Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
Why the hell did I wear heels in the first place? Why do employers always want women to wear heels. These things hurt. Ankles strained from awkward angles of the back of my foot to my toes. Bad enough we can barely run in them. If a war starts the women in heels will be the first to die. Why can’t we wear pumps and look pretty while we’re at it.
No. It’s not allowed.
Formal wear everyday, all day they say, heels included. Even if your legs break, you still have to wear these high things anyway. No use complaining about this now. I groan and try to run. I fail miserably. So I take short fast steps through the car park towards the main door of the building that houses Tiyende Advertising. I am late. I’m so late for work. Back at the office in the new year and I’m already late for work. Bad impression. This will not sit well with my supervisor.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
He will not be happy.
I wave to the building receptionist simultaneously pulling out my key card from my bag. The door clicks and I push it back. My heels tap the tiles as I jog in the hallway. I open another door at the end of the hallway that leads to the offices of Tiyende Advertising. Square cubicles take most of the huge square shaped work space of Tiyende Advertising – some of them being empty – employees probably out in the field; offices with glass walls line up along the left side of the floor. Management sits behind the glass while the rest get wood. A few faces behind cubicles turn to look at me, one or two offering apologetic glances my way. I know I’m in so much trouble. I walk to my cubicle at end of the room, my own little corner I call it… and sit down as my phone rings. Right on time.
Always on time.
I exhale as I pick up the receiver.
“Yolanda. You’re late.”
No hello? No are you alright?
“I noticed you just walked in.”
I sigh. Typical. Nothing gets passed him. I don’t even know why I did my mini jog if he was already looking out for me.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
“I am so sorry I’m late. Had a car problem.” I say quickly. “My stupid car just died on me.”
“And what happened to you getting on a bus?”
Is he being serious? A bus? Me? This man will say anything to prove a point.
“Buses are moving vehicles too.” He continues.
“I didn’t think about that. Besides I figured my car would be fixed fast enough.” I respond.
I bite my lip. I hate lying, but I have no choice. Does he know I’m lying? Why do I lie? This is what I get for refusing to get off that Mr Forty.
“Hm.” He responds. He doesn’t believe me. Oh my. “My office please.”
He does not believe me.
“Now.” He barks.
“Right away. On my way.”
I’m in so much trouble.
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
I place my bags on the floor and stand up. I look down and tuck my white shirt into my gray chinos. So I am not the most formal person in the world but I do try. I look smart enough with my red stilettos. It’s heels. They never specified the colour. And besides the red stilettos I have on create a cute effect. Why be gray when you can add a little colour in your life. I grab my notepad and pen from my desk and head to the office of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). I take deep breaths as I walk the short distance to his office, thinking of how to explain my ‘car problem’. Engine knock? What was a knock again? Fan belt cut? What does the fan belt do? Tyre burst? How am I still alive? Key got lost? Gosh how did I know my car died without the key? Lying is not for me. What will be the perfect excuse? I tap on his glass door and walk in before he lifts his head to see who it is. He knows who it is anyway. He looks up as I walk to his desk.
“Yolanda.” He says.
“Good morning Mr Jere.” I respond flashing him a nervous smile.
To call Masulani Jere an ugly bitter tyrant of a workaholic would be an insult to his actual handsome face. Somewhat handsome. Though as the saying goes “when one part of you is ugly then so is every other part.” His face is the home of rude, literally marks it all up in his look towards me. His brown eyes take me in, as if to assess if I am not dressed smart enough to be here. My red heels will probably piss him off but that’s what I live for.
To piss him off.
To make him hate me hard enough, he gives it all up and accepts me as I am.
He should have been God’s gift to women: his eyes say as much. Those brown eyes are so dark and deep that I might get lost in them. What a joke romance novels tell us. Maybe it’s the fact that his nose is too big for his face so he has to be rude before others ask him what really happened to his nose. His lips do not bend. Nope. No smile. No frown either, just straight up thin lips. But all in all he is a handsome man sitting back in his chair in a shirt so white it puts angels who roam the earth to shame. What I would do to wipe that ugly look off his face! Whiskey? Hot meal? He looks like a whiskey man. Or a beer. Several that is. I smile unconsciously.
