Good-day Yarners – This episode of Love. Music. & Dreams is dedicated to the ghost-readers in the house – it’s #GhostReadersDay on the blog – You know yourself – Don’t be shy – say hi!
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//The Complexities Of Love//
The simple and most complex answer is love ~ J.D Robb
The furniture in the room were identical to those in Ms. Nkiru’s office and they were also set in the same manner; a black high-back swivel leather chair, hiding behind an L shaped oak executive desk. If he had not seen the name plate with the inscription MGR. Human Resources on the door as he walked in, he would have mistaken the office for his Manager’s.
The offices are quite different, he thought to himself as he tried to make himself comfortable on the chair, switching his gaze from one end of the office to the other, taking in the little details that differentiated this office from his Manager’s.
He was supposed to be on leave, a two-week leave that was due in three days, and had not planned to be anywhere close to the office until the call from Mr. Ahmed Subair, the manager HR, altered his schedule.
‘Mr. Bamidele Daniel,’ a tall, bald headed, and cleanly shaved man with a serious looking expression, called out with a rich voice as he emerged from an inner room that was most likely a rest room.
‘Sir,’ Daniel answered, rising respectfully from his chair as he watched his host, take the short walk to his seat.
‘Please sit down,’ Mr. Subair said, motioning Daniel back to his seat as he settled into his chair, swiveling gently from left to right. ‘You’re supposed to be on leave right?’
‘Yes sir,’ Daniel answered, still unsure what the meeting was about. ‘I’m supposed to resume on Monday but…’
‘It’s good you came around today cos’ I don’t think this could have waited till Monday,’ Mr. Subair cut in, interrupting him. ‘I’ve never heard the MD as angry as he was when he called me yesterday.’
Daniel’s eyes widened. The mention of ‘MD’ had clearly piqued his interest in the discussion. ‘MD? Angry?’ He asked befuddled.
‘Yes. Angry,’ Mr. Subair replied pointedly, ‘but it’s surprising you don’t know he’s angry, since you’re now dining in the management canteen,’ He said with a smirk on his face.
‘Management canteen?’ Daniel mumbled, in utter bewilderment. He could not remember the office having a separate canteen for management staff, talk less of dining in it. ‘I don’t understand sir, I’m sure there’s a mix-up somewhere cos’ I’m not even aware there’s a management canteen.’
Mr. Subair let out a short mirthless laugh as he stared into the confused eyes in front of him. ‘You’re not even aware there’s a management canteen,’ He grunted like he was trying to convince himself. ‘And why don’t I believe you Mr. Bamidele?’ He asked, his voice stern.
Daniel sat up on his chair, he was not sure the direction the discussion was heading towards, but he knew it was time to put on his seatbelts if he wanted to have any chance of arriving safely at whatever destination Mr. Subair was driving to. ‘I don’t know sir, but it’s the truth,’ he replied.
‘What’s your relationship with Stella Haastrup?’ Mr. Subair asked, his eyes observing the shifting movements Daniel was making on his chair. He liked that he was making the young man uncomfortable.
Daniel felt his eyebrows arch immediately he heard the question. It was instinctive. ‘She’s a colleague and a friend,’ he replied in a voice tone that bore the edginess of suspicion, with his mind beginning to connect the dots between his invitation and the question he just answered.
Mr. Subair had a devious smile on his face as he listened to the reply to his question. ‘She remains your colleague but will cease to be your friend when you leave my office in a few minutes.’
Daniel paused, his eyes searching into the glint in his host’s eyes to see if what he just heard was a joke. ‘I d..don’t get sir,’ he stuttered in utter disbelief.
‘What is there not to get Mr. Bamidele?’ Mr. Subair asked, pushing his upper frame forward and resting his clasped hands on the table like it was a negotiation. ‘You don’t strike me as someone who is naïve.’
Daniel swallowed hard. He wanted to protest the words being used on him but he restrained himself for fear. Mr. Subair was his boss and he was looking every inch like one at the moment.
‘There’s a career path in this company Daniel, and trying to force yourself into a relationship with the MD’s daughter is not it,’ Mr. Subair stated coldly.
Daniel narrowed his lips in anger, a steely gaze replacing the shock that was visible in his eyes some seconds ago. He clutched his right fist into a punch as he continued watching the moving lips in front of him, undecided on which side of the mouth he would prefer to land the blow.
‘I work under instructions,’ Mr. Subair continued, unperturbed by the rage in the eyes staring at him, ‘and right now, my instruction is to make you understand that your job description does not include having a relationship with Stella, that’s management canteen and you don’t eat there.’
Daniel stayed silent, not sure what the right words to say were. His right palm clutched in a fist some seconds ago was spread out on his lap as a million questions raced in his head. Why is this happening? Is the MD so jobless he monitors his daughter’s friends? Are they going to sack me now? What’s the way forward? Is Stella aware of this?
‘You will submit an undated resignation letter next week Monday when you resume. Let’s say it’s an insurance policy and an assurance that we’re on the same page’.
