She clutched the transparent clear bag to her chest as she reached for her keys from her hand bag. It was 3.15pm and she had returned from yet another CV-drop. She had resorted to forcefully dropping hard copies of her resume in law firms. Most companies had restricted access. Even the security guards had the bad eye thing going on like they were better than she was.
Yes. It had been about four months already since she lost her job at the law firm where she worked until the eventful encounter with none other than Mrs. Akingbile nee Ajayi- Cresley. A part of her wondered if the woman had connections in all the other places she had applied to because not one of the sixteen firms had even sent her an invite for an interview.
She was beginning to go broke. Expenses were running up but no income was coming in. The rent for her apartment was due by November. She had to get a flat mate so they could split the bill as she couldn’t continue to solely pay six hundred thousand per annum.
When she left Lanre, she had about two million Naira in her credit balance. He had asked for the car he bought her when she insisted on leaving. He had also asked for the keys to the makeup studio and every other thing she had enjoyed in his name. It was only then that she started to understand what it felt like when her father had chased out her mother. Lolade knew she had relaxed. She had made money from the makeup business but she had been frivolous and spent a large chunk of her funds on very expensive interior décor in the studio every three months because she wanted it to be classy, have variety and to attract high potential clients. She remembered that she had asked Lanre to buy her a plot of land in her name and he had always given her the excuse of having his funds tied in a lot of businesses.
After payments for rent, maintenance, bills and a couple of other things, she had to get a job. she finally got the one at the law firm where she was earning a little above eighty thousand Naira. She didn’t have a choice. She had to take it or take the high way. She didn’t even have a car if she chose the high way option.
She sighed as she opened the cap of the bottled water in her fridge. It was lukewarm. The same way she had left it since the night before. There was no electricity to power the refrigerator and her generator was faulty. She missed her old life even if she had walked away with her two eyes wide open. She knew she had to leave Lanre that day she had seen him in bed with the stranger who was supposed to complete the threesome. She knew she had succumbed to all his weird fantasies because she loved him and he was good to her. But there was as much as she could take and she had gotten tired. Her body was spent…at her young age. And he had still not married her. He always avoided talking about marriage with her. At first, she reasoned with him that he had gone through a lot with the divorce and the loss of his kid, but she had gotten to her breaking point. Life was rolling away and she knew she had to break away. If she didn’t leave, she wouldn’t ever be able to. She enjoyed the largeness and the good life quite alright, but she couldn’t do it on a long term basis. If he could turn his back on his wife for her, she knew it was just a matter of time before he did same to her.
He had pleaded with her and asked her to stay with him. He had said he needed her and had nobody else. He said he had issues and he would work on them. He said they could go away on holiday to Mauritius for a month and be with each other. But Lolade had made up her mind. A part of her considered staying with him. She didn’t want all the time she had invested in the relationship to go to waste. She didn’t know how she would start over. When he had threatened her that she was nothing without him and he made her who she was, that was when she decided it was farewell time. She had packed her bags and put them in the CR-V. She had nowhere to go. She didn’t really have any friends. The ones she had weren’t real and she knew they gossiped about her all the time. Lanre had pleaded again but when she wouldn’t listen, he requested for the car keys and every other thing he had given her. She couldn’t believe he would. But he did. And she found herself squatting with her client turned friend, Ada till she was able to get the two bedroom flat where she now lived.
Nike signed the document on her table that her personal assistant had brought in. The documents were from Tunde’s lawfirm. He had informed her that he had fired Lolade and had gotten another associate to start working on the brief. She wanted to feel bad for what she had done. She had cost the girl her job. But she did not feel bad. She wondered if this made her bad person. But she felt good. Nothing like a bad person.
“Thank you. Please get the documents together and send them back to the lawyer’s office.” She put the documents together and handed them over to her p.a who nodded and took them.
“Are you okay though?” The p.a asked.
Nike took off her emerald green reading glasses and shook her head.
“No I am not, to be honest.” She said.
“Okay, why don’t you take the day off? You’ve had a really busy day you know. There’s nothing else on your schedule for the day.” She said.
“Naaa. I’m good. I guess I just need to relax a bit. Maybe watch a little television or read a blog or something.” Nike said.
“I insist.” Her p.a said.
Nike laughed and the girl joined in.
“So you’re now the boss of me?”
The p.a shrugged.
“I’ll call Tosan.” She said.
Tosan was a constant k in her office. He dropped in every other day and spoke at the top of his voice. One time Nike had a meeting, she had asked the security men not to let him in. He was Toju’s cousin who had just returned from Germany and was looking for a wife. Nike wondered how on earth Toju would have thought she was interested in the man. He was loud, full of himself literally, and always had to pass through doors with his side because of his obese weight.
“Please don’t! I’ll do whatever you want.” Nike laughed.
Everyone knew Tosan was toasting the boss.
“He’s so not your type.” The p.a said.
Nike rolled her eyes.
“I see you know my type, huh?” She said sarcastically.
