Good start, Esohe thought as she looked after the departing official car. The day had begun with an induction program for newly- employed marketing executives. It ran for two weeks and usually began with the theory part. But as marketing manager of La Feminine, the women’s magazine she worked at, she distorted it somewhat with practical field experiences, having them accompany her on visits as she maintained and/or established relationships with regular and potential prospects respectively.
The three new recruits were eager to learn and please just like any fresh face would be, taking down notes and asking mostly relevant questions. Their open expressions and upbeat attitudes reminded her of her younger self, fresh on the job and looking to conquer it. It felt like a lifetime ago.
In the last three hours, she had concentrated on meetings with potential advertisers only, following up on proposals sent out weeks before, taking note of those who prolonged their meetings because one of her minions was a stunner and easy on the eye.
Now almost back at the office, she had alighted from the car to assuage her pounded yam and edikaikong craving that had been raging all morning, in one of the eateries on Awolowo Road.
1pm and the route was as busy as a construction site with an impossible deadline; the only difference was the bumper-to-bumper, horn-blaring traffic that plagued it daily, especially in the afternoons. She had just ambled across the road to the other side of it, easily slipping her model- trim figure (draped in black, figure-outlining palazzos and a white, short-sleeved, ruffles blouse) between stationary vehicles and had dipped her hand to retrieve her sunglasses, while surveying her options when she felt a gentle vibration from the portable handbag dangling from her fingers.
An unidentified, mobile number lit up her screen. “Hello?” She uttered cautiously. A potential advertiser, perhaps.
“Hello Esohe.” Slightly raspy, vaguely familiar tones pronounced her name without hitch. “This is IK.”
If he didn’t score high in her potentials’ list, then why the heck did her foolish heart just skip a beat at the mere sound of his voice?! She thought as she swiftly hurried into the compound of TFC which was right in front of her, escaping the traffic noise and finding some semblance of calm beneath the awning at the entrance of the fast food place.
“We met three days ago.” He continued. “On Friday, at…”
“Hi IK.” She cut in. “I remember you.”
“Ah…good. So how was your weekend?”
“Oh, great and yours?”
“Busy. I was working.”
“Are you busy every weekend?”
“Most times. That’s when the events I handle happen.”
“Do you do weddings as well?”
“No.” She heard a trace of laughter in his voice. “My experience doesn’t include that specialty.”
“A lack of interest is more like it, but I’m interested in taking you out for drinks or dinner sometime soon.”
How about on the 14th? Wednesday next week? She thought wildly. “I thought you weren’t free most weekends.”
“I was thinking about a weekday actually…” Esohe held her breath. “…maybe on Friday? If it’s okay with you.”
“I’m busy this Friday.” Still hoping he’d take the hint and make a Valentine’s date.
“Next Friday, perhaps?”
Brief silence, then. “Sure, why not?” Expertly shielding the disappointment in her voice.
“Great. We’ll work towards that day.” His tone the direct opposite of how she felt. “I’ll call you, and we’ll talk again soon.” He promised.
“Right. Bye.” And she cut off the connection. Emerging from the calm of the awning and into the noise of the street, she found out she had lost her appetite.
For the better part of the rest of the day, Esohe tortured herself with snippets of her conversation with IK. As she observed the theory aspect of the orientation session, which her assistant usually anchored before handing over to the other departments – HR, Legal, Finance, etc – she ruminated over the fact that she was pleased (extremely so) that he had called her. Why were her heartbeats in overdrive for the duration of the conversation? She had found a comma in the man after all, yet…
In her weekly departmental meeting, which took place before the end of every Monday, her thoughts drifted to why she had in fact accepted to go out for drinks or whatever with him next week. She had even hoped he’d fix it on Valentine’s day!
And on the drive to her mother’s, where Osayu stayed after school, she tried to sort out her feelings for a man she barely knew, towards having a relationship with IK. Given her attitude and claims over the weekend, her friends thought she had made up her mind about him; nothing was going to happen. But from recent events, all of that was about to change…or was it?
What do you want, Esohe? She asked herself, almost in exasperation, as she brought the car to a stop in front of a red light. One of her new year resolutions was to get back into the dating scene, and so far, IK was the only one, out of the four/five men who had signalled interest in her so far, to get her attention and give any contemplation about. So, to give him a chance or not consider him at all? Take a stand! Well, it would have been easier if his cell phone screen didn’t determine the trajectory of their relations. But all he has done is ask her out on a casual date. Nothing serious. So why was she allowing maybe, perhaps, probably come between them and take over her thoughts. No marriage proposal was on the table, for goodness’ sake! What on earth was wrong with her?!
“Blast that ‘phone!” She spat out loud, suddenly. Just then, the light turned green.