It had been two weeks since I started working for the Emenike Shipping Company and I could say that I had gotten a hang of how things worked around here. I knew the clients who needed to be tended to with care and the ones who were nice and somewhat carefree, the disgusting and inappropriate flirts and the respectable ones.
Chioma had completely relinquished everything to me saying she was confident that I knew what I was doing. In some way, this job was teaching me a few things as an aspiring business woman.
My phone beeped and I unlocked to see a message from Noah.
See you later tonight 😉
A smile immediately made it's way to my face. I was so excited for tonight because believe it or not, Noah and I hadn't seen each other for the past two weeks. We were both so busy with our lives- more on Noah's part so we resorted to just phone calls, face time and texting.
A strike from health workers in Nigeria was going on and so there was no medical activities going on in the public hospitals. The doctors and nurses were trying to get the government to see that their needs were taken care of and their salaries were increased. Since Noah's hospital wasn't a government owned hospital and was private, they still went to work.
The hospital was flooding with people because of the whole strike thing making his work load even more larger. The fact that the hospital's bill was almost the same as the government hospitals made people come in even more.
I wasn't the only person who missed Noah presence. Zozo would basically fight me for my phone whenever we got the chance to talk and she wouldn't want to relinquish the phone once it was in her grasp.
So tonight, Noah made plans for the three of us to go out, have dinner at some fancy place and basically enjoy each others company. He said he was been let off early today and that he wanted to spend it with his favorite girls.
We planned for him to pick me up after work and then head over to my apartment to pick Zozo up. I didn't tell her that Noah would be coming around tonight because I wanted to watch her reaction when she sees him. I was so excited, I felt like fast forwarding the day and stop at 5pm when I would be done with work.
I can't wait 😁
I quickly replied before resuming what I was doing.
"Hey, is Mr. Kachi in?" Emeka walked into the office.
"Yeah" I looked up from the desktop. "Any problem?"
"Not really. I just want to run some things by him" he lifted a brown file in his hand.
"Oh okay. Let me inform him that you're here"
I pressed the number that connected to him directly and almost immediately, Mr. Kachi picked up the phone.
"Sir. Emeka from logistics is here. He said he wants to run some things by you" I informed him.
"Oh okay. Send him in"
"Okay sir" I placed the receiver back in the holder.
"You can go in" I looked up at Emeka.
Emeka was about 5'11 in height, skinny and spotted a low afro. He was clad in a vertically striped blue shirt and ash trousers held by a black belt. He had a certain bounce to his steps as he walked into Mr. Kachi's office. It was actually funny to watch because his nerd-like appearance did not match the swagger.
An hour later, Chioma walked into the office with a couple of files poking out of her handbag. Her strides were short but quick paced, she moved to her desk and placed her handbag on the table before pulling out the files.
"I don't know why we like to stress people in this country" she stated with a slightly annoyed time.
I looked up from the game of solitaire I was playing. I wanted to take a break from all the files that I needed to look through so I decided to take a short break and play a game.
"What happened?" I inquired.
"Chill. Let me go and give these files to him" she gestured towards Mr. Kachi's door.
I nodded and she walked straight up to the door, placed two light knocks and then walked in. I resumed my game playing till she came back out.
"You know I told you I was going to Warri port" she walked over to her seat and settled down.
I nodded in agreement.
She had gone out to the sea port in Delta state because the containers of our clients had just arrived at the port. There were no sea ports in Anambra state, so all our containers came through the Warri port in Delta state, a neighbouring state. It was approximately a one hour drive from Anambra to Delta, two hours give or take due to the traffic and whatnot.
"So... I got there to confirm that all our containers were all present. Everything was complete, so I was like, let me sign the discharge papers so that the trailers can carry the containers to our warehouse. The NPA (Nigerian Port Authority) people now said that I couldn't take sign the papers because I needed one document like that" she paused to take a gulp of water from her bottle.
A red lipstick stain imprinted on the mouth of the bottle after she drank from it. She covered the bottle and placed it on the tiled floor close to her table.
"I was confused because we have never been asked to provide such papers. They said it was a new policy and I could process the papers at that moment if I wanted but I had to pay fifteen thousand Naira. I had to call Mr. Kachi to inform him and he said I should pay it from the company card." She continued. "Oyah now, process the papers so I could leave since I have already paid. They told me to sit down and wait for sometime while they processed the papers"
"Ijeoma, that's how they kept me waiting there for hours, only for them to tell me to come back tomorrow. After I had waited there for close to two hours" she concluded. " You see those people that make all these policies, it's God that will punish them"
I burst out laughing, not at her ordeal but at the way she narrated it. She reminded me of Fisola, they both knew how to tell a story and make it interesting. I made a mental note to call her tomorrow, it's been quite a while since we talked.
