The atmosphere was tensed, as if robbers armed with big guns were present in the ward.
Jummy wasn’t her usual
“always-kidding” self. John had a blank stare on his face, it was difficult to know what exactly was going on in his mind, but whatever he was thinking couldn’t be a positive thought towards Richard.
Samuel had this “Rambo-Kiling-mode-activated” look, from the way he starred at Richard, one can easily know what was going in his mind and it was definitely something that had to do with beating Richard to pulp.
But in comparism to the rest of them, Zainab anger was on a totally different league.
She had just listened to the recording and after a long pause, a very long pause, she turned to Richard and asked, “did you really say this?”
Richard was yet to listen to the tape so he had a blank look of confusion on his face, “say what?” He asked.
“Richard did you really say all this?!!!” Zainab yelled at Richard, the floor the hospital vibrated.
Richard was shocked, “say what? I have no idea what you talking about”.
“Take this” she said, while the Ipod was already in mid-air because she threw it at him, “an listen to the content” she added.
Richard caught the Ipod just in time, he plugged the earpiece into his ear and before he pressed the “play” button, he glanced at all the occupants of the room, he had no idea what to expect but he knew it was nothing that could favour him.
He pressed the play button.
The tape was short and straight to the point, it contained just four statements made between him and Dr. Daniel, “What’s funny Dr. Dan?” He heard himself ask over the tape.
“This wife of yours which you despise so much isn’t dead, and am so sure when I resuscitate and stabilise her, she would still divorce you” was the reply he got.
“No! She can’t wake up, kill her now!” He heard himself scream in terror.
“I’m done killing for you! You need to be taught a lesson”. Was the reply he got.
As soon as he had listened to the content of the tape, he slowly unplugged the earpiece from his ears, his hands were shaking like that of an old man who is over 190 years old.
“Zainab am sor…”
“Oh! Shut the fcck up arsehole!!!l” Zainab cut in, she attempted jumping out of the bed probably with the intention of killing Richard but she couldn’t find the strength. “You know what? Just get out! Seeing you makes me want to throw up! The sight of you is simply irritating”
“Babe you’ve got things all mixed up here, that tape is a…” Richard tried to say.
“Is a fake? Hun? Is that the best excuse you can come up with” Jummy cut in, “I’ve always thought you were a good liar but I guess I was wrong, even Pinochio would be a better liar” she concluded, and waved her hand at Richard in a mocking way.
“Are you still there? I said get out!” Zainab yelled.
Richard tried walking towards Zainab but was stopped by John, “I think you should just do as she said please leave”, he said.
“And who are you to tell me what to do?” Richard fired.
Samuel cleared his throat in a very audible tone, Richard had a look at him and figured he might be needing some surgeries if he didn’t leave now.
“I’ll go Zainab, but just know that I’m not the person you think I am, everything is a frame up” Richard replied.
Samuel cleared his throat again.
“Am going na, you don’t have to act this way” Richard said to Samuel and left the room.
* * * * *
VENUE: SOMEWHERE AT IJEGUN, LAGOS.(Dr. Daniel house)
Since he always dress corporately, wearing a blue pencil shaped Jeans and a red and white striped Polo top was a rare sight, Dr. Daniel bent down to pick up his shoe which was by the door side, he was packing his thing but was uncertain of where exactly he was going to.
He knew telling Zainab about the tape would somehow come back to him, but that wouldn’t really have been a problem since he hadn’t done anything wrong in particular to Zainab. What scared him was the fact that, the police were obviously going to dig into his past and that wouldn’t be favourable to him, the only option he had was to disappear, like he always did.
After he had packed his bags and clear every trace of him in the house, he finally figured where he was going to, he picked up his phone and dialled a number adding “+27” to the number.
“Hello, seems someone is back from the dead!”, the recipient said excitedly as he picked the call.
“Why do you sound like this bro? Can’t your brother call again?” Dr. Daniel replied.
“Not like am complaining, you just vanished into air like that. I understand you a man now and a man got to do what a man got to do, but dad and mum didn’t view it that way”
“Yea, speaking of mum and dad, how are they?”
“They are fine, I guess. Although mum keeps on getting sicker by the day”
“Okay, I know. Well, tell them their son is coming back home, I think its high time I settle down” Dr. Daniel replied and let out a huge sigh of relief.
“Wow! Can I get the name of the drink you drank before calling me?” His brother replied, not sure either to be excited yet.
“Shut up bro, you are silly. Am not drunk, am serious, I’ll be on the next flight to South Africa tonight” Dr. Daniel replied excitedly.
“Hmmm.. Seeing is believing, am not mentioning anything to them till you call me to come and pick you from the airport” He replied.
“Okay then, I guess surprising them would be better, how is Nancy by the way?”
“Oh! So you still remember your wife name?” He replied sarcastically and disappointed.
“Why are you being so hard on me? Is she fine or not?” Dr. Daniel replied, trying not to loose his temper, he didn’t get why his junior brother was being so difficult.
“She is fine, she keeps on crying and praying you would come back to her one day, you know after you left for Nigeria, things haven’t been easy for her?”
“I know, I’m coming back now. Anyway, got to go now, I need to book a flight now before its to late, talk to you later”
“Okay, bye then, see you soon, I hope” He replied and waited for his brother to hang up, he knew his brother would be offended if he did. Typical Dr. Daniel, everyone who knew him well, knew that.
Dr. Daniel pulled up his hand bag up to his shoulder and dragged his trolley out of his building, he looked back at it for the last time and murmured the words, “Good bye”.
* * * * *
After a quite short drive which felt like forever to Zainab, Samuel finally pulled up at the front of her house.
She had just been discharge roughly two hours ago and she just couldn’t wait to get home, she was already getting irritated by the hospital.
