‘NIMI PETERS BY GRACE OCHIGBO
The door fled open and Goldie literally jumped over Nimi, roughening his neatly ironed plane shirt. Nimi didn’t mind as he had missed her too. He grabbed her up in his hand while the other hand held tightly to the doll box he was carrying.
“Goldie, you are dirtying your uncle’s shirt!” Ele screamed as she hurried out from the dining room. She was roughly quite dressed.
“Come and take your lunch box, baby girl!” she ordered the little girl that Nimi just let down. He bent down to whisper something into her ears and handed the box over to her. The little girl was overjoyed as she hugged him again before remembering that her mom was calling her.
“I thought we agreed I would come get it after work today? Or you don’t want me coming over to your house because of Joelyn?” Edward reduced his tone towards the ending part of that statement, so mother and daughter wouldn’t hear him as they were busy tying Goldie’s shoe lace.
“Well, I’m here now.” Nimi stretched out the key in his hands.
“How was last night?” Edward had sincere concern in his eyes as much as it was in his tone.
Nimi shrugged. “Adventurous!”
“Adventurous?” Edward couldn’t believe his ears. Nimi that left this house as though he was having a deadline to beat was now saying the night was adventurous. How be it?
“Are you going to the office or not?” Nimi asked.
He knew his friend could open up a trail of discussion and inasmuch as he couldn’t wait to talk about the ordeals from last night, this wasn’t the right place neither was it the right time to say such things.
“Goldie, take care at school, right? Don’t forget what I promised you.” He called to mother and daughter who were still battling with dressing up for school in the dining room.
“Yes Uncle!” Goldie sounded excited.
“I hope you both don’t get late for school, Ele?” Edward demanded, standing up to join Nimi. “Anyway, call me if anything, OK! Love you wifey…” he walked to them now and pecked her forehead softly. “Daddy’s princess, take care of yourself at school, Ok?” He pecked Goldie as well.
“Yes Daddy!” she screamed. She’s always screaming for that matter, as though no one would hear her if she spoke a little lower than that.
Edward drove while Nimi sat narrating everything that happened the night before, not letting off the tiniest details. He described in an exaggerated way the food “the voice” had given him to eat. Edward was enjoying the story. He enjoys any story from Nimi that had a girl… a lady in it. It’s about time.
“Who did you tell her Joelyn was then and what happened after that?”
“Who I told her? Who she truly is na. What happened after that, like what? You know I’m celibate!” Nimi defended himself.
“You were staring at her at the cafeteria yesterday afternoon like you couldn’t wait to be left alone with her, just that same evening you got your wish granted and now you are defending celibacy? In fact, the mere fact that you are on the defensive is making me suspect you even more.”
“Suspect me? Over what?” Nimi pushed his office door open.
The drive was speedy and since Edward lives in the company’s staff quarters which wasn’t far from the company, they got there in the shortest space of time. Nimi on his own part refused to take an accommodation in the staff quarters for many reasons, top on the list was that he didn’t want to feel intimidated by the beautiful families of all the members of staff living there. He seemed to be the only one left of the officers of the company to get married and his boss bothers him about this from time to time.
“Good morning, sirs!” His secretary interrupted them immediately he closed the door after Edward entered.
They flashed a broad smile at her in response and walked on but she wasn’t done yet.
“The CEO called here three times already this morning, sir. He asked you come see him the moment you come into the office.” She said politely and returned her attention to the computer in front of her.
Edward looked at his wrist watch and looked unbelieving.
“Did the boss sleep in his office or something? It’s too early to have called thrice, right?” Edward was asking no one in particular.
Nimi couldn’t wrap his head around what the reason for this summon may be. Somehow he felt troubled but couldn’t place where he was perceiving this foul smell from.
“I’ll be in my office.” Edward patted him and walked away.
Nimi took a deep breath, dragged down his shirt and walked out behind Edward though in the direction of the CEO’s office.
“Don’t you think you are mounting so much pressure on the poor boy?” Peters Achile startled his wife.