She snickered. "You're laughing. It wasn't funny at that time"
"S sorry" I said amidst my laughter.
She sighed. "I'm so tired. If you see how I was running up and down to pay that money, you'll pity me"
"Chai, pele" I said in sympathy. (Sorry)
It was 7pm on the dot and I was still at the office. We had closed for the day two hours ago and Noah was running late so I decided to do some work that was reserved for the next day to kill time. Chioma had left the office a long time ago, immediately it clocked 5pm, she packed up her stuff and left for home.
Mr. Kachi's door opened and he walked out with his small black briefcase in his hand indicating he was heading home.
"You're still here?" he asked surprised, when he saw me behind my desk.
"Yes sir. I was doing some work but I'm done now" I replied
"Okay" he walked up to the door with his hand on the door knob about to leave. He stopped and turned around. "Do you need a ride?"
I didn't expect that at all. Why would he offer me a ride, he was my boss? Maybe he was just being nice and thoughtful. It was 7pm after all, the sky would be dark by now and he just wants me to get home safe. I guess ...
"Thank you, but I'm waiting for someone" I replied politely.
"Oh okay. Goodnight then"
He walked out of the room and I grabbed my phone that was on the table and texted Noah.
Where are you?
What was taking so long? Was there traffic on the road getting here because there could be serious traffic at this time. Everyone was retiring back to their various homes, therefore the road would be packed with cars and buses moving at a slow pace.
I turned off my computer and stood up from my seat to make sure all the windows were closed, fans were turned off and basically all electrical appliances were off.
My phone rang and it was Noah calling.
"Heyy" I said with a chipped tone
He didn't even know to say another word for me to know that something was wrong but I tried to stay positive.
"What's up? Are you close by?" I asked with high hopes.
"No, I'm really sorry. Something came up at the hospital and --"
Disappointment washed over me like a cat drenched in the rain. I couldn't even properly listen to what he was saying, all I could hear was he was he couldn't make it. A knot formed in my throat and tears welled up in my eyes. I had to look up to the ceiling to prevent them from falling.
I don't even know why I was getting emotional, it was not like he was going away for a month or something. He just couldn't make a dinner date, we could always reschedule it for another time. I guess it was because of the built up excitement to meet up with him.
"Are you still there?" I heard him say.
I cleared my throat. "Yeah yeah. I'm still here"
"Are you okay?" He sounded upset as well.
"Yeah, I'm fine. It's no problem, we can always have dinner another time" I said
"I'm so sorry. I know you were looking forward to this dinner, I was too and now I --"
"Babe, it's fine. You have a responsibility to your patients and I understand that. We can always see each other some other time" I interjected
"Thank you. I promise I will make it up to you" he said
He chuckled. "I've got to go now"
"Okay. We'll talk later"
"I love you"
"Love you too"
He hung up and I gently placed the phone on my desk.
"This is ridiculous" I said to myself as I took in deep breaths to calm myself down. "I can't believe I'm crying right now"
As much as I tried to hold the tears back, I couldn't. The tears made its way down my face and I wiped my face before it could drop to the floor.
I was happy that I decided to keep the dinner a surprise and not tell Zozo because she would've have been so excited only to be disappointed later. I was an adult and I could understand his reason for cancelling but Zozo wouldn't and she would just cry herself to sleep.
I grabbed my handbag and put all my stuff into it. It was late and if I wanted to get a bus to my apartment without waiting for hours, I needed to leave right now. Once it got late like this, finding a bus became harder and harder.
The building was almost empty, all the people who shared the building with us had already closed up except for the hair salon. Their lights were still on.
It was a little bit windy when I stepped into the road. The mix smell of food, trash and dirty gutter wafted through the air as I made my way along the side of the road.
A black car drove past me as I walked on the pathway leading to the bus stop. The car stopped a couple of metres away and then reversed back stopping just beside me. I kept walking ahead not bothering to stop and check who it was.
"Ijeoma!" A familiar voice called out.
I turned around to see Mr. Kachi's head poking out of the driver's window. I walked back to the car and bent down to speak to him at the passengers side.
"I thought you were waiting for someone" he said
"Yeah. Something came up so--" I trailed off.
"Oh" he nodded and then glanced at his wristwatch. "Why don't you get in and I'll drop you off"
"Oh no, thank you. I'll just get a bus" I protested politely.
"Oh come on. Look at the time, it's late" he stated. "It's no problem, get in"
I looked around, the only lights that illuminated the street were the street lamps, head lamp of incoming cars and the outdoor lights of buildings. Most of the buses, that passed by were already filled up with passengers.
"Sure" I said reluctantly.
He unlocked the passenger side and I stepped into the car. "Thank you"
He changed the gear from park to drive. He moved away from the pathway and into the road.
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