14 Days: The 7th Day
Day 7 wasn’t too interesting
She is bent over her desk, figuring out some figures having to do with the new account she’d just landed. She’s a bit worried about the dilemma in which she suddenly finds herself – caught between two men; one who is nice – the kind of guy to take home to mum, and the other guy who is just there for the excitement. She shakes her head and bends over the paperwork.
The office is quiet. Toke has gone to see a client and Chinedu is around somewhere. She’s making good time on her work and she hopes to be done by 4pm so she can duck traffic and get home asap. Last Friday was hell.
She reaches for the calculator – and then the door opens. She looks up to see a smiling Chinedu walk in.
“How’s it going, beautiful girl?” he says, coming to perch himself on the table beside her arm and give her a quick peck on the cheek. She beams up at him.
“I’m doing great, fine boy. How na? The family…?”
A small cloud passes over his face, but he smiles nonetheless. “The boy is fine – hungry bobo. I’m afraid he is eventually going to eat me out of house and home.”
She asks gently. “And your wife…?”
Chinedu stands up from the table casually. He shoves his hands in his pocket and starts to walk around the office. “She’s fine I guess.”
She’s surprised. “You guess?!”
“I…we really don’t talk much.” He shrugs.
She stands up and walks up behind him. “What’s going on, Chi-boy? Talk to mama.”
He turns and smiles at her, but she’s known him long enough to tell his moods. There seems to be a gathering of moisture in his eyes, and while the smile is engaging enough, she knows enough to tell it’s fixed. She puts a hand on his arm. “Talk to me, Chinedu.”
He sighs and hangs his head and that moment it is unclear who is actually taller – him or her.
“E jus’ dey one kain,” he speaks slowly, speaking pidgin automatically. “You know say na unto say she get belle na im make me no get choice but to marry am.”
She nods understandingly. She had been surprised herself – none of them had suspected that he was married when he first joined them. Later, it became clear that he was not exactly hiding it from them, he just did not talk about it. It was on his records that he was married.
“But it’s now all messed up. She’s not even trying…” He sighs deeply, facing away from her. “I don’t know which one’s worse – working in this office with a girl I can only care for from a distance or going home to one who’s indifferent to me. Life sha!”
She takes his arms and turns him to face her squarely. “Have you told her how you feel?”
She inclines her head, looking at him with a small smile, saying nothing.
He shakes his head and turns away again. “Why would I do that? I’m married – remember? What do I have to offer her?”
She grabs his arms and turns him her way firmly. “You will tell her what you told me. You will tell her in the words you just used – you will look her in the face and tell her, just like you told me…exactly how you feel.”
“Why should she listen to me?” his voice was hesitant, plaintive like a little boy who’s afraid of hoping for too much.
“It does not matter if she does. That’s not why you’re telling her. You’re telling her because it’s your truth, and it’s killing you knowing there’s nothing you can do about her – about the situation you find yourself in.” She stands on tiptoes and kisses the corner of his mouth. “You know how fleeting happiness is, Chinedu. Grab it whenever or wherever you find it ‘cos it might not be there when you’re looking.”
He stands there looking at her, and then slowly his brow clears. “I guess you’re right,” he says.
She glares at him. “You damn right I’m right. She deserves to know…and you deserve to be unburdened.”
He looks at her fondly. “How old are you by the way?”
She smiles. “Old enough to know you men are just big babies. Face to face with another man, it’s all macho stuff. Face to face with your emotions, you’re helpless.”
A look comes into his face and he is about to say something. She interrupts him. “Don’t even go there,” she admonishes him. They both chuckle quietly and he kisses her on the left cheek. “I feel better, thanks.”
She shrugs. “Thank God for us women; no?”
Guess this makes me a feminist.