There were muffled sounds coming from Solo’s room, he was talking to his girlfriend over the phone, they had spoken all night and I wondered if they ever had time to catch some sleep.
“Love you too honey bunny…” I heard Solo say as he hung up.
I was lying in the next room, listening as his footsteps sauntered about his room, then I heard his door open and the short slaps of his feet as it neared my door. My breath hung in my throat, ‘I want Solo’ I almost swore under my breath and I couldn’t wait to feel his hands on my skin. He paused at my door for a short while and walked away to the bathroom, I sigh in disappointment.
Solo had been very surprised when I told him of what happened yesterday at the factory and my interview with the executives of the company. He told me that he seriously doubted that I would get the job but I silenced him with the news of my secretary position at the drycleaners.
“Ehhen…so does this mean I would have clean clothes from now on?” He joked.
“Yes ke…na me be de Seke na…if ya cloth no clean I no go fit call myself Seke oooo…” I replied.
“Seke Senorita!” He laughed as he playfully nudged me with his elbow.
I blushed in embarrassment as I shyly stared at him in open admiration.
“Na new name you just give me sooo…I don get new name now oooo…Seke Senorita.”
Solo laughed again.
“De name sweet me well well…Solo…” I say as I bat my eyelashes at him.
Solo stared at me in confusion over my reaction to the new name. Indeed, the name sent shivers up my spine and I was happy that Solo had a special name for me.
“Errr hem….” Solo cleared his throat as he stared around uncomfortably. “So when your salary starts coming in, I would help you save some in a bank.”
“Bank? Which kain bank? I no fit thruway my money for inside dat house lai lai.” I shook my head stubbornly.
“Why don’t you want to save your money in the bank?” Solo asks.
“Na taboo be dat. Even my Chief for village dey bury im money for ground…why I go carry all my money go bank?” I ask puzzled.
“Ah ah…abi you don forget our special name?” I bat my eyelashes again.
“Okay…Seke Senorita…you really need an education. I must say that you are very different and I have never met your kind before but please don’t speak like this outside…banks are very important and if you don’t have a bank account, your money’s security can’t be guaranteed.” He said matter-of-factly.
“Nooo…Solo…you never see wetin dey for inside dat bank oooo….dat place no be am at all…” I continue.
“Have you ever been to a bank before?” He asks.
“Den why speak of it like you know everything about it?” Solo says.
I stare at him for a while and look away, not knowing what to say.
Now as I lie on the hard floor of the sitting room, I sigh again. How can Solo not see the desperation in my eyes? Is he made of wood? Something tells me to get up from my bed and enter his room but experience has taught me hard lessons. After the battle in my former Oga’s house, I cannot risk being thrown out to the streets again. Thoughts spiral through my head till my eyes close in sleep.
I heard my name but I was still swimming in the river in my village so I was in no hurry to wake up.
“Hmmm…” I murmur, wondering where my voice was coming from.
“Aren’t you going to work today?”
I jump up hastily from the bed and stare at Solo whose face was bent close to mine as he spoke to me.
“Today is your seke work or have you changed your mind?” Solo asked.
“Nooo….wetin time talk?” I ask.
“It’s almost eight am.”
“Wetin? My work dey start for eight ooo….chai….Senorita! Na so you wan miss this chance ehhhh….” I wail.
“Stop that noise! Get into the bathroom and have your bath…you can still make it if you hurry…” Solo said in anger at my sudden reaction.
“Yehhhhhh….why I go bafff? Make I run comot like dis na?” I plead.
“Have you seen yourself? You look a mess! You have dried spittle hanging at the corners of your mouth and cheeks… you stink like a dead rat. Don’t get me upset Senorita…act like a grown up and not a stupid child.”
“Me? Ahh…Solo no dey talk like dat ehn…I dey try ooo. Abeg make I just clean face comot, I no fit let dis my Seke work waka…abeg…” I cry.
“Are you stupid? How old are you?” Solo asks.
