surprised.
‘I am glad we are all safe,’ I said.
‘Daddy, why did you crash into the woman’s car,’ Leona asked.
‘Daddy was a little distracted,’ I said. ‘Let’s head off to school now.’
‘Is the car able to move?’ Kyle asked.
‘It’s just a small accident, Kyle. Our car is okay,’ I said.
It was a 50 kilometre zone, and we were lucky I was not on a higher speed. On dropping off the children, I pondered on how a writer could make enough money to have a good life in the expensive world of Auckland. I had a novel to my name, but it was unlike the sort of success Chimamanda Adichie had.
In conversations with a friend later in the day over a cup of coffee, he recommended I go back to school.
‘Doing a master’s degree in English Literature would increase your chances of teaching in the Arts. If you cannot find the opportunity to teach Creative Writing, you could teach English Literature or English as a second language.’
I saw sense in what he said, and in the following semester, I started the Master of English Literature at the University of Auckland. I thought I knew what I was doing until I bumped into an alumnus of the English Literature doctoral programme. I was waiting to see my supervisor when I noticed the middle-aged Caucasian man mopping the floor. He smiled at me and asked if I was the new student with a Creative Writing background.
‘Yes. How do you know that?’ I asked.
‘Your supervisor mentioned that he was expecting you. I know most of the lecturers in the faculty. I gained a Ph.D. in English Language from the faculty last year,’ he said proudly. ‘But since jobs are hard to come by, I took this cleaning job and another factory job to fend for myself and my family until I get something.’
I got lost for a moment. ‘We are on the same boat,’ I replied.
Confused and depressed, I dropped out of the programme after a few weeks. I had to seek help. I visited a psychologist in the Henderson suburb that had most of the takeaways stores I frequented.
‘Your writing could always go hand in hand with the advancement of your current occupation in the psychiatric setting,’ the psychologist stated, smiling warmly.
‘I am not fulfilled as a psychiatrist assistant,’ I said to the psychologist.
‘Get into nursing school. That would be an advancement of your current career as a psychiatric assistant to becoming a psychiatric nurse. And your writing would always be there. I would recommend a master of nursing programme that admits people of all backgrounds.’
This was how AK Dad ended up in nursing school.
Watch out for the next episode and read about the challenges AK Dad experiences in nursing school. You can follow Dr. Ojabo on Twitter @Myles_Ojabo.