NIMI PETERS by Grace Ochigbo
Mr Johnson sipped his mixed-fruits green tea as he scrolled through one of his three Ipads, sorting out the lots and lots of mails he got over the past few days he spent at the hospital. Being an extremely lazy person when it comes to reading mails, he seemed to be responding to one per day. He sipped the tea again and suddenly got fed up with his mailbox even though it’s been only few minutes since he logged in. He started checking out headlines from the different newspaper mobile apps installed on his phone instead. Somehow, he felt indebted to Nimi Peters – the young man stood out for him all through the time at the hospital and much more defended a very serious matter that reportedly arose while he was bedridden.
Mr Johnson didn’t believe the narrations he got. Probably because he wouldn’t believe that Chief Ogbonna would suddenly team up most members of the board of directors asking to sell out more percentages of shares so as to overthrow him in the company. It was after some years of inheriting Crestac company from his mother, sequel to her death, that he needed to expand. He had to start up the expansion work proper and that was by leaving their initial location and coming into Abuja fully. Starting up the company from the scratch was the craziest of task he had ever undertaken, but for resilience and persistence. Chief Ogbonna, who has been his friend from way back, later suggested they throw opportunities open to the public to buy shares. Ike however insisted and even made sure that Johnson owned the bulkiest percentage of the shares because in his own words, ‘so your ownership doesn’t get hijacked from you overnight’. Because of the company’s prospects, even though on paper, a lot of individuals and companies alike bought into Mr Johnson’s ideas and bought heavy shares.
So he expanded.
He and the shareholders, Ikechukwu inclusive, have been running the company that way for about thirty years now and Johnson has watched the baby Crestac grow to the multimillionaire company it is today. So it didn’t just make any sense hearing from Nimi about a ploy and that his friend teamed up some members of the board to agitate for more percentage shares from his company just within one week of combatting a chronic heart attack. He confronted Ike though, and the man had denied it upfront. There was no proof anyway so it could just be Nimi’s assumptions. Mr Johnson felt Nimi was just being paranoid. It may even be a way of revenging Chief Ogbonna for having him kidnapped. Whatever the grievances were, he hopes all would soon be resolved.
Joelyn came down the stairs slowly. She glanced at her father on the dining table. His briefcase was sited beside him. She knew going to work would be the next thing on his mind. All he needed to do was to finish up the remaining little content from his customised tea cup. She drew nearer. Her heartbeat had increased so much so that she heard it loudly in her ears. Ever since the ‘suicide attempt’, her escape from the hospital that gave her father a heart attack, and ever since his discharge from the private ICU, they’ve become like strangers under the same roof. She had her own problems to deal with and the mere fear that Tolu must have laid ambush for her had kept her in the house all day.
She used to have a driver and a security personnel follow her around when she was younger, much younger. She still had her mother with them then. It was her truancy and stubbornness that frustrated that gesture. She categorically told her father few years after her mother left that she wasn’t interested in that type of life anymore. Mr Johnson had tried to bring her back to ‘her senses’ but her mind was made. She was initially sent to Cambridge but she brought herself back after a year, saying she couldn’t cope and all she wanted to do was Photography. It was after much persuasion that she managed to finish from Bingham University, B.A Linguistics. Ever since then, she had lavishly spent her father’s money attending different trainings and seminars dealing with Photography. With few connections here and there, she can’t say she has arrived in the photography industry yet, but she knows it was just few steps away from the Nigeria’s vivacious photographer, Ty Bello, her role model.
“Good morning Father!” she pulls a seat beside him and sat.
“I heard you no longer leave the house?” he drops the newspaper and his eyeglasses.
Joelyn took in a deep calming breath. She was quite relieved that the man wasn’t frowning or raising his voice while talking. At the same time, she doesn’t know if it would be a good idea to tell her father what ensued between Tolu and her. The man would have the police get the poor boy arrested, and that would be mean on her side. Whatever Tolu was doing to her now, however painful, she wouldn’t bring herself to really hurt him. She couldn’t forget what he did for her and how they met. She wasn’t going to repay him that harshly.
