I am a writer, a customer care rep, a business administrator, a lover of life and a successful single lady who sees every child as hers.
Fear is a wholesome feeling when it is done with some sort of confidence in yourself and your beliefs backed up with Godly wisdom. But the kind of fear I posses now is that of timidity and vulnerability. I do not know why I feel this way, and I don’t even know how to explain how I feel. There is something I am afraid of, and its happening all of a sudden. Aunty Ejiro successfully talked me out of being afraid of being single for long but from the look of things, those motivational speeches are long burnt off by fear.
Why am I scared? In fact since I turned twenty five this month of July, I have become more scared than usual. Why am I not married by now of even in a relationship or even having a crush or a guy hanging around me. I feel so lonely and scared that I might never find someone. But I don’t think its guys not wanting me, its more of me not wanting them. There is always one issue or the other with the ones that want me. I don’t know how some girls marry men they do not love. I have to be in love to marry a man right? Then why can’t I fall in love or be in love? Is something wrong with me? As I sat in my office meditating, I heard a slight knock on my door. Come in!
Good morning madam. Edirin Ojewe greeted.
Edirin is now one of our new employees. She was actually with the other company that merge with us and was transferred to my office. I have become head of the corporate communication department and she worked under me in my unit. Ella was no longer with us. She got married last year and relocated abroad with her husband Okechukwu and from our gist last week, she is expecting their second child. I thought the office would have become boring without her but we have another drama queen and here she was standing in front of me.
Madam Ufoma! How was your weekend?
We thank God o Edirin.
Haba this one you are sounding all religious this morning, you wan give me query for not coming to work on Friday?
Edirin abeg leave me, you don come again.
Wait jor, let me show you my dance steps. Friday was a blast! I killed my performance and made good cash. She said smiling.
How do you manage your job and your talent at the same time? With all that practice you do, how do you manage to rest? I asked her looking puzzled.
Its simple! I just shake and shake at the slightest opportunity I have. She paused and demonstrated some steps. And I’m up to date with the swings. When will you come watch my show?
Abeg don’t start with that, I’ve gat work to do. I smiled and acted busy.
See you will marry my brother o! That’s why I want both of you to meet. If you can just come for one of my shows, you will see him. Stanley is so handsome, kind, God fearing, accommodating and generous. Why not meet him, I want you as my sister in-law jor.
And that is how it always went with she disturbing me with her dance steps and me meeting her brother. I don’t know why I never have the desire to meet him even though I am desperately in need of a stable relationship.
We were interrupted then by imoh who asked to see me privately. Edirin walked out and I got the shocker of my life right there.
Ufoma I want to resign. Imoh said with his head bent.
Why? I asked confused.
I just committed fraud and I want out before I get caught.
I looked in amazement at him and almost lost my balance on my seat. I don’t understand you. I managed to say.
Ufoma what is it that you don’t understand? Did I not tell you that I needed your back when the time comes? Its time to repay the favor I did for you years back.
Excuse me? What favor? The one that you gave me a video clip of myself? Can you compare that to this criminal case you just presented to me? You are categorically telling me to become an accomplice in this crime of yours? And please just tell me you are joking!
Ufoma this is a serious matter o. Remember the good I did and how much it saved you.
How much have you stolen? I asked irritatingly.
Just 7.1million naira. He replied without a single remorse.
Just? Just? Have you earned that kind of money at a go in your entire life? And you call it just? I asked getting very angry.
Ufoma you know this company is bigger than that. What I just need you to do now is for you to cover up for me.
If its just for me to cover up then why are you resigning? Or has someone else find out?
Yes someone did find out. And that’s the more reason I am even confessing before I leave.
Wow! You just seem to irritate me with your arrogance and insensitivity. Is this imoh or someone else?
Mr Adeleke has found out and he is promising to bring down the office so as to expose me.
Mr Adeleke? Isn’t he your friend?
There is no friend when it comes to money. He is asking for 2.5million for him to keep quiet, but he won’t get a dime from me. So I want to leave before he realizes that.
Imoh, you are in charge of salary and wages. I don’t know whose salary you have been feeding from to amount to seven million.
Miss Ufoma its not about eating someone’s salary okay. I accessed into the company’s private account and I have been caught, so I need you to cover up for me.
And how do you intend I do that?
Its very simple. Just claim you asked me to make those transfers to you for some media advert and had to tip some top personnel’s for business partnership.
And how will I explain to them I didn’t? Since there are no results?
Is it everything you do that will get positive results? I can get the paper work done on how you made these arrangements, besides you are the bosses in-law so there won’t be much of an issue.
