Becoming (Episode 4)

Kassy: He Likes Me, He Likes Me Not

Aghogho raised her head and looked outside. Kassy was still seated just outside on their corridor, if you could call it a corridor. She had been there for the last two hours, laughing and giggling alternately at whatever Efe was telling her. Aghogho wondered why the guy hadn’t asked Kassy out yet. They’d been inseparable for months. She hoped for Kassy’s sake that he wasn’t playing with her because Kassy was fragile, even though she’d never admit it, and she didn’t want to see her hurt. They had grown closer in the last three months, since that evening when she came home and dropped 30,000 Naira in her lap after she had told her about her family situation. She had been surprised. Before that day Aghogho had thought of Kassy as a selfish brat who did nothing but constantly whine about how life in their “slum” was hard. That evening she had jumped from her bed and hugged Kassy, thanking her as tears sprang to her eyes. She had been able to send some money home to her mother and save some. It was a gesture she would never forget, and Kassy had earned a special place in her heart.
Aghogho was still rolling  those thoughts around in her head when Kassy stepped into the room with a big grin on her face.

“Well, you look happy.”

“Oh, I am.”

“I’m not even going to ask you if you like him. But aren’t you worried that he hasn’t asked you out?”

“Shh… He’s right outside! Lower your voice,” Kassy said with a look of mild alarm.

“Think about it,” Aghogho whispered. “You people better define whatever you’re doing. I mean it’s obvious that you like him. But has he ever said anything about liking you? What if he’s just using you to pass time in this Kingdom of Boredom?”
Kassy looked at Agogho, shock written all over her face.
“What’s wrong, Kas?”

“Ok, Aghogho, this is the first time in five months that I’ve heard you say about three sentences at a stretch in correct English!”

Aghogho broke into laughter and threw a comb at Kassy.

“You no well! You bin think say I no go school?” She said amidst peals of laughter.

“Ah! There’s the Aghogho we know and love,” Kassy said with a mock affectionate look.
When Aghogho finally stopped laughing she looked at Kassy, who was still grinning, with a serious expression.

“But I’m not kidding, Kas. Think about it, talk to him about it. I don’t want to see you get hurt, sweetheart.”

“Thanks,” Kassy said with a smile. She blew Aghogho a kiss, picked up her shawl from her bed and marched back outside.

She sat back down beside Efe, but she couldn’t give him her full attention like she did before. She kept thinking about what Aghogho had said to her. She liked Efe a lot, there was no question about that. But he hadn’t told her anything like that on his part. They had been spending a lot of time together; that had to mean something. Oh, it would surely suck if she was in this alone. But she could tell that he liked her too, or didn’t he?

Yinka: What just happened?

Yinka stretched in his seat. His mind had wandered a long time ago, but as usual, his mother hadn’t noticed. She kept on talking about whatever she was complaining about this time. If it wasn’t that she was missing her children, it was that Ignatius refused to go to church with her. He turned to his computer and was about to continue reading sports news when the intercom rang.

“Maami, I have to go now. My boss is calling.”

“Yinka, wait now…”

Yinka hung up gladly. He knew his mother would make him pay for that, but whatever. He snatched up the phone.

“Come to my office now,” she said, and immediately hung up.

Yinka could feel the sweat starting to form in his palms. He had reason to be nervous. There was a juicy promotion coming up and word had it that he was in the running, along with one or two others. Maybe that was what Mrs. Ogundipe-Davies call was about.

He stopped at her door and straightened his tie. He knew he looked good; he was always careful with his appearance, especially at work. And he also knew he did good work, but for some reason he suddenly felt inadequate. Even on a good day when he wasn’t trying to impress, he found the woman intimidating. She was among the top five names in advertising in Nigeria, and she never smiled. It hadn’t taken long after he’d joined the company to understand why they called her Iron Lips behind her back.

She looked up as he walked in. “Have a seat, Yinka.”

That was the first sign that this summon would be different—she had called him by his first name. She never used first names. When he was seated she took off her glasses, closed her laptop and pinned him with her eyes. They were grey, almost translucent; he’d never noticed that before. He had noticed her figure though, trim and fit. Had noticed her full, dark brown hair and that she never wore weaves or extensions. He’d noticed her light skin, and the obviously expensive gold ring that glittered on her ring finger. Noticed that she was the kind of woman he might be attracted to, if she were more human and less married. Speaking of marriage, he wondered how her husband coped with this his wife of steel. He almost shuddered at the thought.

“I’m sure you’ve heard about the new department the company is starting, and that we’re looking for someone to head that department,” his boss said.

“Yes, I did hear about that.”

“We’ve thought about it, and instead of risking in bringing someone new and untested to such a sensitive position, we’ve decided to use someone we know, someone in-house, who is currently in a lower position, and then get a replacement for that person.”

“That’s a good plan, Ma.”

“I know it’s a good plan, Yinka. Why else would I have thought of it?” she snapped.

“I’m sorry…”

“Anyway,” she cut in. “I’ve gone over possible choices with the board, and it’s now down to two: you and Mr. Ifenkwe.”

His heart beat a little faster. Dickson Ifenkwe, his archrival. Oh, how he would love to nail this job and put that smug idiot in his place. Maybe then he’d stop strutting around the office like he owned the place; and stop talking to everyone in that condescending, know-it-all tone.

“You and Mr. Ifenkwe are equally excellent for the position, and so the board has left the decision solely up to me. Frankly, I could go either way. But I must confess…” she leaned forward and looked around her office surreptitiously. Then she whispered, “And I shouldn’t be saying this, but I am… leaning… towards you, Yinka.”

Yinka shifted forward in his seat. “What can I do to prove that I deserve it?”

Even as he asked this, Yinka felt the first prickling of discomfort.

She narrowed her eyes. “You need to push me, Yinka.”

“How?”

She smiled as she leaned back again. So it could smile, Yinka thought. She actually looked much better when she smiled. Beautiful even.

“You’re the creative genius. I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

She tore off a sheet of paper from a notepad on her desk and scribbled something down.

“My personal number,” she said, handing him the paper. “Call me when you figure it out.”

Yinka took it, too shocked to say a word. She never gave out her personal number.

“You may go back to work,” she said, with a dismissive gesture.

Yinka stood and walked to the door on shaky legs. His hand was on the door handle when she called his name. He turned.

“Don’t make me wait long.”

He opened the door and left without another word. Back to his desk to sit in a daze for the rest of the day.

 

Thank you for reading! Becoming is a fiction series created by the Communications Department of Joshua Ville. Episode 5 will be up next week.

 

 

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