Koku Dzakpasu shut the washroom door behind him silently and stood behind it for a few seconds, trying to collect his thoughts. He could feel the sting of tears in his eyes and for a moment he wished he could just cry and let out all the disappointment. His weird mind briefly rebuked whoever invented “men don’t cry”. He couldn’t even fathom what kind of backward thinking person invented that. Ah well, he came here for business. He moved to face the mirror to properly assess which part of his face actually brought him all this bad luck and troubles. He was scared he might end up believing that he really wasn’t meant to enjoy any good in life, even though he tried to believe in God.
Efo Dzakpasu, Koku’s father had run away and left them with his cripple mother when he was entering his teenage years. He being the first of three had to assume the role of a father and a bread-winner. His mom’s begging sprees didn’t always bring in enough to feed them, talk less of making them comfortable at home. He had served as a house boy, dispatch rider, messenger, potty truck driver, Zoomlion agent, sold Fanmilk on those bicycles, in fact, he had shed a lot of sweat and dignity to get to become the in-house facility manager of Dunces Metallics he was at the moment.
He had sensed the hostility the first day he reported. It was as though he had suddenly murdered the previous manager to plant himself there. Everybody, including the CEO – who was at least supposed to be on his side, was against him. It was like an ingrown nail syndrome that was happening, they couldn’t get rid of him easily and yet he was a pain in their side. It was as though he emanated a fragrance that attracted bad news and hostility from anyone who came in touch with him. He enjoyed working but the people always had a way of getting him to want to give up almost every single day. Sometimes he wondered if any of his parents had gone for a good luck charm which had reverted when he came into the picture or what. So so bad luck dey follow am every where.
Even all the ladies he met and wanted to develop lasting relationships with totally jilted him at the prime of their friendship with silly excuses of not being ready and tribal differences and all that nonsense. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the rumours that he was gonna be fired soon. Some colleagues had been talking about it when he happened to overhear that part of the conversation before they realized he was headed their way.
Still standing in front of the mirror, he opened his mouth to try to pray cause, after all, Job praised when sorrow hit him, he figured he could do that too. No sooner had he opened his mouth than it started spewing attack balls at God like he was playing the all familiar ping-pong game all over. That was when he decided it was better to remain tight-lipped than try to even pray. “Jesus take the wheel”, he muttered then walked out of the washroom, having ensured his eyes were showing no trace of the emotional meltdown he’d just experienced. He put on his smile and walked to his desk.
5 minutes after he sat at his desk, the desk-phone rang, the HR manager was calling him. “Can you please see me in my office, Koku?” Her masculine voice boomed over the phone. “Yes madam, he replied”. After he put back the receiver, he held his head in his hands for about a minute and said another Jesus take the wheel, more to comfort himself than necessarily solicit God’s help.
“Good morning Koku, have a seat”, Miss Azaliah said whilst motioning to the chair in front of her. Koku sat with all the confidence and defiance he could muster. During his short walk to her office, he’d decided to put on a tough face, they should know that they couldn’t break him, even if it meant he was gonna be fired. “Koku, Miss Azaliah begun, you’ve been with us for just about a year and a half and I must say we have been pleased with your work so far. The board members appreciate your time and all the extra hours of commitment you had to put in. All the times you had to be resourceful and come up with non-existent solutions to problems are all appreciated. But the truth is that this office has become a little cramped up and we will need to transfer some of the workers lay off some as well. It has been a very difficult decision to make, but it wasn’t something we could avoid. You are……”
Beads of sweat broke on his forehead and suddenly his palms had become clammy, he was rubbing the palms together as softly as he could. He saw a smile on Miss Azaliah’s face and concluded that, being the nice woman she was, she would let him go with a smile so it doesn’t look like she’s a mean person. How would she say it, ” I’m sorry Koku, but we have to let you go or it was great working with you sir (in her formal tone), but we’ve come to the end of the road, or better still candidly say “you’re fired!”. Gosh, she had already said “you are”, oh no!!!! Couldn’t she have been a little nicer, “you’re fired is just so mean…..”
Mr Dzakpasu, Koku, Koku, did you hear what I just said? Koku heard his name a little too loudly, which halted his mental journey to being fired at his first proper job. Apologizing profusely, “Miss Azaliah, please repeat yourself, I didn’t catch what you just said”, he stuttered. Smiling again, she said ” I said, the board is hpleased with your work, and seeing how much you’ve personalised the company and made sacrifices for it, we couldn’t find any better person to head our new branch but you. Congratulations sir, you’re the new branch manager of Dunces Metallics in the Southern Province. I wish you all the best“, she said whilst rising from her seat and extending a hand to Koku.
Koku was in shock whilst shaking her hand and didn’t realise he’d been holding her hand for a while until she wriggled it free from his grip. “That would be all”, she said in a firm dismissive tone. Koku couldn’t even find his voice to apologize for holding on to her for so long. He just nodded and walked away in a dazed manner towards the nearest washroom, closed the door and washed his face several times with the running water. He had wanted to push his face under the water but advised himself against it since it would wet his shirt. He stood in front of the mirror and staring at his wet face with matted eyelids slapped himself and pinched his eyelid twice, before shaking his head and saying to himself “Jesus took the wheel after all”, village boy like me, now going to head the newest branch of such a big company. “Ayooo….akpe na wo Yehowa”.
Ayoo — Okay (with a certain stress)
Akpe na wo Yehowa — Thank you God/Jehovah
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