May 2nd, 2013
I woke up this morning with a huge weight on my chest. There was no more running away from it. I finally had to go to work, to face the music.
Getting ready for work, I was in the worst of moods. Nothing Patrick said could shake me out of my funk. All through the ride to work, all I could think of was what lay ahead of me.
“Or do you think I should just drop my resignation letter?” I asked, as we neared the office. “Instead of putting myself through this?”
Patrick looked at me like I was crazy. “Don’t be silly! I still don’t know what all this hypertension is for! What you are worrying about is a private matter between two individuals, who just happen to work in the same place…”
“One of whom has the power of a thousand armies…” I muttered.
“Even if it was a million armies, she has no right to penalize you for a crime you didn’t commit.” Patrick continued. “This isn’t the Faith I know! You were telling me how you were running around the whole London, cape around your neck, solving other people’s problems. Why are you so scared to tackle yours head on? Babes, she can’t do anything to you!”
That was what I kept reminding myself of, as I walked into the building. If I could believe that, maybe the fear and apprehension would leave me.
One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the show of love and affection I got from my other colleagues, right from reception lobby. From every corner rang greetings of “Iya Beji, what happened?”, “Ah, please take it easy for our twins oh!”, “How are you feeling now? Please make sure you don’t stress yourself!”, “Are you comfortable? Do you want something to use to prop your feet?”, “Can I get you something? Some tea? Some doughhuts?”
I have never felt so loved and doted on in all my life. I didn’t know how much affection my colleagues have for me. Knowing that gave me even more courage for what possibly lay ahead.
But I was surprised not to see my friend, Ejiro, amongst the throng of well-wishers who stopped by my cubicle to check on me. When I asked about her, I got some very good, and some very bad, news. The good news is that she is pregnant again!!! Yay!!! The bad news is that she has taken a leave of absence for the remainder of her pregnancy, to be on full bed rest. Meaning that for the next month, at least, or whenever time Ebika is able to resume work, it will be just me, myself, and I. Ah well. It’s understandable that Ejiro would want to take extra precaution, especially after all her previous miscarriages.
Later in the morning, I had to swallow some courage to ask my Manager for permission to attend antenatal class this afternoon. The woman who had been one of the people fussing all over this morning, had peered at me from the top of her glasses.
“Antenatal class? Today? Your first day back after being away for three weeks?!”
Well, if she put it that way!
“Yes Ma. It’s just that my doctor was very angry with me for not attending all this while. It…it might have even contributed to my condition…” I stuttered, not liking the fact that I had to lie about having had any so-called ‘condition’.
She grunted sarcastically. “Don’t be dramatic, Faith! I am yet to hear of anyone who lost her baby because she didn’t attend antenatal class!” she sighed, removed her glasses, and looked up at me. “Look…I hear you. And I’m all for you attending your antenatal classes from now going forward. But just not today. Yes, I understand that you were on compulsory bed rest…but you’ll just have to sit out this class. You can attend the next one. I spent too much time defending your time off, so much so that I wouldn’t know how to defend you running off for hours, on your first day back.”
I looked at her quizzically. “Defending me, Ma?”
She looked around, to make sure nobody was listening in on our conversation.
“Mrs. M has been asking about you. Hardly a day went by that she didn’t ask after you,” she said, in a hoarse whisper. “I found it odd, because she really had no reason to be looking for you, considering you don’t ’work with her directly.”
I felt my stomach crash to my feet. Mrs. M is Akunna’s Aunty Josephine, my infamous ED.
“She…she was looking for me?” I stuttered.
“Yes!” my Manager answered, her stage whisper getting even louder. “Does this have anything to do with…with that thing you told me about before? About your brother and her niece?”
I felt all the energy drain from my body, and my legs suddenly couldn’t hold my weight. Without asking for permission, I sat on her visitor’s chair, and stared straight ahead. I had hoped she’d have forgotten about my outburst, and the choice words I had used at the hospital. But alas, it appeared to be anything but.
“Ah, Faith! There you are! I’m just coming from your cubicle,” came a voice from behind me.
Looking around, I saw that it was Juliet, my ED’s Personal Assistant…and my heart literally stopped beating.
“My Madam wants to see you,” she said, confirming my worst fear.