It was a very sunny afternoon. And even though the AC was on full blast, I was feeling very hot. Whether it was the nervousness I felt in anticipation of the up coming interview or the fact that I had trekked under the hot scorching sun for over 10 minutes, I really couldn’t say. My palms were sweaty and the makeup on my face was already baked with dried up sweat. Even without looking at a mirror, I knew my face was a mess. Definitely not on fleek. To make matters worse, my throat was parchy. The thirst for water was burning my throat.
I stared longingly at the water dispenser placed at a corner of the office.
“Dem no even put disposable cup on top the dispenser sef. Stingy people” I thought to myself.
“Oga says you should give him 10 minutes to finish his phone call, and then you can come right in” the receptionist said, jeering me out of my thoughts.
“Oh. Thanks” I say to the receptionist, staring at his shoes.
O boy. This shoes are real Italo o! Omo, they must be paying him well, for him to be able to afford such expensive shoes. God please, let me get this job o.
Praise and I had gone to Uncle Bukky’s 40th birthday party. After all the eating and parrying, we went to wish him a happy birthday once again and take our leave. It was getting late, and Asese was quite far from Bourdillon Estate.
Uncle Bukky is a favourite. A very busy and successful furniture maker, Uncle Bukky was an “abu je bu da nu”. I knew he was going to bless me. You know what I mean, don’t you? In fact, I was banking on the blessing. Twas the reason why I went to borrow transport fare from Odun to attend the party. Praise was particularly intent on seeing him because she knew he would throw her over his shoulders and tickle her mercilessly. And of course, he would give her money for ice cream. If there was an award for the best Uncle, Uncle Bukky would win the award. Back to back.
“Big Daddy!” Praise squealed joyfully, running into his arms.
“Ha, Solape” Uncle Bukky greeted me whilst settling Praise on his shoulders.
“E ti fe ma lo abi? Duro di e, Ore mi a gbe yin de Berger.” He said
“Okay Sir.” I replied sneering at Praise who was doing me ‘ntoor!’ from the comfort of Uncle Bukky’s shoulder.
“Aunty mi ni pe o di November ki e to lo fun service yin?” Uncle Bukky asked.
“Beeni Sir. November ni won ma mobilize Batch B” I replied.
“So what are your plans in the interim? November is about five months away.”
“Well, I’m thinking of going back to….” I started to say.
“Will you like to work?” He asked, interrupting me.
“Yes” I replied.
“Good” He said. “Will talk to a couple of my friends.
That was two weeks ago.
“Excuse me,” I say to the receptionist. “Please,Where is the restroom?”
“Right there”. He replies pointing at a door behind me.
“Thanks” I reply, making my way to the restroom.
I quickly lock the door behind me and use my hand to scoop water from the tap at the wash hand basin to my mouth. I cannor come and go an allow thirst to kill me. Hurriedly, I use toilet roll to dab my face,whilst simultaneously applying some of my Classic Creme to Powder and a fresh coat of Classic Rubywoo lipstick.
“There, you are all good to go now. Go get it girl! See me giving myself hope o. Well, If I don’t, who will?” I say inwardly, giving myself a mental pat.
The issue of thirst been done away with, I sashay back to the reception with full confidence. Here, I’m informed by the receptionist that I can go in to see the Chairman now.
Omo, my newly found confidence deserted me.
Making the sign of the cross and a silent prayer, I knock at the door of the Chairman’s office.
“Come in” a loud voice bellowed from within.
Jaysus! The office was beautifully decorated. I felt like I had stepped into a Hollywood movie scene. Taking a quick glance round the office, it became immediately apparent that Alhaji Balogun the CEO of Stallion Media Consultancy, was a lover of arts.
“Good day Sir” I say shakily. I suddenly felt cold. Whether it was fear or the effect of the AC, I dinnor know.
“Have a seat” Alhaji Balogun replied looking up from his Mac Book.
“I have a party to attend with my wife in the next 40 minutes, so this will be very brief. But for starters, do you know what we do here?” He asked.
