Tag Archive | African writers

The Copycats Among Us (part 3).

Read part 1 here!

Read part 2 here!

 

Elsie was seated opposite her boss, ‘Big Dog’, in his office the next day at 10am on the dot. He had beckoned for her to sit down on one of the chairs opposite him whilst he continued a conversation on his mobile phone.

The room looked and smelled expensive, with luxurious brown leather chairs, a bookshelf with leather-bound books and a large window which overlooked Abuja’s Central Business District. Elsie resisted the urge to remove her feet from her flat shoes so that she could sink them into the grey rug.

‘Yes, sorry about that, Elsie’ Big Dog said in his jovial deep voice as he dropped his phone on his desk. ‘I had to give my driver specific instructions on how to service my car’.

‘Oh. That’s alright, Sir’. Elsie still had no idea why her boss requested for this meeting, and she tried her best not to fidget in her seat. Despite wearing a blazer over her blue floral dress, she was starting to feel the chill of the airconditioner in the office.

‘Right. I’ll get straight to the point’. Big Dog cleared his throat. ‘I am fully aware of the bullying and harrassment you have endured whilst working with Bilkisu’.

Elsie opened her mouth, and Big Dog held up his hand, so she closed it right back. She actually did not know what she would have said, anyway.

Big Dog removed his glasses and rubbed his beard. ‘Don’t worry about how I found out or who told me. You’re not in any kind of trouble, okay? In fact, I’m impressed with the maturity you’ve displayed in handling the situation’.

‘Thank you Sir’, Elsie said, not knowing what else to say.

‘Have you heard of Axis Consultants?’ Elsie nodded. They were a startup company which was in the news regularly.

‘Good, good. They’re currently in the process of overhauling their activities. I met their MD last week at a conference and she asked me if I could recommend someone to be their new PR and Social Media Manager. I told her about you and she would like to discuss the job with you. Are you interested?’

Duhhh, yessssssss!!!! Elsie thought.

However, she sat up straight, cleared her throat and said, ‘Yes, Sir. I am very interested’.

Big Dog’s face lit up. ‘Good! Good!’. Their pay is comparable to what we earn in this organization. I have asked Ms. Ashione, the Axis MD, to to expect your call this morning’. He handed Elsie a business card. ‘They are looking for someone to take the position in 2 weeks’.

Elsie examined the expensive-looking business card which had ‘Axis’ emblazoned on it in black letters over a yellow background. Big Dog continued to speak. ‘I know your capabilities, so it would be a shame to lose you, but I know you will thrive over there’.

‘Thank you so much Sir!’ Elsie was no longer able to suppress her smile.

She walked out of the office moments later, resisting the urge to dance as she did so.

 

***

‘Thank God that’s been sorted out’, Big Dog mused.

He would have preferred to get rid of Bilkisu instead of Elsie. He regretted hiring Bilkisu (she was a nuisance), but his wife had harrassed him into hiring her younger sister to the point that his sanity had almost been at stake.

Big Dog stood up, smoothed down the wrinkles on his grey trousers and adjusted the sleeves on his long-sleeved white shirt as he walked to the window. He had not told his wife that Bilkisu had made a pass at him the previous year, and that her bullying of Elsie was probably a way of trying to get his attention.

Or maybe she was simply just a mean person.

Sighing heavily, he returned to his desk, put on his glasses and pressed a button on his intercom.

‘Mrs Onuorah? Please ask the Head of Human Resources to see me immediately. Thank you’.

He needed to know what his options were if he decided to fire Bilkisu at some point in the future. He put on his glasses and picked up the sheaf of papers in front of him.

He had an organization to run, after all.

 

***

‘I heard you’re leaving soon’.

It was two days after her meeting with the MD, and Elsie looked up to find Bilkisu standing in front of her desk.

‘Yes, I am’, Elsie replied. She had met with the MD of Axis Consultants for lunch the day before, who had offered Elsie the job on the spot. She had received the email with the offer of employment letter that morning. ‘I wanted everything to be confirmed before I told you in person’.

