He must be thinking I’m truly asleep.
This is what I have always dreamt of. Having part of my body on him. I wish my head could rest here till eternity, for I feel so fulfilled and safe, like a chick under a mother-hen during heavy rain. Alas, my game might end sooner.
I can see him with my partially closed eyes the way confusion has ruled over him. I’m forced to smile when I notice he’s about to peek at my face. So quickly, I close my eyes to narrow slits.
I can feel a dead shadow over my thin vision, which means his eyes are still resting on my face. I could feel my heart dance, mukulu, mukulu, mukulu, at the possibility that he’s admiring my face.
The shadow remains for a few seconds more, gradually fading to a gentle darkness. He must have looked away.
I’m now peeking at him through the corners of my eyes.
Yes. I’m right. He is now facing the driver side, head bowed. I can see his throat gaping and closing, as if there is a lumpy stone impeding his words. He must be thinking of what to say. Perhaps he is thinking of waking me, so I could place head on the seat.
A moment later, he rests his back with a jerk. I’m resting still. Then he steals a look at my face again.
“Hello, ma!” He finally bursts out. Yet, I refuse to move my body.
“Ma…Madam!” He calls again.
I want him to wake me with his hand. My body is screaming for the touch of his fingers.
He slants his shoulder with a jerk. I’m still perching there, like a desperate butterfly on a flower stigma.
It finally happens. His hands are tapping gently on my shoulder, sending chills and relief to my blood vessels.
I lift my head with this sudden motion of a sleeper sprinkled with cold water.
“Oh, sorry dear,” I coo, brushing my eyes with the back of my hand.
He mutters in response, “No problem, Ma. I only thought your neck was awkward the way you placed it.”
“Really?” I mask my face with a thankful smile, “That is so considerate of you! “
“Thank you, Madam.”
“Your wife and kids are so lucky, to have a considerate father like you.”
“My kids…you said ma?” He bursts out grinning, his white teeth perfectly set like piano keys.
“Yes. Your kids.” My knees are positioned towards him, as if I’m assigned to interview him.
He allows some moments of silence to pass, then sighs.
“Ma, I don’t have kids. Then…wife….” His voice is sinking, heavy and emotion-toned. I picture his distorting and agitated face as a river rippled by a serious wind.
“Your wife… What’s up with her?” I almost whisper.
Through the emotional motion of his head and body, I can tell he is not comfortable revealing his family issue. But I really must know.
“I don’t have a wife, Ma,” He says, titling his head, “But I do have a fiancée. And right now, we’re not in good terms. She left my house just last week, because I couldn’t afford all her needs.”
On hearing that, I begin to tap my hand excitedly on the seat, in accordance to the rhythms of my heart.
“Oh, is that so?”
Whew! I don’t need to get curious any longer. One of my obstacles has rolled off.
“You are automatically single then…”
He hesitates before nodding, “Yes, maybe for now.”
“You know what?”
“What’s that, Madam?”
I pause for a moment, tracing my hand uneasily about my earlobe, “I want you to stop calling me Madam.”
He fires a suspicious look at me, wide-eyed, like a nervous cat.
Before he could utter a word, I break in, “You see, Mathew, you make me feel embarrassed sometimes….You can simply address me by ‘Miss.’ I prefer that.”
Now I can see curiosity carved sharply upon his brows. All over his face lay a bold scribble of surprise. He must have noticed I no longer prefix his name with a “Mister.”
I can tell the kind of thought that would be whirling around his mind. He might be wondering how he would address his boss in a casual manner.
“I have heard you, Madam.”
“There you go again.”
With that, I fix my eyes on the road. Glancing at my wrist watch, it’s been seven minutes since we left the office. The crawling vehicles ahead are beginning to gain the road.
Frances would be coming back home three weeks’ time. I won’t hesitate before telling him that I’ve found the king of my heart in his father’s company. Maybe I need to tell him on phone. He will be very glad. But my greatest fear is I don’t want to be in this alone. To be the only one in love is a nightmare.
I begin to steal a look at his face. His eyes focus ahead, distant and vacant, as if his mind has travelled a hundred miles away. I don’t think he likes me. At least, a man that has interest in a woman would keep peeking at her.
I don’t know why he’s always avoiding my gaze whenever I want our eyes in equal focus. Our eyes have never met before. And I wish it happens someday.
I could glimpse the way she keeps glancing at me. I don’t know what she finds amiss on my body. I slowly check my blue shirt and black trousers if there is any stain on them.