“Sit down.” He says
I sit in one of the chairs across him, putting one leg over the other. His eyes notice my movement and he looks away.
“Good morning Mr Jere.” I repeat slowly.
Smile. Smile at him I tell myself.
It’s never good morning with this man. I wonder what would make a good morning for him. Bed in breakfast? The good breakfast. Eggs or legs? Cookie or cookies? I am such a lost cause clearly crushing on one of my senior bosses, the tyrant.
“I am so sorry I’m late. My car just wouldn’t start.” I say quickly. “So I had to call the mechanic and wait for him to show up and fix the tiny mess.”
He nods and looks at the paper work on his desk clearly not interested in my lies. I breathe a sigh of relief.
“We have a new client today.” He says.
Straight to work. No questions about how I made it work. Selfish.
“Opening up shop in Lusaka.” He continues.
“Name?” I ask
“Uhmm Paramount Electronics and Hardwear. They want to go big. Something about being a rival to AutoWorld..”
“That should be an easy task.” I respond. “We have a number of hardwear accounts. Tendai can do this.”
“No. It has to be you.” He says looking up to face me.
“But Tendai is better at hardwear accounts. I can supervise.” I argue.
“No. You will work on the account. That is final.” He says, looking back at the papers on his desk.
Damn. Day one and he is already laying the law on me. He knows Tendai is better at hardwear accounts than I am. Is this my punishment for being late?
“Mr Jere. I’m telling you I can supervise the work and get it done to perfection.” I argue.
“I do not know why you are trying to avoid this Yolanda.”
“Because I know where I am better suited. And Tendai would be perfect for this.”
He looks at me then. He just stares at me. No word from him. Probably thinking of the best way to be rude again. This man is a piece of work. And to think I have tolerated him since I started working here four years ago. I have been to hell and back because of this man and this devil’s work just keeps piling. I will not let him ruin my first day of work. No. I will argue my thought through.
“Mr Jere.” I start
The door opens behind me and I turn. I see his grey beard first, then his dark blue suit and black shirt underneath his jacket. I look at him and some sort of secret understanding passes between us. He does not smile, neither do I. I stand up from my seat hand outstretched, gosh this man is too tall I think.
“Good morning Masulani. Good Morning Ms Chipeta.”
“Good morning Mr Chiti.” I respond.
He looks at me and nods. Ooh he’s not happy. He hates it when I say his name like that. Mr Chiti. Makes him feel old. Older than the forty something age of his. Or at least that’s what he told me. But then again in the office I can not call him by his first name, people would question it. And I am not in the mood to be judged by people who do not understand what we have going.
And besides who in the hell wants to know about me sleeping with the CEO of my company.
Mr Forty’s eyes meet mine and I look away and face Masulani. Why are all the men angry today?
It’s going to be a long day.
Roles of housewives involve cooking, washing, sewing, cleaning, being a super mom, being an extra super wife, gardening and anything else I can add to my day to make it pass me by faster. Mostly everything revolves around the main house itself. Nothing more, nothing less.
The house is boring when the kids aren’t around. It’s silent. The maids tend to keep to themselves and that is how I like it but it also means I am alone in this big house. All my best friends work in one way or another and I am stuck as the house wife that gets everything she ever needs. Every weekday goes like this – after I drop the kids off at school I drive back home to clean up things the maids are not allowed to. The usual. And that never lasts me long. The end of my chores leave me bored in the middle of my clean bedroom looking for something else to do. Monday to Friday. There are moments I wish I had fought Chinyama harder for me to get a job. Who knows, maybe I would have been a great D-Jay or a well known news woman anchor, wearing ugly suits and stiff wigs that look like hard wood.
But that was not meant to be.
Chinyama let me finish my University degree. And it all ended there. He said he needed a wife, a stay at home mom to take care of the kids and everything would be provided. I did not think about how bored I would be the minute the kids would reach schoooling age. Maybe we need another child I think. We can afford it and I can be busy again. But the crying and lack of sleep would ruin it all. I can’t live like this. I need something to do. Maybe I can visit Chinyama and take him lunch today. That should keep me busy for a while. And if it means I can stay away from the bottle of chilled wine then so be it. I will take it.
