Aisha stared at Alhaji Ibrahim hard as his words had given her a rude shock. “You cannot fire me, Alhaji Bello.” She replied.
Alhaji Ibrahim slammed his table hard. “This is exactly why I'm firing you. I am your father, forget about Alhaji Bello.”
“So this is personal?” Aisha asked.
Moira cleared her throat. “Can…Can I leave?”
“Yes, Moira!” Aisha shouted, not for a second taking her eyes off him. Moira slipped out quickly. Aisha continued unperturbed. “What is going on?”
He took a deep breath. “Aisha, don’t make me regret sending you abroad all your life. You seem to have forgotten that you are a woman, you just tear men apart as if they are not worth your time.”
“So this is about that loser, Hakeem, right?”
Alhaji shook his head in disagreement. “No. This is about you, my dear.”
“Then if it is really about me, save it for home. This is business!” Aisha interrupted.
He swallowed. “I can’t let you do this to yourself, you are gradually becoming your own man which is wrong. Very wrong!”
“You know what is wrong? It's you being so unprofessional about this. My personal life has nothing to do with my work ethics and I have served and ensured that this enterprise is the biggest and fastest growing in Africa. I don’t deserve this from you.”
He nodded. “Aisha, I know all that and that's beside the point. You are not happy and you know it. I can’t sit back and watch you hurt yourself this way. I am your father and I care about your happiness.”
“And that is why I am getting fired?" She laughed sarcastically. "Look how happy I am now, Dad. Ecstatic infact!”
He took a deep breath. “I want to give you time off from here so that you can have fun, meet people, get people to actually know and like you.”
“I am affable, Dad!” she replied.
He snorted “Only the magazines like you, let other people see who Aisha really is. That sweet little 5-year-old I once knew is still somewhere in there, I know it.”
She scoffed. “Wake up dad, she grew up!”
“I want her back.”
She shook her head in disagreement. “There is no way in this world that you are getting her back and if you want me fired, I want a letter to that effect and I want reasons, facts, figures and I want it forwarded to the HR. Everything will go through due process here, because, I, Aisha Bello know how to remain professional. Good day, Alhaji Bello.” She replied and stormed out of the office bumping into Moira who had been eavesdropping. “Moira? You were spying too?”
“Come on, Aisha. Why are you so difficult? Alhaji has a point there.” Moira replied catching up with a fast walking Aisha.
Aisha stopped and stared at her. “What point could he have to fire me? He wants to give me time to mingle? There are dating sites, if I am so sick of being single, I’ll pick someone from there. Not Hakeem!”
Moira pulled her hand. “Aisha, let’s go and have lunch.” She said with a smile.
“It’s morning!” she replied angrily. “Moira, this whole thing might look like one big joke to you, but it is not to me. This is my life. I have worked hard all my life to be here and I have earned it and I am not letting go so easily.”
Moira hissed dryly. “All your life? You talk as if you are forty! Aisha, you are twenty seven! Have you realised that? Your youth is fast drifting away and you have not lived the life of a youth, I agree that not everyone can jump in and out of clubs, and some people are definitely powerful, but Aisha, have you realised that I am the only friend you have…left.”
“The others were losers. They'd rather skip in the sun and dance in the rain while I raked in money. Where are they today? Who has heard about them? They are where they were, probably waiting for the next rain or sun to dance.”
Moira took a deep breath. “But they are happy, Aisha. Are you?” she asked and walked away.
“You have no idea how excited I was when I got your text.” Vicky said as she took her seat opposite Craig.
Craig took a deep breath. “I hope you'll still be excited after this meeting.” He muttered under his breath.
“What did you say?” she asked with a smile.
Craig smiled back. “Nothing.” He swallowed. “I…I don’t know how to tell you this.”
“Really? Is it possible for you to ever be at a loss for words?” she asked.
He shrugged. “Vicky, Daniel is really into you.”
He nodded in agreement. “Yes, Daniel.”
“Well, I am not interested.” She replied.
He nodded. “Could that be because you think you like me?”
She smiled. “I don’t think I like you. I know I like you.”
“But I am not going to date you.” He replied.
She stared at him and then fought back tears. “That was harsh.”
“I am not sorry for telling you the truth. Don’t waste your time chasing a man that'll never love you back, go instead for the one that loves you.”
She snatched her bag angrily from the table and tried to get up to leave but he held her back. She responded to his grip with a firm slap. “In case you think I have no pride, I do. Also, you can go and tell your friend that you failed. I own my feelings, not you and not him.” She replied and walked away angrily leaving Craig to nurse his cheek.
