FINDING RESPECT

I find it amazing the way some men do not have respect for both themselves and for the environment. You walk on the streets and a man somewhere is peeing in a corner or by a gutter or worse, by the fence of a house. It is absolutely DISGUSTING.

Finding Respect

Is it that the men do not have control of their bladders or that they do not have any shame? I sometimes wonder. Have you ever seen a woman brazenly pee on the road? In fact, if any woman dare try it, the same men who would not bat an eyelid to pee on the road will be the first to cast a stone.

If you feel a woman should not open up her privates to the world, then why should you, a man also do same. Whatsoever is good for the goose, should also be good for the gander. I guess some are already thinking what the solution should be then? Thankfully, filling stations, eateries and supermarkets have restrooms. They may not be your perfect choice in terms of cleanliness but at least, they serve the short-term purpose. Even open markets now have public restrooms. You only need to pay a token to use them.

So before you zip down by the roadside, think of the environment; just in case your respect is no longer important to you. Imagine, people peed outside your fence every day, I guess the stench around your house will always welcome you home.

CUSTOMER SERVICE AS A SCHOOL SUBJECT.

Have you walked into an organization to receive a service and the personnel attending to you picked up a call on his/her mobile phone and started chatting away without regard for you? Have you walked into a bank and greeted a teller who frowns back with a response or probably ignored your greeting? Have you purchased an item in a service company and when it is time to get your change, you are told “I don’t have change, ma/sir”? Have you called an organization on the telephone and asked to receive a service and you are told to call the mobile phone of the staff who is meant to render the service. I am sure a number of us can relate with these scenarios.

Some time ago, a customer service personnel in a bank refused to look at me while he attended to me. In my part of the country, we say “Ojú lòró wà – Talk is in the face (literal meaning)”. You communicate better when you look at the person you are talking to. The excuse I got from his boss later (who by the way was also clueless) was that he was fasting and did not want to look at a woman.

Really??? My response to his boss was that he should have taken some days off work during his fast, since his mind was so small. Alternatively, he should have asked to be moved to another department for the period of his fast where he does not have to look at a woman. Ridiculous, right?

I think customer service should be a subject taught in secondary schools. Secondary schools because, not everyone has the opportunity to attend a tertiary institution. Secondly, for those without this opportunity who go straight into the labour market, their mindsets would have been ingrained with the ethics of customer service.

It is sad and annoying when a customer service personnel treats you like you are being done a favour. Without the customer, would they still be in employment? It would make a lot of difference if all organizations went an extra mile to provide quality customer service ‘cos as they say “The customer is King”.

To Love and to Hold – Chapter 1

Fadeke cursed under her breath as the lift reached the fifth floor. It was 8.45pm on Friday, and she had not planned to leave her office late. Her boss had given her a task that had to be completed before she went home or which she had to be at work early on Saturday morning to finish. Fadeke didn’t work on Saturdays because of her daughter, Kike. Weekends were the only times she had to spend with her; so, she worked late to free her schedule and be with her child.

The lift doors opened, and there – waiting to get on, was a man Fadeke knew very well – a man she had not seen in a while, and whom she was not sure she wanted to see again. On sighting the man, Fadeke’s first reaction was surprise, then curiosity, then anger; in quick succession.

The man, clad in a cream-coloured shirt, leaf-green tie and a navy blue suit which he slung over his shoulder, had taken a step towards the lift when he saw Fadeke. He was taken aback and took a moment to master himself.

‘Fadeke!’ He said slowly. ‘My eyes do not deceive me. Wh- what are you doing here?’

Fadeke looked at the man – the expression on her face a mixture of surprise, anger and disgust – and did not speak.

As the lift began to close, the man said – almost desperately, ‘Hold it, please.’

In that moment, as the lift doors slid to a close, Fadeke knew she did not want to be anywhere alone with this man, particularly not in a lift. But she acted against her better judgement and pressed the button to open the lift doors. The man stepped in.

