a young lady’s struggles in encountering, and attempting to reconcile, perspectives different from hers.
In the end, they both wept…it was a night of tears…
As she sprayed her perfume, all she could think about was him. Her new, young, dashing boss had won her heart, though unintentionally. She was truly grateful for him and all he’d done this past month, and she was determined to show it. She thumbs-uped herself in the mirror for her dress: corporate yet sensual, just like she’d been taught. She did this all for him…she hoped he’d appreciate her…
She’d organized the meeting with a bogus request; taking advantage of the fact that he was always willing and needed hardly a reason to help others, another thing she appreciated about him…she’d made sure to schedule it late in the evening, informing him it was to avoid the hectic work environment of the day so as to help her understand better and faster. He obliged.
And obliged he did! Immediately after complimenting her good looks, he sat her down, and began drilling her on the subject she’d requested help! On and on the lesson went…he hardly glanced her way, busy serving her. Slowly, it dawned on her that he really didn’t know why she’d organized this meeting with only two of them in the entire office…young, eager worker, she mused. She decided to help him see…she did like him, after all…
“You have a very nice watch”, she suddenly changed the subject, wrapping…no, more like oiling her hands round his wrist.
“Oh…Uh, thanks. Now, as I was saying…” on he explained. She let out a mental sigh…men.
“…and the stocks will not – um, is something the matter?” he asked, as she had slowly taken his hand and was using it to feel her temperature…no, more like massage her neck.
“I’m feeling a bit blue…I dunno, does my body feel hot to you?”
“Um…somewhat. Maybe I can fix that…” Finally! He reached with his free hand…and put on the AC with the remote. Arrgh! MEN!! He continued explaining…if she didn’t like him, she’d have banged his dull head in! She smiled. Slowly, she progressed, sliding his hand from her neck down her blouse. Ah yes, now all was ready for –
“What the…!!!” he shrieked suddenly, pulling away. “What the DEUCE are you doing?!” he barked.
This surprised her, but she kept her cool. “I’m sorry,” she replied, smiling childishly and winking, her button still loose. “Do you prefer taking the lead? Perhaps I was a bit too forward…” No thanks to dull you!
“It seems you didn’t hear me asking WHAT THE DEUCE IT WAS YOU WERE DOING?!”
She’d just led him on, sexually, in his own office! Yet she stood there, grinning as if all she’d done was a simple misdemeanor like fart in public.
“Sir, again, I’m sorry. Should we pretend like it never happened, so you can lead this t–”
Still she pressed! “Why would I want to have sex with you?!” he thundered.
Now that she found surprising. This guy was turning down sex. Free sex. That she was offering, with no witnesses. That wasn’t how things worked, not how men reacted to freebies like these. Heck, this guy was supposed to be jumping on her by now, just as she had been taught. She could still remember her lessons, the very first from Chief, who had given her an IT placement when all hope seemed lost and her deadline was fast approaching. After many a plea and tear, Chief ‘suddenly’ changed his mind, smiled slyly, and decided to give the spot to her, not to the 20 others who’d applied. She was ecstatic, and didn’t hide it, pouring her appreciation on him. He promptly replied that there was something she seemed to be forgetting, something she was supposed to offer. She paused, not getting his drift. His smile was gone. Sending his receptionist on some bogus errand she couldn’t recall anymore, he’d turned to her:
“Oya, quickly, there is a couch”, he announced, standing from his seat.
“Excuse me sir?” she was still visibly confused.
“Young girl, nothing comes for free in this world, not even in Freetown”, he’d answered, undoing his belt. “Give and it shall be given unto you!” he’d added, knowing she’d understand, what with them being members of the same church and all… “Now quickly, on the couch, before I change my mind, and give the next applicant.” Thus was she introduced to the reality that nothing really did come for free, and that her body was a reward, an expected one. In fact, the more she got from her boss, the more she was expected to give, she’d later learn.
