Click to read Episode 2
‘Ibidun, This is Adanna.’ The Program Director said, pointing at the light-skinned lady who raised her head, flashed a quick smile and continued tapping on her phone.
Ibidun folded her hands, indifferent. What if her name was Adanna? Her boss should get to the point quickly.
‘Adanna works with us now.’ The Program Director continued. ‘I want you to transfer all the files on Clean Your Teeth project to her.’
Ibidun frowned. ‘If I may ask, why?’
Adanna’s phone rang. She stood up and elegantly walked out of the office. Ibidun waited until she was out of earshot before moving closer to her boss.
‘Sir, this is unfair! You know how hard I worked on that assignment. I should be enjoying the sweat of my labour. If an international organization has taken interest in that project, it means I did a great job. I can replicate the process in a bigger environment. Please let me handle it. I promise I’ll not disappoint you.’
Her boss looked from the door to Ibidun. ‘Do you think I’m stupid enough to pass that brilliant work to a rich spoilt brat? If this had landed on my table straightway, you know you’d be in charge. I’m under authority too. The Executive Director instructed we let her take the reins. There is nothing I can do about it.’ He lowered his voice as Adanna entered the office.
‘Where is my seat? You’ve not sorted that out yet.’ Adanna said, her hands on her waist.
Ibidun swore she would make life difficult for her. Clean Your Teeth project was her baby. She’d built it from the scratch and watched it grow. She knew the mistakes to avoid, the right people to contact, the relationships that could get the job faster. Adanna or whatever her name was would soon come crying for help.
‘We are working on that ma’am.’ The Program Director responded.
‘Call me when you have that fixed. I’ll be in my car.’ She picked up her bag. She stopped when she got close to Ibidun. ‘Send me those files asap.’
Ibidun didn’t respond. She was trying very hard to stay calm.
When Adanna left, Ibidun’s boss faced her. ‘Deji wants you to finish up on the diapers distribution project before the end of this month. He has another assignment for you.’ He paused. ‘You’ll be needing more hands. Stephen and some of your team members have been assigned to work with Adanna.’
Ibidun stared at her boss and tears filled her eyes. They were not just stealing her project, they were also taking her team members.
‘Are you saying, I’ve lost my team too?’
‘Not exactly. You still have Busayo and Lekan.’
Ibidun’s lips quivered. How could they do this to her? ‘I see. You took the best and left me with two unserious staff. After everything I poured into that project. Why is this organization treating me this way?’
He didn’t respond. ‘The Human resource department advertised for job roles yesterday. I think some applicants will show up today. Rebecca is ill and will not be around to interview them. I was wondering if you can interview them alongside the assistant HR since you know exactly what you need for your work.’
When Ibidun stood there, staring at him defiantly, he opened his laptop. ‘That will be all for now.’
At the reception, three men in black suits and a young petite lady gathered around the reception desk. The lady wrote her name on a white plain paper and passed the sheet to the man beside her. Ibidun leaned on the entrance, watching them. Her eyes scanned the job applicants. She stood straight when her gaze fell on a man wearing a rumpled shirt beneath a fading black jacket.
‘Excuse me, what’s your name?’ Ibidun said, walking into the reception office.
He gave her a stern look. ‘Philip.’
‘Are you here for the interview?’ She continued.
He hesitated. ‘Of course.’
Ibidun folded her hands. ‘Really? Is this how to dress for an interview? Where do you think this is? Look at the collar of your shirt.’ Irritated, Ibidun looked him up and down. ‘You didn’t comb your hair!’
Philip was now the center of attention. Heat flooded his face. How dare this woman embarrass him?
‘You don’t have to talk to me like that. Be polite.’
Ibidun hissed. ‘Polite my foot. You are coming for an interview dressed like a rascal.’ Her eyes went to his foot. ‘Did you even clean your shoe?’
‘Shut your mouth, stupid woman!’
A man in front of him gave Philip a stern look that said, ‘keep your mouth shut!.’ Philip was not ready to listen.
Ibidun knew she should stop talking. She wanted to unleash her pent-up anger and this scoundrel was a perfect target. ‘We will see who is stupid between us now. I have a job, you don’t. This is not a curse but mark my words, you will never get a job. Get out of here!’
A pregnant woman in a black flare gown came into the reception, puzzled. ‘What’s going on here?’
‘Imagine this idiot calling me stupid. I just asked him why he didn’t iron his shirt or comb his hair and the fool-’
‘Liar! You didn’t ask.’
Ibidun was full of rage. ‘I said get out!’