So who spends 7.1 million on sorting for media adverts? And who is going to believe this your stupid story? You accessed that money from an account that wasn’t in your reach! I mean you work in salary and wages, not investment or accounts.
Accounts is still part of salary and wages mind you.
But account can approve nothing if is hasn’t gone through Admin or MD.
But you are also in authority to approve it Ufoma! Since you are the head of CCD. Just say you went through back door and avoided a lot of protocols because the need was urgent.
Its like you have gone mad!
Your in-law will not be angry with you because he owes you a favor for saving his marriage.
So if its that simple, why are you running away like the coward you are?
I don’t want you to change your mind later on and give me away.
So you don’t trust me right?
Are we friends?
Wow if aren’t then why do you come to me for help?
I came because you owe me a favor.
A favor this much? I asked surprised.
Ufoma, I know you can cover up my fraud because its in your power to do so. Please help me.
But what did you use the money for if I may ask?
Ufoma please let’s of go there.
Why? If I am doing you a favor this huge, I deserve an explanation.
See let’s not go there please.
Why? I asked him. Its is because you did it for a lady. The one whose picture you stare at every now and then. My only surprise is that the picture you keep on staring at is that of a seventeen or eighteen year old girl. She can’t be your daughter, so who is she?
How did you get to know about the picture? He asked looking confused now.
What? You think you are the only one who knows how to be nosy? I needed to have something on you, like you have on me.
She is a friend and that’s when she was sixteen. She is actually twenty eight now.
Wow that means you both aren’t dating now or have dated, since you do not have a recent picture of her.
Yes. She is my crush! Are you happy now? We use to be neighbors and we were friends then. She gave me her picture when I just gained admission into the university because she knew I liked her. But later on she just started acting like she doesn’t know I like her and we are just friends.
So? How does this story relate to you stealing from us? I asked him rudely.
Ufoma you asked me about the picture and that’s what I am explaining. He replied looking rather too confused.
Now that’s my problem. Imoh is not a confused man. He knows his game to well and doesn’t play out his cards. So for him to be telling me this story, I know it doesn’t link to the fraud at all, and for him to be giving me this confused look, means he is up to something bigger and he is trying to rope me. I have to outsmart him. I don’t know how, but I have to buy time.
Imoh I have heard you. I finally responded. I will need some time to process this and get back to you.
Its understandable. He replied. But please don’t take much time. He added and took his leave.
What is imoh up to? Why did he just leave like that? Why is he so confident I will do as he say? I have to meet with Mr Adeleke to know what’s really going on.
With that I headed for the staff's canteen. I knew Mr Adeleke would be there this early morning having his usual beans and bread as the day’s meal. Its now or never. I don’t want to give Imoh time to strategize.
I caught sight of Mr Adeleke with his plate of beans and huge loaf of agege bread by the side. His head was bent over his food and a spoonful was about going into his mouth when I stopped him with a greeting.
Good morning Mr Adeleke.
Good morning madam. He startled and replied.
Sorry to disrupt your meal. I went on. Are you blackmailing my friend Imoh for 7.1 million? I asked even though I knew Imoh had said 2.5million.
What? He responded with a gasp. Why would I do that? Who said so?
He told me this morning. You want him to defraud the company of 7.1million. How dare you? I fired at him thereby putting him in an unplanned difficult, unexplainably situation. You better start talking! I added.
Please have your seat madam. He offered me the seat in front of him with his hand that was already sweaty. He wiped off the sweat with his handkerchief.
I am seated. Speak. I commanded acting tough and really hoping this works.
Imoh engaged in a fraud. He paused and then went on. When I caught him, I told him I was going to report him over to the management, and in an effort to stop me, he offered me a bribe of 2.5million which I rejected.
If you rejected it, then why haven’t you reported him over. I asked.
I would have but he is my friend and has been begging me not to. He even promised to report the matter to you first, so that’s why I laid cool.
You laid cool right? I repeated irritatingly. You better start tell me the truth now. Aren’t both of you friends? You know about each other’s whereabouts, so tell me what he used the money for?
Madam please I don’t know anything, please ask him yourself.
Don’t worry you will soon know, when I report you over to the management for blackmailing my friend over a bribe of 2.5million.
What? Madam Ufoma what are you saying? Why did you twist my story around? I said he tried bribing me but I refused.
Do you think I am a fool? I shouted at him. Imoh came to my office this morning to confess him crime and he said you are blackmailing him for your share of the stolen money.
