For all the stress you put me through

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“You are fired!” Ene blinked twice as she stood there, baffled. Hearing her boss scream those words to her, she stammered to:  “Sir,  I… I.. I.. don’t get you.” She all but stuttered through the words. “I’m not going to repeat myself. Now, out of my office!!!”

She was a little bit repulsive at first but she realized that she would only make the situation worse. ‘I’m waiting, young lady’ he said impatiently. After seeing his determined, unflinching attitude, she did not need to be told twice. She quietly picked her bag and staggered out of his office .

She almost bumped herself into the door. She could hardly believe that she would experience such a cruel treatment from her boss after so many years of hard work and resilience. As she waited for the cab she called to arrive, her mind wandered to the events that led to just unfolding scenario.

She had woken up very early that morning. She made early preparations so she could beat the Lagos traffic. The recent ban on her favourite means of transportation, the tricycle, also widely known as ‘keke’ irked her. The government had just placed a ban on tricycle and motorbike which made a lot of working people leave their abode earlier than usual. Ene wasn’t left out. She had to drop her 10-year old son at his school before proceeding to her work place. Unfortunately, on this particular Thursday, luck was not exactly on her side. She had a lot of trouble getting to work. After she dropped off Dennis at his school, the heavens decided to open up on her with a heavy downpour, though she was already in a cab. The traffic that had brewed ahead of her was nothing to write home about. Eventually she got to her work place around 10:50. about two hours late.

She knew it was going to be war between her employer and herself. Ene was the Executive Assistant to the CEO of an Advertisement Agency and her boss was an arrogant and egocentric man. Luckily for her, her boss was in a meeting when she got there. While preparing for her boss’s twelve o’clock meeting, she discovered that she had forgotten the required documents at home. She knew her boss would not spare her for that. When he realized that such a mistake actually happened, he showed her no mercy during the meeting. Even when she scaled through and got them the account of a multimillion deal, she was still fired.

A honk made Ene snap out of her reverie. She looked up to see the cab in front of her. “Mum you’re early today, and it’s just Monday. Are you feeling well? Is anything the matter?”

As Ene looked at her son, her handsome little boy, the reason she was in the kitchen right now, the only person she’d striven so hard to get it together for, all her worries disappeared into the thin air when she heard his voice.

“Hmm! No, nothing is wrong. I’m perfectly alright, but I had a little issue at work so, I’ll be home for a while” she managed to smile at him. “Common mum, I’m ten, not two. So, I can read your face. And I know that all is not well. So, tell me what’s going on?”

Ene sighed. This boy isn’t going to let her on the hook anytime soon, she thought. “Weeell,” she dragged, “I’ve been fired.”

The little boy’s face turned into a grimace. “Oh no. Then he turned amiably to his mother: “I’m sure you’ll get another job very soon, a better one at that.” “I pray so,” Ene responded as she turned off the stove. “Now, go and change your school uniform and come have your lunch. I made porridge.”

The boy skipped out of the kitchen while Ene made a move to dish out the food. Days passed by and Ene still hadn’t got any job. And she knew that if she didn’t secure a job soon, she would be in trouble.

She scanned through her phonebook. Maybe she could find someone who might favour her. But no one seemed promising. She frowned as she dropped the phone and decided to run little errands. She was out of foodstuffs at home and Denis might soon be home crying for food. She scanned through the beverages aisle. Everything seemed to have increased in price, or so she thought. She realised she had to manage her resources or she would be rendered penniless.

“You are not a kid, so why should you be picking children’s milk”? Ene whipped her head back to catch sight of the intruder and she almost died of shock. There stood the main source of her problem, Wole Coker. She hissed and picked a can of milk. She tried walking away but his firm grip on her won’t let her go. “Ah, Ene you haven’t changed one bit, still the feisty girl I knew back in the university of Lagos.”

She snatched her hand away and gritted her teeth. “And you are still the same fool who thinks he’s the it! Now, out of my way.”