The pregnant woman looked at him, irritated. ‘You heard her. Go!’
Philip stormed out of the office, a brown envelope containing his credentials tucked under his arm.
‘To hell with all of you!’ He shouted as he marched out of the building.
He needed a drink badly. He knew what stepping into a bar would do to him. He didn’t care. Back in his secondary school days, he had lived a wild life, attending parties with his friends and returning home drunk. His parents had been frustrated. No one could control him. Everything had changed when his father died. As he stood in front of his father’s grave, he swore never to touch a bottle of beer again and he’d kept to his word until some months ago when he lost his job. He was back drinking and this time, he knew he would not stop.
Tears gathered in his eyes. He’d lost another opportunity again. He thrust his hand into his pocket and pulled out his wallet.
One thousand naira.
That was all the money he had left. He still had not figured out how to pay his debt. The sun was out already, beating down upon his back. Philip walked by the side of the express, frustrated
He remembered the fracas at the reception and his anger grew. Why would she speak to him like he was a child? Did she know what he had been through? He’d never dressed like that for an interview. If she had been polite, he would have explained.
At the end of a street, Philip’s eyes caught a bar. He hastened his steps.
I need a drink
He stopped in front of the lounge. Well-trimmed flowers lined the entrance. Beside it was a barbeque spot. The place was empty except for a charcoal grilling machine and packs of foil paper stacked on a wooden shelf. A big black gate opened and two white mercedes E-class drove out.
Philip moved away from the lounge. He’d better not go in before he embarrassed himself. A bottle of beer would cost thrice what he usually ordered for. He walked some miles before he found another bar, one that looked like the bars on his street.
‘Two bottles.’ He said to the waiter and found a place to sit. He loved that the bar was empty. The waiter asked if he wanted pepper soup. He shook his head and said he wanted only beer.
Philip stared at the five empty bottles in front of him. How did he end up with five bottles? Was it not two bottles he ordered for? He heard the waiter asking for the balance of the money as he staggered to his feet.
‘Have-have-have I not paid you? Which balance are you asking for? You are a t-t-thief.’ Philip drawled, holding the edge of the table. The room whirled around him like a Tilt-a-Whirl. He giggled like a child with his hands stretched out.
The waiter flung his empty wallet at him. Cursing, she pushed him out of the bar.
‘Why-why are you push-’ He staggered again, holding the wall for support. ‘I am a millionaire. I will call my manager and they will deal with you.’
‘Get out of here, useless man!’
Philip laughed, moving towards the road. Why was everywhere blurry? He heard sound of a car hooting.
‘Stop the noise! Professor Philip is here.’ He said, walking gallantly. His head felt lighter and he moved quickly.
‘I am Professor-’
A car hit Philip in his side, lifting him from the ground and throwing him across the street to a hard covert on the other side of the road.
Philip heard a woman’s loud cry, like the voice of his mother. Everywhere became dark.
Philip awakened to a sharp pain in his head and voices around him. He tried to move his head but his neck felt stuck. Something had been placed over his nose. He couldn’t move his hands too. He gasped when he saw that he was surrounded by some people holding hands in a circle. Their mouths moved. Were they praying for him? Did something bad happen to him? Their voices became clearer. He listened, making out the words they were saying.
‘We speak life to you! By his stripes you were healed!’
‘We speak to your brain cells, receive life in the name of Jesus!’
‘The healing power of God is at work in your life.’
Philip’s throat tightened. He wanted water. He opened his mouth but no word came out. Darkness closed in on him. He gasped again, and this time, the people praying were replaced with a man in white lab coat and two nurses. Two dark figures appeared by his bedside. Terrified, he jerked as one of them went for his throat and the other reached for his back. He struggled to breathe. The voices he heard returned. They were praying again.
Please, don’t stop praying. Philip jerked again, struggling for breath.
Let him go
Philip heard the voice. It was thunderous like the sound of a lightning after a heavy rainfall. His breath returned gradually and the room came into clear focus again. He heard a pop sound and knew he was lying on a hospital bed. He saw the doctor smile as he spoke to the lady beside him.
‘He made it.’
The woman sighed. ‘That was close. I thought we’d lost him.’
Philip longed to hear voices again but everywhere was quiet. His body relaxed and he drifted to sleep.
When he woke up, a man in his early forties was standing by his bedside. A woman sat on the chair in front of him and there was a man beside the Pastor. Philip noticed he was no longer tied down by the IVs and tethers and he was in a different room.
‘I am Pastor Mayowa.’ The man by his bedside said. ‘This is Seun.’ He continued, touching the man beside him.
