Different Worlds

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Chapter Twenty-one

Here you go, guys
Enjoy
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Ijeoma

I pulled out my bag from my locker in the staff locker room. It had been a really long day and everyone was getting ready to go back to their respective homes. Noah was bust working so I had to find my own way home and I was rushing to get to Fola, my friend’s house to pick Zozo.

I couldn’t leave her with Mrs. Okachi, my neighbor today because she was attending a night vigil, so I had to keep her with my friend. I was packing my stuff into my bag when Tayo, one of the busboys in the cafeteria walked up to me. He is a dark, tall, and lanky young man. The kind that kept you wondering if he would fall with a small blow or impact, although he had this cute boyish look that made him quite easy to talk to.

“Hey, Ijeoma”

“Yeah, what’s up?” I said looking up from my bag

“Uhm, so today’s my birthday and a couple of us are going out for drinks” he said scratching the side of his head. “Would you like to join us?”

“Oh my God. Happy birthday, I’m so sorry that it’s coming late. I didn’t know today was your birthday” I said

“Thank you, it’s no problem” he said with a shy smile on his lips. “So ... are you interested in joining us?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I have someone watching my daughter and I need to rush over there to pick her up. I won’t be able to make it” I said apologetically.

“Oh, okay”

There was a tone of disappointment in his voice which made me feel bad a little but there was no compromising here. I couldn’t leave my daughter at my friend’s place to go party and have drinks, especially when Noah isn’t available and I have to take the bus.

“I’m so sorry”

“It’s okay. Maybe some other time” he said a little dejected before walking away.

I tried to shake off the awkward feeling that ensued after he walked away but I heard a snarky comment that made me halt in my movement.

“Why would she come with us, when she feels like she’s better than us?”

It was Alero who made this comment from across the room. She is one of the girls that works at the counter like me, she’s fair-skinned, tall, and beautiful with light brown eyes that announced itself and a cute gap tooth that appeared when she smiled. Her beauty was only on the outside though because on the inside was a proud, loud-mouthed, obnoxious lady who derived joy in gossiping about and intimidating people. Therefore nobody wanted to get on her bad side rather they sucked up to her in order to be friends with her.

I stayed in my halted position for a couple of seconds contemplating what my reaction should be, I decided to just ignore her because I just didn’t have the energy to waste on her. I returned to packing my stuff into my bag.

“She’ll be acting like she can’t hear oo because that rich doctor managed to show her interest, she’s now feeling like she’s bigger than all of us” she said in a loud voice.

There was an awkward silence that ensued after she spoke and all eyes were on me, waiting to see what my reaction would be but I continued to go about my business like I didn’t hear anything.

“If you like, act like you can’t hear me oo” she said clearly aggravated. “Rubbish”

I could tell that my silence was putting her off, the fact that she was making obnoxious statements and was getting zero response was getting her angrier.

“Alero, leave her now. PesIn wey you dey follow talk, no dey even answer you sef” someone said. (The person you’re talking to, isn’t even replying)

“Abeg, just shut up there oo. I wasn’t talking to you, so mind your business” Alero retorted and then let out a loud hiss. (Please)

“What is your own sef?” Fisola spoke out. (What is your problem?)

“Nothing oo. It’s this your friend that’s always acting like as if she is not on the same level as everyone else here” she replied. “She’ll be following that doctor like a fly that is following shit (poop) until she carry another belle (pregnancy). Like one bastard is not enough for her”

As soon as those words left her mouth, I just saw red and all my attempts to remain calm and indifferent towards her ranting flew out the window. One minute I was beside my locker and the next, I was standing in front of her with my fingers imprinted on her cheeks and a loud smack resounding all over the room.

“How dare you?” I said seething with anger

She looked taken aback at the fact that I had slapped her as her mouth hung agape, eyes wide open and her hand over the cheek I had just smacked.

She quickly snapped out of her state of shock and raised her hand to retaliate but I was quick to react. I caught her hand before it could get to my face and pushed it away causing her to stumble back.

“Oh, you want to fight abi?” I raised my voice. (Is it not?)

I was sure every eye in the room was watching us intently but I couldn’t care less. Alero had pushed me to the wall and I had no choice but to fight back.

“What is your problem, sef? Why are you on my case, like this?” I spoke out loud. “Who gave you the right to call my child out of her name? is it because unlike you, I decided to keep my child?”

A gasp was heard in the room and Alero’s eyes widened in shock.

“Are you surprised that I know? Well, the walls have ears” I said to her before turning to face the rest of the staff. “You people think because I’m quiet, I’m clueless or oblivious to all the things that go on around here. I don’t say anything because it’s not my business, so please show me the same courtesy”

“Look, I don’t care if you people talk about me or paint me black in your gossip circle, that your problem. What I won’t have is any of you talking about my child in a disapproving manner” I announced.

