Click to read Episode 12
This is the diary of a Nigerian Christian Girl- Season 1 Episode 13
My mind went numb the moment I stepped into the M.D’s office. This was my second time in his office. The first was the week I resumed work at Pavilion and Jide had to introduce the new employees to him.
My eyes widened with fear when I saw it was the M.D’s wife sitting on his chair. The only time I had seen her was when she barked out orders at the receptionist. My colleagues told horrible tales of their close encounter with Mabel. Some said she was more subtle than the devil and that she controlled her husband. I remember Taiwo had once said the M.D rescued her from penury.
Now that I was within close range, I saw she was strikingly beautiful. Her pretty face could make men gasp when she appeared in a room. Her black skin was completely flawless!
I tried to imagine her life before she got married to her rich husband. Black spots covering her skin. Meals so infrequent her stomach growled for more after a plate of soggy rice and watery stew. Who knows, her mother might have filled an empty milk can with ori as body cream because vaseline was expensive. Had Mabel refused to discard her hair extensions after several use because she couldn’t afford another one? Had this woman ever hawked sweets and biscuits at the motor parks in Lagos?
The M.D’s wife looked up from a travel magazine she was engrossed in and pointed to a chair across her table. I sat down.
She pushed the magazine aside. ‘Where on earth have you been? The secretary has been trying to reach you on the phone.’
‘I’m sorry ma’am.’ I said. ‘I was away from my phone. I’m just seeing the calls I missed.’
She sat back and stared long at me. Her penetrating gaze disturbed me. I almost screamed,
Can we get this meeting over with please?
Where for goodness sake was the M.D and why was I having this conversation with his wife.
Yemisi, relax, this might not be about that deal, I said to myself. She might need your help with something else.
‘How much was the deal with Mr Olowolagba?’ Mabel blurted out.
I stared at her surprised. So it really was about the deal. Mabel thought I had forgotten and went on to describe vital details of the transaction. Every word she said was accurate. Was this how she monitored everything that went on here? The wives of rich men that I know stayed at home to tend to their kids and cook for their husband while the ambitious ones grew businesses in other sectors. When she finished, she reclined on her seat and folded her hands.
‘You remember the deal now?’
My heart was pounding. The conversation I had with Taiwo flashed across my mind.
I love you Yemisi. You know I’ve stood by you since you joined this company. Our job is on the line. I need you now.
There had to be a way out of this.
‘I remember the deal ma’am. The truth is, I just started working here over a year ago. Stephen and Taiwo know more about this contract than I do. I only followed them that day to learn how to negotiate properly. In fact before I joined the company, I heard they’ve been working on the proposal. They are in the best position to answer the question ma’am. The M.D knows this too.’
Mabel tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and chuckled. I got more uncomfortable and you could tell from my sweaty palms.
‘What a smart way of avoiding my question.’ She frowned. ‘Let me put it straight to you and please don’t beat around the bush. I don’t have time to waste here.’ She paused. ‘Were you there when the contract was signed with Mr Olowolagba? Secondly, has Stephen or Taiwo at any time sent you a mail or document regarding this transaction?’
I let out a deep sigh. I had been boxed into a corner. It was either I told a lie or I lose my friendship with Taiwo. But then, I do not owe her any explanation. I was only answerable to the M.D.’
Her eyes were hard as they bore into mine. ‘Listen here, I run this place now. When my husband returns, a general meeting will be called and the announcement made. Tell me what I need to know about this transaction. My husband has asked the other men involved, they’ve tried to convinced us that ten million naira was the deal. We just want your own side of the story since you witnessed the signing and you saw the document.
I sighed and looked away from her.
These six things the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him. A proud look, a lying tongue…
I had read that scripture this morning. Had God been trying to speak to me ahead of this situation?
A false balance is abomination to the Lord; but a just weight is his delight.
Why were these scriptures rushing into my head? My mind went to Taiwo and how he’d feel if he discovered I said the truth. But I loved the Lord. This was a test of my loyalty. Would I disappoint God?
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing….
Oh I had prayed Colossians one verse nine to eleven last night. I had confessed several times that I was the righteousness of God in Christ. I had shouted and screamed for joy when the realization dawned on me that I had truly been translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Christ. Was telling a lie not a darkness trait? Would my answer reflect my true nature or would I embrace the pattern of the world that I had been delivered from?
I shifted my thoughts back to the room. ‘Thirteen million naira.’
She looked at me, shocked. ‘Are you serious?’
I nodded my head. ‘Yes ma’am.’
