“You don’t know Rowland Edozie?” David had asked when she read out loud the name on the card for the umpteenth time on their way back home from the salon.
“I’ve heard about him and Edozie Express; I just didn’t know what he looked like though.”
“Babe, the guy is a mogul,” David couldn’t hide his excitement. “Whenever you hear anyone talking about the Dangote of Bayelsa, just know that they are referring to Chief Edozie. Girlfriend, this could be huge for you!”
Rain wondered why D3 was acting like she won the lottery or that she had been invited to Aso Villa to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Why do you think he asked me to see him?”
“To work for him. Why else?” David gave her a look of surprise and she immediately felt guilty that she didn’t share in his excitement about the scheduled meeting. “Chief Rowland Edozie owns the biggest construction company in the region. He also runs one of the most widely read newspapers in the country at the moment – Outright News.”
“I never knew his business interest extended to the media as well.”
“Apart from building roads and bridges, he has stakes in television, radio and print media. I’m shocked you didn’t know this. You know what you should do? Google the guy’s name and then you’d understand why you should be fasting and praying before your meeting with him next week.”
“You’ve concluded I’ll make the meeting.”
“Who in their right frame of mind would pass on a chance like this? Madam, it’s a no-brainer. You impressed the guy with all that talk about the stock market being bullish and bearish, NASDAQ, GDP and Fortune 500 companies. You should have seen the way the guy was drooling over you at the salon,” David laughed out loud.
“Was he really?” Rain wanted to believe her boyfriend was just clowning but then his countenance changed and he wasn’t laughing anymore.
“Go for it, Rain. I mean if we weren’t dating already, even I would want to know more about this bad ass chic.”
“You know how I feel about being referred to as ‘chic’, right?”
“Lighten up babe,” David laughed again, grabbing her by the waist. “If you don’t like chick, just tell me the animal you like and I’d call you a bad-ass whatever animal you choose. I know you’d prefer me to call you Nigerian Christine Largarde but I don’t want your head to swell and burst before your meeting.”
With the backing and encouragement of her boyfriend of two years at the time, Rain dressed up for her appointment in her only pair of palazzo pants and a crispy white shirt David bought her for what he thought was a life-changing encounter with Chief Edozie.
Rain was petrified walking into his office not knowing what to expect. Was she asked over for a job interview or did the business mogul want something more from her?
Knowing how rich and powerful he was in the community, it was a scary moment for her. But the instant Rowland Edozie looked up from the binder he was studying and their eyes met, Rain knew she didn’t have any reason to be terrified. She saw the kindness in his eyes and in his smile and it calmed her nerves.
First, he was intrigued by her name.
“Rain. That’s quite an interesting name. Is there a story behind it or your parents just wanted to make it easy for you to strike up a conversation every time you met someone new?”
It wasn’t the kind of question she’d come prepared to answer, so she didn’t speak immediately.
“Well, my parents didn’t exactly call me Rain,” she said when she found her voice.
“You gave yourself the name?”
“No, I didn’t. I was christened Ebiosuo by my parents, which in Ijaw means ‘good rain.’ My last name Tamuno means God, so, I guess the message they wanted to pass across when I was born was that God gives good rain or something like that.”
“However,” Rain added quickly, “somewhere along the line, Ebiosuo was discarded because my younger brother couldn’t quite pronounce the name right back when we were toddlers. I got angry every time he bastardised my name so my parents made him and everyone else call me Rain instead, which as I said earlier is the literal translation of my name. When it was time for me to begin school, my parents chose to register me with my nickname and not the birth name they gave me, that was how I became Rain and I have been raining ever since.”
“Interesting account of how not to give your kids names their siblings can’t pronounce,” Chief Edozie said smiling. “I like Rain, it has a certain ring to it,” Chief Edozie continued smiling and Rain joined him. Telling that story helped her relax even more. “So you are Ijaw?”
“Yes, from here in Bayelsa sir,” Rain answered meekly.
“I presume you are a graduate of Economics or Finance?”
“Yes I am, sir. I graduated three years ago from the Federal University Otuoke. I read Economics, but I can do any kind of job. Since leaving school, I’ve worked in a kindergarten taking care of kids. I’ve worked in a bakery and marketed herbal products online,” Rain thought to put that out there in case there was an opening and she was being interviewed for a position in one of his companies.
“I see. That’s interesting,” Chief Edozie said rolling his pen on the table. “And what do you do at the moment?”
“Nothing at the moment sir.”
“So you’re currently unemployed?”
“As unemployed as they come,” Rain replied. “My last job was as Personal Assistant to the wife of the CEO of one of the big commercial banks in the country.”
“How long were you with her and why did you leave? You weren’t fired I hope?”
“No, sir. I wasn’t fired. I left three months ago after working with her for almost a year. I had to leave because the atmosphere was toxic. I saw her and her husband spend depositors’ money as if it was theirs, yet they wouldn’t stop suspecting us of stealing from them.” Rain stopped talking abruptly. She felt like she had spoken too much.
“You’re quite the crusader, aren’t you?” From the look he gave her, and the tone of his voice, Rain couldn’t quite tell if he was impressed by her explanation or if she had over-stepped her bound. “So every time you find yourself in an environment you’re not comfortable in, you quit?”
“That has only happened once, I’m not a quitter. I know I’m the kind of person who’d roll up her sleeves, dig in and fight until things get better.”
“Tell you what?” Chief Edozie suddenly changed the subject. “If you can provide us with two good references, and you scale through our recruitment process with HR, perhaps you’d like to start here as my EA. I’d have to be careful what files I let you have access to though,” he added under his breath. Rain heard him clearly, but she knew he said it in jest and didn’t have to defend herself. “My current Executive Assistant leaves in two weeks to join her husband in the US and I see you as a suitable replacement. Can you start next week?”
A blitz of loud honking brought Rain back to the present. She realised she had been deep in thought and holding up traffic long after the traffic officer at Berger junction signalled her to move. All things being equal, in about two hours she’d be in Port Harcourt with her mum. She couldn’t wait to handover the money from Padrino to her mum. She hoped her mum would be strong enough so they could both have a good laugh about it.
She could already hear her mum laughing in the uncontrollable manner she did whenever she heard a funny story. Rain could picture her tying and untying her beautiful wrapper, while the expensive jewelleries dangling from her ears, neck and wrist jangled with every cackle. She knew exactly what her mum would say. “What will the wife of multi-millionaire like me do with three hundred thousand naira?”