Everyone has an oversized opinion of themselves; it is the degree to which this opinion is oversized that is debatable and not the fact that it is. When you find that degree and you can magnify the person’s importance in your life to that degree, you will get whatever you want from that person. You just have to endure their preening while you are at it.
When I sat opposite Ochuko that evening, I saw him in a new light. There’s something that happens to you when the lovey dovey scales fall off your eyes and you truly see a person with some objectivity. Here was a guy with an overinflated opinion of his own irrestability and charm. I decided to play to that gallery. I was saying
“Ochuko, I don’t know what came over me; it must have been the stress of the pregnancy.”
He smiled; a preening, conceited smile. I swallowed. This was going to be the hardest part of the pretense; because what I truly felt like doing was to lift the heavy metal chair and bash his head in. He was fiddling with stuff on the table again.
“I just know that I can’t live without you, all of you or some of you, and I’m not going to let this,” I tapped my tummy, “get in the way.” I continued saying.
“So what are you saying Rekiya? I was already gathering myself together to move on, you know my life is not so straightforward” he responded.
In my head, I said shut up you fool. Out aloud, I said “I know it’s me you love Ochuko, and you just need time to sort things out with that woman in UK. I’m with you in this baby, I don’t know how I’m going to go on if you truly move on and I never see you again.”
I saw a smile steal across his face so briefly that if I hadn’t been observing him closely I would not have noticed it. How many times had he smiled such smiles that I had not noticed when love was doing me gishgish? He was saying now “and your father?"I recall that he threatened to kill me the last time we saw…”
“Look, I will handle my father. He has never really liked you, but as long as it was you I wanted, he respected my wishes. He will respect my wishes if I say it’s you I still want. Couples go through thick and thin, and they go through it together, make sacrifices for each other. That’s what this love is about, if it’s to be true.”
“And the complication?” he asked, pointing to my tummy.
“I’m handling that too. I’ll play along with my dad and see the doctor he suggested to take it out. It won’t get it in the way.”
This time, he could not help himself. He grinned from ear to ear like an imp.
“This is what I’ve been trying to tell you since baby. I want you, want you bad, but things just got complicated and I decided it was time to come out clean so you could make an informed choice. And baby, I’m glad you chose to stick with me.”
With that, I crossed over to his side of the cozy chair and wrapped my hands around him, sobbing quietly. “I thought I was going to lose you, I was so scared,” I said through the sobs.
“I’m never leaving baby, never.”
In the midst of the sobs, I smiled. I had him.
I then looked into his eyes, smiled and said breathily “thank you dear, for letting me have you,” and before he could say anything stupid that would not make me go through with it, I kissed him passionately. I had chosen The Penthouse for this purpose. The eating areas were demarcated and secluded in such a way that, even if you were the naughty ones that wanted to play out some imaginations, you could do so without being seen by other diners
When all the kissing and petting was over, I shook myself laughing and said, “now, Mr, I need to go to the loo to redo this makeup that you have smeared so well.” He laughed too as I went.
In the loo, I quickly dialed Fafa. I went straight to the matter, cos I didn’t want to take long
“Babe, he has swallowed the bait. The guy thinks he’s so badt that somebody cannot do without him. Mtchew. How far with your end?” I said.
“Hehehe, na so. My end is tight. I changed my name on BB and added him up. His guard is still up now, as I still have some generic DP up. He’s asking all sorts of questions. But I know that once I change the picture to mine, na man. He will consider himself the luckiest man on earth to get a babim like me on a platter of gold. He’ll have to be a monk not to swallow the bait.”
I let out a soft laugh. “See you soon, lemme discharge this one.” With that, I cut the connection and touched my face up. There’s one thing most men do not hurry a woman on and it’s making herself up so I took my time. I looked at myself in the mirror. The face that stared back at me was one that seemed strained, not the happy one that had looked back for months now. I shook my head. The reason for my pain was sitting out there, and I would focus on that.
The rest of the evening went remarkably well after that hard part was done. We fell into old habits, old jokes resurfaced and I actually had a good time. By the time we left that night, he was comfy.
Farida was waiting for me at home this time, not with alcohol but for once in her life, she hear word and made a sumptuous dinner of fried rice with salad, dodo and turkey. Over dinner, with some presenter on the new ELTV speaking fo-ne that I don’t understand in the background, she gave me the gist of how it went with my MD.