She shook her head. ‘I knew there was something fishy when Mr Olowolagba’s son called last night.’ She paused. ‘My husband has been too lenient with Stephen. How can your own brother connive with a staff to perpetrate fraud? I’ve told him his brother needs to learn a lesson otherwise he’d wreck this company.’
She returned her gaze to me and scribbled down an email address on a sticky note. She passed the note to me. ‘I want every document or mail you have regarding this transaction. I must get to the bottom of this.’
She dismissed me. As I left the office, I stopped to plead with her to take it easy on Taiwo but she had rolled the chair towards the wall. Her shoulders drooped as she stared blankly into space. I didn’t bother to say anything. I just left.
Taiwo was standing impatiently by my table. I was irritated by his sight and wished we had never met. What kind of man defrauds his employer? Why do people think they’ll prosper with this kind of wicked heart?
‘How did it go?’ Taiwo said, his hands thrust into his pockets.
‘Please I don’t want to talk right now.’ I said and opened my laptop.
He closed the laptop. ‘What do you mean you don’t want to talk? My friend, talk to me.’
I glared at him and anger rose to my throat. ‘Taiwo, I have work to do. Please just leave here.’
His phone rang. He looked at his phone and then at me. ‘Mabel is calling me. Is she around?’
I nodded. ‘Yes, she is.’
Taiwo spat out a foul word. ‘What the hell is she doing here? Where is the M.D?’
‘I don’t know. I’ve not seen him today.’
Taiwo held the edge of my table. ‘Wait a minute. Are you saying she interrogated you about the deal?’
I hissed and tapped furiously on my laptop. ‘Just go away please. I’m not answering any question.’
Taiwo rubbed his head and stamped his feet. His phone rang again. ‘She’s calling me again. This had better be good.’ He said and left my table.
When I opened my mailbox, Stephen had left me a message.
Delete every document and mail you have on the deal with Mr Olowolagba.
I ignored the message and forwarded the mails and documents to Mabel including a scanned copy of the thirteen million naira contract.
Few minutes later, my phone rang. The M.D’s secretary.
‘Oh God!’ I said aloud. Two of my colleagues looked up from their work and glanced at me, curious. I apologized and picked the call.
Mabel wanted me in the M.D’s office immediately. My heart pounded with each step that I took to her office. Stephen and Taiwo were already here and I wished the ground could open up and swallow me
Stephen looked down at the laptop opened in front of Mabel. ‘This proves nothing! I have told you that initially when we went to see him, he agreed to close the deal for thirteen million. But later he changed his mind and rescheduled a meeting with us.
Mabel was boiling with rage. ‘You are saying you didn’t sign the documents that day?’
‘No we didn’t. The contract was concluded on a later date. Yemisi didn’t go with us the second time.’ Taiwo answered.
Stephen laughed sardonically. ‘Mabel, but you claim to be a smart woman, why are you acting like this?’ He pointed at a document on the table. ‘The only agreement before you clearly states that the deal was for ten million naira. Why are you dragging this matter? Why are we even talking to you? Where is my brother? For one, I know he has no time for irrelevancies. How dare you accuse me of stealing my brother’s money?’
Mabel smiled sadly and returned her attention to the laptop. ‘I’m sure you don’t know anything about this. Take a look.’
Reluctantly, Stephen’s eyes went to the screen of the Mac system and immediately colour drained from his face. I could guess what he had seen. The scanned copy of the thirteen million naira contract I’d sent to her. Stephen shot me an angry glare. He looked ready to punch me in the face.
Mabel folded her hands. ‘We travelled out of the country for a couple months and my own brother-in-law swindles us of three million naira.’ She looked from Taiwo to Stephen. ‘Listen, I don’t know what’s going on in Mr Olowolagba’s firm but since his son took over as the CEO, he’s been digging into the books. Of course you might want to know that he worked for ten years as an auditor in one of the country’s best audit firm. You guys had better start talking because if any part of this document was forged, you are both going down.
Stephen looked frustrated and ashamed. Taiwo stood there, fear written all over his face.
‘Mabel, please.’ Stephen pleaded.
‘Why are you calling my name? Few minutes ago, your shoulders were high and you were forming James Bond. Oya now! Save yourself. I don’t know when it will sink into your skull that deceit only brings temporary gain. You have a beautiful well-furnished apartment, you have a nice car, my husband sponsors your vacation trip yearly. Even after you squandered the money your late father left you, at least you have a job here. Why can’t you be satisfied! Why can’t you even be like your twin brother?’
Stephen flared up. ‘Mabel, stop it. I’ve told you. Don’t ever compare me to my twin. I don’t like it!’