Bilkisu said nothing for a moment, as she tapped her long nails on Elsie’s desk. ‘Please make sure that you leave a detailed handing-over note before you leave. You can start working on it now’.

Actually, I’ve been working on my handing over note for almost a year, Elsie thought. It will take me only 10 minutes to review it.

Instead, she smiled and said, ‘Alright, I will start working on it now’.

Bilkisu nodded and walked into her office, her shoes making a clicking sound on the tiles, before she closed the door behind her.

 

***

Damn it.

Shit. Shit Shit.

Bilkisu rained silent curses on her Brother-In-Law. And on Elsie.

She had discarded her orange high heeled shoes in the middle of the office and was pacing angrily like a trapped wild animal. Her perfectly arched eyebrows where screwed up as she frowned.

What was the point of having the MD as your Brother-In-Law if he kept giving you work to do? He had reported her treatment of Elsie to his wife, her big sister, who had surprsingly taken her husband’s side.

‘Either step up your game, or you look for work elsewhere’, her sister had told her.

What rubbish.

Bilkisu conceded that she may have taken things too far with Elsie…and maybe she should not have tried to kiss Big Dog last year at the office barbeque…but surely, none of this was her fault, she reasoned. She was the last of 4 daughters of a wealthy Senator, as a result she was overindulged and carried an air of self-entitlement. She usually got away with doing the barest-minumum of work in any given situation.

But now the Elsie-Bitch was leaving, which meant that she would have to do actual work.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Bilkisu flung off her blazer which she wore over a multi-coloured Ankara print fitted dress. The blazer missed the chair and slid down to the floor, but she did not notice.

Why was life so unfair?

Stepping over her shoes, she walked barefoot to her desk, sat down and stared at her computer’s screen without actually seeing anything.  She would go through the handing over note that the Elsie-bitch was writing…maybe that would remind her of what work she was supposed to be doing in this office.

Bilkisu reached into her top drawer, ignoring the files in front of her, and brought out a bottle of red nail polish. She began to paint her finger nails, an activity which always put her in a better mood.

Work would just have to wait.

***

Two weeks later, Elsie lay on her sofa wearing black shorts and a grey ‘Sesame Street’ T-shirt, reliving the going-away party her colleages had thrown for her that Friday. It was a simple but colourful affair, and she enjoyed it more because Bilkisu had taken the day off.

Tunji was out of the country for a conference in London, but he had called her to wish her good luck on her new job, which was nice.

As she thought about what life held in store for her, Elsie’s phone beeped. A message from a UK number.

Tunji.

‘E., I will wait for you to work for a month in your new office before I ask you out again. I hope I’m observing the right protocol. T’.

Elsie laughed, her first real laughter in weeks. She alreay knew that she would say yes when he asked, but for now, her mind was only on her new job.

 

The End.

 

©Ivie M. Eke 2017.

 

(Thanks for reading! I know a lot of people can relate to being in toxic work environments, which is why I decided to come up with this story. Best wishes).

 

 

 

 

I Love Music: The Mary J. Blige Edition.

 

Mary_J_Blige_-_The_Breakthrough

Image: wikipedia.com

 

Mary J. Blige is an American RnB singer whose first albulm, ‘What’s The 411?’ was released in 1992.

 

5 Reasons Why I’m A Mary J. Blige Fan:

  1. Her vocals are top-notch and could put you in either an upbeat mood or a melancholy state of mind (which are quintisential effects of RnB music).
  2. The video for her song, ‘Family Affair’ featured Dr. Dre (the hardcore and generally angry-looking Rapper) dancing…and even smiling. Miracles do happen.

 

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Dr. Dre. Image: Pinterest.

 

3. She was the queen of blonde and red wigs long before Beyonce made her presence known on the music scene.

4. I remember watching a very candid interview of hers years ago where she said that she’d had to make a deliberate effort to change her circle of friends and acquiantances because they were toxic and encouraged negativity in her life. This has resonated deeply with me up till this day.