She didn’t see him enter the kitchen earlier. She was mashing eggs at the same time deeply lost in thoughts. There are a lot of memories from her past that the present hasn’t been able to erase and whenever she sees the upspringing rebellion in Nimi, she’s forced to go down memory lane again.
“How can pressure be too much? Nimi is a successful young man, he is even too young for the kind of good success God has given him, what else is he possibly waiting for?” Nimi’s mother demanded.
Her husband smiled. He was in his early sixties and his once energetic self was beginning to mellow down in ectacsy. He loved Nimi – the young man was making him proud all the time. He had put in all he had to train Nimi and give him the best life, if not for anything, for the fact that he loves his mother dearly.
“An average young man loves his air. He loves to breathe and live. Let him live, Honey. When he is ready, we all will know. You remember my own case?” Achile raised his right eyebrow and lowered the other one.
His wife drew closer to him with a little smile dangling around her lips.
“Your time… our time was different, Oko mi. Moreover, you were so stubborn that you didn’t listen to whatever your relatives were saying.” She left off what she was doing and approached him, fixing her gaze on him the whole time.
“OK! Old woman, it’s time to go to work!” Achile said quickly while embracing her.
Ojima laughed hysterically. She was the jobless one here – the full time house wife. It wasn’t her husband’s making that she isn’t working even though the money he brings to the table was enough to take care of a family twice the size of theirs, and since Nimi got established some five years ago in Abuja, he had taken over the responsibility of Ojonugwa, their last child. Ojonukpe who is the second child and the only girl of the house was serving the country in Ibadan, she finished from Kogi state University.
“I didn’t stop you from going to work, Old man. Did I?” Ojima teased, running back to her frying pan on the fire. “…just that you must take breakfast before stepping out of this house. It’s yam and mashed eggs, just as you like it.”
Achile laughed. “I shouldn’t be eating breakfast to work, you know! I need maximum efficiency and not dozing off as an effect of over feeding.”
“Eat breakfast like a king and dinner like a beggar. You have to thank me for keeping you fit even at this age.” She winked at him.
Achile laughed again. “OK Doctor!” he teased and walked back into the dining room.
Joelyn opened the door as though being careful enough not to be noticed. Her father has brought unnecessary attention to her life and she hated it – so much for being the only daughter of a high class business tycoon. Many people would probably kill to be in her shoes but she doesn’t like who she is. She just wants to be a photographer, doing her business like it’s truly and only her business and not a news item for the press.
“Babe!” she called out.
Tolu turned around. He was looking out through the window earlier and either didn’t hear her open the door, even though she was very careful not to make a sound, or he was so lost in thoughts to notice his environment.
“I thought you were gone.” His husky, coarse voice came responding to her. He was barechested and his sagging trousers revealed almost the entire part of his undies. The tattoo all over his body would scare anyone… anyone except Joelyn of course.
“You cant face him, Babe! It’s better I leave than stay.”
“What are you talking about, Jo? Is it about that your model?” Anger was springing up in Tolu’s voice.
“He is only helping my business. He is not a model.”
“Whatever. Damn you, Jo. Damn everyone.” Tolu cut in, slamming his hand hard against the wall. It was so hard that it left a mark on the wall.
“Calm down, Babe! We can always work things out.” Joelyn held onto his hand now with pleading eyes.
He threw his face away. He was so angry that his hands vibrated as Joelyn held onto it.
“I promise. I’m doing all I can to see to it. We would work things out, just give me some time.”
Tolu turned his face to her now and dragged her up onto a chair. Joelyn wiped at the tear drop in her eyes and didn’t look up at Tolu, instead concentrated her gaze on the table. She saw little wrapped papers in a nylon and knew what they were but couldn’t say anything. Tolu still sounded angry and she wouldn’t want to aggravate him any further.
“Time is what we don’t have. Don’t you understand? Anyway, Jo, I need some money!” Tolu dragged another plastic chair from the other end of the disarrayed room and came to sit in front of her, staring face to face even though she avoided eye contact as much as possible.
