Today seemed as conventional as any other day. I ran into my place of work ten minutes late, looking untidy.
“Good morning”, the receptionist said.
I smile giving her a polite nod, I always do, because my mouth is always holding my laptop bag and my hands are busy fixing my tie.
I look around and smile, relieved that my boss is also late. Now I can send someone to get me my breakfast, I thought. I really can’t go on like this though, not with this poor economy. I can’t keep spending effortlessly. I really should get a wife.
I move into my own table and pick up the telephone to dial the errand girl, but here we call them “messengers”. Their official duties included posting mails, which we hardly ever do, organizing and stacking files, and of course attending to impudent staff like me, who never cook at home. It wasn’t an official task initially but someone had to make it so, unless staff like me wouldn’t be able to perform.
At the first ring, she answered. “Hello. Good morning? How can I be of help to you?” Such politeness I receive every morning, I thought.
Would you… I began to say but there are no sounds. I clear my throat and a file of air escapes but there are still no sounds.
Hello? Hello. She began to repeat losing the politeness in her tone.
I coughed but it was stiff and quiet. She hanged up.
What was happening to my voice? I didn’t have any form of cold.
I cleared my throat and tried to speak again but nothing. Not even a sigh.
What was happening to me? Did I suddenly lose my speech?
No, I thought. No. People don’t wake up dumb.
Other staff were fixated on their screen, but she was staring at me, the new staff I had been trying to woo for a while now. She has never looked my way. Why now?
She stood. No. Oh God! She was coming here! “Your face seems … hmm a little worried. Is it indigestion?” She asked smiling.
I shake my head saying no. “Don’t be shy it happens to all of us sometimes, you can get the key for the male …” I shake my head interrupting her. “What is it then?” she asked, now worried.
Not one or two were now looking at me but all. That stupid man Femi shook his head like this was my usual way.
I stood and left her, she followed me and I turned to tell her to leave, that I want to be alone but no words crossed my lips. So she kept following me. I tried to pass the receptionist but she blocked me saying” the boss needs you”. I tried to move past her but two security men stepped forward.
I moved back, took the elevator to the third floor. All the while, she followed me. I liked this woman, but God knows I hate to see her follow me the way she did. Why was she following me? We weren’t even sleeping together. Her lover Femi was downstairs waiting for her.
I knock on the boss’ door and he said come in. She followed me in. “Good morning Sir,” she said. “Good morning Ada,” he replied smiling, looking at her in that way and something tells me he is also sleeping with her.
I shake my head at the thought. “What’s the meaning of this have you lost your manners?” He said to me.
No just my voice, I reply but there are no sounds.
His gaze was angry and he was no more fixated on Ada but on me. I always wanted to annoy him but I never thought of this way. But on a serious note, I might lose my job, if things continue like this.
I clear my voice again, but there is nothing. Then I put on a face of remorse and shake my head slowly. “Is everything alright, Paul?” He asked his once angry tone filled with concern.
I shake my head saying no. I wasn’t going to act dumb by demonstrating I couldn’t speak with my hands so, I just maintained my remorseful look. “He has been like this since morning, Stan,” Ada says.
You call your boss, by his name, oh no,his nickname. Definitely sleeping together, I concluded.
I called you because the file you were to submit yesterday is not here.
I submitted it. I used my hand to demonstrate pen and paper, but he ignored me. “I think he needs a pen and paper,” Ada said, I could tell she was genuinely worried.
He handed it to me suspiciously as if I were playing a prank of some sort.
I took it and wrote down where I kept the files.
He read it, laughed viciously and asked “Cat got your tongue?
You can leave, but I won’t put up with this tomorrow,” he said.
I left expecting Ada to follow me but she didn’t, and I knew she was going to be with him.
I heard the sound of the door lock and for no reason, this makes me very angry. Was she just feeling sorry for me?
I go back to my work and about an hour later she moves into her table, I could tell she was avoiding my gaze.
I couldn’t concentrate anymore as I felt a sudden surge of anger erupt in me. Like red hot magma in a trembling volcano I was going to explode. My sudden muteness, only deepening this effect. I kept looking at her and she kept looking away.
And eventually I did “Stop looking away whore, not in the office with your boss. Damn right! I am dumb.” I screamed in anger. But this time there was maximum sound. An unexpected oddness that I regained my speech, only to lose my job.