I’m so tired of this office. Tired I tell you. What nonsense! See my life? I could have been working for a top multinational corporation and dashing from continent to continent on a company jet, yet here I am. I could have been earning a fancy salary, working from a posh suite and with the best benefits and vacation packages possible, yet here I am. Why? I’ll tell you why. Ignorance! And a false sense of patriotism. I don’t deserve this, really I don’t. All I wanted to do was serve my country. While my friends secured employment after we completed our masters’ program abroad, I decided to return to Nigeria. EVERYONE told me it could never go as planned, but why not I thought, why the hell not? What could be better than returning home, working in the ministry, earning a competitive salary and shaping the governmental policy that would make our nation great again? What could be better than being at the forefront of the change that was surely to come? Ah! Sweet, blissful ignorance. Now my life is looking like the proverbial ‘had I known’. Abba Father, my father in heaven please save me from this mess. I’m about to lose it. Twelve long years it has been, twelve years in which…this bloody phone is ringing again. I thought all the landlines in this office had been disconnected? Imagine a whole federal ministry being unable to maintain a properly functioning internal communications system. Some jokes write themselves.
“Yes?” I ask, cradling the receiver.
“Good morning Mr Dada,” the soft, British accented voice replies.
“Yes?” I know exactly why she’s calling. I’m being summoned by Satan!
“The boss would like to see you immediately.”
You see? I said it! What else would make this woman with her angelic voice call me on the office line? It surely cannot be the many advances I’ve been making since she started working here seven months ago. Of course it has to be ‘The Boss’. What nonsense.
“Okay!” I prepare to replace the receiver but she isn’t finished.
“Yes?” See conversation. Yes. Okay. Yes. Okay. Dey don finally turn me to soldier-come-soldier-go for this place.
“She means immediately. Like, right now.”
“Okay!” I end the call.
I don’t know who I offended to deserve such a fate. To be treated like this after twelve years in this place is abominable. Why did they have to transfer Ibrahim someplace else and bring in this woman? Everyone loved Ibrahim, he used to make us forget that we were wasting away our lives working for an impotent government. And now this woman, Satan herself! Tueh! Sigh. I better stretch my limbs, leave this chair and go and get this over with. Maybe I’ll take the stairs and stop by Dozie’s office on my way. Lord knows we need to discuss his team’s abysmal performance yesterday. Five goals against you? In your own stadium? Ah! Too bad, that’s just too bad.
I swear I could hear the dejection in his tone. I wonder what annoys him more; being summoned by the boss or the fact that it’s me doing the summoning. Since I resumed work here, this man has tried everything to get into my pants. It started with him casually paying for all my meals at the staff canteen. I think he even used to plan his movements just so he could ‘accidentally’ run into me. After he collected my number from the office WhatsApp group, he started to call and text, always at inappropriate hours of course, telling me how he liked what I wore that day or asking why he didn’t see me at the office. Do I work for you oga? So why are you looking for me? I never told him that though, the free food is enough to encourage me to continue this polite facade with him. But I swear, the height of it all was the day he sent me a picture of his penis with the caption ‘do you like it dear?’ Ah sweet baby Jesus just imagine! Do I like it? Like what, please? That ugly looking thing that could not have been bigger than five inches even as it was fully erect? God forbid! I don’t like it and I told him as much, only to receive one useless voice note from him saying it was a mistake and he intended to send it to someone else. Mistake koh! But why is a married man sending pictures of his dick to random women in the first place? Oh yes, he’s married. Very married in fact, as I discovered not too long ago. But he being married is not even an issue, after all he wouldn’t be the first married man I was fucking. Or the second. Ayokunle Dada is just very somehow. He lacks charisma, has zero game and is always frowning as if the whole world is fighting with him. And he has no balls too. All his advances have been over the phone, not once, not even once has he told me what he wants to my pretty face. Is that one a man? Do you like it? Just imagine the effrontery, and on top that tiny thing too. He should come and meet Stanley, my boyfriend, and see what a real man’s cock looks like. Rubbish! Why can’t he be more like Dozie his office buddy? Now that is a man! So fine and well built, and dresses like a king too. See his car, his shoes, his beard, his Italian suits, his… literally his everything. How one person go complete like that? Whenever I’m around him, my accent switches automatically, I don’t even have to force it. But he never seems to notice anything I do. He just smiles and gives me short responses, even as I’m doing ‘yes sir’, ‘no sir’, ‘anything you want sir’, with the first two buttons of my blouse undone. Nothing! Absolutely no attention from him and I don’t know why. That man ehn, I’ll give anything to sit on his face, even if it’s only ten minutes. I swear!
