image

****

    As luck would have it, Stella and Favour got the cleaning job canceled without delay. Another better choice had come, Stella was the happiest on earth, that day.

    She was still jumping happily when Jumoke- a co-tenant in her mother’s house called her that there was a big problem. Her mother’s cough had grown worse. She also knew if it should  start, it was always disastrous and frightening.

    She left the house with her only friend and rushed down to her mother’s place. She had no money on her to cater for her mother, how would she pay to the Doctor if she took her to the clinic for better treatment?

    Her mind striked Tobiloba. At least, he might be able to help her out. If someone wasn’t callous, he should be able to help seeing tears on her eyes. She decided to give it a trial.

    On getting to her mother’s place, she told Favour to get a cab, they’d take her to the hospital. She had been using palm oil and salt on it but it had a little control over it. Her cough had grown to the stage of vomiting blood.

    She took her to the hospital right away,  without having any cash on her than the transport fare. She didn’t have Tobi’s mobile phone number likewise. She remembered she could collect it from his Grandma at home and from there, she’d visit his office.

*****

    She called Tobiloba, crying profusely. Even Tobi the thick-skinned was moved. He told her he’d come and meet her at his Grandma’s place, she should wait for him. The last time he heard someone cry that much was the day his mother was dying in the hospital. She was just weeping thay day, likewise him.

    He had no mother any longer and knew how painful it was to loose a cherished mother. He promised himself he’d do anything to save her mother.

    It was almost lunch time, an opportunity for Tobi to leave as fast as he could to visit his Grandma’s place. Immediately it was lunch time, he set out for his Grandma’s place instantly. He was praying within himself that nothing bad would happen to Stella’s mother. Though, it wasn’t that he loved her but anything that had to do with mothers, he did take it serious.

    He arrived into the hospital with Stella. He made sure he settled part of the bill and promised to come with the remaining in the evening. He’d just visit the ATM to withraw some cash.

    “Stella followed him outside, she was just appreciating his kind gestures.

    “I just did this because it’s painful to see someone groaning in pain and there would be no help. No strings attached, I don’t love you oh!” He frowned.

    “All the same, thanks.” Stella smiled.

▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀

    THE FOLLOWING DAY.

    STELLA walked into Temitope’s office with her friend. Fave. They were both looking smart and beautiful. “Please sit.” Temitope smiled and stretched his right hand, showing them the seats.

    “Thanks.” The ladies chorused and sat down.

    “So, how’s your health now?” Temitope was smiling.

    Stella chuckled. “I’m now alright.”

    “Don’t mind me, I just like being troublesome.” He grinned. “Yeah.

   “Let me see your credentials.” Temitope stretched his right hand forward to receive the credentials.
 
    Favour and Stella handed the credentials to him and patiently waited for him to speak. “This is great!” He eventually spoke, smiling.

    “Thanks sir.” Stella grinned. 

    “This is not an issue of thanks, they are both great.” He smiled.

    Stella and Fave kept smiling. “Because I don’t want to be sentimental, come for your interview tomorrow, Stella. And you… Fave.” He said.

    “Alright, no problem.” Stella said.

****

    Evening, 6:30pm.

    Stella knocked at Tobi’s gate softly and patiently waited for his response. She was smiling as she awaited his presence. She prayed she wouldn’t be scolded for coming to his house that evening.

    He finally came out of the house. “Who’s it?” He enquired, drawing closer to the gate.

    “It’s Stella.” She replied.

    Tobi opened the gate and took some steps backward. “Good evening.” Stella grinned.

    Tobi shook his head and sighed. “What is it again?”

   Tobi was already dressed, he had his car key in his hands. It seemed as if he was ready to go out. “I came to appreciate what you did yesterday. Thanks so much, may God always bless you.” She prayed.

    “You are welcome. Is that all?” He asked her.

    “Yes but… where are you going to by this time?” She enquired.

    “And does it in any way concern you? Its my life, not yours!” He exclaimed.

    “I’m sorry, just wish you to be safe. And, I was given a job in a company today, I was told to come for interview tomorrow.” Stella told him.

    “That’s an achievement… though I heard same thing happened in our office today.” He hissed.

    “Really?” Stella smiled.

    Tobi gave her a angry look.

    Stella took her eyes off him and dipped her hand into her handbag. “I brought you this..” She handed a mouth organ over to him.