Mabel was still fuming. ‘Unfortunately today, you have no choice but to listen to me if you want me to save your ass.’
Stephen walked away. Mabel stood up.
‘You are walking away?’
Stephen turned swiftly. ‘Why won’t I? If you want to prosecute, then go ahead! What I will not do is stand there and have you compare me to my brother. I don’t care what you do!’
Mabel shook her head. ‘Your pride has always been your undoing. Maybe you really need to spend a few days behind bars. I think a little torture will do you some good.’
The door opened and a short pot-bellied man with a toothpick hanging on one side of his lips entered the office. The M.D had arrived. The man could hardly carry himself as he walked towards the center of the room.
Mabel left the table and stood beside her husband. ‘Honey, I have a scanned copy of the thirteen million naira contract agreement, thanks to Yemisi. So right now we have two documents on the same transaction. You should have seen your brother’s face when he saw the other document.’
The M.D faced his brother. ‘Stephen.’
‘Let me explain. I-” Stephen started.
The M.D pointed a finger at him, ‘If you say one more word!’ He paused, his gaze still fixed on his brother. ‘Both of you leave us.’
Taiwo and I stepped out. I didn’t bother to return to my office. My head was spinning and I wanted to be alone. When I walked past the reception, Rebecca, the receptionist was leaning on the reception desk talking with Taiwo. She rolled her eyes at me and spat out a foul word. I left the building and wished I didn’t have to return.
There was a confectionery just down the street. I went in and ordered whipped cream on lemon cake. I stared at it but lacked strength to even take a bite.
God, I’m tired of that office, I muttered. Will you please get me out?
Taiwo was fired two days after the meeting with Mabel. I leaned against the wall, watching as he cleared his belongings into a laptop bag. You know what made his departure more difficult for me? My colleagues. I’m talking about the other employees in the advertising and marketing department. They were all looking at me like I was some devil.
Everyone liked Taiwo but then who wouldn’t? He was interesting to be with. You can’t even be sad around him because by the time he cracks those his funny jokes, you’d be laughing again. He was the kind of guy who could take the bullet for anyone.
I felt horrible. I mean I was literally fighting tears. Taiwo had been there for me and just once when he needed me, I had failed him. When I first got to Pavillion and was confused about how to carry on with some of my tasks, Taiwo had come to my rescue. He taught me how to write a proposal, he gave me the confidence I needed to approach clients and he never complained when I kept borrowing money from him.
That morning, Taiwo was surrounded by sympathizers. The men assured him that he’d get a better job. Three ladies hung on to him, tears running down their faces.
Rebecca wrapped her hand around his neck and wept. Tosin, the lady who slept with clients to get deals, looked at me and hissed.
‘Backstabber! How could you do this to your friend? You are wicked!’
Taiwo turned slightly in my direction and laughed sardonically. ‘Did you just call us friends?’ He glared at me. ‘God forbid it.’
Those words hit me. When Taiwo bounced out of our office with the ladies, I ran to the rest room and fell on the floor and wept. Taiwo was gone, just like that? How would Pavillion be without him? I felt alone. Nobody in the office would ever talk to me. If Stephen remained my boss, he’d frustrate my life.
Help me Lord. Please get me out of here.
I woke up early the next morning, feeling depressed. From 3a.m, my eyes were opened till about five thirty a.m when I got ready for work.
I dreaded going back to my place of work. I wish I could just call in sick or find a reasonable excuse for not going to work that morning. I imagined Stephen stepping out of his office and yelling orders at me. Not one person took my side.
My head ached badly. I sat in front of the mirror and noticed there were still bags under my eyes. I rubbed them gently.
‘Lord Jesus, strengthen me. I do not regret standing for the truth. If I have to do this again, I’ll stand by your word. All I ask is for strength and boldness.’ I whispered and placed my head on the table. I didn’t know when I slept off.
A call woke me up. I jumped to my feet and looked at my wristwatch.
I gasped. I had just given Stephen enough reason to nail me. There was no way I was going to avoid answering a query.
My phone started ringing again but I ignored it and ran out of the house as if I had been chased by a dog. I flagged down a bike, jumped on it and gave the bike man directions to my office.
The attack started right from the reception. Rebecca hit me with her shoulder as she walked past to get water from the dispenser. She didn’t apologize or look my way. I knew more was coming. I was going to get it hot in this Agency.
I entered my office, relieved to be welcomed by empty chairs. The others must have gone out in search of clients. There was only a lady at the far corner, flipping through some documents. I greeted her. Not like I was expecting a response, but she did respond.