The Pastor glanced at the woman who was now removing a food flask from the basket. ‘That’s my wife.’
Philip hesitated. The faces were not familiar. ‘What happened to me? Why am I here?’
‘There was an accident.’ Seun responded. ‘I knocked you down ten days ago. The doctor said you were not going to survive and even if you did, you’d be a vegetable forever. Look at you now. You are perfectly fine.’
The Pastor’s wife held up a basket. ‘Food?’
With Seun’s help, Philip sat with his head on a pillow propped behind him.
Pastor Mayowa touched his shoulder. ‘What’s your name?’
Philip was distracted. His thoughts flew in different directions. Seun said he had been knocked down. Had he gotten drunk again? His eyes drifted to the bowl of Quaker oat. The Pastor’s wife was pouring milk over the oat. Philip’s stomach growled.
‘Do you have any family member we can reach? They must be dead worried by now.’ The Pastor said.
Philip nodded as he watched Seun take the bowl from the Pastor’s wife. His mouth was opened before Seun lifted the spoonful of oat to his lips.
Ibidun pushed the documents from her table and rested her head on the table.
What was wrong with her? It’d been a month since Adanna took over the Clean your teeth project and she had not been able to get it out of her mind. She was still upset. She thought of the funds sent in weekly and the letter she found on Adanna’s table stating the financial implications involved. Adanna would be paid in dollars. Tears burned Ibidun’s eyes.
This is supposed to be my life!
Ibidun, relax, she said to herself.
Two days ago, her boss had been upset at the slow progress of the diapers distribution. The truth was, Ibidun was losing interest and she wondered how long before her boss fired her.
She dabbed her tears with a paper towel when her phone rang. Silas.
‘My beautiful angel,’ he said laughing at the other end. His laughter made her calm. She knew she would never let Silas go. He was everything she’d ever ask for.
‘Silas.’ Ibidun said, softly throwing the tear-soaked towel into the refuse bin.
Silas hesitated. ‘Have you been crying?’
‘I’ll be fine Silas.’ She blew her nose into another paper towel. ‘I want to forget about that project but it keeps getting to me. I-’
Ibidun stopped talking when Adanna walked in, frowning. She stood in front of Ibidun’s table.
Ibidun ignored her. ‘Are you at work?’
Silas chuckled. ‘This is the third time you’ll be asking me that. You were saying something about the project.’
Adanna slammed her fist on the table.
Ibidun’s body jerked. She held the phone away from her ear. ‘What was that for?’
‘I am standing in front of you and you are still making a call?’
Ibidun glared at her. ‘Seriously? Are you my boss?’
She pointed a finger at Ibidun. ‘I know how to deal with people like you.’ She walked away.
Ibidun hissed and placed the phone back. ‘That witch was here. Imagine, she slammed her fist on my table. Who does she think she is? She doesn’t know me at all!’
‘Ibidun, calm down. Don’t let your emotions rule you.’ Silas said, softly. ‘You are an intelligent woman and nobody can replicate your work. Let’s just trust God for open doors okay?’
The Program Director came into the office with Adanna. He looked angry. Ibidun ended the call.
‘Be careful Ibidun. I’m warning you for the last time. Give Adanna all the necessary help she needs.’ Her boss barked. ‘Don’t think you are indispensable. I don’t want drama in this office, please. Keep your sentiments aside and let’s get the work done.’
Ibidun had never seen her boss talk to her like this. When he left, she looked at Adanna, suppressing the urge to slap her.
‘What do you need?’
‘Everything on the project. It’s a month already and I’ve not seen anything concrete from you.’
Ibidun turned on her laptop. ‘I’ll forward them to your mail.’
‘That was what you said last week. I want everything Ibidun. The contacts, the fundraising methodology you used, the campaign strategies. I can’t find them in the files.’
Ibidun chuckled quietly as she typed the password on her computer. If Adanna thought she was going to release everything she had worked hard to build, she was in for a shock. She was really dumb. She knew close to nothing about running a non-profit project.
Give her everything she needs.
I can’t do that!’ she muttered under her breath, staring at the folder that contained her entire model for the project.
Trust me Ibidun. Give her everything she needs
Sighing heavily, she sent everything in the folder to Adanna’s google drive.
‘Seen.’ Adanna said and went out of the office.
She couldn’t even thank you. You are very stupid and foolish, Ibidun said quietly to herself. The tears were gathering again. She placed her head on the table and wept.
Next. Episode 4.
READ I’m yours: A play