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Shaping up!

– the funloving, but hardworking single parent

By Treena Kwenta
Hi readers! I had ardently hoped that Rose, the pretty girl in Accounts, would be among those who would choose to leave voluntarily to go get jobs elsewhere, but to my chagrin, she wasn’t.

What to do? Tayo had advised that I should throw her out because she might be a big distraction to Shola when he starts coming over to Seb’s company to help put the place in good financial shape. We hadn’t retrenched, so it would be awkward to ask her to leave just like that. For days, I agonized over how I should handle the matter in a way that wouldn’t set the workers against me.

Rose, in spite of her penchant for ‘borrowing’ some of the money she’s recovered from the debtors, and her ‘on-the-premises affairs,  she is liked by many workers there. I like her myself because she’s friendly, warm and polite to me. Besides, she always has hard-luck stories to tell at any given time. How can you give such a person the boot without being called heartless?

Yes, I know you have to be firm when managing a company, but …

If there were any way I could retain her but hide her away from amorous Shola, I would have done so, but that wasn’t possible. I must confess it was with some trepidation that I  agreed to Shola’s coming. He was going to be using my official office there while I use Seb’s. I got in early and went to open the connecting door to see if the office had been well-cleaned.

I almost fainted when I saw Shola in his chair having a chat with Rose who was leaning against a wall. Wao! He’s sure a fast mover when it comes to women, I told myself. I glanced from one to the other. He gave Rose a nod of dismissal, and she, after  greeting me respectfully, left the room.

“So, Treena the love of my life, how are you doing today?” asked Shola, half his attention on me and the other half on the file in front of him. “My desk at CLAWS is piled high with work, so, I got in here early so that I can leave at 2pm to go squeeze a day’s work into the remaining hours over there. Come on, say something, Treena dear. You look dazed. Are you alright?”

“Good morning Shola. I’m very alright.  Er, I know you’re a grown man, and you’re single, but that lady who just left here can be an unholy distraction to your work here. I’m not saying she eats men alive, but er, she’s got quite a reputation for office romance. Be warned.”

“Oh, that’s it, then! Thanks for the warning Treena, my love. Rose is old stuff as far as my romantic feelings are concerned..”

“You mean you’ve already had a relationship with her? That’s comforting and re-assuring. It means you won’t be panting after her during your tenure here. I’d be most delighted if you can give this work your utmost attention so that the company can recover in record time. Promise there will be no office romance here, Shola dear. I’m sorry if I’ve offended you by what I’ve just said, but anxiety about this company is making me lose weight by the second. You don’t want to add to the stress, do you? Certainly not if I’m the love of your life as you’ve been saying all these years.”

“Er, well, why don’t you marry me, and then you can be sure that I’ll never indulge in any affair, whatever the attraction, for the rest of my life? If I have you for myself legitimately, I’ll never look at another woman. You can bring the Bible, the Koran, Ifa, and other symbols of faith and I’ll swear on them. I can’t break my word. Not when it has to do with you. Marry me, Treena dear, and I’ll go straight, right from this minute.”

I looked at the clown with some anxiety. I had to humour him. You never know how serious he is when in the mood for proposing marriage. Whatever the case I didn’t want him refusing to help put the company in fine shape. Dare said he was the Mr. Fixit that we needed. Would he make a relationship a condition for acceptance? Surely, the Shola I know wouldn’t be that calculating. But then you never can be sure.

Apart from the fact that I’m not interested in tying the knot again, Shola’s a no-go area in that matter. Who wants to be step-mother to about twenty children from an assorted type of women? Only an angel of a woman would put her head in that sort of net. Still, I had to be careful in my response that morning.  I shouldn’t upset him to the point that he would get up and leave. In desperation an idea hit me.

“Treena love, I don’t know why you have to hesitate to accept to be my wife,” he was saying. “I’m not bad-looking for my age. I may not be swimming in the stuff, but I’m not a pauper. If I didn’t have so many kids to look after, I’d certainly be counted among the comfortable. I work hard. You can’t fault me there. I’m one of the hottest brains around. I’m romantic. I’m still young and virile. Ours will be a perfect union. I’ll send you poems and flowers three times a day, to beat the performance of your late fiancé. I dress well and I talk posh when the occasion demands.”