‘Stephen has been posted to the research and development department.’ The lady said from across the room. At least there was someone willing to hold conversation with me. That was something.
I turned to her, surprised. ‘Who is our new boss?’
‘Stephen’s twin brother.’
It was as if cold water had been poured on my head. I bowed my head and giggled silently. ‘Jesus, thank you for making life easier for me.’
I didn’t have to face Stephen’s fury. But who knows what this new guy would demand for.
What if this man craved sex the way the head of the Reservation and Tour department pressurized me until he got bored when I kept declining his offer? He’d shifted his attention to a new staff in his department. I remember the lady had met me in the canteen, her eyes filled with tears.
‘I want to stop having sex with my boss but I don’t know how to stop.’ She said. ‘Every time I stand to lead worship in church and I see my fiancé smiling with admiration in his eyes, I feel very bad.’
When her boss had made the move, she had at first stood her ground until he threatened to put up a negative report about her work to the M.D. She had given in finally.
‘God forbid.’ I said to myself. ‘The day this new boss, whoever he is, demands for sex is the day I’ll resign.’
Tosin walked into the office in a mini gown with a low-cut top that revealed too much of her cleavages and heels high enough to break a woman’s ankles if she dared slip. I opened my mouth, speechless. This was not my first time seeing her dressed like this, it had just been difficult getting used to this sight.
How can a grown woman dress like this for Christ sake!
Her friends followed behind. Chidinma and Moyo giggled and slapped each other’s back playfully. It wasn’t hard to tell that Tosin had just returned from a ‘meeting’ with a client. As usual, she’d change to a proper corporate outfit. Not proper really, but with less exposure.
Tosin stood at the middle of the room and turned her gaze towards my boss’ office. ‘I hear that our new boss is the definition of handsome.’ Tosin said, giggling. ‘This is fresh bread straight from the oven. I was already tired of Stephen anyway.’
I stared at her irritated. Doesn’t she get tired of jumping from one man to another?
‘When I am done with this one, Oh my God!’ She rolled her eyes and turned to her friends. ‘Stay away from this man. He is mine.’
Chidinma and Moyo were laughing and hailing her and I was just so disgusted. Birds of a feather flock together, right?
‘It’s time to meet Mr Handsome.’ She said and cat-walked towards my boss office. She opened the door slowly.
Delilah, I muttered under my breath. I hissed and began to take note of the clients I had to meet later in the day. I had barely gotten to the second name when I heard the loud voice of a man coming from my boss’ office.
‘Will you get out of my office now!’ The man shouted.
Everybody stopped what they were doing. Our attention was directed to the door.
‘I said Get out!’ He repeated. Tosin scrambled out of the office, embarrassed. Laughter almost escaped my mouth.
He followed her out of the office, boiling with anger. My new boss was nothing compared to Stephen when it came to physical appearance. This guy was fine. Handsome dude mehn.
He looked from one person to another and stopped at Tosin who was now seated behind her table, fuming.
‘Don’t ever come to the office dressed like that. Where do you think you are? A club house? You came into my office to seduce me? You are very foolish, really. You know nothing about me and the first thing that came to your mind was to show me your breast and flabby laps. Don’t you even have any sort of dignity? Listen, I’m saying this in front of every one of you. Don’t try to make any dirty moves or I’ll embarrass you openly.’
He paused. ‘We’ll be having a departmental meeting tomorrow afternoon. Tell the others when they return. I think we need set some things straight if we are going to work together without stepping on each other’s toes.’
He walked back into his office. We sat in silence as if waiting for him to return with another lecture. Tosin broke the silence.
‘I’ll frustrate this guy in this office. He doesn’t know me yet.’ She said in a low tone and walked out of the office.
Her friends burst into laughter and for a moment I was confused. Why were they laughing?
Moyo hissed. ‘Finally, the harlot meets her waterloo. I like this.’
I glanced at her shocked. I couldn’t believe the same people who hailed Tosin few minutes ago could do this behind her. Moyo was Tosin’s closest friend for goodness sake.
How can a person have a friend like this?
I made a silent prayer to God. May I never meet a friend who’d see me going the wrong path and keep silent but behind me laugh at my foolishness.
My boss came out again. ‘Who is Yemisi?’
My heart fainted.
What have I done again?
I raised my head. Was this about the query? Was he mad at me because of his brother?
‘Come to my office immediately.’ He said and shut the door.
I let out a deep breath. Maybe my days here was over. Maybe my new boss wanted to inform me to stop by the HR office to pick my sack letter. Whatever it was, I was ready to say goodbye to Pavilion Travel Agency.
Click here for episode 14