Imelda got home to meet Ahmad, engrossed on a football match showing at supper sports channel, he didn’t move nor respond to her greetings, she stood watching him for a while, the empty cup he used for tea in the morning before she left for work was still on top of the table, with dried chocolates in it, the plate that once contained the toasted bread now has ashes of the many cigarettes he had been smoking since morning, looking at him it was obvious he had not taking his bath. She gathered the cup, the plate and his boxes which he left there the previous night when they were at the heat of their passionate love making that always occur after a fight.
She just finished taking her bath when he walked in like a cat,
“Ti o ni wipe odo eniyan ti lo sile o si pa (who was that man that dropped you off )” Ahmad asked her, leaning by the door, his hands folded across his chest.
Imelda sensed the hostility in him, he was getting ready to beat her as usual, but she wasn’t ready for another beating that would make it the third one in a week, though she enjoys his pampering and the sex after the fight, but her body can no longer accommodate any pain, not when the pains from his last beating was taking time to heal.
She kept quiet. she had learnt over the years they had been together that giving him answers infuriates him, they graduated together from the university, while she was quick to get a job, Ahmad wasn’t that lucky, he was jobless for three years before she got him a job through a friend in a surveying company, a job he lost four months later due to a fight his Head of Management.
She started housing him a year later, after his rent expired and he couldn’t pay, she was convinced within her that Ahmad loved her but was frustrated because of his joblessness. Her boss, Chief Ogungbeso had promised her that he would help her get Ahmad a Job, she told him he was her brother, but up till two days ago, when chief took her on his office table like he normally did, he was still telling her that nothing has come up.
“Am I not asking you a question? Who was the Ogbeni that dropped you off?!” he shouted at her
“He… He… he is just someone that gave me a lift” she replied fearfully
“Just someone that gave you a lift you say? As in what na? as per queen Elizabeth that you are na abi?” he mocked her
“Ahmad, please, am not ready for this right now, I had a terrible day and…”
“What?.. what did you just say? Imelda! Were you by any chance talking back at me? You dey craze, are you going insane, you don forget who I be?”
Ahmad charged towards her, gave her a slap and pushed her to the bed. Her towel let loose, revealing her bare skin, he pulled his belt and started flogging her with all his anger, every lash followed with a derogatory and demeaning word
Imelda screamed until there was no air left in her lungs, when Ahmed got tired of lashing, he unzipped his trouser and decided to pay himself for a job well-done,
“Ahmad what are you doing? Ahmad please don’t do this… please am begging you please stop…” she cried
He paid her no ear, he thrust like he was lashing her, they have had sex severally after many fights previously, but he had never raped her before, he had never used her in her pains, he always pamper her and said sorry, showing how sorry he was with a passionate sex, but this one was new to her, and it was hurting her
“Is this not what you went there to do with the man? Because he has a car and I don’t? He bleeped you and you enjoyed it” he was thrusting deeper and faster
“Are you not enjoying my Bleep? You no like am? You dey shed crocodile tears, because say I no get motor, you dey follow men way get motor abi?” he ejaculated and climbed down from her.
He looked at her, and for a second Imelda could swear that she saw realization and remorse writing all over him, but it was soon masked with his deflected pride.
He took his trouser, and walked out of the room.
Grace woke up on Sunday with a headache, she had cried herself to sleep the previous night, her mistake and guilt was so heavy to bear, especially having Ken brought up the issues that led to their Divorce last night made her feel terrible a fresh. she had left his house with her eyes blinded with tears, he did not make any effort to stop her, she met him looking out the window when she came into the sitting room to pick her hand bag after calling her cab man, she stood for a while, contemplating whether to inform him of her departure or not, as she didn’t trust herself to say any word to him without crying a river, she quietly walked out of the door.
The tears were flowing freely as she sat in the taxi, her driver did not ask what her problem was but kept looking at her through the rear mirror.
She was still lost in her sorrow when the Driver pulled over in front of her apartment.
“Excuse me Ma’am…Ma’am… we are here” he politely reminded her that she was home.
She did not say a word, she only nodded at him, ruffed the inside of her handbag in search of the money she kept to pay the cab man, pulled out two thousand Naira and handed it over to him. She abandoned herself on her sofa immediately she opened her door and cried herself to sleep.
Her phone rang, she carelessly felt the sides of the sofa in search of the phone and finally found it under one of the arms of her sofa.
