Samantha has finally found a job. For more than eight years she’d been on the job market. She finished her first degree ten years ago when she was 21 years old. She did her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) assignment in Cross River State in the south-east. She was a teacher. She had requested to be redeployed to Lagos where she had hoped to clinch a job with whichever company she served as a Youth Corper. But she was unsuccessful. After the NYSC assignment, she returned to Lagos, her base, where she lives with Sisi, her great-aunt.
Sisi, that’s the name she grew up calling her great-aunt. Even the lady’s four sons call her Sisi. When Samantha had asked why she was told that that was the title given to the lady by the family into which she married. Sisi is Itsekiri. She’s spent most of her life in Lagos. Samantha’s grandfather was Sisi’s brother. But his life was so short. It was said that he fought in the World War II and came back a very changed man. He died not long after his return from the battle-field. He had two daughters and a son. Sisi went back to Warri for her brother’s children. She brought them to live with her in Lagos. The girls didn’t pose any problem but the boy was quite a handful. He was only 15 years old when a young girl came to tell Sisi that she was pregnant with his child. He swore heaven and earth that the pregnancy wasn’t for him but Sisi told him that only a woman knew who the father of her child was. Sisi later went to see the girl’s parents. She promised to accept the baby. She also promised to give the girl a monthly stipend. Samantha is that baby. Her mother gave her to Sisi when she was a month old. Nothing’s been heard of the mother since then. When the father turned 17, he ‘stowawayed’ to Liverpool. For more than 20 years now no news from him or about him.
Samantha’s education and up-bringing fall on Sisi. The lady doesn’t grumble in doing this duty. Besides, Samantha is a clever and dutiful child. Sisi’s always proud to show off the report card of Samantha who is just like a child Sis had very late. Sisi’s sons are all married. That leaves only Samantha at home with their mother.
Samantha read English at the university for her first degree. She had applied for a state scholarship for another degree course in Law. After three years of hopelessly waiting for the scholarship, she decided to start applying for jobs. She was called for numerous interviews out of which she got nothing. She had started losing hoping when luck smiled on her. She saw a job vacancy in the papers and applied for the post of a personal assistant to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a company. She got the job. She was over the moon. She finally would be able to earn money and not wait for hand-outs. She wouldn’t have to be visiting the ‘bend down’ boutiques in Yaba for her clothes and shoes anymore. She would be buying foodstuffs into the house. She’ll be able to give back to Sisi from whom she has received so much. She was happy, very happy.
The first month at the job was exciting. She studied her boss well to know his do’s and don’ts. He travels a lot mostly to Abuja. She prepares his travel schedules – meetings, flight and hotel reservations. She attends meetings with him. She writes reports and speeches. Her phone must always be accessible so that the CEO could reach her at any given time. During that first month the CEO had asked her questions about her family background and she had answered that Sisi, her mother, was all she had. The CEO had told her that if she did her job well she’d be compensated well. She assured him that she’d put in her best and not let him down.
It was about the third month that she was requested to accompany the CEO on a trip to Ibadan on a weekend. She felt that it was a strange request because she knew she already told the CEO that it was the weekend that she had to be with her mother, Sisi and look after her. She assumed that for her presence to be needed the trip was a very important one. Even Sisi asked her not to be bothered about the timing of the trip and that she’d be fine. A hotel reservation was made for her and her boss at the same hotel but she opted to stay with her cousin who lives in Ibadan. Samantha was disturbed and disappointed that the event, which took place on a Saturday, was just a social one at which her boss and his friends met up and caught up with each other’s news. She felt she wasn’t needed there and that it was her boss’ wife that should have been at the social gathering. Moreover, Samantha did not see anyone in her age group there at all. When he demanded to see her on Sunday she said she would be in church with her cousin. She later took a public bus back to Lagos.
That was the beginning of Samantha’s problems. The CEO now wants to take her on every trip he goes. He wants an affair with her but she doesn’t agree to this. When he asks her why she wouldn’t want to she says, ‘Sir, if I were your daughter and came to you with this dilemma, what would you advise?’. He reminds her of her promise to do her job well and not let him down. Samantha asks him to include this new request of his in her job description.
Samantha’s waiting to see the CEO’s next plan of action. It’s her sixth month at the desk. She needs this job. She can’t even think of leaving her job for she gets a headache when she remembers how long it took her to find one. She believes she’s only having a bad dream and will wake up to a better tomorrow.
O’Yemi Afolabi can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org / @oyemiajike