When people say your family members could be the spiritual forces behind your predicament, it’s hard to believe until you experience it.
Here I am, before the Head of Department, begging him not to fire me in this Buhari’s economy.
But then again, should I shock him and just resign? If I resign, I’ll have bragging rights on LinkedIn and start writing posts like ‘How I quit my 6-figure job’. I just won’t tell them it’s N102,000.
How much will my pension be, if I convert it to Dollars? Can I ball on it? Should I ask our Manager for a calculator? Will he stone me? Will I even see pension? Or should I keep begging? Or pretend to faint? Or run mad?
While all these thoughts were running through my head, the Manager suddenly shouted, “Answer me!”
Yep, I am definitely getting fired.
And my pension will be thirteen-five.
But let’s go back to the beginning so you can understand the story perfectly.
Three hours ago
My name is Feyitan and I work in the Trade Finance Department at a Nigerian bank from Mondays to Fridays. On weekends, however, Feyitan is a baby girl and this Saturday, I was getting my face beat to turn up at my uncle’s 50th birthday and party till I can’t stand.
I was sitting in my makeup artist’s chair when my phone vibrated. I looked at the caller ID and shouted, HEI JESOS CHRIST.
It was our Head of Department. How did this man find my personal number? Why is he calling on Saturday? Even God took a day off. Don’t these people read their own bible?
I picked up and coughed as I said hello into the phone, hoping he’d ask if I was sick. Omo, Baba point-blank just said, “Come to archives now. We’re looking for an LC file with a 1998 reference number for Reeds Global.”
Ah? 1998 file? When Abacha died? When did they born me, please? Why don’t these people like leaving the past in the past? Why will they need a file from that time? These people just want to stress my destiny. I’ll work from Mondays to Fridays and they’ll still want to collect my weekend. Not me, dears. I will attend this one.
“My mother just died, sir. Today is her burial”, I said into my phone. My makeup artist’s eyes widened because my mother was just in this room but that’s not my business. Is it her mother? Even my mother will agree that she’s dead so I don’t go to work today.
“Is that why I am hearing Naira Marley in the background”, he shot back and I screamed internally. “Get here now”, he instructed and ended the call.
I first removed my wig because what kind of life is this?
Archives Of Doom
The minute you step into our cursed archives, the spirit of dust and Nigerian suffering will descend on you in multiple folds.
Dusty cabinets everywhere. Wooden racks that they made when Lord Luggard was toasting Flora Shaw. Shelves that are waiting to fall on somebody’s head. Stacks upon stacks of files that reached the ceiling. And papers that were around when Nigeria did independence. Old things everywhere. Even the guard stationed here is old. Old things never pass away in this place.
I saw Anwuli, my office gist partner, with half of her hair braided and the other half loosely packed in a bun. She was bent over a dusty box so I couldn’t see her face but I knew she was frowning. She was supposed to go to dinner with the guy she’d been talking about all week but that’s clearly not happening again.
Just across from her, behind a shelf, was a very sleepy Papa. Papa is the oldest in our department and also a single father. When you work all day in this department and still have to go home to energetic children, you will sleep anywhere you can. I wanted to join him behind the shelf when our Manager pointed at one of the racks that was almost touching the ceiling and instructed me to start there.
Which place? I should be climbing railing? How will I climb there with this tight dress? So that shelf can fall on my head and when I die this man can toast babes at my service of songs?
“I don’t think the file would be there, sir”, I offered. I cannot climb and die. I still want to relocate to Canada. Nigeria is not my last bus stop.
“Check the place I asked you to check”, he directed and walked out.
I looked at the tall rack. Hay God! My pastor said this year was my year of high places but he didn’t say on top of racks in the archive o.
I moved to the rack and got ready to climb when a voice yelled, “You better calm down before your dress tears from under”. I didn’t have to turn around to know it was Yusuf, my work husband. Loveable but also very annoying.
I kicked off my shoes and started climbing. I had not climbed far when a bunch of files fell and slapped me across the face. My freshly beat face! HAY! Is that dust I taste? God, I know this is not the plan you have for me. I continued climbing when the rack started shaking. Wetin be dis?
It was when Anwuli started laughing like a crazy person that I jumped down.
“When your Ogas no fit spend on a digitized trade system in 2021”, she clapped her hands and a plume of dust rose. “But if it is retreat they want to go for in Dubai now, money go show”.
This was true. The Ogas at the top were currently on a 2-week retreat in Dubai enjoying fine dining while we’re going through this rigour, even though we had been asking for the automation for the longest time.
“This thing should sha not hinder my chances with marriage!”, Anwuli kicked a box out of frustration. “1998 file! Someone is asking for 1998 file on a Saturday! For what?”, Yusuf contributed as he flipped through a bunch of files. “And if you check it well now, the file is in someone’s locker. Rubbish”.
“You no go climb your mountain? Before Ojuyobo comes again.” Anwuli was referring to our Manager. When he gets angry, his eyes would almost pop out of his socket, hence the nickname. I looked at the rack again. If I die nko? Ha. I am not climbing anything o.
We heard footsteps and everybody rushed to their areas before the Manager marched in with an intern behind him.
“Sir, I have malaria”, the intern pleaded but he just pointed to a shelf and told her to start there before he walked out again. Anwuli rolled her eyes and mumbled, “My dear, better come and look because I must not miss this date. Another husband must not leave me.”
We all laughed and faced our files.
After about three hours, the Manager barged in asking us to leave the archives and upturn all the lockers in the office. Yusuf gladly dumped the file in his hand and rushed out of the archives like something was chasing him. I almost giggled but this Manager that’s doing like someone stole his wife should not go and give me a query.
While searching multiple lockers, the manager suddenly screamed my name asking for the key to my locker. My eyes grew wide and the room went silent. We all knew nobody was allowed to simply lock their lockers without having the key around. Where was my key? Hay! Why does problem like following me?
I stammered and lied that my key was in my car but God knows I just needed to buy time. I rushed out to my car and started shedding hot tears. If crying were an Olympic sport, I should be bringing home gold medals every 4 years. I was about to go back into the office to surrender myself for sacking when I found the key in my cup holder.
My smile could not have been wider. I had that happiness that comes when a man goes on his knees and looks up at you. I rushed back into the office proudly holding the key and confidently opened my locker. Search it!
I looked into my locker and my smile vanished. Like after a man goes on his knees and you find out he just wants to tie his shoelaces. That disappointment. Because the file we were all looking for?
Was sitting in my locker.
And that’s how I ended up in the Manager’s office, facing query and a possible dismissal with my facebeat on 100%. I was begging for forgiveness and of all the times in the world to call, my mother called then.
“Isn’t that your mum that just died”, I looked at the caller id and shook my head. “I call my landlady mummy, sir. My real mother has died”.
He told me to pick up the call and put it on speaker. As soon as I did, my mother yelled from the other end, “Feyi! Why are you working on Saturday? Won’t you go to party and find a man to marry so you can give me grandchildren? Or don’t you want to born the way I born you?”
Manager: So, it is not your landlady?
My mummy is also my landlady, sir.