A Story By Serah Iyare
Pastor Victory Majekodunmi stood akimbo, staring angrily at Chidi and his siblings, who were seated on the single chairs placed in front of the large table. They could barely meet his gaze, their heads were bowed in guilt and shame.
For the past three weeks, a rumour about Edua had been floating in the church, that the girl partied and slept with men older than her grandfather. When he and his wife investigated, they found out that Chidi and his siblings told a few of their close friends about what their Uncle said about Edua.
Their close friends spoke to other people about it and the news began to spread and metamorphosed in different angles and length. The girl stopped coming to church as a result of the way people related with her. She had complained to him on several occasions that the church members were talking about her and many were giving her weird looks, to the extent that some people would get up from their seat when she comes to sit in the church. It was like people everyone was running away from her.
Even after he had to address the whole congregation and warned them to stop gossiping about their fellow brethren, it had taken the grace of God for the girl to start attending the Sunday services again. She still refused to come for the weekly services because of the way some of the church members kept her at arms’ length.
“I am highly disappointed at you all. Especially you Chidi,” he pointed at the young man. He could still remember the day he was trying to advise him to be cautious and get to know the girl well enough before making futuristic decisions. If he had listened to him, may be the present situation would have been avoided. Chidi raised his head and met the Pastor’s stern stare. He dropped his gaze immediately and swallowed hard. He believed he wasn’t at fault. How was he supposed to know that his friends share the details of what he had told them to others?
“And you Chuka, I thought she was your friend,” he gave a shake of head, “I am grieved by the way you all handled the situation.”
“We are sorry pastor,” they chorused. He sighed heavily and sat on the black leather chair.
“It is okay. The damage has been done already.”
Chidi and his siblings exchanged glances. They had no idea that Edua was going to be the hottest gossip topic in church.
“We are sorry sir.”
“It is okay. It is okay. You may go,” he hoped and prayed that they would learn from the result of things and make better decisions in the future.
“Thank you sir.”
They got to their feet in a hurry. The desire to leave the pastor’s office made them head for the door in a rush, and on their way out, Edua strode in.
“Hi,” she greeted them, looking from one to the other.
“Hi…” Chidi mumbled and hurried away without a backward glance. He didn’t expect to see her that afternoon. Since she moved out of his place, he hasn’t set his eyes on her. He preferred it that way, he was still hurting from the way things ended between them.
Edua watched him and sighed heavily. She had no idea that they would run into each other that day. Since she started living in the pastor’s home, she barely saw Chidi and his siblings.
“Hello…” Chuks said inaudibly and went after his elder brother. He had no desire to talk to her. If it wasn’t for their pastor, he would have walked past her without saying a word. He won’t allow anyone to force him to relate with her.
Edua wanted to say something, but, the young man didn’t wait for her to respond to his greeting. She turned to look at her supposed friend. Chuka had a slight frown on her face.
“Happy Sunday,” she said through gritted teeth and marched out of the pastor’s office.
Edua felt pained. She really liked the girl. It had been a while since she enjoyed such friendship with a fellow lady. It was sad that she couldn’t handle a small fraction of her past. She breathed out loudly and shut the door behind her. She walked towards the desk and noticed that the pastor was looking at her. He had a sad look on his dark face.
“Good afternoon sir,” she settled on one of the single chairs.
“How are you doing Edua?” he watched her closely. He had seen the way Chidi and his younger ones reacted when they saw her.
“I am fine,” she feigned a smile. He raised an eyebrow.
“Give them time,” he clasped his hands together, eyes on her pale face. She returned his stare and realized that he was talking about Chuka and her brothers. She doubted if things would ever return back to norm. She had a feeling that her friendship with Chuka was over and done with.
“I thought you went home with Madam,” he leaned against the chair, a smile on his face.
She sighed with relief when he changed the subject.
“I did,” she scratched a spot on her itchy scalp
“And here you are,” he kept on looking at her. He could discern that there were somethings on her mind.
“I am moving out today sir,” she informed him. She had already packed her bags. His face lit in relief. He had been praying to God concerning her accommodation issue. “I got a place right here in this estate.”
She saw someone moving out of a house during the week. She collected the house agent’s number and was able to meet with the man. He told her that she was very lucky, because if she had not called him that day, there would have been more than a dozen people begging to pay and move into the place by the end of the week.
“Wonderful. This is good news,” he was genuinely happy for her.
“It is one of those houses that has Boys quarters behind them.”
The place she was moving into was behind a five-bedroom duplex. The pastor nodded with understanding.
“The boys’ quarters were divided into two sections. A one-bedroom flat each.”
“It is good,” he kept on nodding his head.
“I have paid for the place and…” she dropped her gaze, opened her bag and brought out a big brown envelop. She placed it on the table and looked up at him.
“What is this?” he picked up the envelop.