“Me? Ninnuteen …errr…no….twonmty five….no wait…my brother way senior me don knack 30…so I fit be taty two.” I conclude.
“You’re a nut case…infact just go to work…get out of this house!” Solo said trying to contain himself.
I fall helplessly to the ground and hug his knees close to myself and wail.
“Solo…abeg…abeg…no push me comot…I no fit find wia to go…”
The door to the house opens and a dumbstuck Jenny stares at the two of us in disgust.
“So this is it right?” She barks “Solomon…so this is the work you said you had to get to this morning right? You liar!”
Jenny storms out of the house in anger and Solo sighs in frustration and runs after her. I keep wailing and shouting Solo’s name at the top of my voice.
“Solo….Solo…abeg no leave me! I no get any pesin wey be like you ooo…”
Ten minutes later, I was on my way to the drycleaners place, I had run all the way from Solo’s house to my new office street. When I left the house, I didn’t see Solo in sight or his girlfriend Jenny. The door to the dry cleaning place was open and I struggled to read the inscription at the entrance. It read;
“LOOK SHARP DRYCLEANERS! CLEAN WITH NO REGRETS”
I walk into the reception and see the man that offered me a job yesterday, he was shaking hands with another young man who he handed a receipt.
“I salute sir…” I clear my throat and greet.
“Ohhh hooo….meets my news secretary.” He introduced.
The other man held out his hand to me and after starring at it for a while, I spit on it. The man stare at me baffled and in shock.
“Sorry customer….she is convincingly welcoming you into our dry cleaning services…this is a very talenting girl who has been rejecting by many other companies. It is a delightful to have her working with us.” My soon to be boss said.
The customer looked at both of us as though we were crazy and walked away.
“Welcome secretary…it’s pleasuring to see you again.”
“Tainks sir. Me pleasuring you too.” I said, trying hard to speak good English.
My boss was extremely pleased, he clapped his hands in glee.
“Weldone…weldone…I sees you have been learnt Englishes.”
I nod in delight as I smile at him.
In less than ten minutes, my new boss who introduced himself to me as Johnny B had me placed at the front desk and taught me how to issue receipts. There was a laminated price tag on the wall where prices of all kinds of dry cleaning were written.
One hour later, I was settled in my new job and ready to make a good impression. My first customer of the day was a very young girl, she was barely thirteen.
“Good morning.” She greeted.
This was the first time anyone has ever shown me respect in my entire life, so I puffed my chest and nodded calmly at her greeting.
“Please how much do you wash a pair of jeans trousers?” The girl asked.
I pulled out my receipt booklet and eager to write, I ask;
“Names you want?”
“What?” The girl asked confused.
I sigh in disappointment at myself as I realize that the girl didn’t understand the words I had just spoken.
“Wetin be ya name?” I ask.
“Ohh…my name is Farida but I am not here to drop off any clothes. I would just like to know how much you charge for jeans.”
I quickly scribble down some unintelligible signs that didn’t seem comprehensive to me.
“How much do you charge or aren’t you going to tell me?” The girl sounded irritated.
“Stop that! No dey curse and curse…” I say angrily, telling myself that English was much difficult than I thought.
“What are you saying? I am asking you if …you know what? Never mind….” The girl said and stormed off.
Trust the Senorita instincts in me, I wasn’t ready to be insulted by a small child. I hastily jumped over the counter and chased the girl, she turned back and when she saw that I was hot on her heels, she ran as fast as her legs could carry her.
I chased her till my legs were weak but the girl was faster as she suddenly disappeared from sight. I turned back to return to my office but found out that I was in an unknown street. I found myself asking people;
“Abeg una know wia Look Sharp be dey?”
They all shook their heads as they went about their activities. I walked from street to street till I was frustrated. After a long while, I walk to an empty kiosk, seat on the empty bench and say in frustration;
“Na so so devil go dey shook hand for Senorita waka….weldone!”