She took a mental note of her type again. Tall, light skinned, curly hair, toned body, a nice accent, a good job…
She was not ready for marriage. Not another one. She didn't really know what she wanted. Yes she did feel lonely a lot of the time and she wanted to feel the warmth of a good man's arms and love again. But---
It had just been two years since she split from her ex husband. She knew she had to start going out more, but she wanted nothing in life other than to have her son by her side. Lanre had still not consented to bringing him over to Nigeria so Nike had to travel a lot more times than usual to see him. She had considered relocating once but she had her entire business in Nigeria.
She remembered she had to book a meeting with her business partner, Ronke Phillips, relating to a contract they had gotten from a developer to furnish three blocks of luxury apartments in the Surulere axis.
“You didn’t remind me. I was supposed to meet with Ronke Phillips by four p.m today, right?” Nike said, switching from friend mode to boss mode.
“I’m sorry I forgot to tell you. She had to cancel. She said she will give you a call. I thought she had done that already.”
Nike shook her head.
“I should get these sent to the lawyers now. Excuse me.” Her p.a said.
"Please call Akpan. Tell him I'm ready to go." Nike said.
Akpan was her driver. And he was better paid than some of her junior staff. Akpan. He was more than a driver to her. He was a life saver. He had been to the one who had rushed her to the hospital when she had fallen off the staircase from being drunk over her failed marriage. When she had started to put funds together to start her company and businesses again, Akpan had agreed to drive her around without a salary. Her father had offered to give her the funds she needed to start up her career again but she had refused. She had accepted the funds as a loan and within fourteen months of starting business, she had been able to pay him back with interest and appreciation gifts. Her father had told her how proud he was of her.
Her phone continued to ring. It was her mother. She had been calling her repeatedly for two days in a row but Lolade wasn’t answering them. She knew her mother too well. She had probably heard that she had lost her job and was going to rub it in and remind her of how she had preached and warned against Lanre and bla bla bla. She knew it was the truth. Yes. Mama was right. But she didn’t want to hear it. It was bad enough that she had lost her job. She knew she had been foolish and carried away and blinded but she didn’t need her mother’s epistles and sermons at the moment. She ignored the call and hissed.
The phone rang for a fourth time and she grunted in anger. She grabbed it and answered.
“Ki lode?!” She yelled angrily.
There was a little silence for a while.
“Hello?” The voice at the other end said.
It wasn’t her mother’s voice. She took the phone from her ear and looked at the caller I.D. It was Ada. She laughed.
“Ada, hi. What’s up? Sorry I thought it was ….someone else. I didn’t want to speak to the person.” She said.
“Nawa o. Na fight? Is the person owing you money?” Ada teased.
“My dear, I wish somebody was owing me money o. I’m getting so broke.” Lolade said.
She was free with Ada. She had grown to love her as a friend and confide in her as sister. She had told her everything that happened in the relationship with Lanre…down to the details. Ada had been surprised especially because Lanre came across as a soft spoken and easy going man. Ada was a budding artiste. She wanted to sing for a living but her parents were against it so she had moved out of the house and quit her bank job. The first time they had met was when Ada had come to the studio for her promo pictures. She made good music but she was yet to make a good break.
Perhaps it was because of the kind of music she rendered.
“How far? What are you doing today?” Ada asked.
“Hmmm…let me see. Sending cv to many more emails.” Lolade said.
“Okay you can take a break from that for about four hours. I want you to come for a programme in my church…” Ada started.
“Oooooohhh Ada, you have started. I told you I’m not down for all those church ish. You know I love my space. I don’t even have any money to spare and drop in your church basket.” Lolade said.
“Come on now. It’s a special programme and guess who is being featured?” Ada said.
“What?....Ada? You?” Lolade said, excitedly.
“Yesss!” Ada screamed. “I’m taking a session in the Worship. And I am doing a solo. I am not back up to anyone. I will send you the poster on Whatsapp now.”
“Awwww I’m happy for you my darling! What time is the programme?”
“It’s in two hours. Go and start getting ready.”
“Yes, boss. Anything for you. Send the poster right now. I’ll come.”
Lolade smiled at the usher who led her to the empty seat in front. She loved the view. She was directly opposite the stage so she could see the performances very clearly without any obstruction. She was stretching out her neck, looking out for Ada. The Worship session was yet to start. The Pastor was still giving the opening prayers.
“Excuse me, that’s my seat.” A male voice said. Lolade turned to look at him. He was standing over her, with his phone in his hand.
“Erm…the usher led me here. I didn’t find any thing on the seat.” Lolade said.
“I went out to take an important call.” He said, showing her his phone.
“Sorry o. I am not leaving here. Maybe you should find another seat. Be a gentle man, okay.” She said and looked away, hoping he would leave and find somewhere else. By the time she turned to look at where he had been standing, he had left.
She laughed and continued looking out for her friend as the Pastor urged the congregation to pray.
*Before our eyes
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