“I sold my car. I used part of the money to pay for another one. A Toyota Corolla.”
He opened the envelop and saw crisp naira notes in bundles.
“The jeep is causing a lot of distractions and I feel, since I am starting over, I should move around in a smaller car. I have resumed job-hunting. I believe that God will answer my prayers.”
“He definitely will,” he returned her excited gaze. He was impressed at the way she was handling things.
“That’s part of the money I got for the jeep. I wanted to say thank you, you have been there for me, you and madam,” she smiled at him in appreciation.
God had used the pastor to bring her out of the darkness she was engulfed in, into his marvelous light.
He beamed and got up immediately. “Let me pray with you.”
Edua went on her knees and closed her eyes.
She said a short prayer and rolled out of bed. She adjusted the hair net, slipped into her slippers and strode out of the room. She passed through the sitting room and went into the kitchen. She poured some water into the electric jug and plugged it. She moved over to the cupboard and brought out a flat plate, a medium size mug and a spoon. She placed them on the table and walked to the refrigerator. She brought out a tin of Milo, a small sachet of Golden Penny sugar and an opened tin of Three Crowns milk. She dropped them on the table and returned to the fridge to get a loaf of sliced bread and two eggs.
She made a hot mug of creamy chocolate beverage and four slices of toast bread. She placed the mug and the plate on a tray, carried it and headed to the sitting room. She settled on the red and black two settee, placed the tray on her laps and switched on the LG 32’ flat screen television. She flipped through the channels, watched Aljazeera for a while, changed to one of the African Magic channels, ate her hot toast, scrolled through the list of channels, and settled on Sony Max.
She dropped the DSTV remote on the chair, sipped from the mug and watched the movie while she ate her meal. The movie ended just as she was swallowing the last piece of toast. She drained the mug, got up and went straight to the kitchen. She dropped the mug and the plate in the sink and returned to her bedroom. She sat on the bed and picked up her phone. She had no desire to leave the house that day. She had spent most part of the week wandering about on the island, jumping from one firm to the other, dropping her curriculum vitae and writing on interview or the other.
She deserved to rest. She wished it was Friday. She scrolled through her phone and discovered that she had an unread email. She tapped on the mail and waited for it to open. The mail was from a Law firm. It was one of the places she had dropped her C.V, written an interview and faced a panel of four stern looking people. She erased the memory from her mind.
She read the mail quickly. She was sure that they were going to tell her that they would get back to her. Half-way though the short mail, she found out that she had just been employed in the Law firm as a Personal Assistant to one of the Senior Lawyers and was expected to resume the next day.
She threw her phone on the bed and went on her knees, overwhelmed with joy. She thanked God for answering her prayers. She was completely paralyzed by his mercies, especially when doubt held her mind hostage. Finally, she would start working, for the very first time in her life since she graduated from the university. She would be able to take care of herself financially. She wouldn’t need to depend on any man, but, on God, her eternal source.
She raised her head and reached out for her phone. She finished reading the mail and read it again. She dialed Pastor Victory’s number, but, his line was busy. She called his wife and she picked the call immediately. When they were done with exchanging pleasantries, she shared the good news about the job she had just gotten. The pastor’s wife congratulated her and declared that she would find favour in her new working place.
Edua thanked her and ended the call. She got up and sat on the bed, amazed at how things were manifesting in her life. God was indeed awesome.
She parked her car in the driveway of Mega plaza, a three story building on Awolowo Way. She got down, walked into the building and found out that The Consolidated Partners Law firm took over most part of the top floor. There was a supermarket, several clothing stores, mobile phone shops and a bakery on the ground floor. She located the elevator, got in, and alighted on the third floor. A glass door led to the reception area of the firm. She spoke to the lady at the desk and was directed to the Human Resources department.
She was made to wait for about twenty minutes before she was attended to. She didn’t mind the wait. She was too excited to care. The Human Resources Manager’s secretary who had gone into the man’s office a while ago, came out and beckoned at her. She got up immediately and walked up to the average height, plump, dark skinned lady.
She was given her employment letter and directed to her boss’ office. The Secretary lectured her on the necessary things she needed to do, like, getting her Company Identity Card, which was handled by the I.T department, making sure her account numbers were passed to the Accounting office, and a host of other things. She thanked the lady and headed out.
She traced her boss’ office to the second to the last door after the Human Resources departmental office. There was a name boldly printed on a white plastic plank hung on the brown door. ‘Barrister M.P Babs’. She knocked, opened the door and went in. There was an empty desk opposite a door labelled with the same name tag. She had a good feeling that the empty desk was her new office. She looked around the office space. There was a 40’ flat screen television to her right, facing a set of four chairs, definitely for visitors. There were huge grey coloured cabinets close the desk, a small table top refrigerator, a microwave, a toaster and an electric kettle was arranged close to a knee-length cupboard beside the desk.
