“Why is she not picking her calls?” Kelvin wondered aloud before lowering himself to a vinyl chair facing the pool, he placed the tumbler of vine juice he held on a stool.
He adjusted the earphones and used a finger to redial the number. He sat back anticipating the pick of his call.
“He…Hello.” She coughed.
“Hello Kath… can you hear me? Hello Katherine…”
“How do you feel now?”
“Me? I don’t actually know—awful.” She sniffed.
“Oh.” He sat up. “Have you had some medications?”
“Are you alone?”
“Hmm.” She coughed.
“Give me your address, you don’t sound fine.”
“No?” He went wide-eyed. “Give me your address. I’m not coming to eat you.”
“I… I know, but no.”
How could a woman be so adamant even in illness? He exhaled. “Tell me how do you feel?”
“I feel cold inside but very hot…outside. My extremities are cold.”
He wasn’t surprised, she sounded like a hydrophobic who had accidentally fallen into a well, little did he know at that moment, she had a duvet over her even her head was not exclusive, the hand that was not holding the phone was between her flexed knees.
“Sometimes when we take medications, it is like our condition is aggravated, relief might not be instant but it will eventually come.”
How come you know all that? Was what she would have asked save for her weak state.
“Okay then, since you don’t want to tell me your address, I pray that the good Lord heal you.”
“Amen.” Another surprise, she didn’t know he was a believer of God.
“Speedy recovery, Katherine. If you change your mind, the phone is on. Goodnight.”
He sighed. He thought illness made a person more gullible to attention and care. Why was Katherine so damn different! If a woman could be so firm in weakness, how about in strength?
He laughed as he recalled her bustling into his office on the day he wanted to accuse her a second time, he was sure she must have fought so hard not to point her warning finger at him.
There was something about her that worried him and tugged at him.
He sighed, stifled a yawn and gulped down his remaining juice. He stood and stretched before heading to the mansion that was proudly his.
“Good morning sir.”
“How relieved am I to hear from you. I have called severally this morning but the phone just rings and rings…”
“I sincerely apologize, sir. I freaked out when I saw fifteen missed calls when I awoke.” She sobered. “I was able to sleep after this localized throbbing in my head, just woke up and it is almost eleven! I hope you can pardon me for taking more time than I requested but I will be in the office as soon as I can.”
Kelvin chuckled. “Ease up, ma’am, I have a conscience I cherish so much. I will see you on Monday.”
She exhaled, relieved. “What other type of boss can one ask of?”
“A replication of me, a twin, triplet, maybe a quadruplet or probably a…”
Her laughter rang out, throaty at first but soft and infectious later.
He smiled, threw his head back and wished he could see her face. “I beseech you, Katherine, eat lunch today and take your medication.”
She laughed, knowing he was referring to her continual refusal to eat lunch.
“I don’t need you to laugh, chuckle or even giggle, promise, Katherine promise.”
“And even after?”
Kelvin laughed for he knew he was not going to get her on that.
“Do rest it all out.”
“I will. God bless you. Who is filling in for me?”
“Do extend my greeting.” She beamed, making a mental note to buy a gift of appreciation.
He moved his chair close and opened the book before him.
It was barely three minutes after the call with Katherine ended when the intercom rang. He pressed the receive button.
“Sir, the secretary of the research department is here with the comprehensive report you asked for.”
“File it with the rest, I will be asking for them later. Katherine sends a hello to you.”
“How is she?”
“I believe she will be better.”
“Who is the she?” The secretary queried with raised fixed eyelashes.
Precious ignored her, collected the report and went ahead to file it.
“Precious na—okay Miss Precious.” She cajoled. “Please, tell me who the she is.”
“Gossip, please carry your smile and questions to another side. I don’t have time for aimless talks. The next thing will be Precious said that, that that that is that, it will go from mouth to ear, nooo!” Precious told her in a shooing manner.
“Na the small post they give you de shack you?” She retorted.
Precious tipped her blazer by the shoulders. “I’m very proud of who I am and I’m sure if I exchange my post with you, you will be more than willingly to accept. Get out of my office now!”
She began to leave not prepared for the outburst and knowing the implication if the boss got a wind of their exchange besides she was now her senior colleague.
“Internet without connection!” Precious finalized and burst into laughter. She had learnt that from a niece.
Kelvin was done with his e-mails and it was time to delve into the reports, suddenly, he started to brainstorm. The bio data, Katherine’s specifically, if he had read it, he would have surprised her the night before.
He would really love to know what a surprise could do to her.
He did not know the password to such information, so he punched a number on the intercom to reach Precious.
“Good morning, Miss.” She saw Precious was engrossed in a file. “I will like to see Mr Sigismund though I have no appointment. I am a foreign investor.”
Precious looked up and her face glowed. “Aaaa!” She rounded the desk. “It’s so good to see you.” She hugged her.
Katherine chuckled at her enthusiasm. “You make me feel like have been gone for two years.”
Precious laughed even as she felt her face with her palm. “If I have my way, you will be gone for two weeks. You still look pale to me.”
“Am I glad you’re not the boss?” She set her bag on the desk and glanced at the adjoining lobby. “Is Mr Sigismund in?”
“Not yet, he will be attending to some appointment from home.”
She perched on Precious seat and gave a scrutinizing look at the open file. “Update me please.”
Before they parted an hour later, Katherine gave her a wrapped package.
A smile spread as he sighted her. “Look who we have here and she has taken over already.”
Katherine sprang to her feet. “Good morning, sir, how did the appointments go?”
She handed him the phone. “Thank you very much, sir.”