Jummy seemed to act like she had healed completely even though her injury was still fresh and still had stitches. She sat at the front sit, and as soon as the car was fully put to halt, she opened the door and ran to open the door for Zainab who sat behind the driver’s seat.
Zainab couldn’t help but laugh at her friend, “stop being so nice Jummy, its quiet scary”, she teased.
“What do you mean? That I’ve never been nice to you?” Jummy asked jokingly.
“Do you really want me to reply that?” Zainab asked, and the both knew the answer, the then laughed out loud.
Just then, John phone began ringing, he took an excuse and went to a corner to pick his call while Jummy helped Zainab up to the gate.
Zainab placed her hands over Jummy shoulder and limped while Samuel tried to make sure the car was proper locked.
“Don’t bother locking it, we are leaving now, there is an emergency at the factory, a worker apparently wants to burn down my company” John said as he walked back after making his call.
“What!” Samuel exclaimed.
Jummy over heard what John had just said but acted like she didn’t, she want John to tell her himself.
John got the message, and walked up to Jummy who was still assisting Zainab to walk, the were already struggling to open the gate when John got there, he offered to help and opened the gate for them.
“Errr.. Can I talk to you for a while?” John asked.
“Who? Me?” Zainab asked in a mocking tone.
John chuckled, “na not you miss, Jumoke I mean” he replied.
“Okay, I wonder why cute guys don’t talk to me nowadays” She murmured loud enough for John to hear, he just laughed.
“Can you walk on your own” Jummy asked Zainab.
“Not really but does it really matter, you gonna leave me now w€ther I like it or not” Zainab replied and removed her hands from Jummy shoulder, then limped into the compound after winking at Jummy. Jummy smiled.
“So what did you want to talk to me about?” Jummy asked John once they were alone.
“I’ve got to go now, I have issues to attend to at the office…”
“Oh! Hope no problem” Jummy asked, forcing a fake surprised tone.
“Nothing I can’t handle..” He paused for a minute, “er.. Jumoke..” He called out her name.
“Firstly, you need to stop calling me Jumoke and start calling me Jummy, Jumoke sounds like a bush name… And secondly, Yea.. What is it?”
“But I like bush names” John replied teasing her.
“Whatever… What is it anyway?”
“Err.. Would you like to go out with me sometimes?” He asked shyly, the looked away.
“What?” Jummy exclaimed.
“Oh! Please don’t make me beg” John replied.
“Even though your timing sucks, yes, sure I’ll like to go out wit you sometimes” Jummy replied excitedly.
“This is usually the part you give me your number…” John requested, grinning.
“Err.. 0806XXXXXXX” Jummy replied immediately.
“What? How do you want me to remember that?”
“You remembered Zainab’s number right? Well if you don’t recall mine, then maybe we aren’t meant to go out” Jummy replied with a grin and before he could reply, she walked out on him and headed into the house.
John and Samuel drove off.
Jummy got into the house and met Zainab sitting at the mini bar already drinking and obviously deep in thoughts.
“Babe, what’s on your mind” Jummy asked concern.
zainab picked up the bottle of brandy, and took a gulp then she threw the bottle on the wall to Jummy’s amazement.
“Do your lawyer handles only divorce cases?” Zainab asked in an awkward calm tone which most definitely had a sinister effect.
Barrister Boniface Okutade was faced with a little problem. He had been working on a case of murder for over two years, no thanks to the poor Nigerian judicial system, which is corrupted and let alone the issues of red-tapism and beaucracy.
His client, one Mr George, had been charge with murder, the story behind his case was that, he was said to have murdered his wife in cold blood all because of he caught her cheating on him with the landlord, but he pleaded not guilty and the only person who seems to believe him in the whole world is Boniface. Whether Boniface actually believed him, or was just defending him for the money is a question that only Boniface knows the answer to.
The case had been going on and off for straight two years and just when Boniface thought he had won, new evidence that proved Mr George committed the crime just popped out of nowhere.
So now, the case just got more complicated and although Boniface had a reputation of never backing out of a case, this case looked like an impossible mission, he started contemplating on dropping the case but wasn’t sure he would get another good case anytime soon if he dropped his current one.
A solution to his delima arrived when his phone suddenly came alive and started ringing as he went through Mr George case all over again, looking for a loop hole while sitting in his office which also functioned as his home.
He looked at the screen of his phone and saw it wasn’t a number he had saved on his phone, he let if ring twice before he finally picked it.
“Barrister Okutade on the line,” he said immediately.
“Barrister Boniface Okutade?” The caller asked.
“Yes, this is him, who is this and how can I help you?” Boniface replied, sounding impatient.
“This is Zainab Anderson and I need your services” the caller replied. Both parties didn’t seem to be in the mood to exchange pleasantries as they went straight to the point.
Boniface brightened up a little, he could see a light at the end of the tunnel,
“What kind of service in particular?”
“Services that can’t be talked over the phone, let’s meet tomorrow. How does 2PM, tomorrow sound?” Zainab asked.
“Don’t worry about that yet, I’ll text you the details, I know your office so I’ll pick somewhere close by”
Zainab hung up, then turned to Jummy who had been looking at her as if her eyes could hear what Zainab was saying as she made the call. “Are you sure this lawyer is a good one?” Zainab asked.
“Good? Don’t under estimate him, he is the best there is in murder and murder related cases, I got his contact details from Jonathan last year.” Jummy replied.
Jonathan was Jummy’s ex, who had been charged with a case of murder too and made use of Boniface services, although he was found not guilty, Jummy didn’t have the mind to keep on dating him, they maintain a cordial friendship relationship.