“Yes” I say. “Stallion media consultancy is into the creation of paid adverts, public relations consultancy, image branding, damage control and……”
“Ha!” Alhaji exclaimed excitedly. “You took your time to do some research on us. That’s interesting.”
Looking at his Mac Book, he continued. “I can see from your CV that you read Mass communication. Let us talk about advert copywriting”.
We proceeded to talk for a few minutes.
“This is good.” He said, clearly impressed. “You are not just another pretty face,you have the brains to go with it”
“Thank you Sir” I replied, blushing profusely.
“So, lets talk about …..” He was interrupted by the sound of the door opening.
A very beautiful gorgeously dressed woman marched in like the hounds on hell were on her heels. Obviously in her early or mid thirties, she had her head covered with one of those veils that are common to muslim women.
“Ha! Alhaji. Ile mo ba e lo ni. Oshi to ma se lo office re abi?” She exclaimed.
“Alhaja! Don’t even start. Aburo Bukola re, o wa se interview ni o”. Alhaji said, trying to calm his wife down.
At this point Mrs. Marcher or should I sat Alhaja turned to look at me.
“Hei! Sango o! Oko Oya! Ina lo ju, ina le nu” Alarm bells were already ringing in my ears.Her eyeballs were like wild coals of fire. “God abeg o!”
“Ehn. Aburo Bukola, lo pon to yii. E wo bo se da bi igo coca-cola. She how fresh she is. I know you Alhaji. Mo mo pe alasewo ni e. She is exactly your spec. Interview koor. Se mo jo ode ni? Do I look like a full to you?” She shouted.
“Anyway abowoba lo oro e. I will come back to you. Hey you,” She screamed, hitting my laps “ashewo, gbo oko gbo oko, husband snatcher, ashewo ten kobo, you are the one dragging my husband with me abi? I will show you pepper today. Emi tinted Hajia fun ra mi. I will show you onion today. Bla bla bla, Ikoko baba Isa sun. Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla”.
Laps stinging, I tried to stand up, but she had crowded me, so there was no way for me stand.
“Ma, I- i-i don-n’t kn-no-know wa-wa-what” I begun to say, stammering.
Are you a Nigerian? Are you Yoruba? No? Have you ever heard about the different types of slaps? No? Well, lemme educate you. You see, we have Igbaju, Igbati, Ifoti, Iforun and the almighty Igbati Oloyi. Igbati Oloyi when translated to English language means a dizzying slap. It is a special kind of slap that is meant to leave you dizzy. This slap will reset your brain to factory setting. A fi bi igba ti caterpillar gun ori eyan koja. You will feel like a Caterpillar climbed on top of your head.
Alhaja gave me a resounding slap. “Sho ya were ni? I’m talking you are talking” She interrupted, shouting.
Her husband lurched for her and held her hands,trying to forestall any further violence against my person.
Me,I was just too shocked for words. My laps were stinging,my cheeks were burning and I was finding the entire scene unbelievable. I felt like I was watching a scene in a Nollywood blockbuster.(or should I say African Magic Yoruba? You know what I mean sha).
“Chai! My village people are definitely working full-time today o. All hands on deck,” I said to myself. “First, I forgot my #850 change with that yeye conductor. And now this mad woman just hit me because she thinks I’m dating her husband? Ha! Shogun laiye ni? Village people una do well o.
Village people= 1000
“Alhaji!! Leave me alone! Let me deal with this ashewo” she shouted,trying to wriggle out of her husband’s arms.
“Alhaja!” He shouted, getting angry himself. “Mi o like gbogbo iru embarrassment yi o. What’s the meaning of this nonsense? This is Bukola’s niece for crying out loud. Is it every girl you see me with that I’m dating? Bla bla bla”
I had seen the chance to make my escape. Carrying my bag, I made a dash for the door.
“Eeeeiss!” Alhaja screamed, wriggling outbof her husband’s hands. “Ibo lo n salo? Where are you running to?” She ran after me just as I was trying to wrench the door open.
