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Rain Can Never Know – Episode II

Start from Episode I

Rain wanted him to do a transfer to her account, but the accountant insisted he would only do cash. She put the white envelope in her beige Givenchy handbag – the one she was forced to buy on credit three months earlier from a member of her church who only sold very expensive French and Italian shoes and bags. She went through the trouble of locating the woman’s house one Wednesday evening after work, even though the cost wasn’t in her budget; that morning, she had overheard one of Chief Edozie’s girlfriends saying she could never be caught dead carrying a ‘cheap ass’ handbag.

Rain wanted him to do a transfer to her account, but the accountant insisted he would only do cash. She put the white envelope in her beige Givenchy handbag – the one she was forced to buy on credit three months earlier from a member of her church who only sold very expensive French and Italian shoes and bags. She went through the trouble of locating the woman’s house one Wednesday evening after work, even though the cost wasn’t in her budget; that morning, she had overheard one of Chief Edozie’s girlfriends saying she could never be caught dead carrying a ‘cheap ass’ handbag.

“I thought Gucci was spelt with double C, abi there’s another designer called G-U-C-H-I that I haven’t discovered yet?” the girl whispered to her companion just loud enough for the other people in the room to hear their conversation.

“Babe, there’s nothing these Aba boys won’t do these days o,” came the response from her friend. “In fact, just last week one girl in my hostel was holding the exact same bag I was carrying. If I didn’t look carefully because I know her pedigree, I wouldn’t have realised it was a G-U-S-I and not a G-U-C-C-I she was torturing my eyes with.”

Their laugher haunted Rain for the rest of the day. Especially after she googled what was inscribed on her bag and Google came back with a “Did you mean: Gucci” response to her search.

Mr. Wakama wanted her to count the money before leaving his office, but she told him she didn’t have to. Beside the fact that she was in a hurry to get back home and pack a bag for her sudden trip to Port Harcourt, she didn’t want the accountant feeling like she didn’t trust him not to have tampered with the money. If he told her that the envelope contained three hundred thousand naira, then three hundred thousand it was. It didn’t have to be a penny more or a penny less.

“So when are you expected back in the office?”

“I don’t know. I guess it would depend on my mum’s condition. What I know is that I wouldn’t want to stay for more than one or two days. Padrino has been very generous giving me money and time off to travel. The last thing I want to do is take advantage of his kindness by staying in Port Harcourt a minute longer than is necessary.”

“I would say you should take your time though. It’s not as if you do anything meaningful here, so even Padrino wouldn’t miss you that much,” the accountant said with a sardonic grin on his face.

Rain knew he was teasing, so she let the jab slide. Mr Donald Wakama was one of the few people in the office she really got along with. He was about the only person she was comfortable discussing her predicament with because he said she reminded him a lot of someone from his past. He said they had the same passion for life and exhibited the same healthy restiveness when things weren’t going at the pace they wanted.

 The accountant was in his early fifties, but he had a young soul. He dressed really well and everyone in the office liked and respected him, although Rain was always quick to remind him that all that love was because he controlled the exchequer.  The younger guys called him Zaddy, and Rain did too whenever she passed him along the hallway. If Wakama was alone, he would sing the nursery rhyme –

Rain, rain go away,

Come again another day

Little Donald wants to play…

That always cracked Rain up.

“You know, Mr Waks, I’m very grateful to Padrino for the opportunities I’ve had so far. The car, the apartment, the US visa even though I’m yet to make the trip,” Rain chuckled. 

“I promise you, Rain, one of these days, Chief is going to call you and say, ‘get ready, tomorrow we’re going to America.’ He does that to me all the time.”

Rain smiled broadly, already thinking of the prospects. “I’ve gained so much in such a short time. I remember not too long ago, David and I didn’t have five hundred naira to our names, and paying our bills was a major problem.”

“You don’t say.”

“True story. There were days we couldn’t afford Indomie noodles and eggs for breakfast, and we weren’t sure where our next meal would come from. Things were really tough, but that’s no longer the case with David and I. Chief Edozie changed our lives. The only thing left is for Padrino to assign me respectful tasks around here so I can feel useful. Zaddy, I can’t wait to contribute my quota to the bottom-line like the rest of you guys. I want to feel like I’m a part of the success of this company before people start talking.”

