‘Step Back, Dad!” (12)
“HELP! SOMEBODY, HELP ME!”
I found myself hanging on to nothing but a tiny piece of plant as I fought for my dear life. Beneath me was an endless pit filled with darkness and any minute now, my hand would slip off the plant and I would go deep down, never to be seen again.
The sky had turned dark and the wind blew hard against my face. It would be a stormy night and my life would come to an end. What a way to say goodbye…
No, it couldn’t be! I still had a lot to offer the world. Too many dreams to pursue, too many souls to win for God. I could not go this way. Never. Hold on!
“Somebody, help me please.” I cried out with all the strength I could muster. Occasionally, I would hear the horns of speeding cars and people running to avoid the rain, but no one seemed to hear me, or perhaps cared to help if they heard.
I closed my eyes and prayed. Maybe my time on earth was really over. If this would be my last moments, I would ensure my life was right with God.
A frightening thunder followed by quick lightening stormed heavily through the sky and the rains started. I closed my eyes and stilled my body for the inevitable as memories of life flooded my mind. Just then a hand grabbed me.
“Hold on. Don’t let go.” His face was blur as he bent over and held my hand firmly. “Give me your other hand.”
I raised my right hand and he grabbed both hands firmly and mustering all his strength, he dragged me out of the pit, flung me over his shoulder and away from the storm. It all happened within seconds.
Thank you, Jesus, for sending someone to my rescue. I opened my eyes to have a closer look at my rescuer but his blue, wet shirt clinging to his back was all I saw till my eyes gave way…
“Chinwe!” My father’s loud voice shot through my brain as he knocked on the door to my bedroom. “Get up. You will be late for work. I have been doing this more recently. Are you sure you are okay? Can I come in?”
My eyes flew open and I found myself in the same position I had all night – kneeling beside the bed with my head on the pillow. I had been praying fervently and had drifted off to sleep in the process. I wiped my face and winced at the headache running in my head.
“I’m fine, dad”. I managed to mutter. “You can come in.”
He slowly opened the door and worry lines etched his face. “You look like you fought a lion. Did you sleep at all?”
I raised my eyes to his face. He was a tall man with a domineering presence. “I did sleep a little. Dad, there is something I want to talk to you about.” I had to confide in him. He was all I had now.
“Okay, but how about we discussed it later this evening? You remember The Lawsons had a baby last week and this morning is the naming ceremony. I have to be there to name the child and I am already running late. In the evening I shall have more time and we shall talk, okay?.”
I stemmed down the hurt boiling in me. When will I ever have my father to myself? Always taking care of his ‘sheep’ and never having time for his primary responsibility – Me! unless where Segun was involved. He had stamped his foot on that. Segun’s words floated back to my mind. My father had all the answers I needed, he said.
“This is equally important too. I have some questions only you have the answer.” I stood up and walked towards him. “Please, daddy. Just few minutes.”
His phone rang and he picked. It was The Lawsons calling to find out where he was. He looked at me pleadingly. “My dear, I promise we shall talk better this evening. The programme is about to start and try not to be late to work. It is almost 7.”
7am? My eyes flew to the table clock. I was very late already. I gave up, sulking. “Okay, but I hope you will have that time in the evening because you never really create time for me. I really miss mum.”
I heard his sharp intake of air. I had just struck a chord.
“Have a lovely day.” He was out of the room within seconds. A tinge of guilt filled me. I never should have reminded him about mum, but sometimes we need strong reminders to quicken us to our responsibilities.
I prepared for work slowly. There was no need to hurry since I was already late. I was not looking forward to work, not looking forward to meeting Steve. There was much chaos in my life already and I didn’t want further complications.
I arrived work at 9.30 am and everyone kept asking why I arrived late. Couldn’t they just be satisfied with my ‘nothing’ answer? They still wanted to know the reason behind the ‘nothing’. Luckily for me, my direct boss, the Managing Director, had been out of the country for some days, so there would be no query. When I got to my table, I found a letter on my desk. When I read it, I nearly peed on myself. I had been transferred to another office with immediate effect, and this was no ordinary office. I was now to work as Personal Assistant to the General Manager. STEVE. My hands shook uncontrollably as I tried to take in the information. It was signed by Steve for his father. This man was really playing his cards and if he thought I would dance to his tune, he was gravely mistaken.
I picked up the letter and walked up to his office. Who gave him the right to do as he wished? I knocked and didn’t wait for a response. The sight I met nearly gave me a heart attack. Sitting cozily across Steve’s laps was Onyinye, the errand girl. The look on her face was horror and she quickly stood and clumsily packed up the tea tray on the table. She avoided my eyes as she hurried past me and out of the room.
Steve shifted uncomfortably on his seat and adjusted his tie. “You should knock before coming in.” His voice was a little shaky as he tried to regain confidence.
“Well, I did knock but….”
He interrupted. “Don’t be worried about what you saw. You know the way these cheap girls are. Trying to force themselves on me.”
Who cares? It was obvious you were a willing partner. “It is really none of my business. I need to talk to you about this.” I put the letter on his table.
“Oh that!” He stood up now as he regained his confidence. “You are to resume as my P.A from this morning. Was it not stated there?”
“What are you up to?” I could not control my outburst. “You think you can still manipulate me after last night? Do you know what that has cost me?”
“Has Segun canceled the engagement like I predicted?” He chuckled. “Just as I thought. My offer still stands.”
“Really? With what I just witnessed? Only a fool will take the silly offer.”
“Watch your language, lady.” His eyes drew into slits. “I will not tolerate your rudeness.”
That did not stop me. “I am sorry I cannot take up this transfer. Please look for someone else. Perhaps, Onyinye deserves a promotion.” I turned to leave.
His voice was cold. “You have no choice. It is either you comply or your contract is terminated.”
I stopped at the door. “What!”
“Yes. Resume your new position or you are turned out. Get to to your seat now and start your work.” He flung a paper at me. “That is a list of what you are expected to achieve today. Make sure you achieve everything. You can go now.” He resumed his work and pretended I was not around.
I counted my options and found I had only one. I would resume my new office and make our relationship as professional as possible. I was not about to resign and start looking for another job, not in this terrible economy. I picked up the paper and went through the list, most of which were secretarial duties. I raised my hand to the door-knob and turned. Let me start my job from now.
“Sir, you have a little stain around your collar. It looks like lipstick.”
He cast me an angry stare and I smiled inwardly as I left the office. If he thought he had me around his finger, he should think again.
My mind suddenly flashed back to the dream I had this morning. Who was the man in the blue shirt? Could it be Segun? God was telling me something and I could not place my mind on it. My phone beeped and I saw the message notification. I opened it and it was from an unexpected source. Mrs Folarin needed to see me urgently this evening. Ha! It was high time I met the woman behind my ‘calamities’, as Tayo suggested. I clicked the reply button and type in four letters. OK MA.