“Okay then, if you say so, I really need to sleep now, I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be a long day for me, I’ve got to meet this lawyer and then run to the study to record a new episode of singles and married, E.A won’t be pleased with me if I postpone again” Zainab lamented.
“Hope you remember say the doctor talk make you rest well well?” Jummy asked, for the first time in a long while, she switched back to her pidgin.
“Yes I remember, but do I really have an option? I just want to get over with the all this plenty wahala on my head” Zainab replied.
“Okay then, I guess I’ll be going home now and I’m lucky I still have this injury on my shoulder, am sure my boss won’t complain to much concerning my absence after she sees this” Jummy said, and made a mocking sound of pain.
Zainab chuckled, “Okay na, I’ll call you before going to see the lawyer tomorrow”.
“That one na your wahala,” Jummy replied and left Zainab house.
Zainab looked at the broken pieces of the bottle she threw at the wall and sighed, she regretted wasting such expensive drink and knew she just gave herself extra work since she had to clean it up herself, but she concluded she would do that the next day.
She then walked to her bedroom, removed her top therefore exposed her magnificent b0obs that were struggling to stay inside the rather small bra. She removed the bra and her trousers, she walked to the front of the mirror and looked at her nude body at the mirror, she was the exact replica of the new coke figure 8 bottle or maybe she was even more curvy, she had the right amount of flesh in the right places. With a huge smile of satisfaction on her face, she walked to the bathroom and turned on the shower.
Before she slept that night, she pinged 3face and P-cube asking them to feature on her show the next day and the agreed.
* * * * *
It was already 7:45AM when Jummy finally woke up the next morning. She was expected to be at work by 8:00AM and unless she was going to magically teleport herself to work, then she was going to be late, very late! Considering the fact that she had no car anymore after the accident.
How she survived such severe crash with such little injury to show for it was nothing short of a miracle and Jummy knew this, even though she hadn’t talked much about it, she promised herself to go to church the next sunday and give thanksgiving.
As she stood up from her bed,
She looked at the wall clock and the time read 2:50, whether it was PM or AM is unknown since it was obvious the clock had stopped working without Jummy noticing, she searched for her wrist watch and saw the actually time, 7:45AM, she became super alert.
She broke the world record of bathing for fat people as she was in and out of the bathroom in less than five minutes, in another quick ten minutes, she was already on her way out of the house, heading to her work place. Her speed would have made Superman feel slow.
In a total of 35 minutes, Jummy was already sitted at her desk trying to act like she wasn’t late. Jummy worked for GNP and was a customer care agent, one of all those people who pick our calls when we dial “190”.
NB: GNP means Global Network Provider, they are just like MTN, Etisalat etc, only more popular, or so I’ll like to think.
She had barely sat for five minutes when the phone on her desk rang, Jummy sighed.
“Hello, welcome to GNP customer services, my name is Jane, how may I help you?” Jummy replied. During the course of their training, they were given a limited list of names they were meant to adopt as their customer care name, just for security purposes.
“You people are thieves! I just recharged 1000 naira now now so that I would subscribe and all of a sudden, you people told me I don’t have enough credit to subscribe. I thought subscription was now more expensive only for me to check my balance and see 0.00 naira, what happened to my credit?” The caller yelled over the phone.
Jummy wasn’t stunned or surprised, she received such calls daily.
“Sir, what exactly did you want to subscribe for?” Jummy asked calmly.
“Blackberry things na, abi e get another thing then they subscribe for, una must return my money oh!!!” The recipient yelled ignorantly.
Jummy wanted to say, “Kilon worry eh? shey na me take your money? Better no dey shout for my head before I trace your house come beat you,” but she knew most of the calls were being monitored by her oga at the top, she took a chill pill and replied, “Hold on for a minute sir, let me go through your line and check where the problem is”
“Which one go through my line again? I’m saying you people have thief my 1k and you are going through my line, what concern my line with my credit?” The caller replied, it was obvious he had no idea what “Line” meant in this context.
Jummy just ignored him and started punching some buttons on her keyboard, few minutes later she was done, “Sir, from what I’m seeing here, you didn’t pay for last month subscription but somehow manipulated your line to browse for free, we only took back what belonged to us once we found out, am sorry sir” She replied.
“Ahh! Its not me that use this sim last month oh, me and Rasaki dey change sim well well, make I give you him number so that you go collect the money from e sim, me just collect this sim today today” The recipient replied, his funny blend of pidgin english and normal english was confusing Jummy.
“Sir, there is nothing I can do. But don’t worry, we have collected the 1000 naira of last month so you can subscribe now and nothing would happen” Jummy tried to sound convincing.
“But what concern my money with Rasaki nah? I talk say na Rasaki wey use this sim last month, so I…”
Jummy was fed up, “Orie ti baje, you use cheat browse, come they shout for my head, thunder fire your papa!” She cut in.
“Err? w€tin you just talk now now?”
Jummy who realised she had just gone against her work ethics knew she had to end the call now and pray the supervisor hadn’t been monitoring the call. “Sir, if that would be all, I’ll have to end the call now. Thanks for using GNP. Bye,” and she hung up while the caller kept on lamenting to a dead line.
Just then the intercom rang and she picked it immediately, the number “1” blinked on the screen, which only meant the call was coming from the supervisor.
“Hello” Jummy said, uncertain of what to expect, she hoped the supervisor hadn’t been listening to the call.
“Come to my office now,” the supervisor who was a female said and hung up.
* * * * *
Zainab woke up on the right side of the bed and was feeling unusually happy about herself. It had been a while since she slept so well and it sure felt real good. She looked at the time piece on the bed side table and saw it was nearly 12pm already.
“So I slept all morning?” She thought to her self, before she recalled she was supposed to meet with Boniface in two hours time and she was yet to make any plans.
