“I can’t believe you got the job”, Tara exclaimed. “What questions did he ask?” Toke inquired as they both had their baths.
“I am so shocked. It felt like I was sitting before the throne of a god,” Idara said. “But my problem is that the training is intensive. I don’t understand why I should undergo this level of training for the job of an assistant.”
Toke chuckled as she applied shampoo on her hair. “Wait until you start working with the MD. You will know why 6 people got fired in 3 months. He is a perfectionist.”
“And you know that in Lagos, a job like yours is gold. Many men and women are looking for this opportunity.”
“Mr. Fayose said my salary will be 250,000 Naira. Tomorrow I will visit my new apartment in Victoria Island.”
“Chai, see big girls’ levels.”
“I am happy Toke, all thanks to you,” Idara said excitedly.
“You’re my friend. If I don’t connect you to the good things of life, who will?”
The 2 women got out of the bathroom and had custard for dinner. After dinner, they continued talking until they both fell asleep.
Idara was still fast asleep when she heard the alarm clock ring. She was still sleepy, as she ran her hands over her hair bonnet and sighed. She was still trying to get mentally prepared to drag herself up from the bed when Toke switched on the light in the bedroom, Idara widened her eyes and asked,
“What’s the time Toke?”
“3:30 and you’re awake?”
“Today is meeting day,” Toke said as she put some toothpaste on her toothbrush hurriedly.
“So you have to leave this early to meet up?”
“Traffic. Lagos traffic can ruin your career.”
“God forbid,” Idara exclaimed as she sprang up from the bed and rushed to the bathroom. She hurriedly brushed her mouth, bathed and was just about to get started with her makeup when she noticed that Toke was already heading to the car.
“Did you see my eyeliner?” Idara asked Toke, checking her handbag.
“What exactly is that?” Toke asked as she wore her safety boot.
“You’re a lady, Toke. Stop asking me that as if you are a man. Everyone knows what eyeliner is, including men.”
“I don’t have an idea about what that looks like. You can do your makeup in the car, please. Let’s go, we are running late.”
They were in a 1-bedroom apartment. Idara managed to lock the backyard gate and switch off the entire lights in the house before heading to the car. Toke had already started the car and was reversing when she got there.
“Girl, you really think you are in Uyo that you will just wake up, carry your handbag, close your eyes and you’re at Oron road. This is damn Lagos, girl and here, we act like soldiers.”
Idara hissed. She quietly opened the door, settled and strapped the seatbelt on.
“I didn’t sleep well,” she complained.
Toke laughed. “Good sleep? How are you going to make all the money you’re looking for? Here we don’t sleep,” Toke said as she drove out of the street and entered the main road.
Idara looked at her gritty eyes and shook her head. Toke’s hair was scattered and unkempt. She looked at her jeans trousers and a t-shirt. They looked too masculine to be a girl’s outfit.
“Your hair is a mess girl,” Idara said.
“Oh really?” Toke replied, putting her hands across her hair as she’d just realized.
“You should have been a man at once.”
Toke began laughing uncontrollably.
Aren’t you proud of me the way I am?”
“If I were a man, you wouldn’t be my bestie. I won’t take you out of Uyo down here to make some penny for yourself.”
Idara brushed at something on her knee. “I miss Uyo, really. I miss clubbing with Elizabeth, Eno, and Uduak. I miss my younger sister. I hate this city. It’s too jam-packed,” she sighed; taking out a lip gloss from her handbag and applying it gently on her lips.
Toke looked at her briefly then said, “if it’s the club you miss, we can club over the weekend at VI or Lekki.”
“Yeah. We have several clubs here, Prezz Jazz club, Quilox, and the rest of them over there.”
“I miss dancing and getting really light-headed. I know this work is good, but I am still going to miss lots of things I used to do.”
Idara parted her lips and perceived something offensive. “Did you fart?” she asked, looking at Toke’s face in a worried but amused manner.
“Yes? Is this not my car? Is there anywhere in this world that was meant for farting?”
“Chai, Toke, you haven’t changed o. You’re still acting the same way since secondary school.”
“Abeg, make I hear word. To fart na sin? Na fart I fart, I no kill person.”
Idara shrugged and wound down the window of the car.
“The AC is on. This girl, you don’t like better thing. Please Lagos is congested, don’t kill me o.”
“Your shit is more congested. It can cause severe stomach aches.”
“Sorry, it’s the beans I ate yesterday at the office canteen. That woman’s beans is very tasty.”
“You still love beans?”
“Yes. It is still my favorite.”
Idara shook her head. They were close to the office when Toke turned to her with a smile and said, “I just hope that the MD hasn’t reached the office before you. If he has, you’re in real trouble. You will hear English wey dem never teach you for school before.”
“But there was traffic,” Idara said with a bit of anger in her voice.
“He doesn’t understand that one. In fact, don’t even mention that to him,” Toke said as she parked the car at the company’s garage.
Idara slung her red handbag over her shoulder and stormed out of the car. “See you!” she said excitedly to Toke.
“Bye!” Toke waved at her too.
As Idara got into the office, her heart trembled as she saw Femi already on his seat.
“Good morning sir,”
“Mr. Femi,” he retorted with an unsmiling face.
Idara paused for a while, “Err, Mr. Femi, Good morning.”
“What time are you supposed to resume work daily?” he asked. He did not look up at Idara; his eyes were still fixed on his Macbook laptop.
For a moment, Idara was lost in thought as she studied the name boldly crested on the back of the laptop – ‘Femi Omari’.
“6:30,” she replied calmly.
“And what time is it now?”
Idara hurriedly went through her cellphone and gasped. She reluctantly replied, “It’s 6:43 am…”
“I got to the office before you. No coffee on my table. My agenda for the day is not ready. Listen, young lady, “ he paused and for the first time that morning, he looked up at her for a few minutes before he continued, “you said you were smart and brilliant, you’re not showing me all that…”
“I am still talking!” he exclaimed arrogantly as he rose to his feet.
Femi Omari was tall – about 6ft 4 inches. He towered over her and made her feel really small by his side.
“Did Mr. Fayose give you the handbook to study?” he asked, reaching out to the coffee dispenser to make himself a coffee.
“You have to study it very well because I do not take nonsense.”
“I am sorry for coming late on my first day at work. I woke up early…”
“I don’t like excuses. I detest excuses. He waved his hand quickly which was a signal for her to leave then he added, “call me Fayose.” Her countenance changed as she walked out looking frustrated.