It had been a good idea never to have introduced her to my MD before now. I somehow manage to keep my personal and professional spheres of life separate and I hardly put up personal pictures on my professional BB so he didn’t know her. Now, he was already talking dates and a trip to Dubai together with her within hours of adding her. Fafa was educating me further
“This is what you need to be looking for. You probably will not get a direct answer from anyone to find it. But when you have eliminated every other thing that is impossible, whatever is remaining, no matter how implausible it sounds is the truth. So don’t rule anything you arrive at out.”
The good thing about being trusted P.A is that I have access to all the files, and if there is one that I don’t have, I can get. Who would deny me a file in the company? What if oga needed it urgently and they didn’t make it available. No one would want to find out, so I knew I’d get everything I needed. I simply understand the business too well since I was a part of it from the start. So taking her words to heart, I began a meticulous search of my laptop after dinner, extracting every relevant information exchange and document that had to do with the transaction we were doing with Ochuko’s company. It was 1AM when I thought I had isolated all I could from the e-copies of documents and correspondences. When I got to work later in the morning, I would sift through the hardcopy files and come back home with them. Fafa would find out what could never be in files from my oga during their date that day and we would compare all to get the full picture later the next day.
Next morning, I was up on time and had a full English breakfast, thanks to Aunty Farida before stepping out. She insisted I eat for the baby even if I didn’t want to eat for myself. “I know your plan is to make me fat and ugly, but I have the formula for eating without getting fat now” I told her as I gulped the food down. I was truly hungry anyway, I was grateful for it. She looked at me with mock seriousness and said “babe, you are sitting on a billion dollar business then. Everyone thinks every girl’s dream is to get married to some charming prince. Wrong. Our dream is to be able to eat all we want without getting fat. Oya, let’s sell your formula and watch the stack of paper grow!’
I laughed as I dressed up and she did the dishes (yes, I came to dress up in the kitchen to continue the gist). Before I left the house, she modeled the dress she was wearing for the date with my MD for me and danced to Flavour’s Baby Oku in it. Let’s just say that he was dead meat. This girl no well one bit.
I met both my assistants already at their desks when I got to the office. I had divided up the files I would need into three parts before leaving home. I sent Duke to get one set, and then Somto to get the other. Finally, I got the third set myself. That way, no one but me would know what I was really looking for. To be doubly sure, I added some irrelevant files into the mix so that to anyone else, it was a jumble of stuff. I quickly assembled what I was looking for and stacked them away under my table, picking what I needed per time from the pile. I set to work quickly
When my boss came in at about ten thirty, he was looking super sharp. Brand new haircut, a jacket I hadn’t seen on him before with a pocket square, patent leather shoes, one of those his specially tailored shirts and a Hermes belt. I laughed internally because I knew it was all for Fafa. I gave him some minutes to settle down, before I went in and told him all about the night before. He was so happy I had taken his advice and was sorting things out with Ochuko. Ewu. I chipped in that Ochuko had said something about being relieved that he didn’t have to come to our office to discuss the big deal he was doing with us under the previous circumstances. And then I asked, “which deal, because I’m sure it’s not that one we had that meeting for that day that he’s calling big o.”
I noticed he was floundered and it took him some moments to search for the right answer before he simply said
“it’s a new deal jare, early stages. Good he can come and go here in the atmosphere of love like he said.”
Fafa had said he would not volunteer any info anyway, so I was not surprised that he answered so vaguely. What his reaction told me though was that whatever it was they were doing, it was something that bordered in that hazy place between the legality and illegality, and it was closer to the illegal. Now this in itself is not a bad thing, it happens fairly regularly in our business. But his hesitation was curious. I changed the topic and he was visibly relieved I didn’t probe further.
“So, which of your catches is in town that is the inspiration for this your decking up today o, because e no get part two”.
“Hehehe, this one is new and fresh, and she’s manna from heaven. If you see the babe en, you will know that good things are still in this world. And she will be mine utunu.” He touched his lips and raised the finger to heaven to emphasize his point. I laughed and simply said “sha be careful”.
“Don’t worry, she won’t bite” he responded.
No one had been that wrong in a long time.
Two hours later, he stopped by at my desk on his way out and said with a wink “wish me luck”.
I had found something in the hardcopy files that was like a red flag. I hadn’t found it by looking; I more or less stumbled upon it because of an error in spelling. But as things happen, that error made me focus on that area some more and voila, I saw what I was looking for, clear as crystal. The moment he was gone, I went into the restroom and called Fafa “he’s on his way, wrapped like a Christmas gift. And my search has yielded something interesting. So here’s what you’re going to ask him about…”
It was then I felt the sharp pain in my tummy for the first time.