‘Thank you,’ he said. ‘Fadeke, where have you been? I have been looking for you everywhere.’

Fadeke stayed silent; she searched her bag for her car keys.

The lift slid to the ground floor and the doors opened. Fadeke stepped out without a response and headed for her car, parked behind the building.

‘Fadeke. Answer me, please. Say something.’ The man half-ran, trying to keep up. As he fell in line with her, he touched her arm.

‘Don’t!’ She raised a warning finger. ‘Don’t you dare touch me!’ Her voice seemed to be struggling between a whisper and a scream. But it also had an icy quality to it, like the voice of someone who had the capacity for violence.

‘But Fadeke, what have I done? What happened? I have been looking for you these past six years.’

‘And you have found me.’ She said with venom in her voice.

On getting to her car she stopped, looked him full in the face for a brief moment; she got into her car and drove off.

Chinedu stood there, shocked.

***

‘My mummy has come,’ Kike said, jumping up and grabbing her teddy bear. She tapped her nanny, who was dozing. ‘Ma Win, Ma Win, my mummy has come.’

Ma Win opened her eyes and smiled at the adorable child. ‘Your mum is here? How do you know?’

Just then, Fadeke honked twice – one long piim, and a short one, almost a click. It was her way of announcing her return.

Mrs Winnie – everyone called her Ma Win – was Fadeke’s neighbour of five years. At 57, Ma Win was a widow whose husband had died of a cardiac arrest. She had five adult children who rarely visited because they lived abroad. Ma Win had declined all their offers to relocate her abroad. Though she wanted for nothing, and her children called her every day, she needed to do something to keep agile. So, she opted to care for Kike; she had been doing so for four years.

‘Mummy!’ Kike shouted as Fadeke opened the door; Kike ran into her waiting arms. The teddy bear was temporarily forgotten.

‘How are you, honey?’ Fadeke asked, swinging her daughter round.

‘I’m fine, Mummy. How are you?’

Fadeke raised an eyebrow. ‘What did you learn at school today?’

‘Mummy, you have not answered my question. I said, how are you?’

‘Welcome, 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. ‘We’ll be going home now.’ Home was the flat next door. Only a small wall separated Fadeke and Ma Win’s flat

‘Well done, Fadeke.’ Ma Win patted Kike on the back. ‘Kike, let your mother rest.’

‘Yes, Ma Win,’ Kike said without letting go of Fadeke’s hand.

Fadeke was inwardly grateful to Ma Win. She was so grateful because for Kike, the answer to one question was the cue for another. If Fadeke had responded to her daughter’s question with a ‘fine, my sweetness,’ the next question would have been ‘Are you sure, Mummy?” to which Fadeke would have answered in the affirmative and Kike would have raised another question. Fadeke did not mind playing this game and nurturing her little angel’s mind, but not today. She was too tired.

‘Fadeke, will you have something to eat? It is late and you can’t start cooking now,’ Ma Win said.

‘No, thank you ma. I am not hungry.’

‘Are you sure? Kike and I cooked fried rice. Kike says you’ll like it very much.’

‘Yes, Mummy. We cooked green rice,’ Kike piped.

‘Thank you, sweetheart,’ Fadeke said to Kike and turned to Ma Win. ‘Thank you for the offer ma, but I’m really not hungry.’

‘Okay dear,’ Ma Win said. ‘I will pack it for you.’

‘Thank you. Ma, have you eaten this evening?’

‘Of course, you know I shouldn’t eat late at my age.’

‘I know, but I brought you some fruits. Kike let’s go and get fruits for Ma Win from the car.

‘Yes, Mummy.’ Kike ran out, holding her teddy by the ear.

‘You spoil me, you know.’

‘Do I have a choice? I am the only child you have here,’ Fadeke said, smiling.

‘Thanks, dear.’

That night, after Fadeke had put Kike to sleep and laid down to sleep herself, her mind riveted on her encounter with Chinedu. What was he doing in the building? It had been six years since they last saw each other: six years of pain and heartache; six years of hurt and abandonment. As her thoughts started to reach into the past, sleep took over her body.

