May 2nd, 2013
I’m not sure how I found the strength to follow Juliet to my ED’s office. But somehow, I’d managed to. Walking behind her, I kept repeating in my head, everything Patrick had told me this morning. I had to find a way to believe that everything I’d worked for, all the years I’d put into the company, would not go up in a ball of flames, no thanks to my not being able to reign in my emotions, and keep my mouth shut!
We finally got to her office, and for the first time since that awful evening at the hospital, three weeks ago, there we were, my ED and I, face to face.
“Good…mor…good afternoon Ma.” I stuttered, realizing it was past noon now.
As she looked at me, I couldn’t even decipher if she was looking at me with hatred, vindictiveness, anger…nothing. It was the best poker face I’d even seen on anybody.
“Leave us,” she said to Juliet.
When we were alone, she said nothing at first. She didn’t offer me a seat, and I didn’t ask for one. So, she’d sat, and I’d stood there…in silence.
“I’m told you were asked to be on bed rest,” she finally said, with what I could clearly detect was sarcasm.
“Y…yes Ma!” I answered nervously.
“I didn’t know bedrest involved you hopping all over the world. We saw pictures of your brother’s wedding…and there you were in more than a few shots,” she added, with a sly smile.
Ye! Ye! Ye! Ye! What was I thinking, allowing Phillip and Diana tag me in their Facebook pictures, especially when I’d lied at work about the reason for my extended absence??! But wait a second! I suddenly realized I was losing point of the conversation here! Was it the fact that I’d lied about my trip, or the fact that Phillip is now married to ‘the other woman’.
“Well? Wasn’t that you in the pictures? You sure didn’t look like you were on bedrest to me!” she insisted.
At this point, I knew I had to just throw away all the fear, and be as truthful as I could be.
“Well? You’re not answering? I take it you were not on bedrest then?” she asked again.
“No, Ma.” I answered, staring straight ahead.
“I know it wasn’t coincidental that your request came only a day after our…discussion at the hospital that evening.”
I cleared my throat. “No, it wasn’t Ma”. There was no more need to lie. At this point, I was ready for anything. Whatever would be, would be!
“With all the bravado with which you spoke to me, I’m actually surprised you ran away like a scared mouse! I was actually ready for you the next day,” she remarked.
When I didn’t answer, she motioned for me to sit down. If we weren’t alone in the office, I would have looked around, to be sure that she was talking to the right person. But, as it was just us two, I slowly found my way to her visitor’s chair.
“Look…you should have known better than to accuse me of trying to witch hunt or bully you. In all the months that have followed the revelation of you as the sister of the man who impregnated my niece, have I done anything to directly give you that impression?” she asked.
I was momentarily taken aback, before finding the voice to answer, “But Akunna’s Mom said…”
“Forget what my sister said. She was…and still is…very angry about the whole thing, and would say pretty much anything!” she answered. “But I expected you to know better than to accuse me of using something from both our personal lives to penalize you here at work. Do you honestly think I would jeopardise my stellar career, of almost 30 years, for something so…so trivial?”
“Don’t get me wrong, I am very angry about the whole situation! I do not like the fact that a man strung my niece on for so long, tied her down, prevented her from meeting other people, and abandoned her in the blink of an eye, with a baby in her stomach! And yes, seeing you reminds me of the situation, which is why I might have appeared angry more than a few times,” she leaned forward. “But I have worked too hard to lose my head over what is clearly a family issue.”
I stared at her in shock, not quite knowing what to make of what I was hearing.
“For as long as you continue working hard here, you have nothing to worry about. We will just have to find a way to…to peacefully coexist here,” my ED concluded. “So, no need to run away under false pretext next time.”
“Y…yes Ma. Thank you, Ma!” I said, scrambling to my feet, eager to get out of the office before she changed her mind.
“So, they got married? Jacob’s sister and your brother?” she asked, as I stood up.
I nodded, and she smiled sadly. “Akunna found the pictures on Facebook…by chance. Seeing those pictures broke her. She cried for days. I think she still nursed hope for a reconciliation, but the wedding pretty much killed any hope for that. My niece might be an airhead and a schemer…but it hurts me to see her so broken…”
To my surprise, I actually felt a rising feeling of pity for the Akunna. I can’t imagine how she must have felt, seeing those pictures on Facebook. Poor girl.
“Anyway…I guess congratulations are in order,” my ED said, with a stiff smile. “I wish them all the happiness.”
I think I even curtsied. “Thank you, Ma!”
“And that is the last time we will have this discussion here in the office!” my ED declared. “But when we are outside the walls of this company, I would advice you cross the road when you see me!” and then, she had given a very creepy smile.
I smiled back nervously, and quickly scampered out of her office, not believing the size of the bullet I’d just dodged.
So, I live to fight, and be employed, another day!