Daniel and Bolu came out of their hide out. “Na wa o! Na by force to date babe?” Bolu rolled in pidgin English as he grabbed a seat.
“I am sorry, man.” Daniel said.
Craig shrugged. “Na big deal? I don chop the slap wey you suppose take, so just free me.” Craig retorted.
Bolu smiled trying to lighten the mood. “Oya guys, maybe we should return to the mall, we have been rotated as usual.”
“I hope they left me in the furniture section.” Craig said, standing up.
Daniel shook his head in disagreement. “No. The Games section. PS 4 demo”
“I’m gonna love the demonstration.” Craig said with a smile.
Daniel nodded. “Lucky you, I have been sent to the Kitchen Utensils region. How am I supposed to sell Pots and Fry pans to women? They already have these things.”
“Sorry bro. Your luck.” Bolu said.
“Okay then, let’s go make some money.” Craig said leading the way.
Aisha walked into Moira's office. “Hey Moira.”
Moira closed her laptop. “What are you doing here? You are fired, remember?”
“Funny.” Aisha said taking her seat. “I'm waiting for due process to take its course and except it I get that, I'm going nowhere”
Moira folded her hands. “So what help do you need from me this time?”
“Who told you I need your help?” She asked.
Moira smiled. “I know you, Aisha, you act like you can handle everything, but this one, you can’t handle it, and you need me to come up with an idea.”
“Your ideas have never been all that great. So don't flatter yourself please” Aisha replied rolling her eyes. “Anyway...Hakeem is still in this country, and I don't want him here please send him away, anywhere, maybe Saudi.”
“I am not a genie, Aisha. But I came up with a plan to sort out this out.” She said and passed her laptop to Aisha. “Open it.”
Aisha stared at the laptop suspiciously. “What is there?”
“Just open it. What are you afraid of?” Moira asked laughing.
Aisha opened the laptop and immediately closed it. “Dateme.com? What is that?”
“You need to start dating.” Moira said with a smile.
Aisha scoffed. “This is your great Epiphany?”
“Easy Aisha…I am good at these things, we are going to pick one of these ‘hotties’ for you and you can start dating immediately.”
“How does this restore my position here?”
Moira folded her arm. “You counter your daddy with your own offer.”
“Alhaji won’t be convinced.” Aisha replied as she stared at the laptop. “These guys are so ugly.”
Moira shrugged. “Well they are the best we can find at this time of the year. It’s January and most guys are already in a relationship, by February, there would be more men in town because of the regular break up around that time, the Valentine gift fever, but right now, we can’t afford to wait till February.”
“Moira, what do you suggest that I do? I'm at a loss.”
Moira smiled. “Aisha, I like your humility.” She replied with a grin. “You are going to give Alhaji reasons why you shouldn’t be fired and then you are going to-”
The door opened and Alhaji walked in with an envelope. “I knew I would find you here. Here’s your letter, Ms Bello.”
“You are so desperate to get rid of me, aren’t you?” Aisha asked as she opened the envelope. “Severance pay of 100 million plus add-ons?” Aisha said with a soft chuckle. “You are really firing me, Alhaji Bello.”
Alhaji took a deep breath. “That would be all.”
Aisha sprang to her feet. “Dad, we need to talk.” She said as she swallowed.
Moira picked her phone and walked out immediately.
“What are we talking about?” he asked as he folded his arms.
Aisha pointed to a seat. “Please have your seat, Dad.”
“I know I'm not in your good books right now so you can quit pretending because I am not changing my mind.” He warned, taking a seat.
Aisha took her seat opposite him. “I have an offer for you, Alhaji Bello.”
“I knew it wouldn’t last.” Alhaji said with a scoff. “Let’s hear it. Everything is business to you.”
She smiled. “You raised me that way and I am not about to change for anything. Here’s the deal, I am going to be in a relationship soon and you can reconsider firing me.”
She nodded. “I am going to try to date, fall in love, you know? Those love stuffs?”
Alhaji shook his head. “I don’t know what to say to you. You are going to try to date? Fall in love? Those love stuffs? Do you know how you sound?”
“Like a Man. I have heard that before, and Dad, you know you need me here, your competitors are going to pounce the minute they sniff that I am out of here, not to talk of the fact that I can join another company and they will be dying to have me.” She replied.