As much as I adore her, her marital status and high standard still remain my impediments. The feelings I have for Adeola is regrettably defeated by the rekindled passion I have for Janet. I have dreamt about Janet several times after I realized she was the one. I dreamt about that same bus and the scenario. In the dream, things were quite different. I dreamt that she left her mother and walked close to me. I did the same. All the passengers on the bus, including our both parents, were becoming paler and paler. At once, they all vanished like a winded smoke. Leaving us to our own world. Our paradise. The bus was afloat, sailing high in the air. And the driver was no more. She smiled at me, her face brightly shone like a diamond. I replied the smile, my eyes blinking in ecstasy. It was no longer her school uniform, but a white gown. The distance between us was just a foot. We wanted to hold onto each other, stretching our hands. We couldn’t reach. We tried again. Fruitless. It was then we realized there was a barricade. A barricade in form of a transparent glass was standing in our way. Tears began to gather on her cheeks. I couldn’t hold mine too. There came darkness. The strangest thing was the way our tears became bright stars. Both stars were losing brilliance at once. And they wanted to kiss to become one, but this obstacle wouldn’t let go. Both stars were dying off.
I had the dream same way on different occasions. And I would laugh at the fantasy that lies in it. What sense does that make? Only God knows why he has to force such trait upon humans.
One week later, Janet is no longer treating me as a mere staff. During one of my recent official visits, she asked me to sit in the opposite chair after calling the receptionist to bar any other visitors. I was so dumbfounded until she started asking about my background. I thought there was no reason for her to delve into my private life. But I needed to oblige her, as my boss.
I told her the story of my life, from the onset. I let her realize that my father died a year after I finished my secondary school, and Mama had been the one catering for my needs through the trading of provisions and soft drinks. I told her that Mama did as much as selling her wears the day I needed urgent money in the college. When I told her that Mama is unwell due to her longing for a grandchild, Janet dropped her head for a minute and revealed it back with a sorrowful look. I think she is so compassionate. Otherwise, how could she have reacted to that extent? She later asked if I was desperately looking for a wife. And I answered, “Yes.” Her head fell again, longer than the previous. Then I became confused. Why is she feeling so bad for me?
Even till now I’m still wondering. But I need to concentrate on my work. Today is Monday— 9:45am. I’m staring at the computer screen. There are lots of mails from our client requiring my attention. Seated beside me is my colleague, Chinedu Emmanuel. He is drawing a plan with his PC.
Here on my desk, there are stacks of advert proposals for us to work on. Chinedu asks what Janet discussed with me on Thursday.
“Yinka, I hear say that new director detain you for her office. Wetin she dey talk?”
“Where you hear that?” My eyes are still focused on the PC screen. Chinedu was absent on Thursday. I wonder how he gets to know.
He overheard Sandra and some other staff discussing it on Friday, he says. And they never noticed he was behind them.
“What exactly did you hear them saying?” I ask.
“Sandra talk say the lady dey look for man wey go service am, since her husband no dey,” Chinedu says between a mocking laughter.
I scoff and shake my head, “Sandra….That secretarial position no fit that babe at all. She suppose dey for place like Sabo market dey sell ewedu. Na there she go fit use her Amebo talent well, well.”
Chinedu chuckles, then speechless for moment, as if to allow the air some rest.
“So, why the lady com detain you for her office nah?” He throws the question I thought I’ve avoided.
“She was just trying to know some things about my background,” I’m compelled to open up. “She really sympathized with me on hearing about my mother’s condition. I think she is a nice lad…..”
“Nice lady for where?” Chinedu snatches the word from my mouth, “Maybe you get one charm for body. She just like you. Make you dey thank your head.”
At that moment, Chinedu receives a telephone call. His attention is needed by the media director. I want to protest against his assertion, but somehow words are tethered to my throat like a stubborn goat.
I wonder why Chinedu was so curious in the first place. If I didn’t reveal the fact, he might be of the same opinion. News of this nature would never waste a minute before travelling round the company. Likes of this busy-bodied Sandra can spread the rumour to the cognizance of the Chairman. Sandra is having a secret relationship with Mr. Frances. Although, I’m her first crush in the whole company. She fruitlessly charmed me to her panties, until she gained that power.
Through her influence, Mr. Frances fired a certain staff under a false allegation. That was three months ago. And she threatened me with same failure if I wouldn’t grant her request. I couldn’t afford to lose my job, so I had to give all she wanted. The moment I was called by Janet for the driving was the time Sandra was requesting for more. I wonder why she has to trade herself despite her beauty.
Henceforth, I have absolutely nothing to do with her lustful body. If I get sacked, so be it. May God forgive my infidelity.
A few days later, I’m seated at my desk, attending to some clients online. My phone begins to vibrate in my trousers’ pocket. Looking at my Samsung-i 450 screen, I realize it’s a call from Mama’s younger sister, Mummy Gabriel.
The next thing I hear is a shaky and tearful voice, “Yin…Yinka”
“It’s your mother, she is….”She breaks off, her voice crumbling like chunk of sand.
“Mama, what is wrong with her?”
Sob. More sobs. That’s all I can hear.
“I can’t get you, Mummy. Wha…what is wrong with Mama?”