Phoebe knocked reluctantly on the door of Mr Holland’s office, she heard his hoarse voice inviting her in. She opened the door slowly and entered, it felt like she was entering the office for the first time. She noticed an art work of two female figures with a calabash on their heads, the painting was beautiful, framed and hung above his head. The wall painting was plain white with an artistic design at the left side of the wall, judging from the touch of art works in his office Phoebe could tell that her boss was an art inclined person.
“Goodday sir, I’m here to collect the file which you asked that I come get”
“Oh yes” He shifted his chair to open his drawer and took out a white file “Here it is, signed already”
As Phoebe stretched to collect the file, her eyes caught a picture of himself and his wife on his table, his wife had a rather unpleasant look on her face while Mr Holland had a sheepish smile on his face like a kid who just received a most wanted present. His wife was beautiful and skinny but there was something about the look on her face she couldn’t fathom.
“Thank you sir” she swallowed hard and turned to leave
“I got married to the love of my life, nine years ago..” Mr Holland started
“Are you talking to me sir?” Phoebe looked around in utter perplexity.
“Yes. I and Ufuoma got married in Court nine years ago, we lived happily and enjoyed the first two years of our marriage” he paused “Being married to Ufuoma was the best thing that had ever happened to me as we loved each other so much.”
Why is he telling me all these, did I ask for his family history?
“Until few months after the birth of our first and only child, My wife became someone else. She never cared anymore about me nor her child, she leaves the house and comes back anytime she likes. She sleeps around with other men under my nose, she doesn’t cook for me nor our child anymore. I had to employ a Nanny to care for my son while I’m away at work, I do my very best to ensure my son doesn’t feel his mother’s absence but I’m not totally successful at that. I tried to hide all these happening from my extended family and the outside world because I didn’t want to lose my wife, I still loved her” tears rolled down Mr Holland’s eyes and his forehead creased in pain. Phoebe felt sympathy towards him as she watched a mature man like Mr Holland shed tears over the trouble in his home.
He’s not a bad man afterall, he’s been going through quite a lot. I feel so bad for him and his innocent son.
“This is one of the reasons people call me a womanizer” he sniffled “because my wife denies me sex, I can’t remember the last time we made love as a couple. And as a man, I have sexual urges which I need to satisfy. And as if all these is not enough, just yesterday night my wife asked for a divorce”
Mr Holland broke down into tears which he was fighting so hard to suppress to no avail.
“I’m .. I’m so sorry Mr Holland. I really don’t know what to say” Mr Holland started coughing
“Are you alright sir?” Phoebe asked as she moved closer to him
“Water please” he replied stretching for his bottle of water amidst his dry cough
Phoebe immediately grabbed the big Eva bottle water on the table, she opened it and gave it to her boss who gulped a reasonable content down his throat which worked as a medication of easing his throat almost immediately.
“How do you feel now sir?”
“Better, thank you Phoebe” he stared at his employee for a few seconds “You’re a nice and beautiful lady, I fell in love with you..
In love with me? How is that possible?
“..the moment I saw you walk into my office. And seeing you made me feel I can actually grant my wife the divorce and move on with my life and be happy again” he studied her expression
“You can’t be in love with me sir, you barely know me. Do you even know if I’m a prostitute or a witch or something” Phoebe shivered
“I don’t care who you are. As long as my heart chose you then I know you’re the right person for me”
“But sir, I thought you love your wife” her feet suddenly started to itch her in her shoes, she silently wished to sit down
“Why don’t you take a seat?”
God bless your soul, you’ll definitely pass for a mind reader
“Thanks” she sat on one of the chairs opposite her boss as he continued
“I used to love my wife but not anymore, after all she has done to me and our child”
“Please Phoebe, think about my proposal”
His proposal? Wait.. Is there a proposal? What is this man saying? He wants me to date him or what? Is he blind to see I’m too young for him. Abeg oo, I need a fine prince charming not an old cargo
“What proposal are you talking about sir?”
“To be my girlfriend. I might not be the richest man you’ve ever met but I will give you the life you’ve always dreamt of, all the luxury and comfort in the world and from there we can get married. Mind you, I’m not as old as you think, don’t mind my grey hair oo”
“You can’t be..”
“I’ll give you the rest of the day to think about it. I’ll call you later in the evening, don’t ask me how I got your number, I’m your boss remember” Mr Holland smiled comfortingly
Phoebe stood up with wobbly legs and found her way out of Mr Holland thrown into total confusion.
Phoebe came back home to find her mother seated at the verandah of their apartment in the One storey building, their apartment was downstairs facing the gate of the White House as it was popularly called in their vicinity due to its colour. Her mother was engrossed in a discussion with her friend Mama Efe that she didn’t notice her daughter come in until she had walked halfway down the path from the gate to their apartment.
They’re at it again, the two tafia women. Mtttchheww.. I’m sure this is the reason my mother came back home early from the shop. This is just few minutes past six and she closes her shop by six, plus I’m quite sure they’ve been talking for not less than thirty minutes
“Eh my dear, welcome oo. How was work” her mother looked up
“Fine ma. Good evening ma, Good evening mama Efe” she gesticulated
“Welcome òvbi wmen (my child), how was work?” Mama Efe asked assessing her
“Fine ma” Phoebe hurried in before she started receiving rounds of questions from her mother’s nosy friend
She freshened up, helped herself with a good meal of rice and stew from the kitchen which she had prepared the previous day being Sunday. She picked up her diary from where it laid in her drawer and began to scribble in it
So much for a first day at work…
I kinda feel for Mr Holland, I can’t imagine what he and his child must have been through in the hands of his wife
Her mother came into her room an hour later when it was already dark asking for a full details of her experience at her first day at work.
“Mummy, I’m really tired, I just need to sleep. Moreover nothing out of the ordinary happened at work today. I was just welcomed, shown to my office and assigned my job tasks, that’s all”
“You don’t want to gist me abi. No fine young man said ‘Hi’?” Her mother gazed at her quizzically
Thank God she said fine YOUNG man
“Apparently not, Mommy. I need to sleep, you know I always sleep early so I can wake up in the middle of the night to read”
“You and this your reading” she sighed “I’m leaving oo since you don’t want to talk” she stood up from her daughter’s bed
“Good night mom”
“Good night, sleep well” she closed the door behind her quietly
Phoebe closed her eyes and muttered a two minutes prayer, she slid into her multi colour sheeted duvet and was about to dive into the wind of sleep when her phone buzzed aloud, she groaned and reached for her Tecno camon 11 phone on the drawer beside her bed. The caller was unknown, she ignored it but it kept on ringing until she answered and heard Mr Holland’s voice at the other end and froze.
(To be continued..)