The phone rings as I head to the closet.
Good morning. I trust you are well?
I smile. I forgot all about responding to Isaac.
Hey. I am so sorry I did not respond.
Hi. How are you this morning?
I am good. The usual. How are you?
I am great.
New week. New possibilities.
So maybe I freaked you out last time I sent you a message with the cake.
I humbly apologise.
No way. You did no such thing.
I am sorry you thought that.
Something came up…
I bite my lip as I press send. What if I…..?? No. I should not entertain this. Nope. Never. I am a married woman. That kissed another man. Gosh. A hot man for that matter. No. I should feel bad. I will not make it up to him. This is so wrong.
Maybe another time.
Maybe a normal lunch?
“Yeah. Maybe. Another time.” I whisper. “Another time.”
I do not respond. I let it hang in the air. No promises. Not now. Besides I have a husband to visit and I need to look the part. Yes.
Masulani looks irritated. Not just by the paper work on his desk but by everyone in his office. I know how he feels. I do not know why I am still here sitting next to Mr Chiti – ‘Mr Forty’ – listening to him dictate terms to us about how the advertising pitch for Paramount Electronics and Hardwear should go.
This is why Tendai should be here. Her suck up to everyone attitude would be perfect right now.
I am barely listening to Mr Chiti. I am certain Masulani will fill me in on the way forward later on. Mr Perfectionist. He always wants things done perfectly. I look at the man who happens to be the CEO in the office and in the bedroom and I must admit I want him. Right now. Gosh he’s just so sexy when he takes charge… I like it. No. I love it! I can’t stare at him for too long or it will get weird and Masulani might notice something. But I can’t help myself.
To think I met the man at a dinner gala I had attended over four years ago, when he came over to my table – in his black tux, breaking hearts – to talk to my then boss and asked for an introduction. The minute our eyes met, it was as if the room shifted, and when our hands touched, his big hand over my small delicate hand, I swear I felt all the promises seep through it. Weird huh? But that was not the best part of the night; no, the best part was having him stare at my back – I know because I caught him once or twice. It was the dress, the black dress I wore made my skin glow, the front showed how simple it was, but the back, well the lace that still showed my bare back was enough to make any man lose his eyes. I was not interested in dealing with older men. I already had other men keeping me busy.
But I got his attention that night and before the night was over, I got a dance, a job offer, a salary higher than my then current one, a ride home and his number. It was amazing. He was the sweetest and maybe the grey hair should have stopped me – on anybody else it would have; but no, it enticed me to want to know more about him. Or maybe it was the way he treated me better than the men my age that made me want more. He called every day after the gala night, we talked about everything, he wanted to know everything about me as I him. He took my mind places, he made me think, he made me see things from a different view. After three weeks of calls he decided to make things real by coming over to my place for dinner. He cooked.
He said he wanted to spoil me with everything a lady could ever need. I was amused. I didn’t believe him of course but that did not stop him from chasing me; white lilies delivered to the office, chocolate boxes at lunch time, drives out of Lusaka, little gifts here and there, more dinner at home; I was the happiest girl in the world and the fact that all he wanted was my company made me want to fall for him.
I resigned from my job and went to work for his company soon after. I guess he managed to convince me his company was where I needed to be. Kisses and all. I excelled, based on my merits and not because I was close to the boss showing him what open legs really looked like. He never pushed me, he never led me on he was simply there for me as I was for him. He was honest from the get go; he did not want a relationship, he wanted a friend he could trust and even when he revealed to me he and his wife were sort of separated I did not run away and hide, I stayed. He made me happy. He made me smile. And then one night he decided to stop hiding and we went out for the first time. it was exciting, so exciting that nothing could keep us off each other that night. I let him in and he was gentle, so loving that I cried that night. Older men just have this thing going for them.
It was the best I ever had literally, and that is when the lodge business started. According to him he did not want the world judging us, he wanted us to be free but not at his house or mine. And I was fine with it. It was better than nothing. Every weekend he would make plans unless he was busy. But most weekends I was with him, chatting, laughing and doing what lovers do….
