……. I opened the door to Chief Pius mirroring the smile on my face. Chief Pius had been my husband’s mentor while he was alive. He was one of the people who hadn’t abandoned us since Ken’s death. He had a habit of dropping by unannounced, and always with treats for the kids.
“Good morning sir, please come in.” I welcomed him in.
He came in, his driver; Kunle behind him carrying two overflowing shopping bags.
“Please sit.” I ushered him to a seat. “Please drop it in that corner.” I pointed to the corner closest to the kitchen. “Is there anything in it that drips?”
“No ma.” Kunle replied.
“Then it’s fine there. Sir, what can I get you?” I asked Chief Pius.
“Nothing my dear.”
“Ahn ahn Chief! It’s not yet that bad.” I teased. He was probably refusing out of consideration for us.
“Ofcourse I know it’s not that bad, but I’m fine.”
“Ok sir. How’s your family?” I sat down facing him.
“We are fine, and yours?”
“We’re very well, thank God. The children have gone to school. They’ll be sad they missed you.”
He laughed. “ It’s ok, ofcourse I’ll come at another time when they’ll be at home, but today it’s you I’ve come to see.”
“Oh, ok. What’s it about?
He laughed softly. “It’s nothing serious, I just want to talk with you. You know, find out how you’ve been coping, you know.”
I don’t know if anyone else feels that way, but, I get irritated by: ‘you know’, I always want to scream ‘I don’t know.’ I mean, why can’t adults talk without saying that? Now, back to this conversation; I was beginning to have a very creepy feeling that this man was trying to get ‘fresh’. “I’ve been coping. God has been my sustenance, like the Bible says; ‘He won’t give you more than what he knows you can bear.’ I replied calmly and primly, wiping all smiles from my face.
“That’s good, that’s good.” He looked around nervously. “I’m here for you, you know, whatever you need, whenever you need it, you can call on me. You see, I want us to be closer, very much closer.” He gestured by rubbing his palms together and anger boiled within me.
I said nothing. I guess he became uncomfortable, he shifted nervously on his seat. Still, I said nothing. He got up, I remained seated.
“Ok, let me run along. Remember, I am here for you.”
“Won’t you see me off?” He put his hands in his pocket, and as a sharp girl that I am, I knew he had money in the pocket. I hissed in my mind. What? For what? Do I look like a beggar he could lure with money? Or all those shameless runs girls littered around the world with no brains.
I got up calmly. “Thanks for coming. We appreciate it. I’ll tell the kids you came by.” I said, trailing him behind.
“No hug Chief Pius.”
He left, and I almost slammed the door behind him.
What nonsense! I turned in anger on the things he brought. Common-sense was the only thing keeping me from thrashing those gifts. Ah! Ken! Can you see the insults I’m receiving because of you? Tears rolled down my face unchecked. If ken hadn’t died would the likes of Pius have the guts to speak to me like this?
I was known as the ice queen back in school, men thought twice before they approached me. Even Ken confessed I was his toughest conquest. Now, in a very short while, I had been propositioned by two old lizards! How insulting!
My doorbell rang. I turned on the door. If it was that dirty old man I will give him a piece of my mind.
I stormed to the door. Wiped my tears and composed myself. Lai lai he won’t see me cry. I opened the door in anger; it was the gateman; Bala.
My emotion at the time was both relief and anger. Relief that it wasn’t Chief Pius; because him returning would have meant he thought he could get lucky. Anger that I had lost the opportunity to vent.
‘Bala what is it?” I said a tad rudely, some of my aggression still transferring.
“Madam, na nepa bring bill.” He extended an electricity bill to me.
I collected it and sighed; what else is new? I was still thinking of where to get money, and bills were steadily piling.
“Jesus!” I exclaimed when I saw the amount I was billed “FOURTEEN THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED NAIRA?” I screamed out loud. What? In all my years on earth, I hadn’t ever seen a residential apartment receive a bill that much, just current charges.
Haba nau, Nepa, PHCN, or whatever they were calling themselves at the time. How could they do this to me?
I turned away back into the house, leaving Bala at the door.
I went into my room and wept.
You know how it’s said; that the darkest part of the night signals the breaking of the dawn, or something like that. That was my story, Ijeoma’s goods was taking forever to arrive, I was fast running out of money with no hope in sight. Just when things had gotten so very bad, the dawn broke.
One day, I got the usual job alert emails from all the job boards I had subscribed on, it was the position of an admin officer in an FMCG. I applied, and wonders of wonders, they called me in for an interview, and offered me the job on the spot!
Dear valued readers,
I thank you for your loyalty and patience to and with me. I appreciate each and everyone of you. I acknowledge this episode is a tad short, and I apologise, bear with me.I promise to do better.
Have a happy holiday to my Nigerian readers, keep visiting Chinma Eke’s blog.