Bimbo didn’t want me not to take up that job initially. She said something about her heart not being comfortable with it but what was a man like me to do when I have been living on my wife’s meager income for the past four months.
So I took up the job and the morning of my resumption, dressed in a crispy blue shirt and a new pair of trouser Bimbo got for me, I worked into Jabs Consult feeling like a man for the first time in a long time. I was again going to be the provider of my home. Well, wasn’t that my responsibility in the first place?
But I noticed something as the MD introduced me to the staff as the new accountant. They all stared blankly at me. I noticed the fake smiles, the forced responses of ‘welcome’ and the cold handshake. They didn’t look so happy to see me and that disturbed me greatly. My first day at work wasn’t pleasant as expected but I remained focused. I needed the job badly. What mattered was that there would be food on the table provided by me, the leader of my home.
Three months later, the Managing Director, a woman with a beautiful face in her mid fifties, called me into her office.
” You are an intelligent man and I’m always amazed at the suggestions you give at the staff general meeting. From the day you stepped into this place, I knew there was something special about you. Weldone, Mr Kayode.”
I went back to my office feeling really excited. As I entered, two ladies were already sitting down waiting for me. Kemi, the customer care rep rolled her eyes as I walked to my seat. Her low cut black top caught my attention but I quickly took my eyes away. Instead, I focused them on Gloria, a petite lady in a fitting blue gown, whose voice was so tiny, it made me laugh.
“Hello Ladies. What can I do for you?”
They smiled. “Can’t we just come and greet you in your office.” the lady with the tiny voice said.
“I wonder o.” Kemi responded. “I don’t know why you like locking yourself up in the office. Socialize. Even Jesus socialised with sinners.’
” I have a lot of work to do.”
Gloria stood up. “On behalf of the staff members, we want to say we are sorry for the way we treated you when you first arrived.”
Kemi nodded in agreement. “We are really sorry. It’s just that the person you replaced was very much loved here and we were really sad when she was told to leave.”
I pulled my chair back and sat down. “What really happened? Why was she sacked?”
“She was accused of stealing some money and we know she didn’t. I can bet my life on it.”
“Since I started working here, more than five accountants have been sacked. Nobody knows how the money disappears.” Kemi said.
I stared at them, shocked at the news I was hearing. Then I smiled to myself. Money cannot disappear from my hands, I muttered. I do not steal neither was I careless with money.
But I was wrong when two weeks later, I counted the money made from the sales for the day.
impossible! When the sales rep came with the money, right in her presence, I counted 200,000 naira. I upturned the drawers and poured out the contents while my heart pounded in fear. But I didn’t find the 150,000 naira.
Jesus, I muttered and rushed to the Sales department.
“Ranti, how much did you bring to my office?”
Ranti was just about leaving the office when I approached her desk. She hesitated before responding.
“Please don’t tell me that money is missing.” The other sales rep stood there watching. She ran out and returned with more of the staff members.
“How much did you give to me?”
“200, 000 naira.”
“Lord Jesus.” I clapped my hands together. “I can’t find 150,000 naira.
The others gasped. Ranti fell back in her seat. “This must stop in this company! I am tired of this place. How did the money disappear? Ise yi tii su mi o.”
“Did you check your office very well?” Dayo, the verification officer asked. I showed them all that I had found in the safe box when I unlocked it.
“This is not funny at all! Something is not right in this company.” Fisayo, the receptionist shouted.
“Nobody leaves this company till we have searched every bag..” Ranti barked
“That cannot work o. Are you now suspecting us?”
“Let’s check her office again.” Dayo left with two others. Just then Kemi and Gloria entered the sales office with a look that said, ‘it has happened again?”
“Things were not like this in this office five years ago. All of a sudden, everything just changed. That same year, I got pregnant. lost the child and I have never been able to keep a child in my womb.”Ranti lamented.
“What about me? I have been writing CIPD exam for three years straight. I will read and read and yet every night before my exam, someone will hit my head with a big stick and when I wake up, I’ll not be able to understand anything again.” A lady said.
“I thought I was the only one facing problems o. Every time a man proposes to me, I see myself tied to a tree and an old woman pouring mud clay on my face and when I would say Yes to the proposal, the guy changes his mind. I’ve fasted and prayed. I don tire. After this month, I dey resign.”
How did I end up in a place like this?
Dayo and the search team returned empty. For some minutes, we stood there in silence. I hadn’t expected this kind of reaction from my colleagues and the fact that they believed I didn’t steal the money surprised me. We held hands together and prayed, asking God to intervene in the situation and fish out the culprit.
“How do you want me to believe that you didn’t steal the money?” The MD shouted. “What is wrong with these accountants. You keep stealing the company’s money and denying it.”
“I didn’t steal it!” Anger covered my face. My blood rose. No one had ever accused me of stealing any money.
“So how did the money disappear? If you don’t cough out that money before next week, You’ll have to use your salary to pay for it. Get out of my office!”
That evening I lay on the bed, weak and tired. How much was my salary. 50,000 naira. So, I was going to use my three months salary to pay for this. I had planned so much for that money and now I wouldn’t be able to even spend a dime out of it?
Despair descended on me like a thick cloud. My wife returned from the bible study to find me on my back, facing the wall.
