Tag Archive | nigeria

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).

 

 

 

 

Short Story: The Copycats Among Us (Part 2).

(Read part 1 here!).

Bilkisu was the Head of Public Relations, and Elsie was a mere Assistant Manager. No other department had an Assistant Manager present at those meetings.

The MD was making such a fuss because Elsie had written a few good reports. Bilkisu seethed every time she thought about it…and also felt very uneasy. She did not feel so secure in her position in the firm anymore. She had only gotten the job anyway because Big Dog’s wife, Binta was her elder sister.

Bilkisu therefore went out of her way to play down Elsie’s achievements, even though she secretly coveted her creativity in coming up with pitches for clients and the ease with which she wrote reports.

Much to her annoyance, Elsie seemed unaffected by her schemes, and always had a serene look on her face, which Bilkisu really wanted to scratch off with her long nails. She could feel her resentment for Elsie growing every day inside her, and she did not know how to quell it.

Even the mere sight of her was enough to put Bilkisu in a bad mood.

Bilkisu was a self-proclaimed fashionista, and it irked her that the men in their office seemed drawn to Elsie with her simple outfits, barely-there makeup and unimaginative braided hairstyles.

Now she just sat there, staring at her, even smiling.

‘What could be making her smile?’ Bilkisu wondered.

She found herself fidgeting from the intensity of Elsie’s steady gaze. The power had come back on, and the air conditioners were doing a good job of rapidly cooling the conference room, and yet she still felt sweat dripping down her back.

Just as Bilkisu was thinking of an excuse to leave the conference room, Mr. Bala, the MD bustled in.

‘Sorry I’m late guys, let’s start the meeting!’ he said jovially. ‘Big Dog’ had the cuddly physique of a bear and the harmless features of a puppy, but was very astute and shrewd as a boss. No staff member ever thought to underestimate him.

He took his seat at the head of the table.

Bilkisu and Elsie continued to stare at each other, their mutual dislike simmering in the air.

***

‘They say that imitation is the best form of flattery’.

‘I knew that you wouldn’t take this seriously’ Elsie chided Tunji. It was 7:43pm, and they were replaying the events of the work day.

‘I really don’t know why she told me the pitch was her idea’ Tunji mused.

Elsie adjusted her phone, cradling it on her right shoulder as she dished left-over jollof rice from the pot on to a small plate. Her sister Ella had prepared the meal and it looked and smelled delicious, but she only had an appetite for a small portion of food.

‘You know that she really likes you’ Elsie said. Tunji remained silent, and Elsie sensed that he was smiling.

Tunji had wanted to date Elsie since her first week at the firm, but dating a colleague just felt wrong to her. They became friends nonetheless and were very professional with each other at work, but he made it a routine to ask her to be his girlfriend once a month, which amused her.

‘So, what do you advise me to do?’ she asked him. ‘Should I start looking for a new job?’

Tunji thought for a moment. ‘Honestly, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. You are a great PR professional, but I know that as long as Bilkisu works at our firm, you will not see considerable growth in your role’.

‘It also helps that she’s Big Dog’s in-law’. Elsie laughed, even though she did not find the situation very funny.

‘Don’t worry about that. Big Dog isn’t stupid. He knows your value, which is why he insisted you attend management meetings’.

‘Well…I will update my CV and begin my job search again’.

‘Be very shrewd about it-you wouldn’t want Bilkisu walking in on you when you browsing for jobs on nigerianjobs.com’ Tunji warned.

‘I’ll keep that in mind’ Elsie answered. They said their goodbyes and ended the call.

Just as she was leaving the kitchen, a text message from Tunji appeared on her screen.

‘The good thing is that you would finally say yes to becoming my girlfriend if you worked somewhere else. T.’

Elsie shook her head and smiled at her phone. She did not send a reply, and she knew that he did not expect her to do so.

She suddenly had no appetite, and she covered the plate of rice and placed it in the fridge.

Elsie walked back to her living room and sat down heavily on the sofa, suddenly feeling very tired. Ella was out on a date with her new boyfriend, so Elsie had the flat to herself. The sultry vocals of Corinne Bailey Rae’s ‘Put your records on’ played on the radio, helping to put her in a meditative state of mind.

‘I need to protect myself’ she thought. Elsie understood that office politics was to be expected at the workplace, but she knew that she would not win a battle of wills against Bilkisu. She rubbed her eyes, and ran her hands over her face.

