The Chairman’s Wife: Part One.
Enahire was not a man who was easily surprised.
In his 35 years on earth, he had witnessed his father kicking his mother out of their family home, experienced racist abuse as a postgraduate student in London, and had been in a car accident which had almost cost him his left leg.
Nothing could faze him, but even he was forced to raise an eyebrow that Monday morning when one of his colleagues congratulated their Boss, Chief Onwuka on how tall his new wife was. Chief Onwuka accepted the praise with a smug smile, as if he had been personally responsible for stretching the woman’s legs, thus securing her current height.
‘E-Boy! How are you?’ Chief bellowed as he stopped in front of Enahire’s desk.
‘I’m fine Sir, Good Morning’. He stood up as he spoke to Chief because he knew that remaining seated would have been considered rude. He also knew that Chief called him ‘E-Boy’ because he could not be bothered to learn how to pronounce his name. So, for 3 years at Maverick Development Consultants (MDC), Abuja, Chief had called Enahire ‘E-Boy’, ‘E-Money’, ‘Easy-Boy’, ‘E-Man’, and for some reason, ‘Elephant’.
‘Good, good. How are the plans for the Christmas party this Saturday going?’
‘Very well, Sir. Everything has been organized’, Enahire replied.
‘Good, good. I’ll be there with my family. Well done, E-For-Efficient’.
Enahire sighed inwardly whilst clenching his fists. ‘Thank you Sir’.
Chief nodded, and shifted his attention to someone else. He was wearing a black pinstripe suit, which, on his bulky frame, made him look like a character from ‘The Godfather’, thought Enahire. As Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chief prided himself on being very friendly, and stopped to chat at each cubicle on the way to his office. Enahire watched him, but his mind was elsewhere. His only goal that week was to make sure that everything was in place for a successful Christmas party. The responsibility of organizing the party was delegated to him, since he was the Admin Manager. He hoped that organizing the party successfully would help his current bid for a promotion. It had not occurred to him that Chief would bring his new Wife to the event.
But then, Enahire thought as he sat down, how was Chief to know that his new Wife was his own Ex-girlfriend?
Enahire had not seen Rolake since she broke up with him after their final exams at University of Benin. The breakup, though not unexpected, had hurt a great deal. They had drifted apart due to the pressures of their final year Economics exams. He suspected that he had not been the only guy she was dating at the time, and he himself had been guilty of flirting with other girls just for the sake of it.
After their graduation, he had moved on swiftly with his life, cutting off all contact with Rolake. He had even restrained himself from searching for her on Facebook.
After a few years of working at MDC, rumours had started to circulate about the Chairman’s marriage: the first Wife had been booted out in place of a new and fresh younger woman. The situation confused people, because it could not be attributed to Wife number one’s inability to have sons-she had twin boys who were in their late teens. Wife number two now had a daughter for their Boss, so it had to boil down to one thing: she had to be a Witch, or a goddess from the underworld sent to break up the marriage.
Enahire tried to shy away from the gossip, but it was like trying to remove salt from a pot of soup after it had already been added. He had been told by a mutual acquaintance that Chief had lived apart from his first Wife for years, but there was no way that he could have pointed out this fact without being immersed head-first into the gossip.
A few months ago, Enahire had gone into Chief’s office to drop a file when he spotted a new picture on the desk-Chief and his new Wife on a cruise. He turned to walk away, but something about the picture triggered a memory of a smile that exposed a crooked front tooth. He picked up the picture frame for a closer look. There was Chief, smiling in a way that showed he couldn’t believe his luck, and, seated on his lap, smiling with the same intensity, was Rolake, his ex-girlfriend. She looked more curvaceous and her skin appeared to be lighter, but it was definitely her.
Enahire was so shocked that he almost dropped the picture, and he grabbed it just before it hit the floor. With shaking hands, he placed the picture back on the desk and walked out of the office, as he wondered what the right emotion he was supposed to feel with that new discovery should have been.
On the day of the Christmas party, Enahire had a plan: To be as inconspicuous as possible. He had planned for all possible eventualities, and he hoped that he would not have to see Chief unless it was absolutely neccessary.
‘E-Boy! I can see that all of your hard work has paid off!’
Enahire sighed at the sound of Chief’s voice. He smiled in apology to the Caterer whom he had been speaking with, and braced himself as he turned around.
‘Good Evening Sir!’
‘Good Evening, E-Boy. Have you met my wife?’ Chief gestured at the beautiful woman with long hair standing beside him.
Enahire looked at Rolake, and before he could say anything, she stretched her bejewelled hand out to him.
‘I’ve heard so much about you, well done, the hall looks great’.
‘Thank you very much’. He shook her hand. She did not look surprised to see him, and she was pleasant enough, but did not give any indication that they had ever met before.
So, I guess this is how we will play it, Enahire thought as he let go of her hand.
He excused himself under the guise of making sure that all of the arrangements were in place. He could not shake of the feeling that Rolake was watching him as he walked away.
The Christmas party was in full swing, with alcohol flowing and senior management dancing to ‘Soco’ by Wizkid. It was a spectacle, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Enahire felt his phone vibrate in his jeans pocket, and he stepped outside the hall through a side door as he brought it out. It was Emem, his girlfriend, calling. He sighed as he let the call ring out. He suspected that she wanted to break up with him because she had sent him a ‘we need to talk’ message on WhatsApp two days before, which he had not replied. He knew that he had not been the most attentive boyfriend in recent months, but he was not ready to let her go.
He did the most logical thing he could think of to do in that situation: pretended that there was no problem in the hopes that the problem would magically sort itself out.
‘Is it really you?’ Even before Enahire turned around, he knew that it was Rolake who spoke.
He turned, and there she was, looking like a tall apparition in a short black lace dress and red lipstick…
(The concluding part will be uploaded soon!).
Written by Ivie M. Eke January 2019.