***

Chinedu could not believe what happened. He could not remember, after Fadeke drove off, how he got to his car and drove home. Everything had happened as if in a dream – a dream from which he should not have woken up. What he wanted was for the dream to wind back to Fadeke standing in the lift. He wanted Fadeke to scream and fly into his arms in a passionate hug. He wanted to feel her warmth on his skin. He wanted to be reminded of her favourite Daisy fragrance by Marc Jacobs. He wanted to tease her like he used to and call her round cheeks puff-puff.

But what happened was not a dream. He had met Fadeke and she had ignored him. He had been looking for her for six years; she never once left his mind. Everywhere he turned, he saw her. At a point, he had thought he was going crazy. Now, after six years, he had found her, and she had ignored him. He still found it hard to believe that it wasn’t all a dream.

As he tossed and turned on his bed that night he thought, What did I do wrong, Fadeke? After tossing on the bed for close to two hours, he rose and went to his living room. Since he could not sleep, he decided to watch television. As he turned on the TV, his mind went back to his first meeting with Fadeke.

——–

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Friendship by Force

I am reading the papers on my bed when my phone rings. It is not a known number and I wait a few seconds so True caller can pick the ID. It does, but the name doesn’t ring a bell. I pick the call all the same.

Caller: Am I speaking to Bukola?
BO: Yes.
He pauses a bit and I am beginning to wonder.
Caller: My name is G….(which is by the way different from what Truecaller spools) and I am calling you from …….(he mentions the government parastatal he works for). I was just scrolling through my phone now and I saw your name, so I decided to call.
BO: Okay?
I rack my brain in a bid to match the name and organization.
Caller: I want to know you.
I imagine that I did not hear that.
BO: You want to know me?
Caller: Yes, I want to know you. (probably smiling sheepishly).
BO: Have we met before?
Caller: No, we haven’t. That is why I want to know you”.

To say I am stunned is an understatement.
BO: You see my number on your phone, but we haven’t met before….
Caller: Yes, I was scrolling through this True something….
BO: Truecaller.
Caller: Yes, Truecaller and I saw your number and decided to call you.
BO: Is that how you just pick up the phone and call people you have never met before just so you can know them?
Caller: I don’t think there is anything wrong in knowing you. Can I ask you a question?
BO: Go ahead.
Caller: Are you married?
BO: Yes, I am.
Caller: Do you have a friend?
This is beginning to get interesting.
BO: Do I have a friend?
Caller: Yes, do you have a friend? I mean, do you have friends?
BO: Yes, I have friends.
Caller: So how did you meet them?
BO: Excuse me, where is this going?
Caller: You probably met some of them through Facebook or other social media. You know, people meet that way, start chatting, then hook up.
BO: Sorry, if I have never met you, then you cannot be my friend. I don’t hook up with people I meet on Facebook. Besides, friendship is a choice. It is not by force. So, I do not wish to know you.

He tries to laugh, maybe to lighten the discussion. I imagine.

Caller: But people meet that way, become friends and……
BO: I am not “people”. I am “me”.

He is talking but I am no longer listening. This discussion is taking too long and I am getting upset.
BO: What exactly is the purpose of this call?
Caller: Ahh….
He exclaims and cuts the call. I give a long hiss and go back to reading my papers.

Really???? Some folks must be either jobless or have lots of call credit to burn.

Are courteous doctors in short supply?

As I sit patiently in the hospital hall with my daughter, I decide to ring the specialist. “Good morning Doctor, this is Mrs. A. I just wanted to inform you that we are already here”. I get only an “okay” as a response.

We are an hour earlier than the scheduled time but knowing how our government hospitals can be, it is a decision taken intentionally. My daughter and I decide to keep ourselves busy with our novels.

One hour later, the specialist arrives and we are summoned into the consulting room shortly after. Then, I get the shocker. “Madam, I don’t think I have met your daughter before and I do not have her case note. She wasn’t transferred to me”.

