Davis was eating when Joseph came back
from the bathroom, he was telling him about the café attendant he was angry with earlier, whom he caught him printing someone’s project with the intention of taking the
money. That would be the second time.
The first time he had caught him printing out a large document in several copies for a particular lady, he had asked her to buy
reams of papers so Joseph would not suspect a thing. He had placed a call to the friend that introduced him and he promised to warm him. When he caught him receiving money from another person yesterday for a completed project work that would have fetched him a lot of money, Joseph knew he had employed the wrong guy and not getting rid of him now would only dug a bigger hole
in his pocket but might also influence other workers to take such acts as a norm.
He picked up his plate of food and started
“So what do you want to do about him?”
“is that not obvious, who knows how many he must have done that I did not get to know.
I will ask him to stop coming on Friday, the only thing stopping me from not asking him to stop now is for him not to hurriedly round up some transactions I suspect he still has.”
“But do you owe them?”
“I don’t, even when sales are low in some months, I would rather pay them than pull out money for myself.”
“That is unfair of him, but he might be
splitting the money with others and that is why they cover up for him”
“Sacking him should get the message across, if any of them is caught, they should be ready to leave. I am just not ready to start looking for a new person, I will have to start showing the in an out of things here”
“Who is Chinwe?”
“Ebere, her real name is Chinwe”
“Did she tell you that?”
“Yes and she told me more” his friend looked up from his food, waiting to hear what Chinwe had told him.
“She said she did not trust me when I asked her for her name” Davis provided the first lie that came to his mind.
“She is not serious, so she now trusts you?”
Joseph said, eyeing him in mock
Davis simply shrugged and continued with his food, hoping Joseph would not ask more questions he would not want to answer.
“She is a master’s degree holder, how much do you think I can pay her?” Joseph shook his head, discarding the idea of having her as his employee.
“The work her friend was trying to source for her might not be coming as fast as they hoped, she said she would be looking for something so as not to be a burden to her friend”
“I still don’t know”
“What don’t you know, it is not by force, you offer her a salary and she can either accept or refuse”
“Well, you are right, if she asks me I will talk with her about it”
Davis was satisfied that he has spoken to his friend about it and he is willing to consider her
The days went fast and Chinwe often visited the café to sit with Joseph and sometimes wait for Davis, Joseph was already warming up to the idea of having her work there with him.
She seems to know a lot about the use of
computer and just needed a little putting
through as a café operator. They seem to work well too but Joseph must confess he likes having her around so that he could see Clara when she’s returning from work, with her son sometimes.
He likes her and would like to ask her out
properly but he is always careful with women with kids, most them he believes still have ties with the father of their kids that would have a great say in their present relationships.
She sometimes would sit with them for a few minutes before they would all leave for her house.
On this particular Saturday, Davis had called him to inform him that his mother would be coming to Uyo from Calabar where she had gone to for a party, she wanted to surprise him but not too familiar with the direction he
had send her.
Also, he would be tied up in class till some
hours after noon and his mother’s flight to Lagos would be the 3:30 flight back to Lagos.
Joseph agreed to pick her up from the park and take her to the house while Chinwe watched the café for him.
When he returned with her to the café,
Chinwe came out of the admin room to give Joseph information but was not prepared for the reaction he met from the woman Joseph introduced as Davis’ mother.
“Are you not Chief Babalola’s daughter?”She asked without wasting time. Joseph was totally
lost, looking back and forth between the two women who kept staring at each other, one with a total dumbfounded look and the other in shock and fear.
“Joseph, is she living with you guys?”
“No ma she is a friend”
Chinwe stared in shock as she recognized the look in the woman’s eyes; she knows her from somewhere
“You are Chinwe Babalola, right” she pointed at her with a surprised look on her face
“No ma I am.. ” Davis chose that moment to walk into the admin room of the café where the whole drama just unfolded
“Don’t you dare lie to me, you are Chinwe Babalola,” she turned to her son and his friend “do you know who this young woman is, do you know she is on the news and the word out there is that she has been
kidnapped?” she stared at them as they did not give her any answer, neither refuting the claim that they knew who she is.
“Oh my God, did you kidnap her”
Of course not”
“Ma, they did not kidnap me, I came here on my own”
“And they are housing you?”
“No they are not”
“Do you know who her father is and what he could do to anyone who he finds her with, or anyone helping to keep her at all?”
“Mum, calm down, she knows what she is doing”
“Apparently she does, but I don’t think either of you do. Her father is an influential man;
I can assure you his influences run to this part of the country and would ruin anyone who could be keeping his daughter”
“Mum, the decision was hers and she should be left to make that decision when she wants to return”
“You mean to say if?, this lady would put you in trouble.”
“Don’t you dare mum me, I am telling your father about this this instant” she stood up and walked to where she dropped her bag,
Chinwe stared in shock as Davis hurried after her.