Damn thing. The door heavy die. How come I didn’t notice it when I was going in?
Fiaaaaaaaam! was the next thing I heard.
Alhaja had, while trying to drag me back into the office ripped my chiffon shirt open at the back.
“Oloshi, Olori buruku aburo were …..” she was screaming.
The kind of slap I dealt her, shocked Madam into silence. Even her husband was surprised.
Madam held her cheeks and began to retreat with her back. “You kiss craze? kpokpo cigar dey worry you? Were se yin ni?” I asked, advancing on her.
She looked back to her husband for support, but the man just went back to sit at his desk. Stinging from the memory of the slap and outraged at the fact that I wouldn’t be getting the job after all, my anger knew no bounds.
Alhaja began to shout on her husband.
“So you can’t say anything? Alhaji e le soro abi? Omo alase wo gba mi leti! E le soro? Ha! Iya je mi. Emi tinted Hajia fun ra mi!”
She made to slap me again. I just calmly waited for her slap to land on my face before replying her with two.
“Madam,” I said. “Don’t be deceived o. I’m not as nice as I look. Mio nice rara. Mi o de kin se omo butty. I’m not one of all these posh lekki girls you can bully around. Omo Bariga ni mi. If you slap me once, I will respond with two. Mi o raye oshi.”
“I’m not dating your husband. Mi o fe Oko yin. As a matter of fact, this is the first time I’m seeing your husband. How you dare you slap me?” I continued, clearly getting worked up.
“In fact ehn, ti ile baba mi de si mi nisin. You see ehn, my father’s yard people have come. See this shirt you tore ehn, I bought it for 19,000k. Oya owo mi da?” I shouted, stretching out my palms.
I know what you are thinking. That I’m an exploiter, right? Don’t blame me. Her husband was cheering me on behind her. He had probably had enough of her nasty behaviour.
Apparently, this was Alhaja Balogun’s trademark. Tinted Hajia as she is fondly called by friends used to parade herself as one splufik Alhaja who doesn’t take any form of bullshit. She always felt threatened anytime she saw a woman with her husband. She had beaten up countless women, both in her husband’s office, at home, in the supermarket, etc.
“Don’t you wonder why there are only male staff in this office?” the receptionist who was giving me the load down went.
“Ehn! You mean as big as this office is, there are no female staff? Oga o!” I asked incredulously.
“Not even o. Alhaja was always coming around to beat up staff and accuse them of sleeping with her husband.” He replied.
“Mr Adio(the secretary) and I, were just betting on how many weeks you would last before tinted Haija would show you the tinted part of her” He said.
Ha! Nkan nbe!
So this woman turned has turned herself to Mayweather over a man who probably isn’t cheating on her. Wait sef, even if he is cheating on her sef, how many women does she plan beat? Is this how she will fighting upanddan for the rest of her life. Oga o! Weyrey tutu gba leleyi o. This wan’s madness is of timber and caliber.
‘But Anty, yourself get mind o. Na you be the first person wey go confront Alhaja, beat am back. You na strong person o” the receptionist said, jeering me out of my thoughts.
“Mogbe, so someone will just come and beat me over something I didn’t do and I will just fold my arms and be looking like ode, abi? Wuna try! Try that with the next girl mbok. We don’t do that where I come from. Mi o kin se omo lo le gbe si wa. I am not the child that runs back home to ask for what to reply an opponent. Nbanu. Ees nor in my upbringing. I remember those days, when Grandma would beat me and tell me to go back and fight anytime I came home crying that a child had beat me.”
Tinted Alhaja khoor, Weyrey Alhaja ni
P.S. My sincere apologies to those who don’t understand Yoruba or Pidgin English. It just so happens, that most of my thought processes take place in either Pidgin or Yoruba. E ma binu. Besides, e get some kain gist ehn, wey no sweet for Queens English. Na only Pidgin fit do am. Oh no! There I go again doing exactly the same thing I’m apologizing for. Please, pardon me. Las las, I go dey alright.