“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” I didn’t want her to see my swollen eyes so I faced the wall while I explained all that had happened.
I expected her to be so angry like I was but instead she stayed calm and that annoyed me more. How could she just stay unruffled when someone called her husband a thief. Did she believe I stole the money?
“There is only one thing we can do now. We pray and trust the Lord to reveal whoever is behind this.”
For no reason, I hissed. I wanted her out of my sight and a strong disgust filled me. So I raised my voice. “I don’t have the strength to pray!”
“That’s why I’m here dear. Let me be your strength. You should eat something.”
I hissed again. “Just leave me alone.”
She left the room and even though the door was closed, I could hear her voice from the other room.
She started praying in the Spirit and then I began to hear her quotes scriptures that cut through my heart.
“This is your battle Lord. Open our eyes. Show us Lord what is going on. Your word says your eyes are over the righteous and your ears are opened to their prayers. Lord, you said in your word that He who follows you will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
“Expose every darkness Lord. Reveal whoever is behind this in the name of Jesus!”
She switched back to tongues and back to the scriptures again. I just stayed on the bed listening, too weak to stand up.
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in high places. In the name of Jesus, every dark places be exposed. Vindicate your son oh Lord and let your name be glorified. Show us what’s going on. Strengthen my husband. May every despair be lifted this moment in the name of Jesus.
Something strong lifted from my chest. I was surprised. Suddenly, I felt light and strengthened in a way I couldn’t explain. Bimbo was praying in tongues again. I sat up. Didn’t the bible say, two shall chase a thousand? As I stood up to join her, my phone rang.
Ranti. Why would she be calling me at this time of the night.
No response. She was breathing hard.
“Mr Kayode, please pray for me. Something is pressing my stomach. I don’t want to lose this child. Please!”
Pregnant? I hadn’t even noticed she was pregnant.
“In the name of Jesus, I command you, stop oppressing her!” I heard my wife shout from the other room. My eyes widened I rushed out to the living room and saw my wife singing and dancing.
“Ranti, are you there? Ranti!”
“I’m fine. I fell on the floor.” she was panting hard. “I feel better. Thank you.”
When I ended the call, Bimbo wrapped her hand around my shoulders. “Let’s go to bed. She pulled my hand and led me back to the room. What kind of woman did I marry? In a few minutes, she was fast asleep. I lay beside her staring at her for a long time.
That night in a dream, I was in the office with my wife. She was trying to fill a form and I was helping her out when she pointed my attention to an old woman walking towards the safe box. She tapped it thrice and the box opened. Then she began to count money.
“So it is you who steals the money of the company.” I stood up, angry. Bimbo grabbed my hands.
She stood straight, shocked while her weak eyes bored into mine. Her face looked familiar. As I was wondering where I had seen the face, the winkles began to disappear and was replaced with glowing fair skin. Right before me stood Kemi. I almost jumped at the sight, my mouth agape. The money fell from her hand.
“There is no hiding place for you. In the name of Jesus, I command you to lose your hold over every staff in the company..”
She cried, and turned back into an old woman before disappearing out of sight.
I woke up with a start, beads of sweat covering my face. I couldn’t sleep till the day broke.
The next day when I got to work, Ranti hurried to my side.
“Thank you. My husband and I are hoping to pay you a visit soon.
I smiled. The secretary walked towards me as I spoke with some other colleagues who were waiting at the reception. They wanted to know what the M.D said about the missing money.
“The M.D wants to see you.” the secretary said and hurried back to the office. As I followed her, Dayo called out to me. I turned.
“We have your back. This time, we will defend you to the last. ”
I smiled and continued walking to the office. When I entered, she was already seated. She leaned forward, her hands on the table.
“I’m sorry about the way I lashed out at you yesterday. So many things have been wrong with this company. I have lost deals that I would normally have won and I had to deal with my son’s mental illness. It has been so frustrating. I work hard every day but I don’t see results. Money get missing in this company, I have called prophets and spiritualists for prayers but nothing changed and just last week, I was telling my husband that we should close the company but he insisted we gave it some more time. It was with all of that that I responded harshly to you.”
“I didn’t steal that money.” I said, when I didn’t know what else to say.
The MD sighed. “Let’s forget about that incident. Just be careful next time.”
” I’ll call you later today. There is something I want us to look into. A follow up on the deal we had with that client I spoke to you about. Lest I forget, the deal clicked. The client called me this morning to seal the agreement. Thank God I listened to you.”
I nodded and left her office. Almost all the 20 staff members of the company were waiting to hear the outcome of the meeting. They shouted in excitement when I informed them that I had not been fired. That was the beginning of a new kind of friendship. I looked around for Kemi but she was nowhere to be found. She didn’t come the following day and the day after. Her lines were switched off and till date, I have not set my eyes on her.
It’s been five years and Jabs Consult has seen better days. I head a department and Ranti’s babies are doing fine. But this incident, I will never forget. When I look at the woman I married, these words just run through my lips:
Don’t mess with a righteous woman wife who knows her authority in Christ. You can’t mess with her home, with her husband and with her kids. I’m learning to be that man who realises that the name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous runs into it and is safe….