“Welcome back.” He gave her a card. “Check my schedule and see if I will be free so I can know how to honour the RSVP.”
He left for his office with a knowing smile. He had checked the bio data and had learnt all he wanted and more which included a rare coincidence which had motivated him to plan a surprise for her.
She was in the elevator with both the secretaries of the advert department and research department respectively. She was going to sign in a parcel for her boss at the reception.
“How come you’ve obtained so much favour from the boss, how do you seduce him?” Secretary to the Ad department, Anat asked.
Wetin person no go hear? Katherine took a lingering look at the questionnaire but made no attempt to reply. Baby faced, with make-up that made someone want to avoid going close to her for fear of getting stained. Her breasts looked like they were going to pop out any minute.
“Katherine, she is asking you.” Abiola, the other secretary seconded.
She glanced at her. The gown she had on was so tight that she wondered how she breathed. “What kind of question was that?”
“It doesn’t matter what kind of question, just answer.” Abiola replied
She looked from Abiola to Anat. “Don’t make me believe you’re jobless people.” She saw the light changed and headed to the door.
Abiola pulled her arm, stopping her. “And what do you mean by that?” She demanded with a face that reminded her of an emoticon with a scowl.
If they had eyes that did observe they wouldn’t have asked their silly question for she would never be in their category though they had same dressing code. “Go for what you need, girls, not what you want or probably drive you crazy.” Just then, the door slid open and she walked head high leaving her earlier companions stunned, so stunned that they remained till the door closed.
She placed the box on the table. “The IVs have been arranged in such a way I think will be convenient for you, you can check to see if there are any objections before I call the parties involved to give your approval.”
“Okay…” He looked from the box. “Take a seat, Katherine.”
“Have you been hearing the gossips that have been directed towards this floor?”
“Yes.” She said after a moment of thought.
“How do you feel?”
Katherine tilted her head and a smile graced her face. “I am going to answer your question with the lyrics of two Nigerian musicians.” She glanced at him. “One said – Let them say, he that has mouth, owns it. The other said -there is nothing one would do that people won’t talk, so it better one satisfy one’s conscience because you can never satisfy everybody’s no matter what one does.”
Kelvin beamed. “That was very comprehensive. So you listen to music?”
“That means you dance to sensible music.” He was inquisitive.
“It depends on your idea of dance, maybe and maybe not.” She shrugged with a smile.
“That means you’re a dancer.” He couldn’t help himself despite her diplomacy.
Katherine burst into laughter and her dimples became pronounced. She stood.
“Can I have a yes or no answer please?” He feigned firmness but it was laced with amusement.
She rolled her eyes. “You can’t have one please, excuse me.” With that she fled.
Kelvin burst into bouts of laughter for his curiosity and the response he got. He stood, picked the box and head for the sitting wing.
He reached for a remote for he wanted a music background.
Basirat knocked the door, waited and then opened.
Binta Adam had her legs crossed on the bed, she was clutching a teddy bear and reading a book.
“Hello, darling.” She plopped on the bed.
“Hello, mum.” She smiled at her.
She glanced at the sugar girl story book her daughter had been reading. “In a week, it is going to be your birthday, Bint, do you know that?”
“Yes, mum.” Binta replied with no amusement.
Basirat narrowed her brows. She observed her closely since she had expected her to jump bubbling with happiness. “You don’t seem happy.”
“I have no cause to be unhappy.” She placed her teddy on a lying position with its head on a pillow.
“Yes—yes, you don’t have any cause to be sad but Bint, you are not showing signs of happiness either.” Basirat stated.
Binta stood and placed the book she had been reading on the book shelf. “How?”
Her eyes followed her daughter’s every movement. “In time past, you did countdown to your birthday, you haven’t said the kind of dress you want to wear, where you will like to shop, how you want it celebrated and who you want invited.” She listed knowingly.
“That’s because I don’t want to celebrate my birthday.” Binta replied still standing.
Her eyes widened but was quick to recover as her body shook in laughter. She stood, held her hand and led her back to sit at the edge of the bed. “You’re joking right?” Basirat faced her. “I don’t need your response.” She said affirmatively still laughing.
She shook her head.
“Okay,” She exhaled. “Why?”
“I don’t know, mummy.” She looked up at her mother with sincerity in her eyes.
“Come on, Binta, if you want mummy to take that, you have to come up a tangible reason.”
“I don’t know but I don’t feel like celebrating my birthday and don’t want to hear talks of it.” Her eyes were beseeching.
Basirat shook her head. “That is not possible.”
“Please, mummy, please.” Binta pleaded.
“No, darling, that is not possible. Birthday celebrations are a family tradition.” She stood, glanced at the ceiling fan and made a mental note to make arrangement to replace it with an air-conditioner.
Habeeb Adam was on his way to the sitting room and the wife was on way to the bedroom when they bumped into each other.
“Can’t you for once look at where you are going to?” He said sharply, his face contorted by the smirk it held.
“And you, seer, couldn’t you have avoided the collision since you see it all?” She retorted, sizing him up with her eyes.
Habeeb owned a film production company and his wife was one of the highest paid actress in Africa.
“What did Binta say?” He managed in between bouts of laughter.
“My darling doesn’t want to celebrate.”
“Are you for real?”
“What reason did she give?”
“Just didn’t feel like celebrating and don’t want to hear talks about it.”
He went from being wide-eyed to chuckling within seconds. “What does my eleven year old angel know about feelings?”
“Discover for yourself, Love.”
“Hmm.” He muttered thoughtful.