‘Shut up young woman abi man! You’re disturbing the serenity of this environment. What is wrong with you? Do you think that you’re the only one interested in finding a way to leave this God-forsaken building? We’ve tried all your suggestions but none of them worked. Get out of that place before I spend the last ounce of strength in me to crack you down.’ He barked.
‘We all have families too, in case you were not aware. Nonsense!’ He yelled.
‘You see old man, were it not that I respect the few grey threads on that bald skull, I’d have smacked you like a child’ Chika retorted.
‘I’ve been respectful all my life and worked hard to be where I am now, with people like you under me. So, you best believe that if I hear one more insult from you, I won’t mind folding this garment of respect to deal with your old behind’ She thundered.
‘And by the way, I’m a woman, a wife and a mother. Better watch it boy’, she concluded as she picked up her pen and continued to unravel the code.
A much-solicited silence suddenly walked into the room, with everyone gazing at each other as if waiting for the silence to speak.
Chika’s response was completely new to everyone. No one had heard her speak with such anger in her voice. Although they hadn’t known themselves for long, yet seeing her snap back at Kachi was new and terrifying at the same time. Yes, she had every reason to even go farther.
That side of her had remained hidden. And it better remain hidden because they wouldn’t want her to stop what she was doing; her suggestions have been quite helpful to get them to where they are now although they haven’t succeeded at their enterprise yet. No one wanted any rifts. Not now. Not even tomorrow until we’ve gotten out of this place.
After about five minutes, Ejike decided to dismiss the silence. He gently clears his dry throat and adorns a serious look as if he were a village chief that was invited to settle a dispute between two elders. ‘Alright everyone, this isn’t the time for needless disputes. It’s not a time for any misogyny or disrespect. We’re all in this together and the earlier we found a solution, the better for us.’
The rest of the people gently nodded in agreement without uttering any words. Everyone wanted to conserve some energy for the work ahead. Their eyes were already growing dim and their throat dry for want of anything edible. Some even wondered how Kachi and Chika still had the strength to waste in unreasonable fights.
When Ejike was done with his exhortation, everyone returned to work.
Chika woke up at 4 am, quite early for her given that she starts work at 8 am and her office is just seven minutes drive from home. And in the worst-case scenario, it’ll take her ten minutes to get to her office or even walk to the office if there was much traffic.
Her office is located on Pirro’s lane, named after the famous Mathematician who, according to legend, was the legitimate son of Archimedes. Many people living in other parts of the state have questioned the authenticity of that story. But who cares, Pirro’s lane was known for several other things even more attractive than being named after a Greek. Pirro’s lane is both the political and intellectual hub of the region and housed the centre of power.
Chika knew it was going to be an important day in her career – a day she’ll meet with the director of national intelligence to know if she’ll be appointed to the prestigious post of the director of the secret service arm. She’s worked with the agency for a little above a decade now.
Working in the force has been her dream as a child. She recalls how as a child she trained in martial arts while her mates did other sports. She loved the discipline, dedication and determination.
She always enjoyed the stories her dad told her concerning his ‘missions’ in several parts of the world – the rigorous training sessions, sleepless nights, thought process, loneliness but also the fightings and victories. All these triggered off some beautiful hormonal release in her each time she hears them. Like a neighbour once said when Chika was a toddler, ‘she took the adrenaline of the father and the melatonin of the mother.’ Maybe the percentage of adrenalin is more seeing the traits of Chika.
Chika’s father, Dede, is a retired army general who was known around the neighbourhood. Dede as he was fondly called by family, friends and companions, never wanted her daughter to get into the armed forces.
He had not only seen wars, blood, sand, fire and the rest, but he had been in them, fought in them, led troops in them, lost lives – friends and colleagues – that he wasn’t ready to allow his child to get into one.
Yes, he was excited telling the stories of his escapades, but he wanted them to remain stories and nothing more – just a variant of the fairy tales of the tortoise and the monkey that parents often tell their children. Maybe a bit extreme but those were the stories he could remember and his family didn’t blame him for sharing them either.
His real name however wasn’t Dede, but who cares. Everyone has gotten so used to calling him Dede that most of his friends don’t even know his real name. There’s this funny story of when Chika was about getting into the university. She had picked up the form from a nearby post office and quickly filled it up. When she got to the counter to submit it, the postman checked and when he saw Dede written against the space for parents’ name, he asked Chika ‘Is that your Father’s name?’ And Chika boldly said yes without blinking. The postman wasn’t convinced but Chika insisted and he had no option but to agree.
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