Daniel shook his head in protest. ‘I understand all you have said sir, but… I cannot give you an undated resignation letter. I don’t think it’s…’
‘It’s not a request,’ Mr. Subair cut in, ‘It’s an instruction… especially if you still desire a future in this company.’ His tone was brutish, stripped of every pretension of friendliness. ‘Have a good day Mr. Bamidele and I hope you’re smart enough to realise that keeping this meeting between both of us is in your best interest?’
Daniel swallowed hard. He was not sure whether or not to answer the question posed at him but his head jerked vertically in semblance of a response. He was actually lost in thought, rising up from his chair and making his way out of the office straight to the car park. He was in no frame of mind to pay complimentary visits to anyone and he hoped he would not run into Stella or anyone from his department.
‘This is not funny,’ Ebuka complained, ‘It’s a serious matter.’
Raheem tried to stifle the laughter welling up inside of him, ‘I’m sorry but I just can’t help it,’ he chuckled, mischief written all over his face. He had never seen his friend so pissed.
‘What’s shocking is that the guy she’s been spending her time with at my own expense, is one razz, low-life colleague of hers,’ He spat out, visibly irritated. ‘I’m sure she thinks life is some Disney crap where the Princess gets to marry a peasant.’
Raheem stopped chuckling for a moment but with a smile on his face, he countered his friend’s assertion, ‘I don’t think she thinks life is some Disney crap, I just believe she’s following some philosopher’s advice.’
‘Philosopher?’ Ebuka asked, surprised.
‘Yea. Philosopher’s advice,’ Raheem repeated.
‘Which would be?’
‘Enjoy yourself baby boo… Cos’ even your boo get a boo… Eh boo… Eh boo,’ Raheem sang, amidst convulsions of laughter. ‘It’s the reggae-blues philosophy by Harrysong.’
Ebuka smiled. ‘It’s your time, have fun,’ he moaned.
‘Of course I will,’ Raheem reiterated, at-least we all know that you have no one but yourself to blame for your predicament. Not Stella, not me, not even Harrysong,’ He said with a grin, ‘the blame’s all on you bro.’
‘I know, but instead of talking blames, I’d prefer to seek solutions,’ Ebuka sighed, with an unusual air of humility.
Raheem gave his friend a strange look, surprised to hear him talk with such humility, ‘you’re seeking solutions?’
‘Yea,’ Ebuka answered, nodding slightly. ‘I want Stella back,’ he moaned.
‘You’re sure?’ Raheem asked, his eyebrows arching inquisitively.
‘Why? Of course I’m sure,’ Ebuka replied with a little more zest.
‘Then put a ring on it,’ Raheem shot back, his eyes peering at Ebuka’s startled face. ‘Propose to her! Marry her!’
Ebuka stayed silent, his face tensed as he ruminated on the words of his friend.
‘Did I say anything wrong? I thought you said you loved her?’ Raheem asked.
‘No… No… You have said nothing wrong,’ Ebuka replied, his eyes lighting up and his face easing into a smile, ‘infact, you have said everything right, you’re a genius!’ He exclaimed in delight, ignoring the questions posed at him. ‘This is the only time I know that you have used the head God gave you, in optimum capacity,’ he joked, slapping his friend’s hand lightly from across the table. ‘I’ll propose to her. I’ll give her a ring. That should assure her that she’s different from the others,’ he added excitedly.
Raheem shook his head slowly, ‘I didn’t say give her a ring to assure her that she’s different from the others, I said marry her, after-all some people wear their engagement rings for more than five years,’ he noted. ‘Bro, you cannot be randying about town and expect Stella to take you seriously, if you want your girl back, you must do the right thing.’
‘I will… I will,’ Ebuka breathed to himself, repeating the words like he didn’t believe them, even though he was already thinking up romantic proposal ideas in his head.
Danny curled on the bed with his head buried under a pillow. He had been awake for about thirty minutes but was not in any hurry to get out of bed.
He could still hear the voice that had interrupted his sleep but this time there were several voices from different parts of the house. Each one singing a different song.
He felt weird. He knew he should be up and rehearsing like the other contestants but he just didn’t feel like it. The drive that had seen him jump up from the bed every morning and reaching straight for his guitar was suddenly missing and in its place was a certain indifference to whether or not he survived the Saturday Elimination Show or the subsequent performance in the Sunday Showcase if he escaped elimination.
He knew it was unlikely that he would be eliminated from the competition this week, atleast not with the delirium that greeted his performance from the fans and the effusive praise from the judges after last week’s performance.
He could still hear the Da-nny! Da-nny!! Da-nny!!! Chants from the fans in his mind when he closed up the performance, but the chants had not ushered in that gizz gizz feeling that usually got him all giddy and high, instead he had felt lonely and dry.
It sounded stupid, but it was hearing her voice in the chants or imagining to hear her voice that usually made him excited. She was his audience, his passion and the reason for every performance.
He really was missing Teni. He wasn’t sure why she didn’t show up on Sunday to cheer him up like she had usually done since the start of the competition, but he had an inkling that it had to do with the phone call.
