Five years Back
‘Sinead how far with that report?’ my boss asks
I take a deep breath, honestly, I need a break. I am tired and if I go another day like this, I will lose my mind
‘Sinead I am talking to you.’ She yells from her office
‘I will be done in a moment ma’am.’ I yell back using the last of my energy
This was never my dream, working as a debt collector for a financial institution. After getting my degree in banking and finance two years ago I had hoped to work for a high-profile bank, no one ever told me the hustle of getting a job in Lusaka even with good qualifications. I had to take whatever job I could take because I had no one to depend on and my bills were not going to pay themselves, besides my mum was retired and sadly she was working in a private institution which meant her earnings were little and they finished even before she settled in society.
I make a face as I feel my feet hurt, I have just walked to the printer and my heels are killing me. I swear to God when I have my own company, I will let people wear whatever shoes they want, I mean why should we be restricted to heels five days a week?
When the report is done printing, I walk to Ms. Kalui’s office – my boss.
‘Come in.’ she says not even looking at the door, I see this because her office is made out of glass.
‘The report ma’am.’
‘Alright thank you just put it anywhere.’
‘Alright.’ I say putting it on her paper tray
‘By the way I need you to report for work tomorrow.’
I feel like crying, I no longer have the fight in me.
‘Do you have a problem with my decision?’ she asks this time looking at me
‘Ma’am the company owes me for the last eight Saturdays I have worked.’ I say almost crying
‘And the company hasn’t fired you yet, so best believe your money will come someday.’ She says without a care in the world going back to whatever she was doing on her PC
I bite my tongue as I push back the tears that are threatening to fall, wordlessly I walk out of her office and go to pack up. It’s past 6PM, I am always the first to report for work and the last one to leave and when someone has to work on weekends it’s me, she picks. And one might think I am the highest paid but no, I am one of the lowest.
I wear my slippers and pack my heels in a carrier back, when I have packed everything and switched off my computer – I leave the office.
‘Madam mwakomboka?’ our janitor ba Richard asks
‘Ehe nakomboka.’ I respond with a smile, he is a good man and has the qualifications of a driver but just like me, he hasn’t been too lucky with work and now he has to do whatever he can to make ends meet.
My headsets are plugged into my ears and I am listening to Chapters by Brett Young as I walk to Kulima tower to catch a bus. On the way I decide to pass through shoprite because mum called during the day telling me that she has run out of cooking oil, doctors advised that she has to take pure vegetable oil and so we resorted to coconut oil. Quite expensive but there is nothing I can, it’s better than her being sick. Whilst I on the other hand; to cut off on costs I have just been chargrilling my meats and eating vegetables without cooking oil, that way I don’t have to buy cooking oil for myself.
I want to curse when I notice there is no coconut oil on the shelf, I always take advantage buying it from here because in most supermarkets it’s expensive.
‘Why does it look like we are both disappointed to find this shelf empty?’ a man asks
I don’t bother to pay attention to him, on a different day I would have but right now my brain is stuck in one place.
‘Sorry today is not my best day.’ I apologize because I don’t want to seem rude
He smiles anyway
‘I am about to drive to Levy junction; food lovers could have it there.’
‘Good for you.’ I respond trying to change the song that has started playing on my phone
‘We could go together.’
This time I look at him
‘Is this what you do? Talking to strangers when you meet them?’ I ask looking him in the eye
‘My apologies, I just thought because we are looking for the same thing maybe we can go together.’
‘Thank you but I will find a place to buy it from.’ I say walking past him
And as if my day isn’t bad enough, I get outside the store only to find it pouring.
‘God what wrong have I done this day?’ I ask myself as I stare at all the people getting into their cars, I have never been an envious person. Not once have I ever seen someone doing better than me and ended up feeling bad, but with how my life has been going, there are days I question the man above.
My parents never married, mum was working as a secretary at an NGO when her then boss forced himself on her, she reported him but he had all the money in the world and after the case moved back and forth, she decided to leave her home town to try and start afresh in the city but what she didn’t know was that she was pregnant. She kept it and after I was born, she worked whatever job she could find until a certain family employed her as a house help. That is where her life took a turn, apparently, they had a family friend who liked mum – the man I turned out to consider my father even up to this day. They secretly started dating and eventually had a traditional wedding after announcing to the world that they were together. I was about six of age at the time and I remember she was very happy, he pushed her to go back to school and even changed my papers into his name. but at times good things don’t last, he lost his life to cancer and she has never remarried since. She spent the rest of her life trying to better herself and laying a foundation for me and that is why I have vowed to take care of her even if it means breaking my back in the process.
‘I see you are still here.’ The man from earlier says
‘What do you want?’ I ask feeling drained
‘At least let me give you a lift, because these rains won’t stop now.’
I look at the time, it’s getting late and he has a point concerning the rains not ending any time soon.
‘Okay I will come with you.’ I say
‘Let me just bring the car close.’ He tells me
I watch as he runs to his vehicle, a few minutes later he brings it close to where I am and I join him.
‘Woodlands, behind lake road school.’
He turns and joins Cairo road, I don’t know the science between rains and congestion but we are stuck and I am just praying mum doesn’t start calling because it’s almost 7:30PM.
‘I am Davies by the way.’ He says
‘Sinead.’ I respond looking out the window
There is an awkward silence in the vehicle, I want to plug in my headsets but then am thinking how rude that will be.
His phone rings and he plugs it into the speaker.
‘Babe.’ He says
‘Where are you?’ the lady on the other end of the line asks
‘Stuck in congestion why?’
‘My car has a problem I need you to come and pick me up.’
He looks at his watch
‘Where are you?’
‘What are you doing at Keagan’s.’
‘He wasn’t feeling well I thought I visit him.’
I hear him sigh deeply
‘I am sending you someone to come and pick you up because I might delay.’
‘Why can’t you just send me some money? I can just get a driver from here it will be faster.’
‘Is it money you want or to be picked up?’ he asks
She hesitates in her response
‘I will talk to you later.’ He says instead
‘And the money?’
‘I will see what I can do.’ He says before cutting the line
The rest of the journey is quiet, it’s only after we get to Lake road that I direct him to my place. It has stopped raining when we get home and I am wondering what mum and her friends are doing outside this time of the night.
‘Thank you so much.’ I say when we are both out of the car, I don’t know why he has come out too.
‘Hey baby.’ Mum greets coming towards us
‘Hey mum.’ I respond
‘God you are cold, you kids could use some hot chocolate come inside.’
‘Mum he is not staying.’ I protest because he is just a stranger
‘Oh please, he too looks cold. Hurry inside now.’ She says
I eye her, here is a woman inviting a stranger in the house when she has never invited any of the men I have dated. Not even the one I am currently dating.
I am too tired to fight her, so I invite Davies into the house for her famous hot chocolate.
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