…Until I met Mutale and I gave everything up. Everything! But somehow he never fired me from my job. He increased my pay and let me stay on. He couldn’t afford to lose an employee like me. At least that’s what he said when I told him I would resign. He was happy, I was happy. Like the perfect ex. And things thrived perfectly. Of course I heard him and his wife sorted out their differences. I never asked. And everything died down until Mutale decided to mess it all up. And now here I am staring at him wondering why he is back.
He stands up from his seat. Then….. Shit. I have no idea what he said about anything.
“Let me know what you come up with Masulani. Tonight preferably.” He says.
“Of course.” Masulani responds.
Mr Chiti quickly walks out of the office citing important calls he has to make. And I face Masulani who looks like he just had his whole life derailed. Did I miss something during their chat?
“Can you call Paramount Electronics for me. I left their file on your desk earlier. Request for a meeting.” He says quickly.
“Is something wrong?”
“Where you in this meeting?” He asks.
“Then call them Yolanda.”
I stand up and walk out of his office grateful to be away from him finally. I get to my cubicle and sit down. My phone beeps and the message invokes an involuntary smile..
I can’t wait to see you. Tonight.
You look beautiful as always.
I smile as I read his message again. It’s so on!
My phone beeps again.
Cancel the call. Cancel all your plans for tonight. We need to work late.
I hate Masulani Jere.
I pride myself for being on time come rain come sunshine. Sitting in the reception area of Chinyama’s office, I look at my wrist watch and sigh. Thirty minutes and counting. His secretary looks at me for the umpteenth time apologetically as if it’s her fault he is so busy.
“Can I offer you a glass of water?” She asks.
This is the third time she’s asked me the same question. What the hell is wrong with her? What is she nervous about?
“No thank you.” I tell her softly.
“Maybe some fresh juice. His meeting might take a while.”
She is getting on my last nerve. I shake my head.
“No thank you.” I respond.
She smiles at me and looks away typing on her keyboard a little too fast and a little too loudly. She might break the keyboard at this rate. From where I’m sitting she looks nervous. Is there something she knows that I don’t. These receptionists and gossip. I look towards the glass wall in front of me. The view is breathtaking. I would enjoy the view more if Chinyama could end his meeting and see me.
Whatever Chinyama is up to must be important if he is taking his time. Maybe I should not have come at all. I should not have bothered him. I shake my head and roll my eyes. Why am I feeling guilty? He is my husband and I am allowed to visit him when I want. Besides, I dressed up real nice for him. My yellow, knee length, body hugging dress leaves little to the imagination; with my killer nude heels and curly hair, I look amazing and I know he will appreciate the effort. Plus, I am wearing the necklace he got me from his trip.
I look towards his secretary and I catch her watching me. She looks away quickly and continues hitting her fingers on the sad keyboard. Her eyes look at me and back at her desk. Okay this is definitely weird. I should leave before this lady offers me a shot of tequila. I stand up from my seat and walk towards her. She sits up straighter. She is defintely weird. Gosh.
“Hey. “I start. “Uhmmm I will just take my leave.”
“Yes. Obviously my husband is really busy.”
“Yes ma’am.” She says
I narrow my eyes at her. She looks nervous. What kind of drugs is this lady on?
“Tell him I was here.” I tell her
“Do make sure he gets this.”
I place the lunch box bag on her desk.
“I will make sure he gets it.” She responds.
I turn to take my leave when the door behind the receptionist opens and out walks Chinyama. The receptionist freezes on her seat, her eyes looking at me. Chinyama laughs at something as he steps out, behind him, a woman in a loose, white, thigh length dress and silver sandals. She laughs as she plays with her hair, twirling the long blond strands around her finger. I notice her other hand griping his wrist. She whispers something that only he can hear and he laughs.
I shouldn’t be here. I should have stayed home and drank that chilled wine. I should… I should… I should…
Chinyama sees me and he stops, the woman behind him hits into his back. She notices me then, her smile fading.
I never thought in a million years I would ever see her again.
To be continued.