As she lay on her bed that night, sleep eluded her. It was all because of the handsome devil she had met earlier. She tried to forget him: he was a blast from her tragic past. But the picture, the memory wouldn’t bulge. So, she let her mind wander to the year it all began.

It was September 2009. She had just gained admission into the University of Lagos. She was new to Lagos. She was from Abeokuta in Ogun state and she had chosen Lagos University in opposition to her parents who wanted her to go to Babcock University. She was the first child and only daughter of her father. Her mother had died during her birth.

Left her in the hands of her stepmother who did everything to avoid her at home and a father who was ever so overprotective of her, she felt that escaping to Lagos was her only chance at freedom and coming out of her shell.

It was during her orientation that she met Kike, an outgoing girl originally from Lagos who introduced her to her nemesis Wole Coker. They had been introduced at a party for the freshmen.  He was in his final year. He was also very popular on campus. He was so full of life and enjoyed partying. He literally showed interest in the timid Ene. Ene who had never got that kind of attention in her life fell stupidly for his charms until he took everything away from her. She found out she was pregnant during the summer holiday after her first year.

When she tried to reach him through his friends, Ene found out he had travelled almost immediately after graduation. She was against abortion. With the influence of her wily stepmother, her father disowned her. She had to drop out of school and do menial jobs like waitress or salesperson in other to survive, until she met her breakthrough.

She met Mrs Adanijo in one of the supermarkets she had worked during this time. She took interest in her and helped her through the rest of her pregnancy and also helped put her back in school. Mrs Adanijo was and is still the only relative she knows. The woman helped her secure her last job and she was still too ashamed to tell her she had been fired. The woman had even offered Ene her car because she seldom went out.  Ene refused the offer. She didn’t want to do anything she would later regret.

She took a glance at the wall clock at the other end of her room. Her eyes widened in shock. It was already past 3 am. She had wasted the better part of her night thinking about her sorrowful past.

“Ene, when are you going to tell me you no longer have a job?” Ene almost dropped her phone. She looked at her son who only shrugged. There and then, she knew he was the one who told her. “Ene answer me o,” the woman retorted. “Mum, see I don’t want to worry you, I’m looking for…… Mum, let me call you back. There’s someone at the door.”

“Whaaaat are you doing here?” “And howww did you find me?”

Ene almost screamed at the man at her front door. “I’m a man with mission and I mostly get my way just like you’ve always known.” He pushed past her and entered into to the living room. His eyes bore into his miniature playing a video game. The boy dropped his game pad and flew into the arms of the man who he knew without anyone telling him is his father. “Oh how,  I’ve waited for this day to come. I can’t believe I got my Valentine gift already. Mum, thank you so much, I love you” the little boy rambled.

“Dennis, to your room” Ene snapped.

When the boy was gone she faced Wole. “Now, what are you doing here?” “As you heard my boy say, Valentine came early,” he replied with a smug grin. “That doesn’t answer my question,” Ene screamed at him. “I’m back for my family…”

He noticed Ene wanted to talk but he motioned for her to be silent while he continued. “….11 years ago, I didn’t know I’ll be travelling after graduation. It was all impromptu and there was no time for me to tell you. A little part of me believed you would have moved on because you were so beautiful and innocent. All these years while I was away you were always on my mind. I came back last December to head my father’s company and I decided to search for you. That was when I found out all you went through just because of my lustful desires. I am friends with your last boss.”

Ene’s eyes widened with this information. “Oh, don’t be surprised he was my friend in the secondary school, and yes, I made a deal with him to fire you so that I could have my grand entry into your life. Ah, about Denis?” he paused: “I went to his school and talked to him. My little boy was so happy. Don’t be surprised the boy is just like me. Your stepmom is in on this surprise as well. So, when I say I want my family back, I really d… ouch”, he rubbed his face “what was that for?”

She slapped him hard again. “That was for all the stress you put me through.” He drew her closer and gave her a tight hug. Raising her chin, he kissed her hard.

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