“What? I gave you three hundred and fifty thousand naira just last week. What have you done with it? Traffic weed?” she yelled, moving her eyes from the nylon full of weed on the table, to his face. “Look Tolu, you can’t keep wasting money this way and expect manna to fall from heaven. I’ve asked you to get a job, this thing you are doing is very much illegal…”
“Nonesense!” He screamed, standing up. Joelyn was grateful the hand he threw carelessly didn’t meet her face. “Ooh! I’m jobless now? Joelyn, because you give me some chicken change from time to time makes me jobless? Damn. I knew it. You are a fucking crazy and annoying bitch.”
Joelyn swallowed. She shouldn’t have said what she said.
“Babe!” she called out softly
“Don’t babe me.” He retorted harshly.
“Tolu, my father has been too hard on me lately. He barely gives me enough money anymore. He feels I’m careless. Try to understand. I’m almost too broke myself.” She tried to explain.
“Suit yourself.” He hissed and stormed out of the room.
Joelyn fell into the chair and swallowed painfully.
“Inasmuch as I want you to be with her, I won’t like you disrespecting my daughter before the proper rite is carried out.” Mr Johnson’s voice hits Nimi just before he barely let off the handle of the door.
The latter was obviously confused as to what his boss was referring to, but he maintained his composure as usual.
“Good morning, sir.”
“There is obviously nothing good about this morning.” Mr Johnson retorted.
Wow! Nimi wasn’t getting it. Why was the man so harsh towards him this morning, quite unusual.
“Joelyn said you invited her over for the night?”
“What?” Nimi exclaimed. His eyeballs almost pulling out of its cage.
“You see, young man, I know all of these things you little children of nowadays do. I was once like you, in fact, I was far worse than you…” Mr Johnson started. Nimi’s fist was rolled into a ball. God help him he doesn’t injure his boss’ dentition this morning. The older man didn’t bother at all, he only continued.
“When they say ‘the bed undefiled’, it’s not some wild joke or a statement from careless gist. It’s truly more honourable to stay chaste until marriage night.”
“What on earth are you talking about?” Nimi yelled before he could stop himself.
Mr Johnson smiled. Everyone of his actions ended up infuriating Nimi the more and he really wish the man can take a sneak peep into his head right now to see how much he would be burnt. It was like a fiery furnace was left sitting comfortably in his head, ready to burn off anything that tries to come near it.
“Have your seat, young man.”
He heard Mr Johnson call out to him. He looked on at the chair offered him for so long as though he was gauging the ability of that chair to carry his weight all of a sudden. He took a deep breath and sat down… he didn’t sit into the chair like he would usually have anymore.
“I would be fifty by December.” Mr Johnson announced and if not that the man was much older than him, Nimi felt the impulse to respond with a very sarcastic answer like ‘good for you’, but he maintained himself. He had yelled earlier. It’s not good for his reputation to disrespect elders.
Mr Johnson smiled as he noticed Nimi’s eyeballs drilling into his bones like he could pull out all the words therein. He wasn’t moved by that, he took his time to talk. Depicting the intimidating aura of a stinkingly rich man.
“I’ve been running Crestac for the past twenty-six years, after I inherited it from my mother… may her gentle soul rest in perfect peace.” His voice suddenly turned sober.
Nimi didn’t know what he was expected to say or do. He just watched on, hoping his boss would increase the speed with which he spoke this time… all to no avail.
“I’ve watched this company blossom from where my mother left off… poor woman, she really put her best into this, making sure she left an inheritance that would serve me all my life. And as you can see, it’s not just serving me, but you and everyone else that work in this multimillionaire company.”
Nimi wasn’t sure he wanted to hear all these histories. He had heard them over and over again, few of the advantages… or are there disadvantages? Few of the things that comes with being familiar with one’s boss. You get to hear things that normally shouldn’t be told you that easily. Why the older man is taking him through this lecture again this morning beats his imagination. He had to catch patience and listen nonewithstanding.
“Everyone knows I have only one beautiful daughter, even though she isn’t really living up to expectation. I know she would turn out better, especially now that you both are in love…” he winked at Nimi.