At that time, there was a long pause. I knew from that moment that he knew something but I was mistaken when I assumed he would give in.
Madam its his word against mine. Let him prove that I have been blackmailing him. With that he went on with his meal like I wasn’t there.
Minuets later I was seated on my executive chair counting my next move. This issue on ground seemed simple but there was more to it. It looked like a trap to me, too simple to fall into. I needed to do something, but what was it? I couldn’t fathom. Right about then, a call came in with no caller ID. Reluctantly I answered.
Hello this is Ufoma Ogaga, may I know who is on the line?
This is Thomas your friend from way back.
Thomas? Can’t remember any Thomas please.
Ufoma na me na. Haba! Onyeka's friends wey bin dey worry you that time.
Onyeka's friend? Is it Thomas Oyoroko The doubting urhobo man?
Yes o! Na me! How far na?
Jesus is Lord! Where did you crawl out from?
Ufoma you don forget me na. I don send you emails tire, no one you dey answer.
Really? Did not get those.
How far na? Longest time. Na Ini I see wey cum give me your number.
Okay. quite an age! Hope you good.
Yes I am. And you?
Good o my brother.
Oghene! Na my wife be this o! Thank God you still dey single. Even if you dey date persin now, I go kick am commot.
You don start! You no dey tire? How can you be chasing one woman for ten years now? I thought you are now married.
My dear, I suppose o! But that na story for another day.
Where do you stay now? I asked him.
I stay in Port Hacourt now.
Port Hacourt? What you doing there?
After youth service I went over there for a job. I was recommended by my former boss wey I do IT with.
That’s nice. I remember you studied architecture.
Yes you remembered right. E don reach two years wey we never talk. The last time wey we bin talk, I collect your number and promised to call, but that phone lost for transit.
Okay. Its alright. Sorry about that though.
Where you dey now?
I dey work o.
Okay. E be like say you bin busy right?
Not really, just have something bothering me at the moment.
Really! Haa no o! Make nothing bother my queen o. We fit talk later for night na.
Okay that will be fine.
Okay na. Please take care o! And remember say I dey here for you okay.
Okay. I replied.
With that we ended our conversion for later on. It was nice talking with someone I know from way back. In fact someone that has loved me from time memorial. Thomas was Onyeka’s friend and he had always expressed his feelings to me even though he knew his friend was in love with me. He bothered me every time but for no reason at all, I never liked him for a husband. Maybe because he wasn’t really good looking and didn’t have the height I admire in a guy. But aside that, he was a nice fellow who loves me stupidly.
He was just what I needed in this crucial time when I was so confused and felt I was surrounded by haters. Maybe I never found true love because I was completely surrounded by haters. Did Thomas still love me? I think he does. I reasoned. After all he called me his queen. I feel this year is going to be different. In fact I think all this while I haven’t found love is because I had always chased my husband away. I think Thomas is indeed my husband. A man can’t just love a woman like that all these years and not be true. If he should ask me out, I would say yes. I just need to end all this madness and be finally free from all these mess surrounding me.
I think I am finally getting married. Hmm Mrs Ufoma Oyoroko. But the surname sef na wa. I said aloud.
I finally got my act together and went on with work. It was a long day from one meeting to the other. I didn’t see Imoh throughout, in fact I was beginning to think he had left the building until I heard Edirin say: Miss Ufoma what’s wrong with Imoh? He has been on his seat since morning looking gloomy.
I don’t know. Why not ask him. I said bluntly.
I would have, but not right now. I am just to angry now to care.
Angry over what? I asked concerned
My dear it’s my sister o. In fact I am beginning to wonder if she is my sister.
Since she married, she has become so insensitive and cold towards everyone. She doesn’t care about us, and she has completely forgotten what we all went though. She wasn’t so before she married o, it was as soon as she married that person she calls a husband she just changed. She started saying she has her own family now, and cannot assist as she has been doing. My sister abeg, no be when woman marry she dey assist her family better?
Yes that true. I have since son In-law that even built a house for his In-laws.
Then why is our own different? I opposed her marrying that man from beginning because I knew he was of no good to her but she kept on saying he is caring. What’s caring about him? A man that treats her like a slave, shows no love or compassion. The day I went to spend some time with her after she gave birth, that her husband was asking her if she had washed his jeans trouser. That’s a woman that just gave birth two weeks ago! And when she said no, he said to her; do you want me to go naked?
It’s a lie!
My dear not a lie o! This is something I witnessed with my own two eyes! He just deceived her into marrying him. What’s caring about a man that doesn’t buy you anything? He doesn’t know you can wear cloth, or make hair. All he knows is his stomach. As long as he managed to buy food wey no get balanced diet, he is okay with it.