She picked up the complimentary card or Barrister Boniface which Jummy had given her and read the contents, she wanted to know the address of the law firm, if it can be called that.
“No 6, Benson Akiyele street, isolo. Near St Pauls anglican church, Oke-Afa. ” She read the address on the card out loud.
Shee knew the place and figured it would be an hour drive, she picked up her phone and sent the most vague text ever to Boniface; “Meet me at Chicken Republic . 2PM”. She believed he would be able to understand the text fully if he is as smart as Jummy says he is.
She quickly went to the bathroom and bathed, then few minutes later she was on her way to the venue.
It was 1:30PM when she parked her car in the parking lot of the venue, so she knew she had thirty minutes to spare, she picked up her phone and dialled Jummy’s number but it got to reply, she assume Jummy was busy.
She glanced at the eatery and then murmured some words which had the name “Richard”, before she walked out of her car and into the eatery to wait for the lawyer.
“What is wrong with this lawyer na? Why are Nigerians do deep into the ‘Nigerian time’ thing? Zainab lamented. The time was 2:45PM and so far, there have been no sign of Barr. Boniface.
Zainab started considering the possibility of Boniface not receiving her text, had she made a silly mistake by not simply calling instead of sending such vague
SMS, or probably he didn’t even understand what the SMS meant, she thought. She concluded within herself to call him and confirm his status, she still had the “single and married thing to do later that day”. She brought out her phone and dialled Barr. Boniface number.
Just then, a man, probably in his early thirties, thirty-two to be precise, walked into the eatery. Irrespective of his quite old age, he had the looks of a twenty years old. His face was spotless and didn’t look like it had ever experienced a shave, while he kept the popular “Punk” hairstyle. Wearing a well-fitted black suit and black italian leather shoe, he simply looked like he worth million dollars.
He stood at the entrance for a short while, slowly looking at each table and its occupants carefully as if he was looking for someone. He was startled when his phone rang.
He glanced at his modest
Blackberry Bold 4 phone screen and saw the name “Zainab (new),” he sighed and picked the call.
“Hello, am already at the venue, where are you?” He asked almost immediately.
“You are already where?” Zainab asked in an alarmed tone.
“You sent me an SMS which had the venue of our meeting, Chicken Republic, right?”
“Yea! Chicken Republic , where are you then? I’m already in the eatery too,” Zainab replied as started scanning the whole eatery uneasily. She suddenly caught the view of a man who stood at the entrance, obviously making a call and looking around, she instantly knew it was Boniface.
“I can’t see you anywhere here?” Boniface complained.
“Look towards your left,” Zainab replied and stood up, waving. Boniface spotted her and walked towards her direction, with a charming smile planted on his face.
He got to the table and after confirming Zainab’s identity and exchanging pleasantries, he sat down on the chair at the other side of the table.
Zainab silently admired his looks and wonder why such good looking person should be bearing such a not-so-nice name like “Boniface,” she was sure his parents were just being wicked to their child for giving his such name, she smiled and dusted the thought from her mind as Boniface made to speak.
“I’m must confess, you look really nice,” He complimented Zainab. He was a graduate of law from the University of Ibadan, and have also read many books on business strategies, the one point that all book had in common was, “always make the client feel comfortable at all cost,” so in this case, he was trying to use flattery.
Zainab wasn’t a sucker for flattery, so she waved his compliment saying, “Thanks, can we get down to business?”
Boniface was fairly disgruntled, no one had actually turned down his compliment that way, but he just had to move on, after all, what other choice did he have?.
“Okay, if you say so. So what’s the problem?” He said.
“Good. Well, I’m not familiar with legal terms, so I don’t know if I can call this a case of attempted murder”
Boniface readjusted on his seat, he had the feeling he was in for a long story, “am all ears,” he said.
Zainab took a deep breath and then went ahead to tell him everything she knew from the scratch, starting from when she filed for divorce to where she woke up at the hospital and got the tape where Richard instructed Dr. Daniel to kill Zainab. When she was done with her story, she took a deep breath, she didn’t even notice she had been holding her breath all this while.
To her greatest surprise, Boniface didn’t say anything to her immediately, rather, he signalled a waiter, and placed his order, he looked at Zainab and saw the surprised look, or maybe angry would be a better word to describe her look.
“Aren’t you going to eat something?” He asked.
Zainab was speechless, she had just told this man something that had been bothering her for days and was very serious and here he was, asking her to eat or drink something like he hadn’t even listened to all the things she said.
“No, thank you,” she finally blurted out, trying not to show her disappointment.
Boniface smiled and in the process exposed his perfect white teeth, if he was employed by any toothpaste company to advertise their product, their sales would tremendously in a week or less.
“I insist you eat something, or at least, just have a drink,” he pushed.
“I said NO, thank you,” Zainab emphasised on the no, and she made sure the “thank you” wasn’t from her heart.
“Okay, if you insist,” he replied and waved the watched the waiter walk to the counter to collect the order.
Boniface then stared at Zainab from a short while, he was obviously thinking, but Zainab hadn’t a single clue of what was going through his “punk head”.
“Do you have the tape here with you?” He finally asked after a long pause.
“Yea, sure,” Zainab replied and started searching her bag for the Ipod, she found it in no time and gave handed it over to him.
He picked it up, and examined it for a while like he had never seen such device before, Zainab starred at him intensely, she didn’t want to miss a thing.
With out listening to the content he asked, “so how did you come across this again?”
“It was found in one of my hand bags at home, I got an anonymous tip,” Zainab replied.
“Hmmm, okay, do you have a suitable earpiece with you? Mine won’t fit into the port”
“Yea, of course, have it,” she was holding the earpiece already so she gave him.
