You are wondering what I’m doing here, with a pirate’s eye and black patched across my fair skin? I’ll tell you right after I take these medications…
Well, here it goes. Oh a little history before we proceed. My name is Kathleen Blue-Jack. I’m a Kalabari girl, from the riverine part of the part of Rivers State where the girls are born with naturally beautiful hair, lovely shaped legs and glowing skin. It could be a curse sometimes because you would be lucky to be curvy like the upland girls.
I finished my youth service three years ago today. It was hard to get a job because I refused to surrender my feminine gizmo to get a job.
My cardinal rule was ‘never date a married man’. Most of the lecturers in my department were canter-and-lope about girls and a marital status didn’t deter them. Because of this I applied my mother’s facial scrub on my face because I was terribly allergic to it. Seriously, my skin was always covered in rashes and I didn’t wear make-up, it was probably why I didn’t have a boyfriend in university.
Oh! My black eye, yes. It was about four months ago. I had to travel to Lagos for a job interview and I did. The interview was a façade as they had already employed another a day before. I got to the car park to catch a bus to Port Harcourt a little too late – I missed the last one. I was terribly hungry so I went to a buka – roadside restaurant – to get myself dinner and was waylaid by hoodlums. They took everything even my ticket.
Then it rained. For two hours the rain pelted me as if I had offended it. Tired, hungry and cold, I sat on a stone beside the unsheltered bus stop morbidly staring at passing cars. I was a stranger in this city and I didn’t have a phone, embarrassing I know.
Finally, the rain stopped. I was getting up just as a black jeep slowed down in front of me. So I stretched my hand to pick up a big but inconspicuous stone and held it behind me. He wound down the tinted window of the passenger seat and turned on the light over his head. I gasped and let go of the stone in my hand. It landed on my foot. I choked back my yelp and my eyes watered.
“Are you okay?” he asked his brow arched.
His frown deepened. “Are you sure?”
“Go-good evening.” I croaked and cleared my throat wondering for a second if that came out from me. He had a shock of white hair sprinkled around the black ones.
“I don’t live here but I do know it’s not a safe place for anyone.”
“I’m stranded.” I spoke before I could stop myself, probably because that I was the first person I had really spoken to since I left Port Harcourt.
“Get in,” he opened the door.
“I.” I hesitated for a second but the warm air that came out of the car felt so good. I almost hastily plopped on the car seat.
“Where were you heading to?” he asked frowning.
“Port Harcourt.” I wanted to tell him I had just got in but I didn’t think it was wise.
“Oh. Where do I drop you then?”
I was surprised by the question that I didn’t answer immediately.
“You’re not from around here.” He muttered, nodded. “I’ll drop you at the nearest hotel then.”
He dropped me at a hotel. I lingered waiting for him to leave so I could sneak out of there. It was when I saw him beside me that I realised he had made a u-turn. “I figured you may need money for your hotel bill… so here.” He produced wads of five hundred naira notes from his pocket. Little wonder that my eyes still remained in its sockets. If I had ever seen that amount of money at one go then it was most certainly in a dream. Each note was new, even the smell of being untouched lingered. I thanked him then he asked, “Why were you here? I mean in Lagos.”
I lowered my head. “I was here for an interview but the spot has been taken.”
He leaned back on his seat. A car horn blared, irritating me immensely. He leaned towards me and opened the door. “Get in.”
I did and we drove away. A few minutes later, we parked on the roadside. My heart beat so rapidly that I held my breath for a few seconds, inhaled and exhaled deeply at intervals, to steady it.
“I have a degree in Secretarial Administration from the University of Science and Technology in Port Harcourt. A two-one, diploma in computer appreciation -”
“Good, you can type. Would you like to work for me?”
“Mhm?” I was sitting beside a handsome guy who was no less than six feet tall. So I was surprised by the question.
He smiled and I shivered. “You were in need of a job? My executive assistant resigned recently and I haven’t found a replacement. You could work for me… at least until you get a better job.”
My throat dried up as a consequence of his curious stare. I tried hard not to stare as he rubbed the stubble of hair on his chin. I couldn’t believe that a stubble of hair on a man’s face could look so good.
I almost forgot that I had just seen a wedding band. It was quite conspicuous it could irritate a person with photosensitive epilepsy, not a good example but you can catch my drift. He was married. Of all the men in the world, a married man tickled my fancy and causes me to shiver in all the unholy places of my body. This was a disaster waiting to happen so the best option will be to…
“I’ll pay you fifty thousand naira a month. You’ll not need to come to work on the days I’ll not be in the office. You may have to work at odd hours in an emergency but I’ll pay you overtime in those circumstances.”
Everything else he said was lost because I was building a fifty thousand naira expenditure in my mind. I heard him clear his throat but it was not until he tapped my shoulder that I realised I was still in his car.
“You are going to think about it, yes?”
“I’ll take it.” I replied a little loudly. It was too late to hide my desperation. I needed a job a. s. a. p. what with my mother’s dialysis, my sibling’s WAEC fees and the house rent. I cleared my throat and added quietly. “When do I start?”
“Tomorrow.” He smiled and explained. “I’m swarmed. You can work without supervision, yes?”
“Since, you’re new in Lagos. I’ll be your chauffeur for a week until I can attach someone from work to you. If we’re lucky you will get a place within the week. After two weeks, the hotel bills will rest on you should you continue to stay.”
“Maybe you should rest today and start tomorrow.” He said frowning as he stared at the dashboard.
“Oh no o! I’m ready to start working right now.”
“It’s five o’clock in the morning.”
“I won’t fall asleep I assure you.”
“Very well then.”
He drove me back to the hotel. He talked to the receptionist while I sat at the lounge. When he finished he came over to me and handed me a key and a receipt.
“First floor, left wing.” He said, pointing towards the lift. “I’ll be back by nine.”
I nodded and went to the lift.
To be continued.