5. Even though I generally enjoy her music from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, Mary J. Blige’s music from any era embodies the core of rhythm and blues which shape classic RnB songs.

 

My favourite Mary J. Blige songs are:

Real Love.

Everything.

-I’m going Down.

-Not Gonna Cry.

-No More Drama.

-Family Affair.

One (with U2).

-As (with George Michael).

911 (with Wyclef Jean).

-Be Without You.

-Just Fine.

-All That I Can Say.

 

Are there any Mary J. Blige fans out there? Let me know in the comments!

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Ivie.

 

***All videos are from Youtube***

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking On Eggshells. 

‘Walking On Eggshells’, my short story collection is available on Amazon and Okada Books! 

 

Hip Hop.

Catchy word play that doesn’t stop.

That’s how one could define Hip Hop.

But if Rappers didn’t swear non-stop,

Would they still make hits, or just flops?

I’m here for the heavy baselines when the beat drops,

And the intelligent lyrics which make my heart stop.

Words about life, hardships and running from the cops,

It’s quite a change from listening to sweet pop.

I’m not a Rapper, I don’t drive drop-tops,

I don’t wear Gucci, I just wear flip-flops.

But I can marvel at the excesses and bejewelled cups,

And at the money for private jets they cough up.

Biggy Smalls and Tupac: they were at the top,

The list of legends is too long; I really can’t name-drop.

At home, in your car or even at the barbershop,

You’ll find youself nodding when you hear that Hip Hop.

Written by

©Ivie M. Eke 2017.

Excerpt from ‘The Green Fridge’.

‘The Green Fridge’ is the last story in my collection, ‘Walking On Eggshells’.

 I wanted to write about a marriage where the love had fizzled out, and where the couple could no longer articulate to each other why they were unhappy. They would rather focus on mundane activities, such as buying a new fridge. 

‘Walking On Eggshells’ is available on Amazon and Okada Books.

Please get your copies and share this post with your friends.

Happy reading!

Ivie.

Ivie’s Musings: Money, Money, Money!

Hey, Everyone!

In today’s newsletter, I daydream about what it would be like to be super-rich. You can read it here.

Don’t forget to subscribe after reading!

Ivie.

Short Story: The Copycats Among Us (Part 1).

Elsie stood at the entrance of the conference room, observing the spectacle before her.

It was almost 10am. The executive meeting was supposed to have started at 9:30am but was running late because the Big Dog (a nickname for the MD-which he endorsed) was tied up in a Skype call with their London office.

Elsie had just returned from the restroom and had reached the entrance of the conference room when she heard someone say, ‘…and that’s how I came up with the pitch to expand our market to Lagos’.

Bilkisu, Elsie’s supervisor was the person who uttered these words to her rapt audience of fellow executives at Primrose Management Consulting Ltd.

This statement was news to Elsie because Bilkisu, in the two years Elsie had worked with her, hadn’t come up with a single innovative or original idea.

Elsie stared at Bilkisu, while she was still rooted to the spot. Bilkisu wore a skirt suit which was an eye-watering shade of orange, her hair was slicked back into a Brazilian-weave assisted ponytail, and she wore an extraordinary amount of jewelry. Else usually felt like a dowdy 90-year old woman beside her when they went out for client meetings.

As a supervisor, Bilkisu was very hands-off, barely giving Elsie’s pitches or reports a cursory glance when she presented them. Elsie always felt like she was doing something wrong: nothing she wrote or researched ever seemed to be up to Bilkisu’s standards.

‘Elsie, I’m sure you must be very proud of your Madam’s new ideas’ said Tunji, the Head of Finance.

The words brought Elsie back from her reverie.

She smiled and took a step into the conference room, looking at Bilkisu, who couldn’t seem to make eye contact with her.

‘Yes, I’m very proud of her’ Elsie said, as she took her seat opposite them.

Tunji smiled-Elsie knew that being her friend, he was aware of the true nature of things. Bilkisu had the decency to look uncomfortable.

