‘Why is this man calling me?’ I wondered aloud as my phone rang the second time. After almost 5years, I cannot believe he still has my number like I had his. I couldn’t bring myself to answer his calls. After the fifth ring, I guess he got tired. I expected a text message to follow but as I wait, I remembered our story.
He met me while I was still an intern in an organisation. He had been impressed by my work ethic the few times he visited and had approached me if I could work for him. I was elated, this is like an answered prayer. My one year internship ends in three weeks and I already missed out on university admission, which I greatly desired that year and would have to wait another year. I only had a diploma, who would employ me? The year seemed bleak already and his offer just beamed the light I had prayed for. I jumped at it.
And so it started. I worked as a P.A, office assistant and anything else you can think of. I was just a boy filled with exuberance and a spectacular gift of putting things together. It was a startup and there was just 2 of us. I believe so much in our business and I put my all into it. But there was not much money coming in yet. He paid my salary just twice in the first year, but that never deterred me. Sometimes, I sleep in the office when I don’t have enough money to go home. I understand the situation and never complained. We analysed, strategised and work out our million naira plans together, ‘still yet’ nothing. We kept hitting brick walls.
I missed admission again the next year and while I was unhappy about this, he always had good words for me. He gave me a lot of encouragement, he even promised to send me abroad to school if business got better. Soon after, we had our first major hit. We got a huge job and made good money. Around this time, his girlfriend got pregnant and they had to plan a wedding. The wedding was a huge success. And the baby came too, a girl, looks very much like him.
Things were looking up. It’s my second year with him now and still not getting paid salaries but I was never broke. My pocket was taken care of, in one (legit) way or the other. I still wished he paid my salary though, I probably would have saved enough for my university education. I had applied for admission again but instead of his usual encouragement, I noticed he tried to talk me out of it. We are making money now, why bother about school. But I had my mind made up, I must at least get a university education. We attended an event together where he told anyone who cares to listen, how much of an asset I was, how he believed so much in me and bla bla bla. He just kept waxing lyrical about me. Not one who regularly gets adulations, omo, my head swell small. A friend of his even told me to keep being a good boy and gave me money. Despite not being paid salary, I felt appreciated and resolved to do more.
Things were going well until one fateful day, he told me he was recruiting a lady. She is fresh from NYSC and a first class graduate from a private university. I felt it was a great idea. I wish I didn’t.
Fast forward to a few weeks, she started working with us. I had great expectations really, I thought this is someone who will add value to the company and I’ll be able to learn a thing or two from. But, I was disappointed. Because, apart from fluent English, this lady doesn’t seem to be able to do anything. She cannot even write the plenty english that she speaks. She had not come to add value but to suck out the little we have. I found out she is a sister to one of his friends and he had decided to take her up, in more ways than one as I was soon to find out.
Yes, he was sleeping with her. And right there in the office sef, this has never happened before. Even though, he hasn’t been much of a saint, he never brought his depravity to the office. But he is now, and it happens everyday, in fact sometimes more than once a day. I had thought he brought her for her brain, not for the body which is not even an attraction sef. Compared to his wife and some other people I know, she no reach. But, I guess ‘his beholding’ was different.
As expected, things changed, including his attitude towards me. He shouts at me at the slightest opportunity. She gets away with anything, everything. I get the stick for even her actions. He would say so many terrible things to me, how he picked me up from the gutter and is helping me, how he is managing me because I had no degree, how I need to sit up or else he will push me away. Of course, I felt bad. I was not used to this. What happened to him? Could it be jazz or that thing that happens to men when they start getting regular ‘knackz’?
It got to a climax one day, she and I were supposed to meet a client by 12pm. They had locked themselves in his office till past 11. And we got there late, missed the client, missed the job. I felt really bad, this has never happened before. I had prepared the proposal for the big money project and we were good to get the job. It took me three days of working with little sleep to get it ready, all she had to do was the presentation, (the only thing she sabi asides screwing him) but some way, somehow we had missed the job. I was disappointed because I did my part but then it had been wasted with no fault of mine, well that’s what I thought.
She told the boss, I did not listen to her and followed a longer route, that’s why we were late. He had been talking a lot about the money from the job lately, so I knew how much he expected and how bad he’ll feel about his actions, the tryst that led to the delay but with what she said, I became the culprit. He said so many terrible things to me that day. And by the close of work, he said the last thing I had expected to hear in my life. ‘You are fired. Come tomorrow and hand over everything to her. I don’t want to see you again.’
I was shocked to my marrow. How is this a fault of mine? What have I done wrong? How did we get here? This man that made a lot of promises. This man that said he believed in me and how much I mean to him. Now he is letting me go, because of ‘toto’ or have I really done something wrong? I know so much about him, I could ruin him, his account details, passwords, I know every little detail about him and he is letting me go? Is that wise or otherwise? I stuck with him when he had nothing, he was not even paying me and this is all I get for my loyalty.
Where do I start from? What will I do? Should I call his wife to beg him? Apparently, he was not thinking straight when he said it, he will come around the next day.
The next day was a Friday, I went to work with double mind, whatever happens, I just have to accept my fate. But one thing I will not do is beg, he is not God. Yes, I will miss out on a lot but he is not indispensable, same way I’m not with him. I was half expecting him to ‘come around’ and things get back to normal but then I got another shocker. A good one this time.
I had a habit of always checking the University website first thing when I get to work. I look out for information on admissions and most especially, the list. I had done same that morning and there it was, the list with my name in it. I got the course I wanted, in the school I wanted and purely on merit. I didn’t know exactly how to feel. I couldn’t wait for him to come, so I can give him the ‘ela oju kan, I was gonna leave anyways’ attitude. I didn’t let my excitement show, rather I did what I was expected to do, handed over to her and waited for him to come. He came around 11 and she went to his office for the usual ’rounds’. And when he finally came out, he asked if I had handed over, I said yes and I was about to leave. I don’t know if it was his post-orgasmic state or from his mind, he handed me a wad of notes, I found it later to be 50k. He had never given me that kind of money before. So I guess, that was my severance package. I wanted to tell him I got admission but the words wouldn’t come out. He probably doesn’t deserve to know.
I left the office with the lines of one of my favourite rappers playing in my head, ‘all these CEOs you see don’t really want to pay you, all they want is chains and whips with which they will slave you’…. they will tell you they believe in you, till you ain’t relevant no more that’s when they’ll be leaving you’. DAMN!!!
But as some people of faith will say, where there is a casting down, there is uplifting.
I wonder what he wants from me after 5 years. I didn’t keep up much with him since he separated from his wife who I am still in contact with after I left. I have since moved on to greater things and I don’t need him anymore.