“Yes sir. I’m taking a break… to recuperate.” She gave a smile that didn’t look convincing.
“Very well then. I would have a vacation arranged for you. It won’t hurt to take your break in the Bahamas.”
Joelyn smiled uncomfortably. She felt like her father was trying to get rid of her. “It’s not a bad idea Father, but I think I want to enjoy the comfort of my father’s mansion much more. I want to inhale the blissfulness in the garden, absorb the soothing water from the pool. I want to be here, father, curled up on my large bed and reading some of my long time novels mum read out to me while I was three.” her voice shook towards the end.
Her father moved his hand and patted her lightly with smiles. “You miss her that much, don’t you?”
“Every second, father.”
He brought her head closer to his chest and stroked her hair.
“Father, you don’t appear as though you miss an inch of her.”
“Chiamaka, you wouldn’t know that. Adults are complicated people.”
Joelyn smirked. “Well, I am an adult also.”
Mr Johnson smiled, turning concerned eyes on his daughter and as if he suddenly noticed how grown and big she has become. Time flies indeed, and of course he should be preparing to hand her over to a well-deserving man soonest. He was somehow grateful that alleged pregnancy for that her never-do-well boyfriend got terminated. He wouldn’t have any claim to lay on his beloved daughter anymore.
Joelyn’s voice startled him. He quickly readjusted and looked at her.
“What exactly happened between you and mother? She loved me, I never saw you both fight even once. You both were individually rich. Why did she leave you? Why did she leave us?”
Mr Johnson swallowed. Was he ready for this kind of discussion this early? No! He has to wave her off as soon as possible, but he needed to be careful while at it, so she doesn’t go off attempting suicide again. He opened his mouth to speak, immediately his phone buzzed and started to ring. He stretched out, removing Joelyn’s head off his chest in the process. Seeing the caller’s ID, he quickly swiped right the red button.
“Ike! Isn’t this too early? I…” he paused as though he was interrupted. “…alright, I’ll be on my way right away!” he put his iphones in the compartment of the bag where they belong while saying this. He ended the call and got up hastily, jerking Joelyn.
“Daughter, I need to be at the office immediately, darling. We would talk sometime!” he saw the disappointed look on his daughter’s face but he had to ignore it right now. All he was trying to gather and the much wealth he was amassing was for her to lead a good life after his demise.
“Father… but…” Joelyn hesitated.
Mr Johnson quickly pecked her on the forehead. “We will talk about it daughter, just when it’s time. Enjoy your day too.”
He hurried out through the door where his personal assistant was already waiting up to collect the bag and lead him to the particular car he would be using today.
“Breakfast is ready Mr Nimi Peters.”
Nimi smiled as he approached the dining table. “I’m not used to hearing that from you. Since when did you start calling me that, Fiyinfoluwa?
“Since your promotion as General Manager of Crestac. I know you weren’t promoted today, right? It’s probably just dawning on me, maybe.” She sounded cynical as she said this.
Nimi chuckled lightly and opened one of the covered plates in the tray.
“Oh! God! I was just about reminding you that I don’t regularly take breakfast, but you see these mashed eggs and boiled yam I’m seeing and the aroma clouding my nose, my appetite centre has been stimulated.” He nudged her playfully, before dragging out a seat and taking it. Fiyin fetched a plate and dished out the hot deliciously-looking meal.
“I made same orange juice last night too. I should serve you now? It would be as perfectly chilled as you like it.” she was already halfway into the kitchen as she said this. She returned almost immediately with a transparent jug in her hand and a tumbler.
“I hope I haven’t signed a ‘fattening’ contract in this house like this o. I’m an amateur model o. I don’t want o.” he murmured with yam in his mouth.
Fiyin stopped pouring the juice. “Which don’t you want? The juice?”
“Oh No nau! I want the juice.”
