Never let them see you coming…
She had died twice in one day already. The funeral had dragged on rather slowly; everyone in charge of the funeral at the cathedral seemed clueless about the task they were assigned to. Poor thing, there was barely any family to pay their last respect to except her half-brother, who seemed anxious to leave the cathedral. Her boss was there, with his ever piercing eyes making potholes at her face, watching her every move. The quilt patterned windows was a good form of distraction from all the mild chaotic funeral preparation, as she began to delicately scrutinize it.
“Not to pry, but are you okay?”, that rich baritone voice that always tried to mask its local accent belonging to her well travelled boss interrupted her scrutiny.
“Yes.”, she replied with a tone of finality
“Are you sure?”
“I am fine”. Gently taking off her dark shades and looking him in the eye. It was totally different from what he saw a fortnight ago, when he held her close to him as she swooned and grabbed a cart for support when Dr. Benjamin told her Jumai had passed on. That was the first time he saw her differently. He was sure no one at the office had seen her that way. He remembered how frail she suddenly felt in contrast to her usual steely persona, he remembered her scent, and he remembered what she said. “It got to her”, she whispered only to his hearing outside the emergency room.
His perfume still lingered even after he went to his take his seat, two pews behind her, when the priest began the funeral rites, for late Jumai. Patricia, as she was referred to by the clergy, was a vibrant and dedicated member of the church welfare team and a consistent giver. Tears began to flow all around when her coffin was opened.
Between the memory of Jumai in that box and the persistent stare of Donald Olawale at her back, the latter unsettled her more. The office had declared the day off, for junior workers to mourn their late co-worker. There was a lot of work already lined up for the week. Martins and Co. were about to begin the audit of their company. Life had to go on, she was a workaholic anyway, but this was a sorry excuse for someone who just lost the one person she seemed to have any sort of connection with. Mukoro couldn’t help getting those thoughts out of his head, as he came in to pick trash in the office hall. Seeing a lone figure typing ever so gently on her computer just threw him off. He wasn’t expecting anyone there.
She barely looked up when he spoke.
“You didn’t go to the cemetery with your colleagues?”
“No” ,Still with her eyes on the monitor.
“I couldn’t either, couldn’t even attend my mother’s funeral I was too scared-“ he realized she was still typing and probably hadn’t heard him. “Err, don’t let me disturb you, ma” he began to turn away.
“Mukoro, tell me all about it, what was she like” she said with a faint smile, tapping the seat next to her simultaneously. Things were going exactly like she wanted.
Dr. Olawale was an unfaithful man to his wife. He constantly cheated on Aina and she was aware of every single one of them. Her Jamaican-Puerto Rican- Nigerian pedigree had taught her far too many important and very mundane values about marriage. Her mother taught her to be the custodian of reins of her marriage, she also taught her to be shoulder to cry on, but she never told her what to do when she had full knowledge of all her husband’s escapades and certainly not what to do about it.
Like every wife who didn’t have anything close to pre-nup, she had to ‘bear it because of the children’. Hence, nothing gave her more joy than hearing that that bitch, Jumai was asleep for eternity. For some unknown reason, she had put all her pent-up anger on that one sordid affair, the mere thought of it spread all over her like an epidemic. His obsession for her irritated her; ending her bitchy life at the snap of her fingers was the right therapy.
Like almost every CEO in Lagos had to have a stack of fresh dailies on his table before he got behind his giant oak desk. He relished every headline, devoured every stock report but what caught his eye today was sensation… murder. It was by some stroke of luck, that his cup of coffee hadn’t emptied its contents on him. Malik, or what was left of him was in the picture. His head was pulled back, with a thin aluminium pipe sticking out of his trachea and was lying parallel to the floor of his apartment, the chair he was sitting on, slightly tilted backwards with only his head on the wall stopping it from crashing. From the angle the photograph was taken, his arms were probably tied at the back of the chair, even at that they seemed boneless.
“Nnenna, please call Lekita in”, he pushed the intercom button, giving his secretary the first order of the day.
“Good morning sir”, Lekita stood watching him fumble around in his drawer. She had learned to be patient with him, but today, he was fidgety. That was unusual.
“Did you give the courier that Masekela report yesterday?”
“Yes, I also sent the Martins and Co. audit report to Zizi.”
“Oh…oh. Good, I was wondering why I hadn’t gotten a confirmation from her”
“Oh that, She said she was having issues with her internet connection.” he wasn’t exactly listening to what she was saying, he didn’t care about the report, right now. He was watching her.
“Did you see the dailies today?” he asked, pushing the paper towards her. She scrutinized the photo of the mangled body of Jumai’s fiancé like an artist would admire his art.
“I am just seeing this now”, she informed him. “Sad, very sad”.
‘PUSHED TO THE WALL, BUT TOO MUTILATED TO FIGHT BACK’
“The headline is quite apt” she mumbled under her breath as she walked to the door. Her hand was already on the door knob when he called.
“Lekita, did you have anything to do with all this?” She took the incriminating accusation, the same way a pedestrian trying to cross the road observes traffic.
“You don’t know.” she whispered closing the door behind her
To be continued…