This is the last part in the free to read Excerpt of my book, ‘The Queen of Ottawa and Mbellecie: Chapter 9
I heard the honking of a horn at the gate and guessed that it would him. I looked at the clock on the wall; 12.30 PM. I can’t imagine how many times I have done that today; that is, checking the time. Babe, am I anxious? I hope not, but that was exactly how I was feeling right then.
I have had a light late breakfast of rice and dodo when I returned from the office and took a long while sorting out what to wear. It will be telling much if I appear as a new bride out on her honey-moon garbed on a new dress, but I do not also want to appear too formal.
I guess I will have to stick to something in between. I checked through my wardrobe and came out with a slack. This is not a dinner party and I believe I will just pass on with this one for a Saturday outing. I hoped that Tony would just be his normal self; casual and unassuming.
I picked a light-blue long sleeve blouse; a look at the mirror gave me the confidence that I will pass on as any person on every occasion: I am ready to go.
I heard the sound of the car in front of my door, then rattling of the protectors, and followed by a light knocking.
I opened the door and held my breath; I could hardly recognize the man standing in front of the door.
I guessed he noticed my hesitation and moved in too fast for me to open the protector for him to come in. He eased it open and stepped into the porch.
“Hello, Miss Queen, God, you look stunningly smashing in this outfit,” he said, his eyes scanning over me. “Now, I realized why your parent said you’re a Queen.”
He was dressed in a white Nylon long sleeve shirt with a golden ream lining the edge of the collar, the cuffs, and the button lines, on top of a pair of chinos trousers.
“Thank you, Mr. Tony. But you are also not Mr. Tony I’m used to be seeing on duty right now. But you aren’t going to be standing at the gate appraising me: do come in.”
He came into the room, looking around as a property agent, inspecting a house for sale.
“This’s quite a nice place you’ve got here, Miss Queen. I hope the landlord is not charging you dry?”
“It’s not much, and I think I can manage it for now. Mr. Tony, you’re welcome to my humble abode, anyway. You won’t mind a taste of wine or something, as a token of your welcome,” I said, as I opened the small refrigerator beside the dining table.” I could perceive the thick scent of his cologne almost absorbing that of my own perfume.
His face was smoothly shaven, and with a pair of white framed eye-glasses resting on the ridge of his nose, his feet shod in white sandals; he appears like a hermit of a sort.
“I’d be disrespectful if I say no, but I can take some water. You can’t believe that I’ve decided to skip my breakfast for our lunch as to have room for the meal; and right now I’m ready to eat a horse”, he said with a smile and sat down on the settee.
“That quite unfortunate, Mr. Tony, as we do not breed horses in our compound as you can see,” I said as I handed him a bottle of water.
“I have a place in mind where we can have a decent meal, that’s if you do agree that we’ll not just have to go across the road to eat out at that restaurant over there.”
“Come on, Mr. Tony, it will not speak well of me to allow you to come to my house only to go across the road to eat,” I said and looked at him as I reached for my handbag. “Where do you have in mind to go? I’m all set.
“Well, there is a place called, ‘The Asian Town’ in Old GRA, downtown. You’ll love the place.” He was looking at me with a slight smile hanging in his face.
“So then, let’s go,” I said and moved toward the door. “I think I’ve heard the reputation about the place, though I’ve not been there. But Mr. Tony, you never stopped to amaze me.”
“How’s that?” he asked as he stood up, still holding the bottle of water. “I mean, my amazing you?”
“Though I’ve never been to Asian Town, I heard it’s one of the exclusive places in town.”
“Miss Queen, I’ve made enough provision to take you only to the best place in this city. So, if you don’t mind we should be on our way now.”
“It’s a pleasure, Mr. Tony, there’s always a first time for everything, and this sure is one of those,” I said, as I locked the door and followed him to his car.
“Sir, but why did you have to wait until this morning to bring this up?” I had asked him when he brought them to me in the morning.
He was already in the office when Andrew
drove into the premises in the morning and had come out smiling to meet me as I
came out of the car.
“I knew you’ll not disappoint me, Miss
Queen,” he said, stretching out his hand to me. “But it’s a good thing you’re
I looked at him, he was putting on a red
T-shirt on a navy blue Chinos trouser and a white face cap.
“But Sir, this is most inconveniencing to me; rushing out to the office on a Saturday morning; you understand how very tasking the week has been to me.”
“I knew, Miss Queen, but this won’t take much of your time,” he said with a smile and turned toward the door. “Come on, cut out that frown, Miss Queen. No amount of frowning you do will change your appearance. So you‘ll just be whom you’ve ever been.” He turned around to go, almost colliding with Indiara who has come out from the passage with a teapot in a tray.
She looked at him, pushing her way past him
and walked into the reception hall.
“Sir, you’ll not want to be here longer than I do,” I said smiling, in spite of myself and went into the reception.
“Ah, Miss Queen, so he dragged you out here
also,” she said turning again to look at Engineer Adigio, who was already going
toward his office, her eyes sparkling.
“How ‘re you doing, Indiara? Well, nobody dragged me to the office. I came out here on my own. Please, do bring a cup of tea to my office, would you.”
“I’ll be there in a minute, Miss Queen, but you know it’s not easy climbing those steps to your office.”
Engineer Adigio had come into my office soon after, with a couple of files, his own cup of steaming coffee in his hand.