“And as for you” I said returning my attention to a stunned Alero. “If I ever hear my child’s name from your mouth, I’ll show you what I’m made of and that’s not a threat. It’s a promise”

I grabbed my bag, slammed my locker shut, and walked out of the room but not before apologizing to Tayo for all that went down. As soon as I stepped out of the cafeteria, I nearly bumped into Noah.

“Hey, I was just about to come and get you. My patient’s surgery has been moved to tomorrow because –“he stopped midway when he saw my facial expression. “What’s wrong?”

“I think I might be losing my job” I blurted out.

“What, why? What happened?” His brows furrowed in confusion.

I took his hand and pulled him to walk with me, away from the cafeteria before I explained the whole ordeal.

“I was just so angry and ... and I couldn’t think clearly” I said. “I know physically assaulting a fellow employee is not tolerated her but she was pushing the right buttons” I concluded as we got to where his car was parked.

“Don’t worry” he said pulling me into a warm hug. “Nothing is going to your job, okay?”

“I hope so” I replied, leaning into the hug. I really needed it.

“This is the first time, it’s happening. Think you should be let off with a warning or something” he said placing a soft kiss on my temple before letting me go.

I let out a heavy sigh in response.

We got into the car and Noah pulled out of the parking lot, out of hospital premises and into the expressway, joining the traffic that was gradually building up.

Noah turned to face me when the cars on the road had come to a halt, maybe due to an obstruction ahead or something.

“Is it bad that I find you even more attractive after hearing about how you went mama bear on that girl?” he said

I chuckled. “Oh my God. You’re crazy”

“Only for you” he replied like it was a normal thing to say. “I’m crazy only for you”

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The next day

When I arrived at the cafeteria, the work environment was cold and not in a good way. It was like everyone was still getting over the aftermath of what had transpired yesterday.

On the bright side, Alero was stepping on anyone’s toes, she just focused on her job .and avoided the rest of us. It was like the façade of her being high and mighty just dissolved and everyone could now see her for who she truly was.

Fisola filled me in on what happened after I walked out of the locker room. They all headed to club 19, a club that was down the street. It took them a couple of minutes to shake off the awkwardness, although Alero was cooped up in a corner throughout the evening.

Fisola moved on to gush about how surprised she was to see me hold my own against Alero but I wasn’t as hyped as she was. In fact, I felt bad about the whole thing, watching Alero mope around the place was not a nice sight.

When I voiced how I felt, Fisola brushed it off, saying ‘Alero had it coming’ and I should bother myself about it that after a few days, Alero would return to her normal self.

It was mid-afternoon when our supervisor called me into her office- well, a small closet room in which she turned into an office. My heart sank into the pit of my stomach, thinking about how this meeting would turn out.

I knew that this was coming but I wanted to put it off as long as I could. There was no way what transpired yesterday wouldn’t get to her ears - like I said yesterday, the walls have ears.

“Have a seat” she said glancing briefly at me through her old-fashioned thin-rimmed glasses that rested on the bridge of her nose.

I quietly walked over to one of the seats which were across from her. Mrs. Okoye, our supervisor is a middle-aged woman who looked like she was entering her golden years. She had a few acnes spluttered over her face and there was a small wrinkle at the corner of her eyes.

She was dressed in a purple Ankara gown with a matching scarf, tied haphazardly on her head. There were no accessories whatsoever on her- well except her medicated glasses because it wasn’t allowed in the church she attended. She spent ten minutes going over the files on her neatly polished mahogany table. Those ten minutes of silence felt like hell, the only sounds that filled the room were the rustling of papers as she turned them over, the ticking of the purple-colored clock that hung on the cream walls.

Some people might be wondering why I was this bothered by losing my job, after all I have a rich boyfriend to fall back on and my parents are back in my life, so I’m not completely alone but to me, none of that mattered.

Having this job, as stressful as it may be, gave me a sense of independence and that I could stand on my own two feet. I didn’t want to depend solely on anyone, I’d done that in the past and it didn’t work out well for me.

“So ...” She finally spoke up, lifting her gaze to me. “I heard about what happened yesterday and I would like to hear your own version of the truth”

She kept her hands intertwined on the table and her face expressionless as she listened to my own side of the story. Once I finished my narration, she let out a heavy sigh and took off her glasses before running her hand over her makeup-free face.

“I’m sure you’re well aware of the zero-tolerance policy towards fighting in this hospital” she said

I nodded dejectedly. “Yes ma”

She was silent for a while before saying. “Since this is the first time something like this is happening. I will let you off with a warning”

I let out a sigh of relief. “Oh my God, thank you m-”

She held out a hand to silence me. “I’m not finished. If something like this should ever occur again. I wouldn’t hesitate to let HR know about it”

“It wouldn’t. Thank you ma”

“It better not” she said firmly. “You may go, send Alero in, on your way out”

“Okay” I said, standing up to leave.

I walked out of the office, feeling lighter than I had been before I walked into it.

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