    Tobi was shocked. “Have you ever seen the picture before?” He asked her.

    “Picture? What picture?” She questioned.

    “So it means you’ve never seen it, how come you know I love mouth organ?”

    “I just bought it.” She said, smiling.

    “Come right in.” Tobi lead the way, Stella was still holding the organ.

    Both entered while Tobi offered her a seat. He also sat down, looking moody. He stood again and walked to the shelf, he picked up the picture and gave it to Stella.

    “Let me tell you what happened… That picture is the picture of where my parents and I took a group photograph and as you can see, I was holding a mouth organ. That day was the day my mother bought me a mouth organ as my birthday gift and took picture with me, including my father…” he paused,  already going emotional.

    He sniffed and continued. “That was the first and last day there was unity, peace and joy between my parents before my mother eventually died of cancer.” He started weeping.

    “I’m deeply sorry I brought this to remind you of the past. I’m deeply sorry.” Stella also felt like crying.

   “No, not that. I was going to the joint to drink as usual when you knocked but with this mouth organ you brought, I won’t go anywhere again.”

    Stella felt like asking more questions on the issue of his parents but didn’t want to bring his pasts to his memory again. “Im really sorry.” She repeated.

    “Since my mother died, I’ve found no joy rather than drinking, going out with friends. I’ve been down, I’ve hated ladies and everyone around me. Her death really hit me because I thought she wouldn’t die. She was the only precious jewel I could hold on to..” he continued weeping.

    “It’s alright. But can you promise me one thing?”

    “What?” He asked.

    “That you are going to give uo drinking.” She replied.

    “I can’t… Don’t annoy me. Just get going…”

    Stella exhaled deeply and stood up.

▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀

    STELLA LOOKED UP, staring at the name of the company,  David and Co again. She exhaled and smiled. “Does he bear David as well?”  She asked within herself and entered into the company

    She wasn’t patient enough to be late that first day. She and Favour woke  early as possible because it would be their first day in the office.

    She was the second person to get to the office. She met the secretary of the company, perhaps she came to complete a work she had been battling with. She greeted her and smiled.

    “Sit down.” Folake, the secretary told her.

    “Thanks.” She sat with her.

    Temitope Williams had called Tobiloba and told him he’d be the one to interview her. Tobi was looking forward to seeing the lady he’d interview. From the look of things, it seemed the boss- Temitope Williams had concluded she’d be given a space in Tobi’s big office.

    “No problem, once she’s not annoying.” Tobi concluded within himself.

    Temitope Williams walked into the secretary’s office and was surprised seeing Stella. It was so early and punctual of her. Some would still come late despite the fact it was their first day at work. And, first impression lasts longer. “How are you Miss Stella?” He smiled and shook her.

    “I’m good sir.. Good Morning.” She grinned and stood up. She was looking beautiful in her black skirt suite and her glasses. She rarely used her glasses but she knew it would supplement her beauty, so she wore it.

    “Good morning sir.” He was still shaking her when he noticed a big truck parked outside.  “I’ll be right back.” He smiled and faced Folake. “Give me the Key to Tobi’s office.”

    Stella smiled. “Tobi..” she recapitulated. She started imagining things as she sat down. ‘I should just see Tobi enters as the manager that I’d be the assistant too… it’s another Tobi.’ She grinned.

    Temitope opened Tobi’s office wide open and walked outside. It was the guys that brought Stella’s facilities. Her big and neat table, as well as a rigid chair. “Follow me.” Temitope said to the guys that carried the table and walkes into the company.

    They arranged the table and three chairs for her desk. Her own chair and that which can be used by two visitors stood before her.

    Not quite long after, Tobiloba got to the company.

    He was putting on a cream shirt and a black tie with a black trouser and pair of italian shoes. He adjusted his tie as usual and walked into the office, only to meet Stella at the secretary’s office.

****

    Tobi halted. He wiped his face twice and gazed at the lady sitting near the secretary. “Stella.” He called her name out.

    Stella was also appalled. She stood and stared at him. Exactly what she was thinking of came out to be a reality. ‘Is he the manager?’ She asked herself in a low tone.

    ‘Hope this lady isn’t my assistant.’ Tobi also wondered.

    Folake cleared her throat, to bring them back to normal. “Mr Tobi, you couldn’t add Mrs or Miss to her name, you just said Stella just like that.” Folake stared at him.