What exactly went wrong yesterday? I still cannot believe this nonsense. Five goals! One, two, ti-ri, four, five! Five fucking goals! My god! Which kind team be this sef? I don tire for all this disappointment. See how they spoilt my ticket for me. How will nine clubs play before you and win exactly how they are supposed to, then you, my very own team, will come and destroy everything? And something was telling me not to bet on that game oh, but see me, I carried ‘fan love’ to stake and now the money is gone. Fifty thousand naira to win one million and these idiots went and collected five goals. Five! In your own stadium. Tufiakwa! I’m sick and tired of this mediocrity and I’m done supporting these guys. I’m done! I will burn that cursed jersey as soon as I get home, this madness is… ha ha! Just look at this. Ayokunle has come to rub salt on my fresh wounds. Ah! Just see my life in the open chineke! Do I tell him about the money I lost? No, I can’t! That will just make him ridicule me more, I can’t expect sympathy from a rival fan. No, I’ll keep it to myself. Next week will surely be his turn. He walks past my secretary with a huge grin plastered on his face and pushes my slightly ajar door wide open. This is Ayokunle’s much more jovial side which he almost never shares with people.
He jumps into the chair opposite me, props both elbows on my brown oak desk and begins to chant mockingly in typical Pentecostal pastor style: “Five hallelujah for Master Jesus! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!!! Now brethren, shout five gbosa for Dozie. Gbosa! Gbosa! Gbosa! Gbosa! Gbosa!!! Now let’s do-”
“Stop! Stop! Stop!” I rush in to interrupt, laughing my head off. Knowing how he is with football, I’m sure he is prepared to do this for another ten minutes, and I simply do not have the energy. “E don do abeg! No vex!”
“How much you bet?” he asks with that comedic tilt to his voice.
“I no bet,” I lie, straight-faced.
“C’mon shut up there! If I hear say you no bet, you wey I know. Something wey suppose be sure game, see as your guys just go mess up.”
The jokes continue at my expense, all because of a decision I took at the innocent age of nine to support this particular football team for the rest of my life. It is well, I’ll be fine. I lost the chance of making a million naira with just fifty K, but I’ll be fine. Next time, it’ll be me smiling to the bank. Every day for the thief, one day for the person wey carry cutlass. Or so my people say.
“How far my guy, where you dey go before you come disturb my life?” I taunt him.
“Bro, na Satan summon me oh!” I watch the laughter drain from his eyes as the present catches up to him. The entire office knows about Ayokunle’s troubles with the boss, although he’s not the only one, just her most frequent ‘customer’. There’s even a rumour going about that she is compiling a list to be sent to the permanent secretary, of staff who she wants terminated before the year ends, and his name is at the top of said list.
Personally, I have no problems with the boss but I really do feel for my friend. When I first joined the ministry almost seven years ago now, Ayokunle and I worked on the same floor and handled certain projects together. Back then Ibrahim was still around and once in a while he, Ayokunle and I would go to a club, party or some other place on what Ibrahim liked to call ‘team building exercises’. It was during one of these exercises that he and I had sex for the first time. The period before he left was one of the best moments in my life and I often wonder how we were able to keep our whirlwind romance a secret in this building with all its many busy bodies. Ibrahim took me with him on official trips and lodged me in the fanciest hotels. I was living the very comfortable life of an office mistress and everything was going fine. But alas, his wife just had to walk into his office that fateful day while he was on his knees finishing me off. It took divine intervention to get her not to blow her lid, and part of the deal was that he immediately hand in his resignation and relocate with her and their four kids to Canada. Weeks later the boss was posted here, and Ayokunle has been miserable for the four years that have followed. I always feel slightly responsible for his predicament, and as he leaves my office to answer ‘her royal wickedness’, as he likes to call her, I say a short prayer for him. My phone vibrates soon after and I pick it up to see one new Twitter notification. I open the message and find out that @sexkitten69 has just followed me. I enlarge the avatar and am confronted by a racy picture of the boss’ secretary – the one with the voice of an angel – dressed in a tank top that leaves nothing to the imagination and a pair of ripped shorts. Ah! How did this woman find my private account? Which kind harassment be this abeg?
SATAN / THE BOSS
I knew this idiot was going to drag his feet, which was precisely why I instructed my secretary to emphasize the urgency of the message. But still, he has decided to show just how useless he is. Fifteen minutes? You keep me waiting for fifteen whole minutes? Who the fuck does this man think he is? Just imagine! Okay. It is actually fine. I’ve had enough of this insolent, insubordinate, misogynistic, poor excuse for manhood. He has finally reached the point of no return and I, Aisha Idi-Satarni, am going to give him exactly what he wants. Yes! I’ll show him who I am once the permanent secretary gets back next Thursday and acknowledges my letter insh’Allah. He is gone, completely gone. Along with all the other dead weight keeping the ministry from progress. Ha! So I can be disrespected like this? In this same office? Ya Allah he is gone, I swear it on my mother’s grave. Just imagine the little bastard. So because you have a degree from an international institution, you think you are better than everyone else? Ehn? Why didn’t he remain in his abroad instead of returning here to disgrace his ancestry? For twelve long years this cancer has been destroying this office and the ministry from within, and he acts like everyone else is the problem. Oh how I’ll show this puppet of a man, I can barely contain myself. God I’m so hot, so fucking hot. Thinking about what I’ll do to this useless man’s career always gets me so worked up and in need of release. Let me just lock this door first. Luckily for me I wore a skirt today. Since he has decided to be “damningly” late – for which he shall be destroyed – I guess I can quickly rub one out on my desk. I just hope this blasted secretary does not bother me…
His footsteps echo on the stairs as he makes his way up to the foyer right in front of the reception area where I guard the boss’ door. I know it is him because any normal person would have taken the elevator instead but no, not this man. Not this stubborn goat of a man. His lanky figure comes into full view as he walks briskly across the foyer to my desk. His trousers are drawn up almost to his chest and it reminds just how unsexy he is. See the man who wants to put that his small penis inside me? Chai! I’ve suffered in this life. He reaches me and places a fist on my desk, trying to direct my attention to his lecherous eyes, eyes which I can already feel digging into my cleavage. I lift my head to look at him and the grimace on his face is one of pure lust. I’m sure that his micro dick will be at attention soon if I don’t quickly dispatch him.