Which made this young man’s reaction all the more surprising! He’d done for her practically more than she could remember anyone ever doing, which she understood to mean, of course, that his reward would have to be huge when he was through…adding the fact that he was also nice and spoke kindly to her all the time, unlike all the previous ones, made her all the more willing to give it! Why was he saying no to his reward? Why was he rejecting her? As she soliloquized, a thought suddenly occurred…
Strangely, he couldn’t detect any hint of seduction. There was no game here. On the contrary, she was genuinely…well, happy! So why was she…could it be that…as he soliloquized, a thought suddenly occurred…
Brushing her aside, he turned his screen to himself, pulled his subordinates’ personnel files, and found hers. His thought was a fear, and he was about to confirm it. He hoped and prayed the rumors he’d dismissed about her before now weren’t true…Browsing her past employers, he found she’d had twelve bosses – nine male – over the span of eight years, three in the current company. Of the nine listed, five had a notorious underground reputation of being quite libidinous, including that hell-deserving Chief – who’d been her first – and her previous boss, whom everyone secretly labeled randy, he’d discovered. His fear was confirmed: she’d being doing this for a while…Somehow, he saw it clearly now: she was so unabashed because this was how she knew to thank him for his efforts. It had become her life.
Glancing back at her, a huge wave of pity and anger washed over him. His mind could only imagine what those crude beasts had done! The countless trauma and probably forced abortions…how could anyone be so callous?! So abused was she, for she thought it was all normal! “Be the light of the world”, he remembered last Sunday’s sermon going…why hadn’t anyone warned how bloody dark it was?! He felt sick…
“I need some air…” he half announced. Stumbling out of his office, he frantically searched…finally arriving in the gents, he barged into one of the stalls…misused and abused from her teens…the thought drilled in his skull like it was the work of a sledgehammer: his head swam. He had never known such sorrow before. He collapsed on the floor in a heap, chest burning, weeping bitterly, profusely.
Watching him gasp and stumble out of the office, the thought she’d tried so hard to bury pestered, reinvigorated. With great pain, she remembered what her former boss had said to her shortly before transferring her to this guy’s department.
“So how do you want it?” she’d asked sultrily.
Her former boss didn’t even look in her direction. “No need this time.” She was puzzled: usually, with her shirt already off, his hands would’ve been all over by now. He just sat there, staring idly at his computer screen.
“Is something wrong?” she finally asked.
“No…I just don’t want this time…” She was once more surprised. She was about to be even more. “In fact, I don’t want you again.”
“You heard me: I’m tired of you.”
“But…why? What have I done wrong? Haven’t I done everything you wanted?”
“I’m well aware, and appreciative, but I’m doing this for health reasons.”
“Yes! I can’t keep taking expired goods and – ”
“Ha, are you serious?” at this, he finally looked in her direction. “Woman…” This made her lose concentration for a while: ‘woman’?! She’d always been ‘princess’, ‘babe’ or ‘girl’, and he’d always derisively referred to the groundnut-seller outside as ‘woman’. Now it was her?
“…I’ve borne with your old baggage for a while now, but I can’t anymore.”
“How can I be old baggage? I’m just 26!!” she screamed.
“Milk expires faster than juice. ‘26’ may be young elsewhere, but as a woman?” He gave her a thumbs-down.
“So now how will I pay you back for renovating my apartment?!”
“That? I just did that out of the kindness of my heart: I’d rather do it free than receive thanks in the form of expired products.” He was back staring at his screen. She didn’t exist anymore. She knew him: complaining further was useless. Slowly, she picked her shirt, and walked out. She disbelieved him, but the thought gnawed at her like a bad rash. She waged war on her body after that, battling any stretch mark, erasing any crow’s feet, investing heavily in more beauty products, exercising endlessly…she was determined to prove him wrong: she’d refused to believe she was expired. A week after, she was ‘suddenly’ transferred to her current boss…observing her new, younger, more buxom replacement only made her sicker, and less confident.
And now this young man had laid the final nail, turning her down! She’d believed…no, hoped that, being young like her, he’d be willing to see gold where others had seen dirt. But, glancing at his screen, her heart sank: he was checking her age in her file! Did she sicken him so that the thought of sex with her sent him out of the room gasping? From the get-go, he must’ve suspected, and she must’ve repulsed him with her expired woman stench, she reasoned. No wonder he didn’t even pay her any attention, forcing her to lead him on! Her former boss was right all along…so very right…
“Old baggage”. “Expired”. “Why would I want to have sex with YOU?!” The phrases drilled in her skull like they were the work of a sledgehammer: her head swam. She dizzily ran to the office door, locked it, and collapsed on the floor in a heap, chest burning, weeping bitterly, profusely.
He wept because she was used so…she wept because she was used so…in the end, they both wept…it was the night of tears…
*Author’s Note: ‘La Nuit Des Pleurs’ – French, ‘The Night of Tears/Crying/Weeping’