As the elevator stopped on the fifth floor, Fadeke cursed under her breath. She hadn’t planned on leaving the office late but with her boss giving her a deadline to be met that day, she had had no choice. She hated coming to work on Saturdays, so she had always decided that she would rather close late on Fridays. Her weekends were the only time she had to spend with Kike, so she tried as much as possible to clear out her schedule before the weekend.
The elevator opened and standing before her was someone she knew too well. She was too shocked to speak. Her immediate reaction was surprise and then anger; all her thoughts of going home in a hurry dissipating.
“Fadeke, what are you doing here?” Chinedu asked.
“What kind of question is that?”
As the elevator was about closing, he shouted, “Please hold it.”
She would rather be in the elevator alone than be with him. On second thoughts, she decided to hold the elevator to let him in. She angled her head to the side and kept a straight face frowning.
“Fadeke, where have you been? What are you doing here at this time of the night?”
The elevator got to the ground floor and opened up. Fadeke stepped out without a response and headed for her car parked behind the building.
“Fadeke, I am talking to you.” Chinedu said trying to keep up with her pace. As he fell in line with her, he pulled her by the arm.
“Don’t touch me. What do you want?” She screamed.
“But Fadeke, what have I done wrong? I have been looking for you for six years.”
“And now, you have found me.” She said with sarcasm.
On getting to her car, she pulled out her car keys and touched the unlock button. She entered her car without saying a word and drove off leaving Chinedu dumbfounded.
“My mummy is back.” Kike said excitedly tapping her nanny who was already dozing.
“Oh….did you hear the honk of her car?” Mrs. Winnie asked rubbing her eyes. She was Fadeke’s next door neighbour and they had lived in the same neighbourhood for over five years. At 57, she was a wealthy widow as her late husband had left all his businesses in her care before he died of a cardiac arrest. Her five kids were abroad each one heading one of their late father’s businesses. She however, needed to do something to get herself agile, so she opted to care for Kike; which she had been doing the past four years.
“Mummy”! Kike shouted as she ran and flew into her mum’s waiting arms.
“How are you, honey?” Fadeke asked swinging her daughter around; an everyday routine.
“Fine, thank you and you?”
Fadeke quirked an eyebrow. “Huh….what you were taught at school today?”
“Yes, mum and you are meant to give a response to my question as well”.
“Welcome back, Fadeke”. Mrs. Winnie who had been watching the little drama between mother and daughter interrupted. “Kike, your mum needs to rest. She’s tired”.
“Thank you, Ma Win”. Fadeke said calling Mrs. Winnie the pet name she and Kike had given her.
“I’d take my leave now. Kike, be good, okay?” Mrs. Winnie said patting Kike on the cheek.
“Yes, Ma Win”.
“Thanks Ma Win. Did you have something to eat?” Fadeke said still holding her daughter who had refused to let go.
“No, Fadeke, I’m not really hungry”.
“Ma Win, you should eat”. Fadeke said looking worried.
“My dear, I hear that phrase from you every night and sincerely, I am okay. At my age, I should stay away from late meals”.
“Okay. Please have some fruits then. Kike, please tell the cook to put some grapes and apples in a resealable bag for Ma Win. Let her put enough for the weekend”.
“Okay, mum”. Kike said as she darted towards the kitchen.
“You do spoil me, you know”.
“Do I have a choice? I am the only child you have here”. Fadeke said smiling.
As Fadeke lay on her bed that night, she reminisced over her encounter with Chinedu. What was he doing in the building at 9pm? It had been six years since they last saw each other. Six years of pain and heartache. As she tried to think about the past, she dozed off with just one issue on her mind; Chinedu.
Saturdays for Fadeke was a day to sleep in, laze around the house and watch movies with Kike. A few times, she attended parties organized by her friends but that was because she had been accused so many times of not honoring invitations. What they didn’t realize was that apart from work, Kike was all that mattered to her. She had resigned from her previous job to care for Kike and two years of her life had flown by with Kike as the focal point.
When Kike clocked two, she put her in a school close to her home and began the search for a nanny. She was very skeptical about a nanny who would take of her daughter just like she would. After about 3 months of an unfruitful search, she mentioned it to Ma Win during one of her weekend visits to her. She always took fruits to Ma Win every weekend.