I look at her like she has suddenly grown two heads. “Her last appointment was in November with the previous specialist. She was brought in by her dad. She told me you gave her your number and informed her that you were her specialist going forward”.

“Well, I don’t know about that. What I know is that I do not have her case note. Besides, you would have to purchase the items I would use in attending to her today”. She continues.

“I paid for all the items when we started this procedure with the previous specialist. Are you saying it is exhausted?” I ask in confusion. “I don’t know if it is exhausted. It is possible it is and also possible it is not. But since I cannot find her case note and her items, you need to purchase the items again. I cannot use another patients’ items to attend to her”. She says.

“I am just surprised that you do not have her case note. She was transferred to you by the previous specialist”. I say. “Madam, it is either you get the items so I can attend to her or you see another doctor. She is not even my patient yet. She was not transferred to me. No doctor will take over another doctor’s patient. I just decided to attend to her because you called me to book an appointment for today”.

Now, I flip. “Excuse me, I do not know your policies or procedures here…..”That is what I am trying to explain to you. Do you understand? She interrupts. “You have explained nothing and no, I do not understand. My daughter is sitting right in front of you. It is strange to hear you say, you have never met her, meanwhile she got your mobile number from you. It still beats my imagination.

I then decide to give our specialist some education which unfortunately is done in the presence of her junior colleagues. “I also work in an organization and currently on days off. I have a colleague who I have handed over my duties, to relieve me for the time being. If for any reason, I have missed out something in my hand over, it is her duty to place a call to me so that she gets the job done seamlessly. I assume a consultant will decide who my daughter is transferred to”. She responds in the affirmative.

Another staff is called to get me the item while a junior doctor calls me aside to apologize and also explain the situation. This time, the explanation is devoid of all form of nastiness.

I get the item and in this era of cashless economy, they do not possess a POS. I walk another 400metres to get cash from an ATM.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the consultant transfers our file to the same specialist. We proceed on another long wait as Doctor Specialist takes her time to attend to her own patients before any transfer patient. It is no longer “first come, first served”.

My daughter is called in after I ask our all powerful specialist a straight faced question “When are you going to attend to us? And I get a “Very soon” as an answer.

5 hours after, my daughter and I walk out of the hospital premises. I give special kudos to our previous specialist. She was such a darling with no airs around her.

The end of the road

Tears streamed down his face as he looked at her as if in a trance. “Do you understand me, Fiyin?” Mrs. Abdullahi asked. “I wish it did not have to end this way but it is a decision both of you will regret later in life. I know you love my daughter very much but it is better to let go now”.

“Okay ma”. Fiyin managed to say. He truly loved Fatima and he had proved it to her on so many occasions. But as her mother had advised, they had to end their relationship. He could not bear it and he broke down in tears again.

Valley of Decision

They both attended the University of Lagos and it had been love at first sight for him. They quickly became an item on campus and some of their course mates had teased them a number of times to get married immediately after school.

However Fatima was never comfortable with the relationship. She had mentioned to Fiyin that she was a sickle cell patient but instead of getting discouraged, it only fuelled Fiyin’s love for her.

She had quite a number of attacks and Fiyin was always by her side to comfort her. He did not care that he missed classes just to be with her.

Mrs. Abdullahi had noticed this and on one of such occasions while Fiyin sat by Fatima’s bedside, she had called him aside and asked for his genotype. “I don’t know ma”. He had answered. “That is very bad, Fiyin. At your age, you should know your genotype. I would advise you find out immediately”.

The test result had shaken him. He was a sickle cell carrier. The little knowledge he had of genetics, told him that getting married to Fatima was risky.

As Mrs. Abdullahi patted his hand, he looked up at her and she smiled sadly. “It is time to say goodbye to Fatima but I will always remember you as the boy who loved my daughter with so much passion”.

———-

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The Unexpected Visitor

Anyone looking at her would assume she was in labour. Sweat beaded on her forehead as she panted; breathing in and blowing out air the next minute. She looked up at the air-conditioner which was blowing at full power. It made no difference.

