‘Margaret! You are leaving my house today.’
‘Madam, forgive me please, but I didn’t……’
‘Shut up! Shut that mouth right now before I give you another dirty slap!!’
I had to shut up. My cheek was already hurting from the last set of slaps madam had unleashed on both sides of my cheeks. She had given five of them in quick succession and the last one sent me staggering backwards until I landed on the floor with my bum.
A silent plea from my heart went out to God for urgent deliverance. Madam was bent on me beating me to pulp today.
‘You don’t want to confess abi? You don’t want to confess. By the time I’m through with you, you will know.’
‘Madam, before God and man, I didn’t do it. I didn’t steal anything. I didn’t…….’
‘Shut up! I said shut up! Now stand up. No kneel down. Kneel down and raise your two hands up!’
Without any hesitation, I fell on my two knees, raising up my hands as fast as I could and clamping my eyes shut. This was injustice, I thought to myself.
And then her phone started ringing. Madam was one of the notable jewelry dealers in Lagos and she had lots of customers. They say her gold is original, but that she can be expensive too. Sometimes, too expensive but…….’
‘Get up! I need you to quickly get to one of my customers in town. But you’ll have to take a bike. Go and clean up and meet me in my room in two minutes.’
That is how madam behaves. One minute, she is on your neck, breathing down fire, but can be asking you to count her dollars, the next second. Well, it’s not as if she does it with everybody. But there is just something about me that makes it look like she likes me and dislikes at the same time.
I quickly dashed for the bathroom, washed my face, arms and legs and then slipped into a pair of jeans. I was definitely going to be riding on a bike; madam’s errands were always urgent. In five minutes, I was on my way to the island to meet with this customer. Money was involved and I needed to collect it and deposit it at the bank. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go through all the stress, people go through at banks. Madam had a client who worked there and would take care of the procedure. All I needed to do was drop the money with him.
This was my second time of meeting this customer on madam’s request. The first time, I almost lost my way because I didn’t trust my instincts. But I’m much wiser now and I found myself smiling in the bike’s side mirror. But as I did, my cheeks started aching again from the slaps. I touched my face lightly and sighed.
Madam was always accusing me of stealing her money. At first, I didn’t understand and was very scared because I am innocent and have never stolen anything in my life-I mean madam’s money. And when I couldn’t bear the accusations anymore, I almost ran away.
But when her son who was based in the north, came around for a visit and took her to see the doctor, I overheard them talking after they returned home and she was crying. Before he traveled back, he thanked me for my patience and asked me to continue taking care of his mother. That she was ill and the illness made her forget things and act funny. I nodded my head and bent my knees courteously-more than twice to assure him of my loyalty.
It’s now three months and madam’s illness seems to be getting worse. I sighed again. The car behind us horned loudly for my rider to move out of the lane so he could pass through. Traffic was not heavy today I noticed.
My mind returned to its thoughts. I remember speaking with my pastor about this issue and he had encouraged me to keep being faithful. It didn’t make sense with the bruises and scars, but my I needed the salary and I loved God too and didn’t want to disobey Him. Madam is kind when she’s not ill and she looks really pretty, especially when she smiles. Although she doesn’t smile too often. And this is because she thinks about a lot of things and lets them weigh her spirit down.
In less than ten minutes, we got to the place and I met with the lady and collected the money. I told the rider to take me to the bank immediately. It was right by the road, so we didn’t have to take any detours. But on getting to the bank, I was told that madam’s client was no more working with the bank. There had been a case of fraud and he was a suspect. In fact, the police were searching for him. I jumped on the bike clutching the money tightly.
Bad news. I wonder how madam will receive it. This was where she deposited most of her money. On getting home, I met another shocker. Madam had been rushed to the hospital. She had stroke! Moses the gate man looked animated as he described how he found her on the floor in the sitting room when he came in to thank her for his salary which had been paid earlier than he expected.
I clutched the money in my hand tighter than before. I could as well take it and run away and start a new life elsewhere.
‘God forbid!’ I exclaimed and snapped my fingers at the thought of it.
‘But it’s possible….and no one would know.’ The thought was louder this time and more insistent. My heart started beating faster….