“You know what I think, Olivia Pope?” Donald Wakama ribbed again and Rain didn’t take offence at his attempt to lighten things up. Besides, he wasn’t the first person to reference her resemblance to Kerry Washington and the similarity in personality she shared with the fictional character she portrayed in the award-winning television series, Scandal. Like Olivia, Rain was a problem solver who thrived on challenges. That was why she wanted so desperately to get involved in the operations of Edozie Express.

“I’m sure you’ve told me before, but let’s hear it.”

“You’re starting to let office gossip get to you. We all know you’re not sleeping with the boss. I’ve worked with chief for so many years and the one thing I know is that he never dates any of his staff or employs any of his girlfriends in his companies.”

“What does Padrino want from me?” Rain asked helplessly. “Why did he bring me here? Why is he paying me so much money for doing nothing?”

“You bring lunch and serve one of the most powerful men in Yenagoa coffee from Monday to Friday; that isn’t ‘nothing.’  It’s a very important job if you ask me.”

“I can tell you’re full of jokes today Zaddy, but this is a serious matter. Mr Waks, I know you’d say I have such a crazy imagination, but I don’t think his wife likes me very much. You know how some wives get with other women working for their husbands? Well, I get that vibe from Mrs Edozie every time our paths cross.”

“What vibe?” Mr Wakama asked, sitting up straight in his chair.

“Hostility,” Rain said. She’s hostile, rude and obnoxious, and I don’t know for how much longer I can take it.” 

“Be patient, Rain. Padrino has told you he has a job for you when you get back. Let’s wait and see what he’s got. I have been here longer than you. I’ve seen things, and I know things. You see me, I’ve learnt to do my job, mind my business and stomach the insults. After all when I’m giving my landlord my house rent or paying my children’s school fees, would anyone refuse to accept my money because I was insulted before I got paid my salary?”

“The landlord that would do that hasn’t been born yet,” Rain concurred.

“Exactly my point!”

***

Rain Tamuno got into her Hyundai Accent. She got it in her first week at the company and she was over the moon about the car. She still was. Every time she drove in the elegant silver sedan, she thanked her lucky stars that her path crossed with the mighty Chief Roland Edozie, construction giant, media mogul and philanthropist. Rain still hoped she wasn’t going to wake up one day to discover that her life in the last twelve months had been a dream. It would be a sad day if she’d have to go back to her old life of desperation and want. Well, mostly want, because she really hadn’t gotten to the point where she was desperate and would do anything to catch a break when she met chief.

She still remembered that day as she did every single line and scene from her favourite Kunle Afolayan movie – The Figurine. She had followed her boyfriend David Spiff III to the barbershop in Ebis Hotel to redeem the first of his prize of four free haircuts from the most expensive barbershop in the city. David had won the prize when he participated in a radio call-in programme a week before for knowing what year Mohammed Ali retired from boxing.  Rain insisted on accompanying him just to be sure the entire episode wasn’t a hoax, but more so because she wanted to be there to tease him if it was.

It turned out the prize was real and her boyfriend, D3, was really going to get his free haircut in Avalanche Man Salon, a place frequented only by the rich, famous and powerful in Yenagoa.

On that day, Chief Edozie was there for grooming as well. He had come with his sons, and like D3, they had to wait their turn to get their haircut. The TV was tuned to AIT and a special programme on the Nigerian economy was being aired. It was a subject that was dear to Rain’s heart. Her final year thesis in FUO was centred on economic forecasting, national debts and deficits, and the impact they have on governance, so she was very comfortable talking about the economy.

Five minutes into the documentary, Rain found herself interjecting the narrator and reeling out facts and figures on the subject matter from the top of her head. The way she went about it and the confidence she exuded while speaking, it was obvious she wasn’t a show-off, but someone sound and knowledgeable in the workings of the economy, and her passion showed. She faulted some of the experts interviewed for the programme and postulated theories of her own that sounded plausible. 

Although she hadn’t set out to impress anyone, it turned out she did just that. Her armchair analysis impressed Chief Edozie who sat quietly in the VIP section of the shop. She didn’t know who he was at the time, but when he handed her his card and asked for her to see him the following week, she hesitated. Her boyfriend was only a few feet away and it didn’t seem appropriate that she accepted what appeared like a proposition from another man.

She was going to return the call card because it was the sensible thing to do, but D3 nudged her not to and Rain was glad he did. A lesser man would have acted differently, and how different their lives would have been if David had played the jealous boyfriend card.

Continue at Episode III

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