But what is she doing for a living?
My sister, abeg leave that matter. My sister matter don tire me! What is even annoying me now is that she keeps asking us for money. I can’t count how many times we have helped her out. That’s someone who didn’t care if our parents ate of drank water, not to talk of me. But now that we have made it and risen above all odds, she now runs to us for everything. One of her kids is even staying with us, we are the ones responsible for his school fees and feeding, something she never did for us, still she doesn’t appreciate it.
Well I am happy you have risen against all odds. Continue to give her because the bible says doing so will heap fiery coals on their head.
Wow you are such a good wife material. You see why I want you for my brother. I want someone like you in my family. My brother is very good looking, Godly and generous. She works in Total oil company. Ufoma he will take of you. Please can you meet him today?
Edirin I really like you but I don’t know your brother. And besides I think I am about to get married. No offense please but I have learnt from experience never to trust a stranger.
Okay just meet him once. He will be coming to pick me from work today, will you meet him?
Today isn’t okay for me. My friend Ini gave me call earlier asking me to come over to her place, so I intend leaving the office earlier than expected. Maybe some other time.
Its okay Ufoma. But just think about it.
Its alright dear. Let me just run some few stuffs and take my leave. Please take care okay.
And that was how I escaped Edirin. I really don’t know what she saw in me that she kept on asking me out on behalf of her brother. Anyways, I have decided to give Thomas a change. He has really tired in his wait, proving how much he adores me. And he isn’t a stranger to me, so I will just go for him.
I cleared my desk some minuets later, shut the door and said goodbyes to everyone. Went down the lift to ground floor, gave the receptionist a mail for Mr Kelvin which I had collected on my way to work. He has been so busy, and I hadn’t the time to see him. I went out, got into my car and headed for Ini's house.
Today had been a long day, starting from the blow Imoh gave me this morning. I planned confiding in Thomas tonight, and I am sure he would get brilliant ideas on how I handle the situation.
I got to Ini's house some minuets pass 7pm. Traffic was bad and I had branched by an eatery to buy the kids some stuffs. I was already exhausted. If I didn’t love her as much as I did, I wouldn’t have gone through this trouble.
I got out of my car, and headed for her one room apartment. I didn’t have to knock twice before the door flung open.
My dear friend Ufoma, I am so glad you made it. She said as she excitedly gave me a hug.
As I entered into the house, I saw that her stupid husband seated on the chair next to their bed.
Good evening. He greeted.
Evening. I replied. What was he even doing here? I wondered. He should have just gone out since he knew I was coming.
Aunty Ufoma! Favor and Franklin ran to hug me.
Oh my darlings! I hugged them back, as I took my seat and carried them on my lap.
Aunty what did you buy for us? They asked me.
Of course I bought you lovely kids something. I handed them the goodies I had picked from the eatery on my way.
Okay children go and play in the passage okay. Mommy and daddy wants to talk with aunty Ufoma.
Okay mommy. They gladly left with their goodies.
I am glad you honored our invitation. Etoro spoke up.
What invitation? Do I need an invitation to come see my friend? I didn’t come here for you okay, I came here for Ini.
Ufoma please now, let’s not quarrel. Ini calmed me.
Ufoma, I know you don’t like me, but if you keep this up I will have no choice but to snob you.
Look at who is talking! I laughed and clapped my hands. You want to snob me?
Yes I will. Do you want me to snob you?
Yes. Please snob me because I disgust your presence. Look at this one! Do I like talking to you? It’s like you don’t know the meaning of that word snob. You say that to someone who likes you and your company. What do I have to gain from you? Is it ideas or what? That I will feel bad if you don’t talk to me?
Okay I am walking out of here. Ini you can go ahead. He got up to take his leave.
Please walk out! I shouted at him. Who even wants your presence here.
If you like it or not Ufoma, I am an ideal husband for Ini and an ideal son in-law to her family.
Jesus! I screamed. May my enemy not marry a man like you. In fact my prayer is that your sisters marry a man just like you! So that they can have ideal too. You are so full of yourself over nothing. Are you the one that will praise yourself, or people will praise you. You are calling yourself ideal, what have you done for Ini? What have you given her? Ini cannot show me one item you have bought for her!
Ufoma its okay na. Ini tried to stop me.