The phone rang again, it was he mother,
“Good morning Mom” she greeted strenuously, trying to sit up
“Ehen Nne, Kedu? (yes my daughter how are you)” her mother replied
“Am doing well mom, Aru disi”
“you don’t sound well, are you sick?” her mother asked
“No…not at all Mom, am just waking up and I have been working too much lately” she replied
“Ok, if you say so, though am not comfortable, anyway… hope you are still coming today?” her mother asked
“ah!” She exclaimed “I totally forgot, ok let me try”
“Mbakwa (No) Amarachukwu,” her mother started calling her that Name more often after the death of her father, her father was fond of calling her by her Native Name, ‘Amarachukwu’ the name reminded him of his own mother.
“You will not try, you will come down here in the next one hour, who you want me to give all these food I painstakingly made for you?” her mother continued
“I said I will try to come Mom” she said again
“When was the last time you visited me Amara? Has your father’s house become strange to you?”
“Mama I said I will come now, don’t start shouting yet” Grace assured her mother
“That’s better, see you in the next couple of minutes” her mother replied with finality and the phone went dead.
Her mother has always been controlling, she once angrily called her mother a control freak, when she was trying to push her brother, Ekenedilichukwu, into changing from theater art to Marine Engineering, two years after Ekene gained admission into the University. Martha Onwuka had frowned at her son’s choice of career and insisted that he choose Marine Engineering instead of theater art, but Ekene, unknown to his mother went for the later, when Mrs Onwuka got to know about the deceit, she was enraged, and threatened to stop paying his school fees if he did not change back to Marine Engineering.
“I don’t mind if you have to start all over again” she told her son over the phone.
It took Graces intervention for her mother to back off on her threat and allow her son to continue with his choice, though she ceases every moment possible to remind her son of how useless and unemployable he would be after graduation.
Graces checked the time from her phone, it was few minutes past eleven in the morning, she over slept, she did not blame herself for it, she couldn’t sleep the previous night because of her sorrow.
“Mary may call to know why I wasn’t in church today” she said under her breath as she staggered off the sofa, avoiding her shoes which she tossed carelessly the previous night
“What you need gentlemen, is a promotion that will bring your company back in the minds of consumer’s ” Chuka said
Wilson beverages has been trending on the news after an alleged discovery of high level of Aspartame in one of their sugar free soft drinks, the company has been having some problems coming up top on the consumer’s list after the allegation and battles with NAFDC.
“And how do you intend to achieve that ” Mr Morgan Cookey, the Chairman, board of directors asked Chuka
“Re-branding Sir, some of the beverages needs to be re-branded ” Grace came in, saving his Junior colleague who was looking lost at the moment
“Young lady, explain what you mean, we are not here for your grammar ” another board member said impatiently.
“A change from bottles to attractive plastic containers, for the affected soft drinks, change the designs on the bottle and the label” she continued
“And how do we push it back to the market?” The company’s head of Marketing asked
“that is where we come in sir, we have a competent Advertising team that can come out with a perfect advert, we can talk to some of the celebrities in the movie and Music industries, since these guys already have large followership on social media, featuring them in the advert and making one or two of them brand ambassadors will be an advantage” Grace explained
“These guys are not cheap, we are already loosing money, we can’t risk the little money we have on paying celebrities for advertisement” A board member put in
“giving a company a business lift does not come cheap sir” Chuka answered, looking directly at the board member
“Besides, we can bargain with these guys, you are not paying them upfront, Business is a risk sirs, which you should be willing to take… ”
“That is if it’s worth it ” someone cut in
“you may not know how good a venture is unless you try, your company is a household name, you are only having this problem with a product and we need to get it back to the market, won’t you do anything to achieve that? ” Grace asked.
The were silent for a while, then a murmured agreement between the board members before the Chairman spoke
“Okay young lady, you have succeeded in convincing the board members to give this a try ” he said
“thank you so much sir ” said Grace and Chuka
“But… If this fails, I will not hesitate to have your head, Tell your boss that I said so” the chairman added
“we will not fail you sir ” Grace said amidst chuckle
“thank you Gentle Men and women, we can now retire for the day” chairman addressed his board members
” Lady and Gentleman, follow me to my office to sign some papers ” he said to grace and Chuka.
“Your Boss told me you can pull this off for us ” Mr Morgan said as he led her into his heavily furnished office.
Chuka had decided to wait for her in the car, saying he have had enough for the day and would want to get some food for himself
“I now know why, you are a very brilliant young girl… And beautiful too ” he added
“thank you sir, I’m trying my best”Adnairax
“Drop the ‘Sir’, call me Morgan, we can be friends you know ” Mr Morgan said with a smile
He pulled out some papers from a file on his table, took out his pen from his breast pocket and apext his signature on three different papers before handing them over to grace.
