by Dexter F. I. Joseph
Merije walked into the house scuffling, desperately searching for the couch to fall into. The softness of the seat further made his back ache and his muscles tensed. He was tender all over and exhausted. Work had been hectic and felt like the day had been designed to solely burn him to his limits.
Where he sat, his mind — as it, in part, attended to his soreness— drifted to what had transpired between him and his boss that day. She hated his guts and he knew why. It was the same reason she’d offered his promotion to Michael, his coworker. Days like this made him feel that being decent – or at least striving to be – was a lot of pain and a waste of time.
He puffed air from his lungs and muttered words he neither understood nor created for such a purpose. He leered to his side as a laugh followed by Adaeze ambled into the parlour like the deacon of mischief, ready to collect her pound of mockery. She fell on him for a hug which he was too tired to return in full.
“You look dead,” she giggled, romancing his roughened beards.
He yanked her hand off his face, sizzling jokingly. “You think feeding you and that little rascal in your stomach is easy?”
“How was work?” she asked him after her one-minute charade of endless laughter, one which was virulent and had pulled him in too.
He rested on her laps and gazed into the ceiling. The lights were out but the heavy rainfall kept the evening cool. He didn’t know where to begin to describe the horror he had been through in the name of work. And it had been the same for days. After a moment of thought, he exhaled. “Funmi was a pain in the ass today. It’s like she is hell-bent on making life at the office more difficult than it already is for me. I was almost tempted to confront her today.”
“You know such an altercation is what she wants, right? A reason to drag it out with you, and maybe even get you fired. When you turned down her sexual advances last week, I told you to expect this.” Adaeze massaged his scalp and watched her gentle touch almost knock him into oblivion.
He shrugged, frustrated. “I did. I just didn’t know it’d be this hard. It’s worse because she’s my boss.”
“Just apply wisdom in your dealings with her. Then again, being a Christian isn’t easy at all. I can’t even fight the woman trying to snatch my husband from me. Tufiakwa.”
Merije looked at her, surprised. Laughter sat impatiently underneath his lips and his awe at her sudden well-intended and rightly delivered whining. Then they both burst into unwavering laughter.
That night, Adaeze couldn’t sleep. Something sat on her chest, and rather than choke her, it instead chose to perturb and make her restless. Knowing the necessity of waking up early to make breakfast and prepare for work, she stood and headed to the parlour. There, she prayed for understanding of what bothered her and for repose in her mind. Fifteen minutes later, she crept back under the duvet cover, latching her arm and feet on Merije, and he —though a heavy sleeper and unaware of his actions- responded, cuddling her.
Morning came. Munching down and fast at his meal, licking oil and seasoning off his hands and lips, then washing them, Merije was ready to run off to work. Adaeze was getting dressed too. He stared at the time, then called out to her for a goodbye. When she appeared, helping him adjust his tie, he pulled her close and kissed her. “May your day be fruitful, and may the works of your hand bring glory to God and favour to you, in Christ’s name, Amen.”
She nodded, hugged and kissed his forehead. “And may men fear you as the devil does the truth. Our father will guide and keep you, and bring you back home to me with beautiful news.”
“Amen.” He responded and raced out with his bag, returned a second later, kissed her again and ran off. As the door closed behind him, though she had prayed about it the night before and they had prayed about it that morning, she closed her eyes and muttered prayers for him again.
“You are fired!”
It was a slight error in the records he had supervised, but those words were his punishment. Merije gazed at the fuming and vindictive face which his boss wore on her face as she barked the declaration in front of a dozen other workers. His chest was stiff to the sting those words hurled at him, but he stood there, handicapped and unsure how to respond to it.
“Go to that desk, pack your belongings and leave this premises, Merije,” she barked again, then stormed away.
Almost instantly, just as she was out of sight, apologies and consolations began to fly around. When the reality of his sack dawned on him and his mind had processed what his new life was; one where he was jobless, he strolled back to his desk and sat there for a few minutes, eyes closed in contemplation. He wondered what he was going to do, how Adaeze would react and how their family would be affected. It all left him troubled.
“Father, thank you for everything…” he clasped his hands together with his head buried into them. There was little to be done now, and if anything was at all to change or be done to salvage the issue before him, it certainly wasn’t going to be achieved through distress, he reckoned. “…thank you for this job. It has helped me a lot. Stressful at times but the pay was fair. Thank you for everything I’ve learned here. They’ll help me tomorrow, I’m sure. Thank you for my sack. You know best. Maybe it’s time for a change of environment. Thank you for Funmi. She wasn’t the best boss but has a lot of room for growth. I pray that you touch her heart the way you touched mine, and show her the truth you had shown me. Help me forgive her where she has wronged me so that I’ll have my peace. Amen.” He let out a towering sigh.
When he was done, he stood and huddled his things into a box, walking out of the office as the others watched; some happy, some sad, some disappointed.