“Ma Win, I need a nanny. Can you help me get one”?
“A nanny? Why do you need a nanny now, my dear”? Ma Win had looked at her with concern.
“I have been out of a job for two years already and the earlier I get back to work, the better for my career. Kike has started school and I also need to get out and get a job as well”.
“Hmm, I know it hasn’t been so easy for you the past two years ensuring that Kike gets the best of everything, so I understand your need to get a job”.
“Yes Ma Win. Kike was the reason why I resigned from my previous job and took to buying and selling of jewelries”.
“Well, how far have you gone with your search”?
“I have seen a few people introduced to me by my friends but I am not satisfied with them. I need someone I would be very comfortable with”.
“Can I do the job then”?
“Oh, Ma Win, I knew I could count on you. So when would you bring the nanny? How long have you known her?” Fadeke said delightedly.
“Well, I have known her for over 50 years”.
“50 years”? Fadeke screamed. “That should be since you were born, Ma Win”.
“Yes ma’am”. Ma Win smiled sheepishly.
“Ok? So when should I expect to meet her”? Fadeke asked raising her eyebrows.
“Right now”? Ok, let’s get going then. I should have asked you three months ago. Thank you so much Ma Win”. Fadeke said standing up and hugging Ma Win who was still seated and smiling sheepishly.
“Fadeke, sit down”. Ma Win said tapping the seat beside her.
“I thought you said you would take me to her now”.
“I never said I would take you to her. I said you could meet her right now”.
“Ok? But you are still sitting down and….”
“Fadeke, sit down. You youngsters are so much in a hurry to do everything”. Ma Win said stopping her mid-sentence.
“I’m sorry. I should have asked if you were ready to go now.” Fadeke said full of remorse as she sat beside Ma Win.
“Fadeke, I am not taking you to meet any nanny. Your nanny is sitting right before you.” Ma Win said pinching the bridge of Fadeke’s nose.
“You? Ma Win, my nanny? No, I can’t do that to you.” Fadeke said standing up and shaking her head vigorously.
“Am I too old to be a nanny to your daughter? Or you aren’t also comfortable with me as well?”
“No, no. It is not about been too old or not being comfortable with you.” Fadeke said sitting down at Ma Win’s feet. “I love you like my own but…..”
“But what Fadeke, what aren’t you sure about?” Ma Win said lifting up Fadeke’s chin.
“I….I just feel like….I don’t want to be a burden, Ma Win.” She said stammering.
“And who said taking care of Kike, who I’m so fond of, by the way, would be a burden.
“Ma Win, Kike is a growing child. I can’t make you run around a child at your age.”
Ma Win burst into laughter that made tears spill on her cheeks. “Oh Fadeke!” She said still trying to control her laughter. “I need the running around, darling. I have been sitting down idle for too long and at this rate, I would become a couch potato very soon.
“Ma Win, a couch potato?” No way! Not you. You do your cleaning and cooking yourself.” Fadeke said smiling.
“And since you had Kike, do I need to remind you that you have stopped me from cleaning my own house by employing someone to do that for me.” Ma Win said emphatically.
“Okay, you win.” Fadeke said giving up.
“It isn’t a contest. It is an offer that you cannot refuse.”
“What would I do without you, Ma Win?” Fadeke said kneeling to hug Ma Win.
“A lot, my dear, a lot.”
This Saturday was however different from the rest. She had Chinedu on her mind the whole day. No matter how hard she tried to get him out of her mind, she kept on reminiscing on the previous night. Maybe he came to see someone in the building. No, he would probably have been leaving with whoever it was. It was quite late for anyone to still remain in the building working at that time of the day. Which company was on the 5th floor? She tried hard to think but couldn’t place it. The building had 15 floors with different organizations occupying every floor. Her office was on the 12th floor and in the three years she had worked in that building, she had never bothered to take note of the signage on the ground floor which displayed the organizations within the building. She was too engrossed in getting to her office and putting in her best than thinking of who did what on which floor.
She moved around the house ensuring the house keeper and the cook did as she bidded. She also took her time to sit with Kike and watch movies but everything she did, was on auto response; because this was her weekend routine.