The both of them were feeling quite smart with their selves and tried to pull the other leg or out smart each other at every possible opportunity.
While Boniface listened to the contents, his order arrived: not exotic, just some sort of assorted drink and a king-sized burger, he definitely had a huge appetite, Zainab thought.
He paused the tape, picked up his burger and took a bite, opened the drink and also took a sip, then he looked at Zainab and asked again, “are you sure you don’t want to have anything? This tastes great.”
Zainab was furious and her face was glowing red, Boniface noticed and smiled in a way he was sure she wouldn’t know.
“Are you going to focus on this case or try to flirt with me? I thought you were a pro, guess I was wrong,”
Zainab said in a second and snatched the Ipod from him, picked up her bag and made to leave the eatery in annoyance.
Boniface smiled, he was obviously enjoying himself. He had tried to play the good cop with her when he flattered her but she turned him down, and according to his books, when the good cop doesn’t work, then the bad cop would, and that was exactly what he was doing, playing the bad cop.
He let her walk past him and just when she was at his back directly, he stood up and turned towards her.
“You have a tough case here,” he started to say and Zainab paused to listen. “There isn’t much to convict him, but I understand your plight and your husband needs to be locked behind bars, if you walk out of here, that’s not going to happen, trust me. Now come and sit down back and let’s talk more”
Zainab stood still for a bit, weighing her options, he probably wasn’t as bad as she though. After standing still for a few seconds, she returned back to the seat.
Boniface showed his teeth once more and asked, “now, do you want to drink something?” He asked.
* * * * *
Jummy was perplexed as she sat transfixed on her desk. She couldn’t believe her bad luck, every nerve in her body had frozen and she if she let go off herself for a minute, she would probably urinate on her body.
“So this jobless woman was monitoring this call? I wonder why all this woman does is make life miserable for me,” Jummy thought to herself. She had just had an accident and lost her car, plus she still had plans of paying back John for the hospital bill and all this requires money, the last thing she needed now was to loose her job.
She made the sign of the cross, and with a huge sigh, she stood up from her seat and headed to her supervisor’s office.
The supervisor’s office was far different from a regular office. It was bigger than normal and had a state of the art DVD player which had never been switched on, as far as Jummy knew. There were more than enough furnitures in the office, which consisted of a big table, three chairs – one at one side of the table and two at the other side, a couch close to door and a wall which was somehow converted into shelf for files. From the way it seemed, the supervisor made an extra effort to make sure the name tag on her table was very visible, it was a big chunk of flat wood which was coated with gold, in looked like it cost a fortune.
Boldly written on it was, “MRS OGBONAYA G. E ,” what the “G. E” meant was unknown to all the staffs in the company.
Jummy stood at the door of the office and made the sign of the cross once more, she was dead nervous. She knocked on the door in a way she could hardly hear the sound and waited for a response,
Mrs Ogbonaya heard it and instructed her to come in.
Without looking at Jummy, she pointed at the empty seat across the table and continued to punch the buttons on her keyboard.
Jummy sluggishly walked to the seat and just when she was about to sit on it…
“And who gave you permission to do that?” Mrs Ogbonaya voiced out, she still wasn’t looking at Jummy. Jummy was confused, didn’t this woman just point at the chair now?
“Am sorry ma,” Jummy replied and stood up.
“Sorry? It seems everyone enjoys telling me that nowadays,” Mrs Ogbonaya replied and finally stopped punching her keyboard, she now stared at Jummy, “people think they can just say sorry and every misdeeds would be forgiven, even now, the incompetent employees of this company tend to say sorry a lot nowadays, or don’t you agree, Miss Olukoya”
Jummy was starring at the blank wall behind Mrs Ogbonaya, it looked really interesting to her. She noticed no one was talking again and realised Mrs Ogbonaya was waiting for a reply, “Oh! No.. Yes.. No.. Errr.. You are right,” Jummy stuttered.
“Good, I’m always right. I think its high time we do something about the incompetent employees, before its too late, don’t you agree?” The way she used the “we” made Jummy feel she was referring to herself and her.
“Yes ma,” Jummy muttered, so far so good, this conversation was going too well for her.
“Jummy…” Mr Ogbonaya suddenly called out. Jummy was startled, she didn’t think Mrs Ogbonaya could call her that.
“Jummy right? That’s what you are usually called right?”
Jummy was getting impatient, what was all this plenty questions for, if you want to fire me, fire me and let me rest, Jummy thought.
“Yes ma,” she replied anyway.
“You are aware you haven’t been to work for a long while, and today you decided to come to work, you insulted one of our customers, right?”
Jummy knew her time was up, she was about to be fired, or so she thought.
“Yes ma, about my absence, it was inevitable. I had an acc…”
“Accident,” Mrs Ogbonaya cut in, “Yes, am also aware you had enough energy to move around but could call to inform us. Anyway, that aside, what do you have to say concerning insulting one of our customers?”
Jummy was on the spot, she had no possibly good excuse,
“err.. Ma.. Err… I..” Was all Jummy could say.
“No response? I thought as much,” Mrs Ogbonaya looked at Jummy more intensely now,
“you see, like we both agreed some minutes ago, we need to let go of the incompetent staffs, so let me ask you this question. Miss Olukoya Jumoke, are you incompetent?”
Jummy heard the soundtrack of those ancient action movies in her head:”Ghen Ghen!!!”.
She went into deep thoughts, she had to somehow think of a smart reply, and need to fast, very fast.
After driving for over two hours across the third mainland bridge leading to Lagos Island, Zainab finally got to her destination.
It was a brown two story building, nothing spectacular when compared to other five-ten story buildings that were around it. There wasn’t a sign board around because that cost a lot of money, but the name of the building was boldly written on front wall, right above the highest window, it read:
“IMMACULATE STUDIO” .