He folded his arms. “Cheap Blackmail.”
“I know. But I am not bluffing Dad. I am going to date and make you happy, in turn, you keep me here.”
He took a deep breath. “You are going to leave my house today, you will have your own place, and you won’t have access to your inheritance until your wedding day.”
WEDDING WHAT????? Aisha’s head spun like a carousel. “Wedding?” she asked.
He nodded with a smile. “The ultimate aim of your relationship is to get married, isn’t it?” he asked. Aisha remained silent. “So, you have a week to go out with someone and show me that you are serious. You and I know that you won’t find any man except Hakeem within that short period.” He replied with a grin.
Aisha swallowed painfully as her Dad grinned and walked out chanting Hakeem’s name with pride. Moira walked in almost immediately. “This man has no idea of what I can do to stay here.”
“Easy, sweetheart. Do I start checking out the men?”
Aisha nodded. “Immediately.”
“So, we have over a thousand guys ready to pick from, where do we start?” Moira asked as she tapped on the laptop.
Aisha folded her arms. “Prune them down by height, he has to be tall. If his look is nothing close to Theo Walcott or Christian Grey, cut him out. I don't want a fifteen year old boy showing up at my door step and finally, he must be running a successful institution.”
Aisha stared at her. “What do you mean by zero?”
“You are not going to find that man here. We might as well do interviews?” Moira replied. “I can send a poster. Husband needed.”
Aisha hissed. “Get serious, Moira.”
“You are the one who should get serious. You are not going to find that man on dateme.com, if I had that kind of man, he won’t even know what dateme.com is.” Moira replied.
Aisha rolled her eyes. “What are you trying to say?”
“Get real, Aisha.”
Aisha waved her away. “Okay, let’s keep the husband search aside. Alhaji has also kicked me out of his house.”
Moira burst into an awkward laugh. “Alhaji is on a roll, no offence. What’s next?”
“I get my inheritance on my wedding.” Aisha concluded.
Moira grinned. “I would do anything not to be you right now.”
“My Dad said that I should leave the house today, what am I going to do?” Aisha asked.
“What happened to the house you bought in December?”
Aisha rolled her eyes. “I want to sell. It’s too big.”
“I’ll live with you.” Moira said, grinning. Moira loved the idea of living in one of the best houses in the city. “It’s just that the house has no kitchen stuff, like pots, cooker, and those stuffs.”
Aisha nodded. “It’s new. What did you expect?”
“We can go and buy some things for the house. And maybe move in tonight.” Moira suggested.
Aisha nodded. “Why don’t we send someone? I am in no mood to shop and have the press suggesting my marriage in their column tomorrow.”
“Let them say, it’s just two ladies having fun.” Moira said, grabbing her bag. “Let’s go.” She said pulling Aisha’s hand.
Craig walked up to Daniel. “How is it going?”
“No movement.” He replied. “That is why I hate this section for sales. I mean I could have been in the cloth section; it is not so depressing over there. Here, I have to endure people looking at the stuffs and walking away.” He added.
“These things won’t sell themselves, Daniel.” Craig said. “Moreover, you have such a cold stare, I am sure anyone that comes here won’t want to buy.”
Craig smiled. “I am tired of beating those kids at FIFA, maybe you should go and do the demo while I stay here for you. What do you say?”
“Thanks man. You are amazing!” Daniel replied and walked away.
Craig took a deep breath and stared at the pots. “You guys are really boring.” He said.
“Hi, Can we get some pressure pots and an electric oven gas cooker?”
Craig raised his head and stared at the ladies before him. “Pots and Cooker?”
Aisha stared at Moira. “He doesn’t even know what he sells.”
“I know…it’s…it’s just that why would you want pots and a cooker?” Craig asked with a smile.
Aisha scoffed. “Do you want to sell these stuffs or not?”
He nodded. “I want to, but these things are precious, am I sure you will treat them well? You sound so harsh.”
Moira giggled. “This one is crazy.”
“Obviously, let’s go somewhere else.” Aisha suggested.
Craig grabbed her hand. “I am so sorry, sometimes, my sense of humour is really weak.” He said with a smile.
“He is cute, Aisha.” Moira said.
Craig smiled. “Please? Would you buy from me?” he asked.
Moira yanked her hand. “Of course, she will buy the pots and the cooker. We would have these and that.” Moira said pointing to the pots and cooker. Aisha took a glance at the items and threw her face away. “Come here, Aisha.” Moira said and stepped aside with her.