She approached the door, knocked, and went in when she heard a voice clearly saying, ‘Come in’. There was a dark chocolate skin woman seated behind a large glass desk. Braided hair held together at the center of her head in a bun with a brown hair-ruffle, the same colour with her jacket. She had a light make-up on her face and looked a little above forty years.
“Good morning ma,” she approached the glass table, noticing the seating area beside the desk, facing a dining with six chairs. It looked like a smaller version of a conference room.
Barrister Babs raised her head. Her curious dark eyes sized up the young tall fair looking pretty lady that stood in front of her glass table.
“The Human Resources Manager sent me,” she passed the employment letter to the woman.
She collected the letter and read quickly. “Okay then,” she looked back at her, “Aside from taking calls, you will attend to the people that need to see me, make and cancel my appointments when necessary, type, scan, photocopy and file all documents accordingly,” the woman went on talking for the next seventeen minutes or more.
Edua tried as much as possible to make a mental note everything she was saying. She had heard from several people that working for a female boss could be stressful. She hoped to have a cordial and good working relationship with her boss. She said a prayer within and concentrated on what the woman was telling her.
Six on the dot, Barrister Babs came out of her office and bid her a good night. Her driver helped her to carry her bag and a carton filled with files and several other documents.
Edua sighed with relief and began to prepare to also close for the day. Her first day at work had been quite challenging, but, she was happy that she scaled through without hitches. She cleared her desk and shut down the laptop. She got up, went into her boss’ office, made sure every electrical appliance was switched off, came out and locked the door.
She picked up her hand bag and her car keys and strode out. She hoped that she wouldn’t encounter traffic on her way home. She imagined taking a warm bath, then settling in front of the television, watching her favourite programs and eating either indomie and eggs with fried plantain, or white rice and chicken stew, with fried plantain of course. She waved at the front desk officer at the reception and made her way out of the building.
The car park was almost empty when she got there, but, there was a vehicle parked in front of her Toyota Corolla, making it impossible for her to drive out. She groaned inwardly and leaned against her blue car, hoping that the owner of the vehicle would come out soon. She watched as people drove in and out. She shifted her hand bag to the other shoulder and sighed heavily.
A tall dark man in his late twenties, arrayed in a black suit, white shirt, black trousers, black belt and a pair of white socks in shiny black shoes, marching past her, followed by a lady in a red and blue skirt suit and a simply dressed man, in a short sleeve shirt and a pair of brown trousers. She recognized the man. He was the one two female staff members were gossiping about, while she had lunch that day in the cafeteria.
They said he was the younger brother of the CEO of the law firm. He was single and many ladies were ready to grace his bed because of the fame and social class of his family. Early in the year, he stopped employing female personal assistants because every one of them wanted to date and marry him. many went as far as seducing him and on one occasion, he was drugged, raped and held responsible for the pregnancy he knew nothing about. The lady in question terminated the pregnancy before a DNA test was conducted by the family.
Edua was amazed at the kind of things people do to achieve their selfish and greedy goals and lust. Thoughts of her mother drifted to her mind. An angry frown appeared on her face. The woman had done far worse than the lady in question. She shut down her line of thoughts immediately. She didn’t want to think about her mother.
The owner of the vehicle in front of her car approached her. He apologized profusely, explaining that he had to do some last minute shopping before heading home. When the man drove off, she got into her car and started the engine. By the time she arrived at the major road, traffic had already built up. She checked the level of the fuel in her tank and sighed with relief. She had enough to manipulate through the remaining days of the week before the forthcoming weekend.
She thought of listening to music while the vehicles in front of her moved at snail-speed. The ringtone of one of her phones got her attention. She held the steering wheel with one hand and fished for her phones in the handbag on the passenger seat.
“Beauty why are you been so selfish?”
She recognized her mother’s distinct voice. She sighed heavily and paid close attention to the road.
“We have a lot of clients on our neck. I am ready to pay you whatever you demand. Just come over, let’s discuss business.”
She hissed with irritation, “My name is Edua.”
“Fine! Edua. Please, please come to my place today. Right now. We have a lot of businesses at stake because of your tantrums and sudden strike.”
“I don’t do those kind of businesses anymore. I have a better job now.”
She heard her mother laughing. It made her angry.
“Look, my dear, no other job can sustain you like the business we do.”
“Nothing but God can sustain me,” she corrected the woman quickly.
“Fine, whatever you say. Just come over, let’s talk.”
She shook her head in disagreement, “Mum, I am driving. I am not coming to your place. Have a goodnight.”
“Beauty! Edua or whatever you want to call yourself. Don’t you dare hang up on me!”
The woman’s shriek pierced through her ears. She cut the call and dropped the phone in her hand bag. The phone started to ring again, but, she ignored the call. The sooner her mother come to terms with her new lifestyle, the better for everybody