Zainab as usual, sat still in her car for a while, doing nothing much but clearing her mind. The meeting with Boniface had gone quite well and they had mapped out a strategy which was going to kick off soon.
She then stepped out of the car and gracefully walked into th building, clad with a super hot “kneel length” red gown. A carpenter who was cutting a piece of wood nearly cut his hand while staring at her, but that’s another story.
Judging from the way she walked past the receptionist and took the left staircase, with people greeting her from left and right, she was obviously a regular face.
She climbed up to the top floor where the main studio was and immediately spotted him, E.A.
He looked quite simple wearing a pair of black jeans, red top and a jacket. He was busy, talking with one of the cameramen, probably passing some instructions to him. Zainab walked up to him, and tapped him on the shoulder since he was backing her. He turned and a smiled formed on his face.
“Hey! You here?” He asked rhetorically. Zainab smiled back and nodded in response.
“Err.. That’s good to know, I didn’t expect you this early though, shooting starts by 6PM, and the time is just…” He looked at his wristwatch and wanted to complete his statement but Zainab beat him to it, “…5PM, yea, I know. I just wanted to somehow make up for no being around yesterday,” she replied.
“Make up? Inviting 3face and P-cube to the show is more than enough. Hope they are still coming by the way?”
“Yea, sure, they would be here before 6PM, I told them shooting starts 5:30PM”
“Ahh.. You sneaky liar.. Its all good sha,” E.A replied, his smile was now more visible, he was excited and he wasn’t shy to show it.
“Okay, that aside, I can’t stare at you for one hour, what can I help with, I can see the stage hasn’t be set.
I know one or two things about stage designing, mind if I go ahead?” Zainab asked with a grin.
E.A bursted out in a long annoying laughter, “Wait oh! You want to get sweaty before the show? I don’t think so… You need to be working on looking more beautiful and not moving chairs around, I pay people to do that”
“So I get to sit down on a chair and be made up while you do all the work, in case you have forgotten, we both host the show. Won’t you look all sweaty too?”
“Oh, no no.. Today edition is a special one, we already have two male celebrities coming over, me being there wouldn’t be a nice scene, I think it should just be you and them. I trust you can handle it, ask Tola for you script…” E.A replied with a tone of finality and turned back to the camera man.
“Hey! That is not a problem, I don’t even need a script to ask questions. I want to do something more manly,” she replied, but E.A ignored her.
Zainab just sighed and walked away, she wanted to design the stage and “the stage she was going to design.”
* * * * *
After a fairly hectic day at work, John finally slammed the door of his office and locked it. He looked at his secretary sitting at a table just outside the office and told her he was going home, she just smiled at him.
They had been working together for two years and she had grown to like her boss for reasons she couldn’t explain, let just say John is a lovable guy. Although she was very professional with her work and never for once expressed her personal feelings directly to John, she hoped and prayed he would one day notice her “that way”.
John walked out and drove straight home.
He got home and met Samuel in the sitting room watching a p0rn movie with a bowl of cereals in his hand.
Since Samuel left the army, he hadn’t really tried to work, he lived in John’s house, ate from John’s pot and literally lived off John. John on the other hand was grateful he had someone to live with, he was getting bored of living all alone in the big house, and had no time for girls, so they both somehow complemented each other.
“Please tell me that not what you have been doing all day?” John asked Samuel as he walked into the house.
“What exactly do you mean?” Samuel asked, he could sense John was about to start with teasing him so he pulled up his defences.
“Wanking yourself,” John replied and walked past the sitting room to the kitchen, he took extra care to make sure he didn’t look at the TV again.
“Yea, whatever. When last I checked, I wasn’t the one who bought to p0rno…” Samuel replied.
John was about to say,”So what’s you poi….” When he got to the kitchen and suddenly paused to screamed, “Samuel!!!!”
Samuel was startled, he paused the movie and ran to the John. “What is it?” He asked.
“Samuel, what did you do to my kitchen?
The kitchen was turned upside down, the sink was filled with dirty plates, the floor had both garri and uncooked beans littered all over the floor, the table was stained with stew and ground egusi, with grains of cooked rice, it was a total mess.
“What wrong with it? The cook didn’t come today so I was trying to cook something, and I did. Check the pots and you would see,” Samuel was feeling really proud with himself.
“Samuel, you and I know you’ve never touched a stove before,” John replied sympathetically, he was trying not to show his anger.
Samuel was offended, “hey! What do you mean by that, you know, they don’t only teach us how to kill people in the army? Just try out the rice and stew I cooked”.
“If you cooked rice and stew why were you eating cereals then?” John asked.
Samuel became speechless, he had actually cooked trash. He forgot to put salt in the rice which made it tasteless and had put too much salt in the stew which made it inedible, he knew this and so settled for the cereals.
“But wait a minute, if you cooked just rice and stew, why the hell is there garri and egusi all over the place?” John asked, then he had a rethink, “on second thoughts, don’t answer that, I don’t think I want to hear your reply”
“Okay, if you say say.” Samuel replied and went back to his p0rn grinning sheepishly.
John went to the shelf and brought out the cornflakes pack, he fixed something to eat and then went to join
Samuel in the sitting room.
He snatched the remote and changed the station to MTV base, “am not watching such rubbish with you,” he said.
“Like I said before, am not the one that bought it”
They had watched a couple of musical videos in silence when Samuel suddenly broke the silence.
“What about those chicks we helped out yesterday? Have you called any of them to check how they doing? You know your life is so boring and you need a female in it?” Samuel asked in a mocking tone.