“You can take them with you if you want to study them before signing, but you and your Team should get to work as soon as possible ” he said
“Sure sir, we will get to work immediately ” Grace said
“Ehmn… I hope I can take my leave now Sir” she asked
“Yes, sure ” Mr Morgan stood up and walked towards her, he was close, too close and this was making her uncomfortable
“Dinner anytime? ” he asked few breaths away behind her
“I don’t think so Sir, I really don’t like going out late” she said laughing uncomfortably
“oh common, It’s a harmless dinner, and besides, I like you already” Mr Morgan was leaning on his desk, looking at her lustfully
“I appreciate that Sir but, I am… Ehmn.. Married ” she nearly choked saying that, she had been using that to keep Men from having anything to do with her aside business. A fresh guilt hits her like a rock immediately she said it.
“Don’t deceive yourself Grace, I know you are divorced” he said, enjoying the look of surprise on her face
“See, you need a powerful man like me in your life, you are divorced and I am a widower, you are the type of woman I want, and you need me as much as I need you ” Mr Morgan was enjoying seeing her get uncomfortable
Her phone rang:
“Yes… Yes, I will be with you in a minute ” She responded to Chuka who was already impatient and needed to know what was keeping her
“Sir I really need to go now, my colleague is waiting ”
Grace already made for the door handle when she felt his hand around her waist,
“Excuse me Sir?” she pushed his hand off her waist and gave him a warning gaze.
“Oh am sorry, I didn’t know this will offend you”
“of course it offends me “Grace thought
She was about to walk out from his office when he asked:
“When was the last time you had fun with a Man Grace?” his face was daring, mocking and there was a smile at the side of his mouth
“Sir? ” she was shocked
The hot sun made her skin coil as she walked out of the magnificent tall building used by the managements of Wilson Beverages, a reminder of how hot a typical Sunny day can be in Lagos.
“I was wondering what was keeping you Ma” Chuka gave her a knowing look
She ignored him, and entered into the Toyota corolla 2010 model that serves as the company’s car. She hated the feeling helpless she was having at the moment, if not that she had to do her job and get the contract signed to their advantage, she would have given Mr Morgan the brain resetting slap he needed.
“What a Jerk ” She said under her breath
“Ma? ” chuka responded
She dismissed him with a wave of hands. They were already on their way back to the office when she remembered that she needed to be in Church, She had promised her mother, when she was with her yesterday, that she would try and see the Pastor’s wife, her mother was talking passionately about building her marriage again, what was that word again?
“what ever that made you and Ken divorce can be sorted out, do not make the mistake I made, I lost a good Man because of my pride ” her mother had said
She had listened to her mother with little attention, she made little contribution to the conversation, the relationship between mother and daughter has not been a beautiful one, though she was surprised to see her mother show emotions and feelings for her father, after years of disagreements and hatred between them.
What she did not tell her mother was that there was no hope for her in the life of Ken anymore after what happened on Saturday in Ken’s house.
She looked at the time, it was already some minutes past 5 pm. The pastor’s wife would be in her office till 7 pm, she was not sure what to discuss with Mrs Jaja, their church pastor’s wife, she have not been to church for about three months now, after the pastor preached with her as a case study on a Sunday service, after she told him about her divorce the previous Saturday.
A message came through her phone
Hi, just checking on you, hope you are ok, Mr Adekola is inviting both of us to his birthday this weekend at his place, he doesn’t know we are no longer together,can you come? Let me know please. Ken
“was he really checking on me, or was he trying to use me to keep a relationship with his costumer?” she thought
“Oga Salami please drop me off at the junction before you head to the office ” she instructed the Driver
“Ma’am are you not going to report to MD, he will be waiting? ” a confused Chuka asked
“tell him I will see him tomorrow morning, I need to see someone” she said
As she got down, she could feel Chuka’s eyes boring hole on her back, with an unsaid mockery and hatred. She knew Chuka was not comfortable working under a woman as his boss, she knew he has been thinking that she sleeps with Mr
Ogungbeso, their MD, she also knew that Chuka must be thinking that she was making out with Mr Morgan in his office after their presentation earlier at Wilson beverages.
There was no love lost between the both of them, Chuka hated her the first day she was introduced to him as his boss, she saw it in his eyes even though he tried to hide it.
She actually enjoyed seeing him answer to her with respect as the boss, even though she knew it made him cringe.
She walked pass Mama kayode the Akara seller, and entered into the Church compound
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