It was a picture of a young man laughing into the camera. Bright gray eyes, wonderfully brown skin, slightly bearded, and wearing a plain blue shirt, he looked like he was in his early 30’s. There was a peace aura surrounding the environment where the picture had been taken, and Lord have mercy, but this man was beautiful. I mean, men ought to be handsome and all, but he seemed to radiate beauty from inside out so much that I got lost in the picture, until a calm, stern voice jammed me back to reality.
“And just what are you doing, sifting through my purse, Ms Camille Shoy?”
The aura dissipated, fear gripped me cold and I jumped up my full 5 ft. 6″ frame, mortified to my marrows. Never in my 5 months of work had Ms Alberta ever used my full name to address me. Her face told me I won’t like to be me at this moment, and her eyes flamed like infernos when they flew to my hands holding the picture.
“O Ms. Alberta, please pardon me. I came to get the purse and, on my way I fell. I mean I was not looking and my leg hit the chair, sorry the door I meant……” I blurted out almost immediately, but she seemed not to be listening. Her eyes were on my hand, and I saw that look again- this time in full glory. Pain, longing, joy, all mixed in- love? Did not get that one quite clearly.
“I am sorry, ma’am” I blurted out again, shaking worse than a birch tree on a windy day. I hurriedly picked up the purse from the floor and placed it on the table together with the picture, and evading her angry look, ran out of her office with my tail between my legs. Or so it seemed. It was 12 pm and the afternoon sun was already providing cozy heat that made itself felt through the window blinds, but I was shivering so much I had to switch off the air conditioning beside me. Everyone was walking with collars open, ties loosed. I remained in my seat all through the day, my mind restless, my body suddenly cold. What a way to lose one’s job, I mused sadly in my mind. I wondered what she thought of me now; did she think I was trying to steal from her purse? Did she think I was trying to poke-nose into her privacy? Was she still mad at me (it was now 2:30 pm and I had not heard a single beep from her office. She had not summoned me this whole time either).
Just as I was about to consider writing my own resignation letter, to save myself the embarrassment, her door opened.
“Ms. Shoy, would you please see me right now?” The tone was so calm that I already felt like entering the floor. It was like that moment your mother catches you with a broken plate and calmly tells you to approach your judgement, and you have nowhere to run to.
“Y-yes ma’am” I stuttered as I got up, blood flowed to my legs again and pain greeted me for sitting in one spot for so long a period. There was a slight blue spot on the side of my leg which I had used to hit the door, and it announced itself with more pain. Not so fast, woman. Look well when next you’re scrambling to run an errand.
Just great. Bury me already.
I entered her office and stood by the door. No moving until she says so, I told myself.
“You already saw my purse; you might as well sit down without me telling you to”.
Burn. A wave of heat and shame washed over me all at once. “I’m really sorry, ma’am. I never meant to spill the contents of your purse” I mumbled, almost ready to cry.
Her response had a smile to it, as she turned around to face me, I realized that she was anything but angry. Her eyes shone with recently-cried tears, but her face had the most beautiful smile.
“I know you didn’t, Camille. I was only being sarcastic. I know you have always wanted to ask me about my personal life, and as someone who cares about you beyond our working relationship, I think it’s time I let you know more about myself. Now do us both a favor; get two cups of tea and a medium-sized chicken pizza from the cafe downstairs; I am going to tell you a story and I want you to learn from it”
-to be continued
Efunnuga Henrietta Adedayo.