Abeg leave me! If he has brainwashed you that you can’t speak up, I will help you to. Just look at what you have turned Ini into; a slave. You don’t help her with anything! Up to your cloths, your boxers she washes it. In sickness she goes to buy fuel and run errands while you sleep away your laziness at home. You no dey tire for house na. Na eleha you be; Muslim wife. All you do is to sleep and watch TV, then scroll through your phone looking for who you will beg for money.
Okay from today, I won’t say a word to you. I and Ini have passed this stage. We have defeated all external bodies.
That is what you have done to her na! You brainwashed her to hate her family and her love ones, so they don’t expose you to her. Keep on brainwashing her, let’s see where this will lead you to. Hatred can’t take you anywhere, you will meet your waterloo soon.
So you are the star now right? Because you help my wife with some money, you have finally become the star.
You yourself has said it. I am the star! And will always be. Men like you can’t get my attention. You may try with trickery but I will unveil you before we even get started. I don’t even know what Ini sees in you.
Ini I am out of her. He said to her. You can talk to your friend. And don’t ever call me to have a discussion with her again. He walked out angrily.
I don’t even know why you let him stay here when you know I will be coming. I fired at Ini.
Ufoma I don’t have strength for all this drama please. I am pregnant.
What did you just say? I asked her not believing my ears.
I said I am pregnant.
You are pregnant? For who?
What kind of question is that na Ufoma? For my husband Of course.
Your husband that can’t feed you? Is that why you called me here? To tell me you are pregnant? I asked angrily.
Ufoma, everything is messed up now. We called you here to ask you for a loan to start a family business.
Do I look like a microfinance bank to you? You are pregnant and you want to ask me for a loan to start family business?
Ufoma I know you are angry but please just calm down. You know Etoro is a man and you know how men are, even when they are broke they still have ego.
Ini I am not angry o! But you see me so, I no get money to give una loan for family business.
Ufoma I am pregnant. I want to set up something before I become heavy and put to birth because if I give birth in this situation, the children will really suffer.
But Ini you like suffer na. In fact you enjoy it. You suffer in your parents house, still suffer in husband’s house. When will you enjoy life Ini? I have seen women that suffer till they old die, and their children still follow the same path. You go see families wey never go drive car for their life till they die. Na so so suffer. Ini why you love suffer like this? Why?
Ufoma this is my lot in life.
Stop saying that! You brought this upon yourself. Wetin Etoro give you chop? What kind of father have you given to your children? A lazy schemer that only know how to beg people for money and use up the ones that people give you. How long will you live your life this way?
Ufoma I need cash to put my life together.
Ask you husband na. You no get man? Abi na only to sleep with you he sabi? Let him go look for the money, that’s what men do. Look at the muscles he has, is it for nothing? Look at you Ekite first daughter! You can’t even be of help to your parents not to talk of your younger ones.
Ini please. I replied her. You know your situation, still you got pregnant again. Tow children never do you? Then you have money na.
Ufoma I really need your help.
Ini the only help I can render to you now is a job. Normally we won’t have employed you because you are pregnant. But for my sake and position, we can overlook that. Send me your CV and let me work on it. You need a job so you can stop staying home too much and getting pregnant. Work for money so you can spend it wisely.
A job? Ufoma you know my husband’s stand on me getting a job?
Yes. I also know his stand on making you suffer for life. Look at you? You had to even shave your hair because you can’t afford to make it. And you get man! You better take this job I am offering you before you begin to smell.
With that I stood up to take my leave. I made sure I didn’t drop 1naira! Ini needed to learn, and I was willingly to give her the wake up call.
I got home some one hour thirty minutes later. I was so tired to my bones. I got home and heard grandpa Ogaga's voice. No one told me he was coming. I started by questioning dad you opened the door for me.
Osen, why didn’t you tell me grandpa was here?
My dear he surprised me too o. He came in just some minuets ago with mother.
Grand ma is here? I asked
Yes. But she is asleep. Grandpa has been disturbing the neighborhood with his loud phone calls since he got here.
Dad I am going straight to my room. I don’t want his trouble this night.
Better my dear. I am retiring to bed on time too. Let’s leave the drama for tomorrow morning.
Good night father. I pecked him and went off to my room.
Thomas didn’t call that night as he said he would. And I didn’t call him back either. I needed to play smart too because men can be very funny at times. When they realise that the lady they have been chasing after now loves them, they will begin to bluff. So I had to keep my cool.
I was really tired that night too, so it was a good thing he didn’t call. I went to bed with thoughts of Imoh, Edirin and Ini on my mind. And I thought of my grand parents next door. I also dreamt of Thomas and I hoped to meet him soonest.
© 2020 Jade George Anibor