Joseph could only stare at her with
nothing to say.
Davis collected the phone from his mother
and held it away from her
“Mum!, listen to me, that lady ran away for a reason, she deserves to have a right to make her decision”
“Which I perfectly understand, but were you there when the whole situation started? No, you were not, and you don’t have a right to butt in now and act the super man. Let me tell you this, your father secured a contract
from her father and the project is about to
begin. I was at the wedding when she
disappeared and saw how distraught her
mother was, I would never want to be in that position, and that would happen if her father finds out she is being helped, especially by you, the son of a man who won a contract from his portfolio, would he not think it is a planned work, that your father knew about it,
especially since he could not make the
wedding and I was there alone to attend the wedding. Davis, think for goodness sake. ”
“Oh God, but I did not know her, we never met and she’s not staying with me”
“Who would listen to you then?”
“She’s staying with her friend”
“With another man?”
“No, a lady, her friend from way back”
“Davis, give me the phone and let me speak with your father about this, we can find a way around it and not get the police involved, and this is way beyond you. Please, don’t
invite the devil to a private dinner, that man; her father would destroy us if he finds out we have a connection to this.”
Davis handed her the phone and walked back to where he left Chinwe and Joseph, they were quiet and looking at him with curiosity.
Davis shook his head and pulled Chinwe to his arms, and she began to cry.
Joseph walked out of the room to give them space, closing the door quietly behind him.
“My parents work for your father indirectly and if you are found here, they could be accused wrongly for what they know nothing about” he said as he pulled her back and stared at her tear stained face. He held her shoulders tightly and barely could hold back his own tears.
“If you still want to go somewhere else before your father gets here, there is still time, I could help you to do that”
“No, I guess I have to go back, Clara would be ruined if my father finds out I have been staying with her”
They walked back to where Davis’ mother was speaking on the phone as she saw them approach she told the person on the other end
of the line
“Davis is here now”
She stretched the phone to him, he asked who it was and when he heard that it was his father, he turned back and pulled Chinwe with him, they walked back to the back of the café, to the field where she had told him everything the week before.
He pulled out his phone and asked her to
speak with Clara.
“hello Clara, can you help me get my things together”
“What is the problem, did your father find you?”
“Someone else did, someone who knows him well and she is contacting him soon, I don’t want him to find me with anyone…..”
“oh my God, what do you want to do now, are you going somewhere else or what…”she was already sobbing from the tone of her voice.
“No, I have to go back, how long can I hide anyway, it was just stupid of me in the first place to think I could run away forever”
She ended the call and waited for Clara to
bring her bag to the café; Davis’ mother came to where they sat, close to the field and sat beside Chinwe
“My dear, I am sorry I came to spoil your
plans, but believe me when I say I am doing this to protect the people I love. I know your father too well to want to get in his path.
Whatever your differences are, I would like you to settle it with him and if it is with the man you married, divorce is an option.
But your father would ruin the lives of people who are helping you to escape or hide.”
“Ma, I understand, but just to be clear, your son did not help me escape. We did not know each other till I arrived Uyo here”
“I understand that now, but I have called my husband and informed him, who in turn has called your father and they are on their way on a private jet to the airport, I suggest you go to the airport to wait there for them, they will
arrive in less than 3 hours”
On hearing that, Chinwe’s heart went heavy, beating with effort and she became weak, she pulled herself to an upright position and walked back to the café, while Davis watched with sorrow in his heart, especially with the thought of losing the woman he has come to love leaving him.
He knew his father would gladly come with Chinwe’s father, his involvement would put him on the good page with him and that would lead to bigger projects would it not? He
could not just disown him, because truthfully, he hated the man as much as he loves him sometimes, but his mother would always want to do what would protect her family.
Clara was paying the keke driver when
Chinwe came out of the café, she pulled
Henry into her arms and rubbed his head
fondly, she would miss the little man who
looks like the man she would be returned to.
Davis came out of the café too, his mother
and Joseph behind him.
“Let me drop both of you off at the airport”
Joseph said after lifting Henry in a
“No, I still have the number of the cab man that dropped us off the last time, his car is a taxi, I don’t want to risk the chances of my father already alerting the police and then pick up anyone who drops me off”
“That is true, although my husband assured me they would be arriving without any police being informed”
“Give me his number so I could call him then”
Chinwe pulled the piece of paper from the
small pocket of her back pack and handed to Davis, she listened as the man bargained for the price, claiming he would have to drive from the airport to pick her up.
They all went back into the café while the
waited for the taxi, all the while Clara was
sobbing quietly, while Joseph tried as much as possible to distract Henry.
When the driver arrived, he was surprised to see Chinwe, she dropped her bag in the booth of the car and Davis helped with his mother’s,
who climbed in beside Chinwe. As the car
drove off, Clara was weeping loudly now,
Joseph had to pull her into the café and Davis watched as she was driven off, holding Henry in his arms.