“Good morning again,” I say with a big smile, setting the accent loose. After all, who will pay for my lunch today and tomorrow?
“Good morning” he replies, “Is she inside?”
“Yes she is and you kept her waiting,” I answer, turning slightly to my right and pressing down on the automatic buzzer that connects into the inner office. I can feel his eyes move with the sway of my breasts – right, centre, right and centre again – and I chuckle under my breath. This stubborn goat of a man. The boss takes an uncharacteristically long time to answer and when she finally does, her voice sounds husky and dim, even though in reality, she is less than twelve feet away behind closed doors.
“Yes ma! Mr Dada is here now ma,” I say into the intercom.
“Okay! Okay… send him in. No wait! Okay yes, send him in.”
That’s odd. But I do as I’m told and instruct Ayokunle Dada to proceed into her office. He walks off immediately but just before he reaches her door, he makes a sharp half twist to ogle me one last time and almost falls flat on his ass in the process. I shake my head and return to my phone where I am in the process of finding Dozie’s Instagram account. What a stubborn goat of a man!
A quick ‘enter’ follows my sharp knock and I turn the handle of the door and proceed into hell. The first thing I notice is a slightly musky smell, floating around the room. It is one of those deeply familiar scents, although I’m unable to place it at the moment. Satan is seated behind her huge desk and her face gives off the impression of someone frustrated at having been interrupted. I take three steps in, stop and fold my hands across my chest, waiting for her to tell me why I was summoned. She makes no move to offer me a seat and I doubt I would have accepted one anyway.
“Do you know how long ago I asked for you?” she blurts out, wasting no time.
“I was busy with some work, but I came as soon as…”
“What work?” she cuts me off menacingly, “what fucking work? If you did your job the way you were supposed to, we wouldn’t be in this situation right now. So I ask again, what fucking work were you busy with Mr Dada?”
This is the first time she’s openly swearing at me. She is usually on the brink but always manages to catch herself just before she utters the words.
“Madam, I don’t understand. What situation? I was…”
“Just hear his arrogance. ‘What situation?’ You’re being fired you ass. Yes! You’re done Dada, finished. I won’t put up with this your attitude anymore, never!”
This is shocking, I must admit. But I can’t let Satan see that, she will take advantage of my weakness.
“Satan… Ms. Idi-Satarni with all due respect you cannot arbitrarily terminate my appointment. I don’t work for you, I work for…”
“It’s now you remember ‘respect’ abi?” She is screaming now. “Don’t waste your saliva oga, the permanent secretary has already approved it. You’re done. Finished! Just get out of this place and take your miserable belongings with you.”
I can imagine what her secretary thinks outside, hearing her boss scream at the top of her voice. So this is it? This is the culmination of my twelve years slaving away in this office? To be fired without a second thought. I am tempted to scream back at this devil of a woman, but to what end? I admit that I wanted to leave this place, but I didn’t think my exit would be like this; so quick and shameful. I have so many pending financial obligations. Ayo Junior just started secondary school, what will I tell my wife? I thought I would have more time to find myself and leave on my own terms. I sink slowly to the ground.
“Ah ha! Are you bending the knee to me, Dada? You this proud man, so you can kneel? Wow!”
I do not plan it but as if being driven by forces greater than me, words begin to escape from my lips.
“Please! Don’t do this. Please…” My voice threatens to break but I’m determined not to let that happen.
Satan finally rises from her chair. There is a wicked glint in her eyes and the smile on her face can only be described as mischievous. She leaves me on my knees for several minutes and paces the room in thought.
“Well maybe there is something you can do for a second chance,” she decides finally.
“Anything madam,” I plead.
Satan strolls to where I am still kneeling, grabs the back of my head and jerks my face up to look at her. The familiar scent which was wafting through the air when I entered her office hits me once again, only this time I recognise what it is.
“Anything?” she asks, looking down at me, her face a mixture of mockery and expectation.
I nod. This is the how the game is played, I understand that now. Her eyes cloud with anticipation as I put my hands behind her thighs and position my face just inches away from the crotch of her grey skirt. I’ll do anything to keep my job. I’ll do anything for the ministry.