Fiyin laughed loudly at that action. She enjoys teasing him. Ever since she let him taste the raw orange juice she made four days ago, he’s been all about her making another. So much gratitude in her heart for this one young man who had become her pillar when she lost her father, and who also trailed them down to their shop that night. Nimi had told her he was at her house with Edwards earlier and when he saw it under lock and key, he had figured where they would be. She explained to him what transpired between her and her father’s people; how she was never going to that house again and planned on sleeping in the shop till they are both able to get another accommodation. Nimi had insisted they come stay in his house that night. She was reluctant, but later bulged.
Living under the same roof with her crush for about a week now made her see the very jovial side of the much talked about Nimi Peters, especially when he was playing Real football video games with Deji. Nimi would scream, shout, laugh like a child and even roll back on the rug when defeated. Those were endearing to her heart. Her brother seemed to have accustomed himself so much to the house within this short time that anyone would think he had known Nimi all his life.
“Where is Deji?”
“He had gone to the buka. I’ll need to go there too and put some things in order before coming down to the company.
“I thought you were given a break at the company’s cafe?”
“Yes. For this week. I actually want to come say thank you to my madam and everyone else that reached out during Baami’s burial.”
“That’s good. Pa Lawal was a very good fellow. I personally liked and respected him. Who would have thought the last time I saw him, the morning I just returned from Texas would be the last time I would ever see him? Such is life.” He pauses briefly. “I’ll drop you off at the shop then.” he wiped his mouth with a serviette and picked up his plates to go return it to the kitchen. Fiyin tried to stop him in futility so gave up much later. He returned almost after cleaning his plate in the sink.
“I have something I need to discuss with you when we all get back later in the evening. For now, let’s hurry!” he tapped her shoulder lightly and walked on in front of her.
Fiyin felt her heart miss a beat as she tried to imagine whatever he had to tell her. Maybe the feeling was mutual after all. She took a deep breath and cautioned her brain from going way ahead of herself, before hurrying after Nimi.
Edward hurried over to the shelf on which he normally keeps his car keys. He quickly pulled his suit jacket over his body as he grabbed the door knob.
Oh not now!
He almost spilled off his thoughts as his daughter ran over to meet him.
“Meet the pretty princess and she is dressed for school. Give daddy a High five, baby!” he teased and shook her, praying he would be able to get off her hold in the nearest and shortest possible time.
“Daddy, where are you going to?”
Edward felt stunned at that question but he just answered anyway.
“To the office, baby. Mummy would take you to school soon too, right?”
“No! You are the one to take me to school today!” Goldie protested. Wriggling her little body off her daddy’s grip. At this point Edward knew he got to tread with caution if he must make it down to that office at all today.
“Yes baby, mummy would do just that for daddy.” He let out a not-so-convincing smile.
“She would be having her presentation today!” Ele said, joining them in the sitting room.
Oops! How did he forget that his innate dancer of a daughter has been rehearsing for this day. She’s the lead cultural dancer for her house and all parents were invited to come watch their kids perform. He breathed in deeply. Goldie would be disappointed if he ever made her realise that he had actually totally forgotten about it.
“OK Baby! Daddy would just go to the office to inform his bosses that he would take the day off, then he would come join you and mummy at your school venue.” He touched her cheeks lightly yet the little girl didn’t give up frowning.
“That’s what you said last term daddy.” Goldie was crying now.
“Nimi is your new general manager, right? Why don’t you just call him to permit you, Honey? Goldie needs you at her school’s inter-house dancing competition today. She needs her father to watch her dance.”
Edward took in a deep breath. It was a good thing the CEO, Mr Johnson decided to relieve himself of some responsibilities after his discharge from the hospital. Appointing Nimi as the general manager wasn’t a surprise to any of them. They only hope the CEO’s health improves greatly now that some burdens were taken off him. But come to think of it, he didn’t plan to celebrate Nimi’s new position by asking for permission.
He didn’t have a choice now, does he?
Family over everything.
“You are finally not staying to have lunch, Ike?” Mr Johnson said as they walked out of the elevator to the interlocked beautifully designed large and expansive compound of the Crestac group of companies. Chief Ogbonna shook his head form left to right. He still had that intense frown squeezing his forehead as he walked on.
“If not for you Johnson, I would have dealt so mercilessly much with that little boy. I would deal with him in such a way that the next time he wants to lay allegations on me, he would think deeper.”