    “I’m sorry… was… don’t even know.” He hissed and flagged his hand. “Where’s the boss?”

    Folake pointed to Temitope’s office and faced the computer back.

    Seeing that Folake wasn’t looking at him any longer, he gave Stella a scary glance and shook his head, as if he was pitying her because she’d suffer. He walked away, heading to Temitope’s office.

****

    “I’ve been expecting you, sit down.” Temitope said to Tobi.

    “Yes sir.” Tobi smiled and sat down.

    “You should have seen the lady out there, please interview her in your office. And, her table and facilities has been packed into your office because that place is big and you guys will be able to discuss and share thoughts well there.” He addressed him.

    “Alright sir, I’ll go do that now.” He smiled and stood up.

    Interview? I go show you today...  Tobi thought and walked out, back to the secretary’s office.

    “Hello, Miss… hmmn.. hmmn.. Stella, come for the interview.” He said deliberately, dragging the words.

    Folake glanced at her and shook her head. She still couldn’t tell if they knew each other anywhere, she just assumed Tobi was impolite to her.

    Stella breathed heavily and stood up. She followed him as he led the way. They finally got to the office. Tobi sat down.

    Stella pulled the chair before her to sit when Tobi spoke. “Who asked you to sit down? You better remain standing.”

    “Why should I stand?” She tried to argue.

    “Why on earth won’t you? You want to be working with me? Do you know I’m your boss? I’m going to deal with you…. in fact, frustrate you.” He hissed.

    Stella chuckled and clapped her hands together.

    “Just sit!” He hissed again.

    “Thanks.” Stella laughed and sat down.

    ‘This is gonna be fun..’ she thought and kept laughing.

    “Stop laughing oh or I tell the boss you’ll u failed the interview.” He threatened.

    Stella controlled herself and looked serious as she fixed her eye balls on Tobi’s.

    “First question is that…. hmmn… Why did you agree with my Grandma to frustrate me?”

    “Is this an interview?” Both started laughing.

    TOBI didn’t know when he met himself laughing. The way he addressed her was funny to both  of them. “Why are you lughing now?” He asked her, still trying to control his laughter likewise.

    “Aren’t you laughing as well?” She kept on laughing.

    “Wait, jokes apart. Tell me or I’m going to tell the boss you failed the interview and don’t worth the post.” He threatened.

    Now, both of them had stopped laughing but they still had smiles on their various faces. “I don’t understand your question. Do I?”

    “Yes you do.. you really do.” Tobi said.

    “I don’t know that question, so, give me another question.”

    “Alright, I’ll believe that. The second question is about you. What’s your best food?” He enquired.

    “Nawa oh!” Stella clapped her hands together, laughing.

    “You better answer..” he chuckled.

    “Fried rice.” She replied.

    “See mouth.. thief.”

****

    Later in the day.

    It was just past four pm. Stella was smiling on her seat as she went through the files before her. The company had won seven contracts out of ten contracts in a year. She was told that day would be like an introduction day, she’d read everything about the company and her job.

    She was doing that when Folake knocked at the door. “Come in.” Stella said.

   Folake walked in and faced Tobi. “Boss said we should all gather into the conference hall, except you- Stella.” She said.

    “Alright, thanks.” He said.

    Immediately Folake left, he faced Stella. “I’m the owner of this office, if you don’t know. Did I ask you to help me tell her to come in?” He questioned her.

    “You just like disturbing.” She hissed jokingly and faced the files.

    “Landlady of fried rice.” He chuckled and stood up,  ready to leave for the conference hall.

    “Anyhow.”  She hissed again.
→→→→→→
  

The meeting was for the introduction the new staff, Stella. Immediately Temitope got to know everyone had gathered into the hall, he went into Tobi’s office to pick Stella up.

    They both walked beside each other into the hall. Temitope introduced her to all the members of staff as the newly employed assistant contract manager. Tobi was just smiling where he was, praying she’d have a nice stay in the company by the time he would be through with her.

****

    “Today was great!” Favour jumped happily.

    “Mine was great but you can’t believe it that Tobi is the manager that I’m being the assistant to.” She chuckled and clapped her hands together.

    “It’s a lie! Favour calmed down and sat down. Are you really serious?” She questioned her.

    “Jokes apart.” She smiled.

    “That’s great! Tobi’s wife..” she laughed.

    “Rubbish girl..” She hissed and hit her.

▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀▶◀

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