Uchenna finally conceded to check out the business his friend had talked about selling. Left with him, he wouldn’t have given the proposal a serious thought, not to talk of going ahead with it. He knew he was scared, but he also knew his fear had a valid basis. He was afraid of doing any job that involves a lot of dedication or involvement, yet, because of his wife, here he was getting dressed for the business meeting. He only hoped he won’t regret this, as Rita made it plain that she expected him to buy the business, saying that she had an intuition that is to be their stepping stone.
She even assured him of her help in generating the money. He shook his head at the wonder of it all. His sickness had opened a door for him, and though he didn’t really look forward to passing through the door, he acknowledged that it was a door, all the same. He heard his wife walk in before she volunteered to knot his tie. He let her, remembering how she had always knotted his ties in the early years of their marriage.
‘Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine, I assure you.’ She obviously read his mind.
‘How can you be so sure? I don’t want to work hard for it to come crashing down on my head again.’
‘Have a little faith my dear, it won’t happen like that again. You have learnt your lesson, and your relationship with God is obviously better, so you’d listen to Him more.’ Uchenna couldn’t deny that the prospect looked better than it had then
‘I agree, but keep praying for me’ he said as he headed for the parlour where his suit was hanging after Rita insisted on brushing it. He knew he looked overdressed for the meeting, but he wanted to give the right first impression to his potential employees. He had learnt of that during his days in the corporate world. He had actually learnt a lot of things from those years, and that made it impossible for him to regret the whole experience, he had some good things to show for it.
‘Truly God is all- knowing’ he said to himself as he went out of the house. He got there earlier than the agreed time, he was able to observe and see where he will make changes when the enterprise became his. Soon, his friend walked in, and in about an hour, they had finished the business transaction, and Uchenna was introduced to the staff. Uchenna smiled through the introductions until he saw him, the driver who made life hell for him by stealing the company’s money. He quickly feigned a smile, acting like he didn’t recognise him, and continued with the introduction. He held himself, as he gave a small speech about how he hoped they will work together. He also told them that a heart of service and a honest soul is what he deemed as important criteria for his employees.
After a while, he left with his mind in turmoil. His anger was so strong he didn’t know how to react. ‘He will regret everything he made me suffer’ he promised himself. He got home and shared the news of how everything went to Rita, except telling her about the driver. He knew why he didn’t want to tell her, but he didn’t want to admit. He lied to himself, saying he didn’t want her to get upset.
‘So tomorrow you start a new business?’ Rita asked, interrupting his thoughts.
‘Yes, that also means it’s time we left your parent’s house. They have been very good to us. Let us move back to our flat, all of us.’ Rita remained quiet, making Uchenna to look at her face.
‘What is the matter? Don’t you agree it’s time for us to leave?’
‘I know it’s time, but I was hoping we’d wait a while until my parents finally move to the village. They plan doing that by the end of the year.’
‘Also I must admit that I don’t feel very comfortable with the thought of going back there to live, after our encounter there, anywhere but there.’ Uchenna understood how Rita felt. Their experience with armed robbers there still sent shivers down his spine.
‘Which is why he must pay’ he said, wordlessly, to himself. ‘So you think we should wait for your parents to move out? I don’t want us to keep depending on them when we can stand. They’ve helped us enough.’
‘Don’t worry about that, they don’t feel that way.’
‘Alright then, there is no need to pay the rent for our apartment, but we need to pack our things out of the house soon.’
‘Thank you for listening to me.’ Rita was smiling from ear to ear, making Uchenna feel like he just conquered the world for her.
‘You are welcome, I just wished I began listening to you earlier, we wouldn’t have gotten into the mess in the first place.’
‘We can’t be so sure. All things work together for our good. We have become stronger as individuals and as a family. We need to forgive whoever we think is to blame for our misfortune, the driver, the armed robbers, and even ourselves.’
‘Forgive? How can you be so kind? They messed up things for us, we didn’t have to suffer all this.’
‘Let God be the judge. We can’t get the money back, that’s for sure. I didn’t get here in a day. God had to remind me of how it could have been worse.’
‘Well I’m not there yet. I still remember how I felt.’
‘Don’t be ungrateful to God by being unforgiving, He has been good to us, even more than we deserve.’ Uchenna didn’t allow that sink into his mind before he changed the subject.
‘So how is your store doing? How is sales?’ He hoped a discussion on her store will take her mind of forgiveness, he knew how much she liked the fact that she owned a store.’ He was happy when she smiled and replied
‘It is going great, sales are good. We also have returning customers. I just need you to be a manager, you know I didn’t study anything related to business in school.’
‘That’s not a problem, anytime you need me, let me know.’
‘Good’ Rita said, and continued on the story of how her customers are appreciative. While she spoke to him, Uchenna was thinking of how to go about the driver. When he decided to arrest him for starters, he tuned back his mind to what Rita was saying, happy he had listened to God when He had told him to ask Rita what she wanted to do. He ignored the voice asking him ‘ Why don’t you listen to Him now? You gave the hurt to Him, why are you taking
‘I know I saw the recognition on his face before he hid it. Why did he act like he didn’t know me?’ that was the question on Ochuko’s mind since the day before. He had no answer for that, but he knew that seeing Mr Uchenna was an answer to his prayer. He had prayed that somehow, God will make their paths cross again. He didn’t expect it to be this way though, but he had no right to ask for anything better. He had realized the level of wickedness he had displayed on him when the money was gone, taken by his thieving friends, and he had just his conscience to battle with. He had felt the guilt more when he heard that he had been sacked because of the incident.
He had gotten an opportunity to make it right with God, after which he had prayed for an opportunity to make it right with him. Now he had the chance. He rinsed his hands from the soapy water and, fighting the urge to run away, walked to the office of his new boss. He knocked and after he heard the call to come in, went in. He had no doubt that he recognised him when he saw the surprise on his face. He almost smiled at his feigned smile, but he wondered why his boss kept acting like he didn’t recognise him.
‘How are you? Please sit down.’
‘I’m fine sir. Thank you Sir.’ He replied, but instead of sitting, went down on his knees. ‘I know you recognise me, I don’t know why you act like you don’t know me, but I have come to apologise, I know how much pain I caused you, and I…’ A knock sounded on the door.
‘Come in’ Uchenna invited, and gave a genuine smile when he saw the policemen. ‘This is the thief, take him away.’ He said to them, and turning to face Ochuko, said ‘You have no idea the pain you caused me, but you will get a tip of it in the cell.’ Ochuko felt his world crashing ‘No wonder he feigned ignorance’ he thought to himself as he was led out of the office. He had no one to bail him out, he was alone. ‘Dear Lord please see me through’ that was all he could ask for. He knew he deserved what he got.
As Uchenna watched the thief been led out, he wondered why he didn’t feel satisfied.
*The story continues*