Mr Johnson smiled. “I can’t still believe that was why you came to see me in the office. We could always talk over the phone, Ike, or better still wait till I come to the lounge later tonight.”
Chief Ogbonna let out a dry hiss. “You? Lounge? Better take the doctor’s rest prescription, in your best interest. Anyway, the whole thing got on my nerves this morning and as usual I needed to vent it off.”
“I believe you. You know I told you that kidnapping him wasn’t a good idea then. He probably wanted to revenge too.” Mr Johnson let out a cocky smile as he said this.
“Better warm him. I can be as deadlier than a viper.”
“Ikechukwu, ogadagidi one. We know what you are capable of doing. Please, forgive my boy, biko!”
They waited as Chief Ogbonna’s driver drove closer to the front of the building. Just then Mr Johnson tapped his friend’s shoulders as he thought he saw a young woman walk past, towards the company’s cafeteria. He stared helplessly at her for so long till Chief Ogbonna brought him back.
“I suddenly feel like taking your advice, Ike.”
Chief Ogbonna smirked. “Of dealing with that your arrogant boy, right?”
Mr Johnson smiled. “Let Nimi be please. Why do you hate the poor boy so much? Anyway, I was talking about your advice of taking a new wife.”
Chief Ogbonna burst into a hysteric laughter, so much so that Mr Johnson felt embarrassed.
“Stop it, Ike. We are in the company’s building!”
“I know, my friend. You suddenly want to take another wife just because you saw one of your beautiful employees?” he sounded sarcastic.
Mr Johnson frowned. “No nau. We don’t even know if she works here or not.”
“With the way she spoke with the gateman, which I’m sure you didn’t even notice, to the way she walked into the café, I can bet on my last name that she works here. Anyway, I’ll have my boys get me ample details we can work with. Until then, keep your sudden feelings locked.” He winked wickedly at his friend.
Mr Johnson smiled back. “I know I can trust you with this, Ike. As usual.”
Chief Ogbonna looked in the direction of his car and started walking towards it, till someone came to open the back door for him. He sat in the heavily tinted mirrored car as it zoomed out of the company’s building.
It was past 10pm. Fiyin quickly locked up the doors and the iron protector as she hurried towards the dry streets. For weird reasons the street looked so deserted tonight and she couldn’t really tell why. Maybe there’s been a curfew, wasn’t aware of. She had missed Nimi’s calls earlier and she thought she heard her phone’s message tone ring about an hour ago. She quickly reached for her phone.
Her guess was confirmed.
There’s been a curfew and everyone should be indoors latest 9pm. Fear quickly gripped her as she didn’t know what to do. The customers at the Buka had left for some time now but she stayed back to clean and tidy up the place before leaving. She gave Deji some break as he needed to study to resume school back. Whether it was the fear or her mind playing pranks on her, she didn’t know which. She however felt eyes watching her as she walked into the silent night. Suddenly she glanced sideways. She felt it again, like someone was following her. She quickly turned back, there was no one there. She made up her mind not to be frightened. She would check the roads to see if there’s any hope of getting a vehicle. If not, she may just have to go back and probably sleep in the shop tonight. She saw a little light beaming from afar and her heart started racing heavily. She thought of running, but that would spell out more danger as whoever was in the car would want to pursue her. She stood, praying hard in her heart.
Alas. It was a private taxi.
She heard the thick voice from the person driving.
“Crown Court, Mabushi.”
The driver waved her to hop in. She made the sign of the cross involuntarily as she sat at the backseat not knowing whether it was a right option or not. She sat with her legs pressed together and eyes darting from one side to the other. Suddenly a phone rang and the driver picked it up.
“Yes! As stated, sir. Good.”
Fiyin didn’t understand that type of brief call. Something told her she was in danger even though she tried to convince herself against such thoughts. She drew her face nearer, hoping she would see the face of the person that owned such a husky voice.
He had a thick face cap on and the face cap sank deep, covering almost half of his face.
To be continued next Monday.
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Have a splendid week.