“Hmmm, that’s true…”John said and Samuel gave him a mischievous smile, he got the meaning and then explained,
“Oh.. Not that my life is boring but I need to call them, hope you didn’t zap all the airtime I recharged in the land line?”
“I don’t know, go and check” Samuel replied, John could sense something fishy about his reply, he dropped his cereal and picked up the land line that was on a stool beside the couch. He checked the balance and say “#0.40”.
“Oh my gosh! Samuel!!!” John exclaimed.
“What?” Samuel replied, trying to avoid eye contact.
“I recharged this phone with over #5000 worth of airtime, what happened to it?”
“I dunno, I guess GNP has stolen the money! They always do that” Samuel replied, John knew he was just lying, and started one of his boring lectures.
“Samuel! You know you’ve got to get your sh1t together right? A lot of things aren’t normal with you anymore, imagine, the other day I went to your room, I saw three socks in your shoes, if it was two or four or even six, I would have understood, but three? How did that even happen? You don’t seem to give a fcck about…”
“Would you just make the call and shut the f up!” Samuel intercepted and for no particular reason, the both started laughing. The way they understood their selves was amazing.
“Okay.. If you say so, which one exactly should I call?” John asked after they were done laughing.
“Errr… You have only one of them number na, the slim one…”
“Yea.. That’s the name! I don’t even like the fat one and its a good thing we don’t have her number”
“Actually, I have the both of them number, Jummy gave me her number”
“I thought you didn’t memorise it?” Samuel had been eavesdropping.
“Well, I did… I just had to play dumb a little na, didn’t you see how important she felt?”
“Evil boy! Sha hope you aren’t going to call her oh, she is too fat…” Samuel replied and made an annoying sound with his mouth.
John picked up his personal phone and dialled Jummy’s number then waited for it to connect.
“Who are you calling?” Samuel asked.
“Don’t worry, I’ll put the call on loud speaker.” John replied.
“3… 2… 1… Action!!!” E.A yelled from behind the camera. The guests – P-cube and 3Face had arrived and were already sitted on the stage with Zainab, ready to roll.
“Good evening! You are welcome to another brand new exciting episode of your favourite relationship talk show – single and married, and am your host, Zainab Anderson,” Zainab started talking, having the camera focused on only her, she indeed look more beautiful on camera than in person.
“Today’s episode is special one so we have decided to go the extra mile by inviting two of the biggest names in the music industry as we know it today.” She paused for a bit and let the right wing camera to be activated, “at my right hand side, we have the “African Princess” coroner and multi award winning singer, 3face!”
3face was clad in the simplest way, wear a casual blue jeans and black V neck top, he had a modest personality, little wonder why the whole Nigeria loved him.
He noticed the camera was now on him so he smiled and said, “gracias, thank you very much! Na 3baba they here so! Life and direct, nothing they happen!”
Zainab took another pause and the left view camera was activated, “and on my left, we have the most cute twins in the industry, they’ve over a hundred hit tracks and awards to their name and have been around for a very long time, I present to you, P-cube!”
P-cube on the other hand, as stated earlier is a duo, or group made of two brothers.
They were clad in clothing that seemed to look like what people from other planet wore, it had pieces of metals here and there, and was totally black, – who wears clothes with so much metal on it, na armour?…
“Derenle” would have be proud of them if he saw them.
The camera was on them so they replied, “Hey hey hey! My name is Prosper … And my name is Philip… And together we are Ppppp-cube! Somebody say personally!” They both replied in a simultaneous manner, they obviously practised their introduction before coming to the show.
“Now that we know our guests better, let’s go for a short commercial break, don’t go nowhere,” Zainab said and from no where… “3.. 2… 1 … And.. Cut!!! We have four minutes top” E.A yelled.
Suddenly, the stage was crowed with the make-artists, script writers and of course, E.A. While the make-up artists was busy combing 3face moustache and powdering Prosper of P-cube face simultaneously, the script writers where instructing Zainab on the next line of questioning, E.A just stood on a spot staring, he was anxious, this was the first time he was having celebrities on his show and he wanted it to go well at all cost.
E.A glanced at his wristwatch and saw the time was almost up, “Okay, that it, we roll in 5.. 4..3…” Everybody ran out of the stage and went behind the camera, waiting for the next commercial break. “2..1.. Action!!”
“Welcome back. So on today episode, I’m going to be interviewing our guests on s3x, love and relationships. So my my first goes to you…” She turned to 3face, “Okay, go ahead” 3face replied.
“The question is this, is s3x a top priority in relationships?”
3face looked surprised, he didn’t expect such direct question to be thrown at him, as a popular celebrity, he was not just known for his music but also impregnating over five different girls, he was a record holder of some sort.
“Hmmm, this one is hard oh,” he exclaimed, and everyone in the studio chuckled. “Well, from the way I view it, s3x no be compulsory something for relationship. What really matters is love and s3x is just a bonus, shey you they feel me?” He asked Zainab and she nodded sheepishly even though she had no idea what he was talking about.
“Okay, thank you 3face for that insightful response”
“Don’t mention, nothing they happen,” the way he somehow infused “nothing they happen” to his sentences was amazing.
“So over to you guys P-cube, this isn’t part of the question, but if I may ask, why is there a “cube” in your name when you just two in number, wouldn’t “square” have been a better name?” Zainab asked, she had been longing to ask that question.
Prosper, who was obviously the talkative replied, “well, we are actually triplets, we have a sister, and when we started doing music, she sang with us, but quitted somewhere along the line, since P-cube was already a brand name, we decided to use it like that”
“Okay okay, I get it. Anyway, this question is directed to Philip”
Philip cleared his throat and smiled to the camera.
“Philip, you have voted the hottest male celebrity last year and this year consecutively, and as expected, there would be more ladies crawling for your attention, how do you manage this, considering the fact that you have a girlfriend?”