The air in the conference room was very stale due to the Abuja heat. There was no electricity and the generators had developed an unidentified fault. The windows were open, but very little breeze blew in.

‘Yes, I’m very proud of her’, Elsie repeated, as she used a document to fan herself vigorously. She was glad that she had worn a short-sleeved blouse with her grey trousers. She was also impressed with herself for saying the words with a straight face.

Tunji and Bilkisu continued to make conversation and the other occupants of the room-Brian the Head of Legal and Kofo the Head of Human Resources-continued with a conversation of their own.

Elsie was alone in their midst but she did not mind, she had her thoughts to keep her company.

She observed Bilkisu’s facial expression as she spoke earnestly to Tunji. Bilkisu tended to have a constant look of being constipated; Elsie suspected that it was meant to be her ‘sexy’ look.

Bilkisu was only three years older than her, but you would never know with the way she carried on, Elsie mused. At age 27, this was Elsie’s first job after she had completed her National Youth Service. So far, it was her monthly salary alerts which motivated her to come to work each day, and not the job itself.

A bracelet on Bilkisu’s wrist caught Elsie’s attention-it was silver with the word ‘believe’ engraved on it. Elsie stared at it for a while, remembering when she had worn the exact bracelet about 2 months ago. Bilkisu had asked her where she had bought from, and muttered a disdainful ‘oh, ok’ when Elsie said she bought it from Primark, the U.K. clothing store known for its affordable (or cheap, depending on who you asked) clothing.

Now, staring at the bracelet on Bilkisu’s wrist, Elsie suddenly felt light-headed.

She thought about all the time she had wasted wondering what she was doing wrong, when in fact it now appeared that she was doing everything right.

Why else would Bilkisu take credit for her own ideas, or buy the exact bracelet which she had looked at with disdain when she had worn it, thought Elsie.

No, she was doing everything right.

Elsie smiled.

She realized that she was no longer in awe of Bilkisu.

***

Bilkisu felt cornered.

She had been so absorbed in telling Tunji the story of her “successful pitch” that she had not noticed that Elsie was standing at the doorway.

Why did she walk so damn quietly, anyway? Maybe she was wearing those cheap rubber-soled shoes again, Bilkisu thought.

She saw no harm in taking credit for the successful pitch-it was a team victory after all.

Bilkisu had almost started to believe that the story she told Tunji was true. His face gave no indication that he doubted her; he had nodded and responded politely.

Bilkisu couldn’t help herself: despite Tunji making it clear years ago that he wasn’t interested in a relationship with her, she kept trying to get his attention, to conjure up his interest in her.

The conference room was quiet, except for the sound of muted conversation by their other colleagues. Bilkisu suddenly felt Elsie’s eyes on her wrist. She looked down and saw the ‘believe’ bracelet, the same one she had sneered at when Elsie wore it some months ago.

She quickly covered the bracelet with her right hand, but Elsie had already seen it. Elsie said nothing, but merely stared at Bilkisu, who resisted the urge to squirm.

When Bilkisu had traveled to London for a week-long break the previous month, her first urge was not to take advantage of the warm August weather to do some sight-seeing. Rather, she took the tube to the Primark store on Oxford Street, near Tottenham Court Road. She had walked into the store with single-minded determination and taken the escalator up to the jewelry section, where she picked up the bracelet for herself. It had cost £5.99.

Bilkisu couldn’t explain why she needed to buy the bracelet so badly. All she knew was that after she saw Elsie wearing it, she couldn’t take her mind off it. She knew that she would not rest until she had bought the bracelet for herself.

Bilkisu didn’t know why she disliked Elsie so much. She was pleasant enough, and pretty in an obvious way. However, since Elsie joined the firm as her subordinate, Bilkisu had derived perverse pleasure in being the most unhelpful supervisor that anyone could have.

It was bad enough that the MD now insisted that Elsie should attend managerial meetings.

Imagine that!

 

(Part 2 will be on the blog next week!).

 

Written by

©Ivie M. Eke 2017