“You don’t have to deny it, Nimi. We all know that when one is in love, he is usually the last person to realise it.” He smiled broadly again and Nimi grinded his teeth against each other angrily. Nimi wanted to defend himself and probably tell him the truth about what happened the night before, to tell him how Joelyn enjoys inconveniencing him and breaking into his house at will, but he refrained himself from it. Trying to defend anything may make him look like he was hiding something and sincerely he wouldn’t want his boss disturbing him more than this.
“My soul felt fulfilled last night, even though I wasn’t happy that you both are breaking normal procedures. But not to worry. You are a responsible young man, its just for you to set a date and everything would be done. I don’t mind spending my last dime for my daughter and you know it. You are not getting any younger yourself.” He was maintaining a relatively basal voice amidst it all and that angered Nimi even more.
“What exactly are you talking about, sir?” Nimi could taste anger in his own voice.
Mr Johnson smiled, “I have willed all my assets, that’s of course including this mega company, to my potential son-in-law, and I want you to be that lucky man.” He said quite bluntly and picked up his IPhone.
Nimi looked on as his boss typed away on his phone not believing what his ears just heard.
Zainab quickly tapped Fiyin’s shoulders.
“There goes our twin brother.” Zainab didn’t realise she was both screaming and pointing.
“His name is Nimi, Nimi Peters.” Fiyin corrected, blushing carelessly.
“Of course. I know his name. I’m not new here like you. Our twin brother is so cute!”
“Zainab! Drop your hand, he may see you.” Fiyin reflexively waved down Zainab’s hand.
“Let him see me na. You both look so alike. Are you sure you are not really twins?” Fiyin smiled at Zainab’s question. Funny indeed. She wasn’t sure she needed a twin brother in Nimi.
“Eheeen! How did you know his name anyway?” Zainab was really ready for gossip this morning as at other times.
Fiyin threw her shoulders up and down shyly. “I met him last night.”
“Wow!!” Zainab exclaimed, drawing closer to the side of the counter Fiyin was. Pairing them as waitresses today must be a great mistake.
“It’s not what you think, Zainab.” Fiyin was on the defensive, then something popped up in her head as Nimi opened the cafeteria’s door, he was followed by his friend as usual. They both seemed to be engrossed in a talk. “You know what? I’m out of here!” Fiyin announced and disappeared through the door to the backyard before Zainab could ask her further questions.
Zainab didn’t understand a thing of what just happened and she didn’t hide it. Everyone of them had a crush on Nimi Peters; he is black, with well built muscular stature, tall with a sensational touch of handsomeness. Perhaps Fiyin also was having a crush on him as well. Unfortunately, the young man seem not to have anyone’s time.
“Please bring us our usual… in take away packs.” Edward’s voice drew Zainab’s mind back to her duty post and she smiled courteously and hurriedly served them food. She turned to peep through the window at Fiyin. The latter opened back the door immediately the men were gone. She must have been watching them from her hiding position.
“Why did you run, Fiyin!” Zainab demanded, immediately Fiyin stepped into the enclosed counter.
She just smiled. “Did he ask after me?”
Zainab stared back at the other lady in utter dismay. “Ask after you? That one? Oh! Poor girl, you don’t know and you have not heard.” She sounded pathetic in a sarcastic way.
“Know what? And heard what?” Fiyin demanded innocently.
“Uhhh! That one? He doesn’t give a damn about any lady o. No matter how beautiful you are, Nimi Peters no send o. No be him fault sha. Rumour is ongoing that he would be marrying the CEO’s only daughter.”
Fiyin felt a big blow hit the left side of her head. Pangs of jealousy flew down her spine and she could barely say anything more.
“CEO’s only daughter?” she asked it like it was a statement.
“Yes na. You never hear? Her name is Joelyn. No be say the girl fine reach from here to there o, but there is nothing money cannot do.” Zainab rattled most parts in pidgin English and turned her face forward after drawing a very long hiss. She must really hate what she just admitted.
Fiyin felt her eyes filling up with water and she knew she needed to have a grip on herself. There was a large dose of truth in what Zainab just said, especially that she could remember the name ‘Joelyn’ from last night.
Could Nimi have lied to her? He practically waved her question by simply saying Joelyn was just a friend. She shook her head vigorously as though shaking those thoughts off it.