Craig immediately changed the price tags on the Cooker while the ladies talked in a distance. He smiled as they returned to him. “Here are your pots. Do you want frying pans too? We have non-stick.”
Aisha nodded. “Okay, we’ll have that too.”
“Great. In all, you are paying two hundred and thirty-three thousand naira. Two pressure pots at fifty-four thousand naira each and a gas cooker for a hundred and twenty five thousand naira.” He said to them.
“So we have to pay so much to be in the kitchen?” Aisha asked as she swiped her card.
Craig nodded with a smile. “You’ll love the taste of the food.”
Moira stared at his name tag. “Craig?”
“How did you know?” he asked.
She stared at his tag. “The tag.”
“Oh…Nice to meet you.” He said stretching his hand at Moira. She took the hand with a smile and he turned in Aisha’s direction. “Nice to meet you.”
Aisha hissed. “The car is outside.” She said and walked away.
“I am Moira.” Moira said to him with a grin and hurried after Aisha.
“Where are you moving to?” Alhaji Ibrahim asked as Aisha closed the door of the moving van.
She smiled faintly. “What do you care, Dad? I am keeping to my own side of the deal already.”
Moira smiled. “We’ll be staying at Osborne, sir.”
Aisha eyeballed her coldly. “You’ll be sleeping outside tonight.”
“Please take care of Aisha.” Alhaji Ibrahim said to Moira.
She nodded. “You can always count on me. I’ll take care of her.” She replied grinning in Aisha’s direction.
Aisha rolled her eyes. “Hop in now or you’ll join the moving van.” Aisha said as she started her car.
Moira joined her in front. “We should go clubbing tonight.”
Aisha gasped. “Moira, we have been friends since forever, why are you acting as though you don’t know me.” She said as she started the car.
“I am only suggesting that we have some fun tonight. Maybe to celebrate the new house.” Moira said.
Aisha shook her head in disagreement. “Pick another person. You’ve got the wrong girl.”
“I know. Yet I love you.” Moira said with a smile.
Aisha nodded. “It’s not like you have a choice.” She replied.
“I can’t believe that you made all that money in no time.” Daniel said.
Craig shrugged. “I am the boss. Two pressure pots, and one gas cooker.”
“How are you sharing the proceeds? You made money off the chairs and some stuffs here. You should share.” Bolu said.
Craig shook his head. “I can’t share.”
“Really? Eat alone, die alone.” Bolu said.
Craig nodded, “I am willing to take that chance.”
Daniel fumed. “Why did I leave my stand?”
“You weren’t attracting customers. One glance at the ladies and they were smitten.” Craig boasted.
“Talking about ladies, can you help talk to Vicky tonight when we close from here?” Daniel said.
Craig scoffed. “You don’t get it man, do you? That girl slapped me. I am not ready to be hit by another lady, not in this life.”
“What if she is an angel?” Bolu asked.
Craig smiled. “Yeah. Like the one who came here to get the cooker and pressure pots, she is really beautiful. But she didn’t smile at all.”
“I saw the lady o! I was outside when they were carried to her car; she doesn’t look like your type of girl.” Bolu said.
Craig frowned. “What are you trying to say?”
“What he is trying to say is that you should pitch your tent elsewhere.” Daniel said smiling.
“Why don’t we call someone to set this thing up?” Moira asked as Aisha fixed the plug for the Gas Cooker.
Aisha hissed. “What do you know how to do, Moira?”
“I can cook.”
Aisha nodded. “Of course, you can. Look, this is just about following the manual and when I am through we get to use to the cooker.” She said. “If I were you, I’d wash the pots and get them ready.” She said.
Aisha turned on the gas and picked up the manual and pulled off the price tag. “I wonder why I didn’t take this off since.” She said looking at it. She then stared at the manual. “Why do these things have different brand names?”
Moira joined her. “The tag is not the same as the name on the cooker.”
Aisha pauses. “Did he cheat us?”
Moira snarled. “Nah…he is too fine to do that.”
“I see. Well, he has some explaining to do.” Aisha replied and grabbed the manual and tag.
Moira stared at her. “Eh, you are not going to embarrass an innocent person, are you?”
“I think he cheated us, now that I think of it, I think I got a good view of the price and I am sure it is not this.”
Moira groaned. “Come on, Aisha. Are you even sure of this?”
“Moira, are you coming or not?” Aisha asked as she picked up her keys.
Moira nodded. “Come on, let’s go.”