Her colleagues sitting on each side patted her hands continuously. “We would soon be there”. Chinedu said. “Just hold on”. Amaka told her. She looked at their faces and parted the curtains of their staff bus. They were at a standstill. Tears pooled in her eyes. She tapped her feet continuously as if that would make the traffic disappear. “Oh Jesus”. She said.

The staff bus saw an opening and maneuvered its way out. In less than twenty minutes, the bus parked in front of their office. She jumped down the bus and ran into the office hardly acknowledging the greetings from the security personnel at the door.

She dumped her bag on her desk and headed for the restroom. As she sat on the toilet bowl, her tummy rumbled as if it knew that it was time to let go. “Thank God”. She said knowing fully well that she was so close to pooping in her panties.

Unscheduled Visit

He walked with a spring in his steps. He checked his wristwatch and the time read 11.00a.m. He had seen the two girls earlier and had tried to chat with them. The sisters had come to get pepper blended close to his house when he spotted them.

He had asked their names and they had obliged. “Where do you stay?” He had asked. “Just down the road”. One of the sisters had replied. “Where exactly?”. “Why do you want to know?” Another sister responded.

They got their pepper blended, secured the bowl so the contents wouldn’t spill and headed home. Unknown to them, he had beckoned on a friend and they had followed the sisters trying to find out where they lived.

As the sisters walked into their house, closing the gate behind them; the boys turned back smiling. They had accomplished their mission.

Bouncing, he intended to go pay them a surprise visit along with his friend. He walked confidently towards the house he had seen from afar earlier in the day. “Are you sure about this?” His friend asked as they moved closer to the house. “Of course, they are beautiful chicks. You talk to the younger one and I will talk to the older one. They are very young and I am sure the older one would not mind having me as a boyfriend”. He boasted.

They approached the house and rang the door bell. “Who is there?” The older sister asked. “It’s me, Darlington”. He blushed. “Darlington? What are you doing here?” She asked without moving closer to the gate. “Please just let me in. I just want to chat with you and keep you company”.

She opened the gate half way, standing in the way. “What do you want? And how did you know our house? Who is this?” She bombarded him with questions and looked towards his friend.

“Ahn, ahn, I thought you would even welcome us in”. She was about to give him a response when her younger sister walked out. “Sis, who are you talking to?” She asked. “Can you imagine Darlington is here with a friend”. “What? How did he find our house?” “I just asked the same question”. The younger sister walked back into the house leaving her elder sister at the gate.

“You should leave now. We are not interested in chatting and we do not need your company”. “It’s unfair that you would turn us back without even welcoming us into your house”. He said. “I said you should leave now. Don’t you understand English?” She tried closing the gate but he held on to it trying to cajole her.

All of a sudden, her younger sister walked out of the house with a machete. “What are you still doing here?” She waved the weapon over her head walking towards Darlington and his friend. “You want our father to kill us?”

Darlington stepped back and saw that his friend had already run down the road. He also quickened his steps and started running. The sisters burst out laughing. “Can you imagine? They couldn’t even wait”. They hi-fived and hissed. “He wants to put us in trouble”.

They were truly young. The elder aged 12 and the younger aged 10 and they both knew that their father was going to deal with them if he found out they had entertained boys.

Unfamiliar Familiarity

He had been trying to catch her attention. Unfortunately, she was unaware. She walked into her lecturer’s office with two of her friends. He was seated in front of the lecturer. This was his golden opportunity and he was not going to let it pass.

“Good morning sir”. The ladies chorused. “Good morning ladies”. The lecturer smiled back.

He looked up to her in particular and said, “Hi, what’s that your name again?”
She looked confused “I have never told you my name”.

It was a blow he wasn’t expecting. He must have assumed she would fall for that. “Errmm…erm…oh, you probably look like someone I know, apologies. He introduced himself and she also did.

Better, what was all that for? She thought as she faced her lecturer to continue her business of the day.