My Job Or My Boss’ Wife, Which Do I Choose? (2)

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The guard stopped short of a word he barely managed to keep back. I was sure the word was ‘Sir’. He was evidently used to the humble suffix. But a flat-bellied application like me didn’t fit into the league of usual visitors who most probably left tips as they existed.

‘Thank you sir!’ I emphasized the Sir for the apparent benefits of the guard’s ego. He was the already employed servant. I was still applying, If I succeeded, Mr. Guardsman would need to be understood as the servant!

I left the trail of thought for another one as I apprehensively turned towards the indicated reception, Where had I come?

Was this massive compound a hotel or a private residence? Did private houses have receptions and receptionists?’ I held the big

glass door handle and pushed in hoping to God it was not meant for pulling outwards, I struggled into the room, ruffled at the resistance of the door which twisted my arm as it sprang back to close. A woman and a young lady sat inside and they managed to subdue their dignified smiles. My cumbersome entrance was obviously pitied. But my woes were unrelenting. I suddenly didn’t know how to effectively greet a lady and a woman sitting together especially when it was obvious the lady was the receptionist apparently in the employ of the woman. Was ‘Good Morning’ okay for both? How would ‘Good morning Madams’ sound before a woman and a young girl?

“You came to apply?”

The woman asked mercifully.

“Hand over your application to the girl”

‘Thank you ma’, I said, indeed grateful that she effectively undermined the need of formalities.

The receptionist stretched out her hand to collect my envelope but her gaze was so derisive I was tempted to simply turn back

and go. She was in her mid twenties, the girl, but she was obviously full of airs. Did she look at me hatefully because of my timidity or because of my conspicuous poverty? I was probably 20 years older and what did this kid in an air-conditioned office know about life and pains? I handed over the envelope of application.

“Where do you live, young man?” The woman asked as the girl was uninterested collecting my envelope.

I looked at her. She was drifting through the pages of a newspaper; yet looking at me with what I considered more than a passing interest. After the cold gaze of the snobbish receptionist, a glint in the eyes of an elderly woman was easy to notice. She was probably 50 or slightly less. But the superfluous make up, a sleeveless gown rolled too high up her thighs as she sat back on the side cushion added to a snare-like smile to suggest the vanity of a much younger one!

Was this the boss of the house or was she the boss’ wife? Was she the employer or part of it? “l live at Agbado Crossing’. I answered, almost plaintively. I needed all sympathy I could get

”All the way from Agbado Crossing!” she exclaimed. But there was still the smile. I chose to simply cork my head to one side in

a gesture of helplessness.

“Can you live with us … that is, if you pass all tests and we decide to employ you, would you be able to live within the compound?

How would you react to such scenario?

Famished and almost dyeing, help appears in the horizon and implores you to accept her! You would be almost ashamed of your own luck. I held myself back from answering with jubilant songs of praises. “It would be wonderful, Madam. A favour indeed, Ma, I saw that confusing glint reappear again in her eyes. I hoped I knew why the girl behind the desk appraised me with disdain while the big woman before me glinted.

“Give me his application Gloria.”

My enemy from behind the desk handed over my envelope to the woman with something like a bow. I took note of the servitude with sadistic glee.

“I am Mrs. Obiefule”, Madam said as she tore open and extracted my handwritten request for driving job.

“My Oga is a politician and a businessman and runs around a lot. If you qualify, I can go ahead and employ you. Whenever Oga is available, he will ratify the appointment.

All the while she talked, she glanced through my application but with scant interest. I had a strange feeling I was already qualified in the eyes of this woman. The qualifying qualities however; were obviously outside of the scribbled words and testimonials in the envelope. I kept quiet still. When the gods worked for you, you let them finish the work.

Etirn Obong, your name?”

“Yes, Madam, as reflects in the papers. I am from the South South.” I was obviously coasting home to an easy employment and could sound a bit informal.

“It’s a long time since your last employment.

Do you still keep an updated license?” I showed my driving license, very valid.

“Every now and then I carry people’s cars home for them. I have subsisted on such short employments, ma.

Madam looked at me very seriously for the first time, staring from my face, slowly down to my slip-on half- shoes.

Then back to my face, after stopping briefly at my middle. I was putting on a black stripe trousers which I made sure I ironed

well before wearing. The belt that held my shirt in was old but the buckle locked well.

Did Madam linger in “between to pity the aged belt or to imagine unholier things? She made things more curious when she abruptly smiled again.

“File the papers, Gloria:’ She handed over the envelope back to the receptionist.

“Then give me the keys to the Peugeot. Sit down, Etim. When the keys come, we drive around a bit, okay?”

“It’s okay Madam: I agreed and sat down respectfully.

Gloria looked at her boss briefly with a slack jaw, then back at me. This time the initial disdain had melted into a mixture of envy and disapproval and helplessness. Then she left to obey the orders.

Mrs. Obiefule dropped the daily she pretended to read and stood up to stretch and yawn.

Madam was a giant and reminded me immediately of an old building that is dutifully maintained. As she stretched

morsels of talcum powder dropped from her opening armpits. Her midriff was too flat to be real and the sharp edge of her waist line confirmed the presence of a first rate girdle underneath. Her yawn was theatrical and too organized for a yawn. I refrained my mind from the irresponsible urge to wonder whether Mrs. Obiefule suffered from lack of sex or from too much love for it!

Gloria brought the bunch of keys.

“Collect the keys, Etim, let’s shove around!”

I collected the keys and followed Madam out to the garage, not knowing which one to wonder at the speed at which this woman

related to me or her attempt at cat-walking in front of me?

She explained the security lock of the 504, breathing down on my head. My four-feet- two- inches was effectively dwarfed by her six feet superstructure. When I opened the back door for her, Madam explained it was a test-drive and she would sit with me in front.

 …To Be Continued