“What else, Shola? Go on! Sell yourself.”

“Oh, there’s hope I could be considered, and my marriage proposal accepted?”

“You could be considered, with all those marks you awarded yourself.”

“Are you serious? This is going to make my day. I leave my house a single man and return, an engaged man. Whoopee!”

“One point, though, Shola dear. I have this understanding with Seb that I’ll marry only the man he approves off.”

“Why? He’s not your father.”

“He isn’t, but he’s my very first love, and that was when I was a teenager.”

“Hm, so, I’m returning home a single man as usual, after all.”

“You may not. I suggest you pick up your phone and tell Seb that you want his permission to marry me. If he agrees, then you can go straightaway to order your wedding suits, and outfits for a honeymoon in Acapulco. I learnt the weather there is conducive right now.”

“I knew this wouldn’t amount to anything. I’ve been rejected by you yet again. Are you counting the number of times I’ve proposed marriage to you, Treena dear, and you’ve flung it back at my face?”

“Well, I haven’t since I’m not an accountant. Why don’t you want to ask Seb? The Shola I know is not a coward. He’d stick out his chest and go for it. Go on! Ring Seb.”

“I won’t waste my credit on that. Even if by the stretch of the imagination I’m able to get the words out of my mouth, Seb would hush me down straight away and tell me to keep off you. What’s more, he may begin to count me among his enemies. So, let’s forget that I proposed to you today, shall we?”

“If you say so. Shall we get on with the job then?”

“I was working while we were discussing marriage proposals. I’m being paid for this job, and my time is precious. I’m almost through with what I have to do here today. Rose will join my team of debt-collectors right away. You won’t have to pay her extra for that as she would be doing her normal job here.”

“I was considering her for a sack so that she won’t be a distraction to your duties here.”

“Why should she be?  She’s old stuff as I said earlier, my dear.  If I wanted to pass that way, I would have done that many years ago when she was still quite young and appealing. I’m not saying she’s faded, or fading, what I’m saying is that she can sit here on my lap and I won’t feel a thing. I’ve never been attracted to her. It could be because several friends of mine have dated her and they didn’t find her so hot; not as hot as her beautiful exterior. At least, that was what they told me afterwards. It  may not be true. Also, her younger sister was a girlfriend at a time. When she got pregnant, I was delighted and I toyed with the idea of marrying her as she requested, but an informer told me she was sleeping with several other men, alongside me.  I investigated, it was true; so, I rejected the pregnancy. One of the other men accepted it and  married her, but I learnt the union later hit the boulders.”

“Oh my God! Shola, your body must be old and tired. You’ve certainly slept around.”

“I haven’t. I’m as fresh as ever. Men don’t get worn out. Now, my dear, let your heart be at rest concerning Rose. She’s the best here at the job of debt-collection, and I’ve used her privately on a few occasions. I paid her well for her services. Solo, she may not be able to do much, but with my team, good results will be achieved. Let her stay.”

“I’ll have to.  So, where do we start?”

“I’ve already given Rose her duties. She will need some money for field assignments. I’ve discussed that with the Chief Accountant, who happens to be her boyfriend. That man is a caution! You know he used to be with us at CLAWS. He turned his office into a bedroom. I had to give him the boot. Mind you, he’s brilliant. He was uneasy when he learnt I was coming here to do some work. I assured him, I won’t put sand in his garri.  He seems to enjoy working for Seb.”

“There’s no couch in his office here, so, he must be taking his girls elsewhere. Also, the GM is next door to him, so, he won’t be able to try anything funny in there. Not that that bothers me. But Shola, aren’t you both in this same trade?”

“You mean it’s a case of a kettle calling a pot black?  Er, you may have a point there, but his addiction for skirts is much worse than mine. I’m a good boy.”

Do you believe that?  I don’t.

Tara.


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