My heart skipped a beat as I went into Mr. Oga’s office. “What does he want? What have I done?”, I wondered.
“You called me”.
He looked up at me and removed his glasses.
“Have you read the review done by a reporter from Sahara on Mable Consults handling the festival this year?” He asked.
“I suggest you read it.” He passed the paper to me. “Shalewa, for someone I call my assistant, I wonder why I should be seeing this before you.”
I didn’t reply. I glanced through the review with speed and almost hissed. What’s the problem? Okay, she basically… I mean the reporter basically referred to Mable Consults as a toddler in handling a project this big. She ended it with a comment on how the company is seen as sleek and as a 21st century retro-urban communications company, so we should be able to make waves with the project.
What the hell is the problem with this man?, I wondered. The review wasn’t that bad! I cleared my throat and looked up to see him staring at me. It was uncomfortable.
“So what do you think?” He asked.
“It might not be as impressive as we may have wanted but I don’t think it’s a bad one. She hasn’t said anything to totally mar what we will be doing; she has only made people expectant. I believe this is the time to buckle up on our PR and put more positive vibes out there.”
“I knew I wasn’t wrong about you. Coffee?” He asked.
“No, thank you sir!” I looked away shyly.
“Can you and Lydia prepare a 30-minute meeting with our PR consultant?”
“Ok sir.” I got up to leave.
I turned to look at him and answered, “Yes, Mr. Williams?”
“I really don’t fancy people from other departments coming in here at an early hour.”
“Are you referring to Mr. Odulaja?” I asked that question and provided an answer before he could say anything. “He was here to make sure I had everything I needed.”
“Like what?” He got up and began to walk slowly towards me, like a lion about to tear his prey apart. My heart began to beat fast.
“Ehm em..” I couldn’t make out any word. My brain had gone on recess without my consent.
“What?” He asked as though he was mocking me. I think I saw him smile.
“That’s it sir. He just wanted to find out all that.” I cleared my throat. He stopped in front of me. I think my heart stopped. He picked up a document from the shelf beside me and went back to his seat.
“That will be all Shalewa. Please get to it and let’s have all that we need before the meeting.”
“Alright sir.” I tried not to fall as I walked out of his office.
“What happened?” Lydia asked as I took my seat.
I narrated what transpired in Mr. Oga’s office to Lydia. We deliberated on what was needed and prepared for the meeting. We were in the middle of this when my phone rang.
I walked out of the conference room and signalled to Lydia that I would be back in two minutes.
“I took a test and it’s positive. I’m pregnant, Shalewa.”
“Oh Omotunde!” I heard her sniffles. “Are you crying?”
She gave a tacit response.
“Don’t cry, please.”
We both went silent for some seconds.
“Have you told Labib?”
“No I haven’t. You are the only one I’ve told.”
“You have to tell him.”
“I will; I just don’t know how.”
“We will figure it out,” I said as I nodded to Lydia who was signalling to tell me the meeting was about to begin.
“Omotunde, I’ll call you in one hour and we will figure this out together, ok?”
“I have to go now.” We murmured our goodbyes and I went into the conference room for my first major meeting in Mable Consult.
The meeting took forever and by the time we were done, I was rushing to the canteen to meet up with Daniel. I dialled Omotunde’s number as I walked to the canteen.
“Shalewa, he proposed! Oh my God! I’m getting married!”
As she said it, I felt something ring in my head. This is better said in Yoruba: “Ori mi l’ago.” Not because I wasn’t happy nor was it because this wasn’t great news but..
“Omotunde, is he even done seeing the psychologist?”
I heard her grumble. “This doesn’t change anything; it doesn’t stop him from seeing the doctor. Be happy for me Shalewa and don’t go fishing for faults.”
I was going to lose my temper. Thank goodness Daniel was standing and watching me walk towards the canteen. He looked like a child that was getting his first puppy.
“I am happy for you. I just don’t want you forgetting some essential things. Can I call you back? I’m famished and I have just one hour break.”
“Ok.” I heard her sigh.
“I love you, ok?”
“I love you too, Shalewa Benson.” I ended the call and smiled at Daniel.
“Hello. Let’s go.”
He was walking towards the exit. “To where? I’m famished, mister.”
He threw back his head in laughter. “You’ll see.”
We got into his Toyota Avensis and he kept on driving. I didn’t know where we were going.
“Where are we going?”
I smiled. I liked him. I began to feel like I had known him for a while.
He drove into Tiamiyu Savage Street on Victoria Island.
He looked at me grinning. “Witch!!”
I stuck out my tongue. He smiled. We entered the restaurant and ordered for some food. I ate like a hungry lion.
“You have a healthy appetite; I like!” He said as he picked up some spinach with his fork.
“So tell me something you haven’t told me since we started chatting,” he said.
“Hmmmm, you ask me what you would like to know and I’ll tell you.”
That was how Daniel bombarded me with ‘Jamb’ questions ooo. “What’s your best colour?” “Tell me about your childhood.” “Where are your parents?” “When would you like to get married?”
That caught my attention.
“What did you say?”
“I asked when you would like to get married”, he repeated.
I actually heard him. The question just came as a shock to me. We only just met and he was already asking me such a weighty question.
I blinked twice and answered. “I haven’t really given it a thought yet.”
He started to laugh. “Seriously, you are the only girl, ‘beg your pardon, lady I have come across who does not yet have an answer to that question. The average Nigerian lady has her wedding plans in her head by age 20!”
I started to laugh. “So are you saying I’m different?”
“No, I’m just saying you’re an alien.” he smiled. I laughed again.
“When would you like to settle down?” I threw his question back at him in another dimension.
“End of this year or early next year”, he answered.
I giggled and continued. “Does that mean you have found ‘her’?”
“Yes.” His answer was sharp.
I smiled and told myself: “Case closed, this handsome dude is taken. He probably wanted a sleep buddy or maybe a friend.”
Daniel interrupted my thoughts.
“You”, he said vaguely.
I looked at him and our eyes locked.
“I don’t understand.”
“I found you. I want you. I want to know you. I want to be your friend and I want you to be my friend. I want to know what makes you tick, what makes you cry and eventually, I want you to be my wife.”
For the umpteenth time today, my heart stopped. Seriously ooo.
I began to stammer. “Ehm ehm.. I don’t know what to say.”
“I’m sorry, I know this is overwhelming. I’m usually not this forceful.”
“It’s alright. Should we head back to work? It’s an hour already and I have a lot on my desk.”
“Yes we should, as the H.R., I shouldn’t indulge you.” He winked.
We left Terra Kulture and drove back to the office in silence.
“Tell me you’ll give it a thought?”, he said as I was about entering my office.
I went back to work with so many thoughts in my head. “Was Mr. Oga jealous? Was he flirting with me? Is Omotunde doing the right thing? Did Daniel really mean all that he said? Did I like him enough to consider dating him?”
All these thoughts, work, coupled with Lydia begging me for gist were what ended my day.
Omoshalewa Benson: Tales of a Lagos babe is written by Tobilola ‘Bella’ Agoro (@tobiagoro)
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