Philip cleared his throat and chuckled shyly, Zainab chuckled too, “well, firstly its actually “fiancee”, we got engaged last week. And concerning your question, I don’t mean to sound arrogant but the ladies have always been there na, its not a new thing, the only thing that matters is that I know what I want and I’m focused. By the way, you were voted the s£xiest female celebrity too, weren’t you?” He asked grinning, Zainab could sense where he was heading to and knew she had to reply smartly.
“Err.. I think so.. Anyway, thanks for your response. Now over to you Prosper…” She quickly changed the topic.
Prosper adjusted on his seat, it was getting hotter.
“So prosper, there were some rumours about you releasing a s3xtape, how true is that?” Zainab asked.
Prosper suddenly started laughing, no one knew why he was laughing but everyone joined him, maybe it was just a way to reduce the tension.
“I’m going to be as clear as possible. I DID NOT RELEASE ANY S3X TAPE , I’ve seen the tape everyone has been talking about and the person in the tape sure look like me thanks to photoshop, but that isn’t me! my lawyers are working on something, the people who did this won’t go free,” Prosper ended with a tone of finality and Zainab didn’t need to be told not to push it further.
“Okay, so back to you 3face…” She glanced at her script and without exactly reading it, she asked, “the rumour going around now is, you have impregnated another girl again, how true is that?” Zainab asked
If 3face was offended by this question, then he was doing a horrible job in hiding his anger, as a matter of fact he suddenly started grinning and in his most melodious voice, he sang an excerpt from one of his hit tracks, “if nobody talks about you, then you are nobody, wiether na true or weither na LIE…” He made sure Zainab got the message before adding, “that’s all. Nothing they happen”
Zainab was speechless, she just turned to the camera and said, “okay, we would go for a short commercial break now, when we come back, we would open the phone lines and let you guys call in to ask those questions I know you have been dying to ask.” “3.. 2…1… Cut!!!” E.A yelled as usual, he seemed to be enjoying this producer duty today that he wasn’t actually on the stage.
The make up artists, script writers and E.A, once again flooded the stage, only this time, E.A had something to say to Zainab.
He ordered the script writers to give them privacy, then he looked down at Zainab as she sat down, then even though he was aware that Zainab was all ears he still called her name, “Zainab!”
Zainab somehow felt she had done something wrong.
* * * * *
Meanwhile at Jummy’s office, Jummy was faced with an arguably tougher situation, she was at the verge of loosing her Job.
Mrs Ogbonaya looked her deep in the eyes and could see she was scared, she grinned- her plan was going as planned.
“Miss Olukoya, are you deaf or you just don’t want to answer my question?” Mrs Ogbonaya asked.
“Errr.,. What is the question again ma?” Jummy replied, trying to stall a little.
“Are you incompetent?” Mrs Ogbonaya replied irritably.
Jummy took a deep breath, if she was going down, she wasn’t going down without a fight, after all she did graduate from law school, it would be a shame if she couldn’t speak her mind even though it was obvious her faith has been sealed.
“Ma, well, it depends on what you mean by incompetent. If incompetent means working my black arse day in day out in this company for the past five years without actually causing a harm of any sort, then I guess I’m really incompetent or if incompetent means ensuring that the other employees of this company performs their duty properly even though it isn’t really my duty, then I guess am totally incompetent. For the record, this is the first offence I have committed and as explained earlier, I had an accident, a serious one.
So if you fire incompetent people like me for being incompetent then just do it and let me get the hell out of here, I’ve always wanted to try out using my law degree to do something that’s actually law related anyway.”
Jummy concluded, she was in rage, and smoke was literally coming out of her head.
Mrs Ogbonaya was stunned for for over a minute, they both starred at each other in total silence, only God knew what was going on in their mind.
Mrs Ogbonaya finally broke the silence when she picked of the intercom and called her secretary, “Minna, bring the letter to my office.”
“Which letter ma?” Minna asked.
“The one I told you to type earlier today, concerning Miss Olukoya”
“Okay ma, I’ll be there in a minute,” Minna hung up and literally ran into Mrs Ogbonaya office with the letter in her hand.
As she walked by, Jummy tried to read the facial impression of Minna, but got nothing, Minna obviously had other things in her mind other than the plight of a low level staff like Jummy, or so she thought.
Mrs Ogbonaya opened the letter and read it to herself, she folded it back into the envelope and handed it over to Jummy, “That would be all for now,” she replied with a straight face, it was difficult to tell if she was trying to hide a frown or smile, but a frown seemed more suitable.
Jummy took the letter and walked out of the office, she knew her worst fears had just come to pass.
She went to her desk and laid her head on her table… She started crying.
Just then her phone rang! She reluctantly raised her head up and checked the screen of her phone, the number was strange so she just picked it anyway.
“Yea, hello, is this Jummy?”
“Yes this is she, who am I speaking to please?” Jummy replied in a low tone and sniffed.
“Oh, hi Jummy, this is John, remember me? Oh wait, are you crying or something?”
“Me cry.. Why would I?”
“I don’t know, you tell me, am all ears, I would come over to your house now if you don’t tell me o,” John threatened jokingly and ran to his bedroom before Samuel stabbed him with a knife for calling her.
“Oh, you don’t know my house,” Jummy replied, in a manner that seemed more like a question.
“I’m a very determined guy, finding your house would be the least of my problem, so tell me, why are you crying?”
“Okay, if you insist. I just got fired!” Jummy replied.
“Fired from what and where?” John asked sounding confused.
“My work place dummy!” Jummy replied angry.
“OH MY GOSH!!!” Was all John could say.
TO BE CONTINUED
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