He felt a tinge of regret, thinking about the phone call. He wished he had restrained himself a little more and had not opened his big mouth to preach his undying love for her, after being drunk from repeated playback of Case’s ‘Missing You’, which he had been rehearsing to perform, he was sure he would have seen her this past Sunday.
This was the tenth week in the house and there were just three weeks more before someone would be crowned The Star. His lips curved into a smile as he imagined himself being The Star, with Teni’s beaming smiles serenading him on stage.
‘Danny,’ Orode called out to him, standing beside the bed.
‘Yea?’ He grunted, roused from his reverie by her voice. ‘It’s time for the morning work-out right?’ He asked, tossing the pillow away from his head.
‘Almost,’ she answered, sitting on the edge of the bed. ‘Is something the matter, you’ve been off since the show on Sunday?’
Orode stayed silent, watching as his frame heaved slightly after his response. She knew his recent attitude was tied to Teni’s absence on Sunday but she decided to be quiet about it, especially since he didn’t want to talk about it.
‘I’m serious, there’s nothing,’ Danny repeated, turning around to face her, uncomfortable with her silence.
Orode shrugged. ‘If you insist, but then you have to stop behaving like a pregnant woman and revert to that mode that made you the clear favourite to win this competition,’ she chided.
‘It’s true, but I guarantee you will not even make it to the final if you continue with this attitude,’ she said, ‘and I’m sure Teni will not like that.’
Danny’s smile broadened into a big grin. ‘And you will?’ He asked, teasing.
‘Why not?’ she replied with her own question, a big grin on her face, ‘so you think my mission here is to come and baby you? My friend get over yourself, I’m here to sing it and win it,’ she said, rolling her eyes as she rose up from the bed.
Danny eased out of the bed, laughing. He was feeling way better than he felt some few minutes ago. Orode usually had that effect on him.
He smiled back at her as they shared one of those longing looks that fellow contestants usually misinterpreted for the presence of romance. If only they knew they were just best buddies.
He liked Orode very much but not in the same way as he liked Teni. Orode was precious to his heart, but Teni was the reason his heart beat.
‘Wow!’ Stella sighed, peering at the screen in front of her. ‘And Orode is cool,’ she said a little sadly, ‘but I doubt if Danny will swap Teni for her, he’s just too smitten by Teni.’
‘Episode ten right?’ Daniel asked, fiddling with the television remote. He was still trying to get used to the idea that Stella was in his house.
‘Yea,’ she answered, dragging the cursor down the screen. ‘I feel sorry for Orode.’
Daniel smiled. ‘It’s the complexities of love, falling for someone who is crazy in love with another person.’
‘Hmmn… I like the sound of that; the complexities of love,’ she mused, ‘like being in love with someone and not having the courage to tell them,’ she noted, her eyes still focused on the screen.
‘Yea, something like that,’ Daniel concurred, ‘and even when you do have the courage to speak your heart, there’s also the possibility of rejection for whatever reason, just like in Danny’s case.’
Stella rolled her eyes. He had obviously missed the innuendo. ‘At-least he did his best, we both know the reason Teni isn’t considering him is because she’s a sickler.’
‘Yea,’ Daniel groaned almost sadly, his eyes on the television.
‘I feel like skipping all the way to the end, but I won’t cos’ that will kill the thrill. I just can’t seem to read this fast enough,’ she said excitedly. ‘Episode thirteen is the finale right?’
‘Yep, that’s the finale,’ he answered, glad that she liked the story as much as she did. ‘Excuse me, I’d like to get something from the supermarket down the street, I won’t be five minutes,’ Daniel said, rising up from the couch.
‘I’m okay though if it’s for me, you really don’t have to bother,’ Stella said, trying to stop him.
‘I have already bothered and I won’t be five minutes,’ Daniel assured as he made for the door. ‘Keep yourself busy, I’ll soon be back,’ he said, stepping out of the sitting room.
Stella’s eyes strayed away from the laptop’s screen, taking in details of the sitting room immediately he shut the door behind him. It was something she could not do when he was around as she didn’t want to appear rude. Her eyes roamed from the Mark Twain painting on the wall to the furniture in the house. She liked the simplicity.
She returned her focus to the laptop’s screen and just then her gaze caught the envelope resting on top of the table with the tail end of a piece of paper sticking out from it. It almost felt like the paper was screaming to be noticed.
Curiosity won the battle of wills as she drew the paper out from the envelope, settling her eyes on the content.
‘Whoa!’ She gasped in shock.
‘Can you believe I forgot to take cash?’ Daniel asked as he stepped back into the sitting room with a big grin. ‘Going to the supermarket without cash,’ he chuckled.
‘Ehn?’ Daniel replied. The grin disappearing quickly from his shock riddled face.
‘When did you plan to tell me?’ Stella asked, waving the paper in the air, her voice vibrating with hurt.
Stella chill, it’s not what you think. It was the worst line to use at such a time, but it was the only line in his head at the moment, he erased it. For the first time that he could remember in his life, he lost his magic of words.
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