A sudden thought came into Elsie’s mind, and she stood up abruptly and walked into her bedroom. She opened her jewelry box which was on top of her dressing table. Nestled among her colourful earrings and necklaces lay her silver ‘believe’ bracelet. She slipped in on her left wrist and stretched out her arm to admire it.

Elsie noted wryly that she was long overdue for a manicure-she had started to bite her nails again and they were in an atrocious state.

She closed her eyes and envisioned herself somewhere peaceful, where the copycats could not get to her.

Just as she started to drift off, her phone beeped with the text message alert.

Elsie picked up her phone and read: ‘Please see the MD by 10am tomorrow. Thanks. Mrs Onuorah, PA to the MD’.

‘What have I done now?’ She thought.

Elsie rubbed her eyes, not looking forward to work the next day.

Written by

©Ivie M. Eke 2017
(Thanks for reading! Part 3 will be posted soon!).

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.

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

 

 

 

Next Time.

Next time,

You will put your foot in the water,

Gently,

Slowly.
You will let the water get to your ankle,

Before putting your second foot in.
No more diving into the deep end,

With eyes closed,

With your heart pulsating in your hands.
The love will be restrained,

More discerning.
Maybe it will colour the quality of the love,

This new restraint.
Maybe it won’t.
Next time, though,

You will be determined 

Not to let the love break you.

Written by

©Ivie M. Eke 2017.

My Short Story Collection!


‘Walking on eggshells’ is available on Amazon and Okada Books.

Please make a purchase and share this post with your friends on social media as I work on more stories.

Have a great weekend!

Ivie.

SELF-LOVE: 10 THOUGHTS FOR MY YOUNGER SELF.

I recently stumbled upon a picture of myself from my days in the University in the early 2000s. What I saw was a beautiful young woman wearing black jeans and a top, posing awkwardly for one of the school’s numerous photographers. On the outside, I looked slim and beautiful. But I remember that I always felt self-conscious about my looks due to comments made about me being ‘too skinny’ and my general low self-esteem at the time.

 

I have decided to write 10 things which I wish I could go back and tell myself in the hope that a young woman (or man!) who gets to read this would find these thoughts useful:

 

  1. Love and accept your physical features just the way they are. If you think people have snarky things to say about you being ‘too skinny’ when you’re a size 8, wait until you become a size 12. The same people will act as if you have become an elephant in a fitted dress.

 

  1. Do not be discouraged by setbacks, such as not getting admission into the University which was your fist choice, or studying a course which was your second choice. All these experiences are preparing you for wonderful things in your future.

 

  1. It is not a bad thing to set standards for your relationships. Even if not maintaining your standards leads to a breakup, know that it is not the end of the world. Get up, learn your lessons, grow from the experience and try again.

 

  1. Try to set realistic career goals when choosing your course for University admission. Focus on what you are good at rather than on what seems cool.

 

  1. Stop trying so hard to sustain blood-sucking friendships. Having numerous friends is a good thing, but having a few good friends is even better.

 

  1. Take more interest in vocational skills, such as sewing and baking. Such skills will come in handy and they will make you a more valuable human being.

 

  1. Do not be too cautious-go to that party, have fun! There will come a time when you will look back and wish you had just gone for it.

 

  1. It is okay to be beautiful. There is no need to hide behind baggy clothes and a plain face. Dress nicely, put on some lip gloss, and take care of your skin.

 

  1. Do not be intimidated by the success of others or feel that your contemporaries are ahead of you in life. Your life is your own, and you will reach your life’s milestones at the right time.

 

  1. Do not let your past experiences (relating to family, friendships, relationships, school and work) shake your faith in God. In a world which is full of uncertainties, His love is the ultimate constant.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Written by

©Ivie M. Eke 2017.

A review of ‘Walking On Eggshells’ on bellanaija.com. 


I recently requested that my book, ‘Walking On Eggshells’ should be reviewed by the folks at Okada Books for the Literally What’s Hot column on bellanaija.com, one of Nigeria’s most popular websites.

You can read the review here.

Aside from misspelling my name somewhere and me disagreeing with a point or two, I enjoyed the honesty of the review. Please read the review and buy the book as well so you can form your own opinions!
Thank you.
Ivie.

A Little Survey Which Would Be A Big Help!

1ly1ie

 

Hey, Everyone!

 

I have been writing on this blog for almost a year and a half: amazing!

 

What started as a hobby has become a full-time passion project that I use to express myself positively.

 

I am always working to improve the quality of posts on this blog. I would appreciate it if you took this 5-minute survey about your user experience with this blog and your suggestions for improvement.

 

You can find the short questionnaire here.

 

Thank you so much for your support!

 

Ivie.