“You knew the Chairman returned late last night
from a meeting with some people from SPDC and called to intimate me about these
particular files,” he said, putting the files on my table as I put aside some
other documents I have already brought out from my drawer. “I would have called
you immediately then, but I felt you’ll need an early evening rest after the
“How very polite of you, Sir, not to have called. I may not have answered,” I said, reflecting on how we were just talking about him then.
He raised his eyebrows and regarded me briefly.
“Would I have disturbed anything if I had called?”
“Not at all, Sir, but considering that you
guessed that I must have been very tired, you would have disturbed my sleep. If
you could imagine how I needed that rest; even today.”
“Okay, I knew,” he said and started opening
the files. “Probably we could go out and have brunch if we are through with
this little work we have here.”
I noticed him looking at me hopefully. “Sir,
how long do you think this work here will take us?” This is not happening to me,
right? I thought to myself. Tony would be coming to the house soon, and I am
locked up with this.
“I don’t think we will be here for more than a couple of hours, latest. Just sort out the reference numbers, write a short memo based on the serial number of the jobs, and the cost details; then you type them, or possibly you can save it on soft copy. I will take them to the Chairman”.
He paused and looked at me briefly for. “But
probably, we can go together to his house and have a late breakfast, or we
could just go our way to have our brunch after I have handed the files over to
“I’m sorry Sir, that won’t be possible
today, I have a mid-day date.”
He turned to look at me, his eyes pale, the hand on the chair going firm suddenly; I was intent on opening the files he had placed on my table innocently.
“Miss Queen, a date? With whom are you going out with?” He asked, the tone of his voice sounding a little whimsical.
“Sir, why are you asking me that? I have my
life to live outside of Dowel.” I said and gave him a patronizing smile. “Well,
if you really want to know, I’m going out with my friend, Ebiere.”
“Oh, Miss Queen, you had me going there for a while,” the wrinkles on his forehead smoothened out. “I don’t think you’ll need me to accompany you then?”
“Sir, you’ll be out of place sitting between
the two us when we’ll be sharing our feminine jokes,” I said and started going
through the files. “Sir, if you’ll excuse me, let me see how fast we can have
this work here done.”
“Okay, you do that, I’m not holding you back,” he said and stood up to go.
As he was going out, I heard him whispering
under his breath, “like a tack on a marble stone,” and the door closed after
What’s that supposed to mean, Engineer
Adigio? I said to myself. But you have not told me anything; you have said
anything to me Adigio.
It’s 9 ‘0’ clock; not too bad, I guessed, as
I started tidying up the files and pushing them away everywhere. I have already
typed out the information needed and saved it in my flash drive. I will have to
go to the secretary’s office and have them printed out.
I hope there will be someone in that office
to do that for me. I do not know if Engineer Adigio had called in any of the
secretarial personnel to be around this morning.
I was very fortunate, I met Ani sitting on her desk polishing her nail. Aniefiok Udoh is one of the oldest staff in Dowel. About 40 years old and about 4’8, her bulk seems to be a shape planted permanently on her seat. Her round chubby face has a fixed smile that you cannot tell even when she upset with a particular situation; which is quite rare.
“Aunty Ani, Good morning. I didn’t know they also invited you to the office.” I greeted her and moved into the room and handed the flash drive to her.
“Oh, Miss Queen, my dear, this your company is full of work. You are not even allowed to have an early morning rest on a Saturday.” She said, her teeth flashing as she reached to collect the flash from me. What’s in here?”
“Aunty, it’s why we get paid and are still working here. I didn’t know you are in the office, I would have called you from my office and send the document through the net. It’s just a Memo I want you to print out for the Chairman.”
“Please, do have a seat. I hope it’s not a large document?” she asked inserting the flash into the driver of the desktop. “Queen, I heard that you’re the one in the field working on the contract with…now, what’s the name of that company…Mbell..” she raised her face up to me.
“You mean Ottabellecie Holdings?”
“Yes, Ottambellecie. What a name? How do they even give that funny name to the company by the way? Anyway, how’s the work out there, Queen?” she asked and rolled around her seat to switch on the printer, still looking at me with a sly smile.
“Well, Aunty, it’s not easy with all those machines and engines whining and grinding, and the smell of the mud mixed up with diesel choking one’s breath, you will give credit to the men working out there all through their lives,” I answered speculatively.
I could almost hear and see the men battling
with the machines and welding gears, and the high pitched and whining sound of
“But you know, I’m not involved in any of
the tedious work on site. I’m only there to observe and to learn.”
“Well, I’d still say you are very brave to
be out there, Queen,” she said and looked at me, “which is the file you want to
print out, and how many copies of each page do you want to print out?”
I move up closer to her and indicated the
file on the screen. “Just print out 3 copies each. It’s only a 3-page
document.” I starred back at her. “And Aunty Ani, money doesn’t tell where it’s
coming from; just some crisp bank notes to be expended on our vanities.”
“Well, it’s so, my dear. All I’d say is that you do take good care of yourself. There are already some tread marks on your face, though you’re still a young girl; you know those young men out there like their ladies to remain gorgeous as they have always known you to be,” she said and rolled her eyes at me while reaching for the sheets of paper from the printer.
“Nothing to worry about on that regard,
Aunty Ani, I can look well after myself so that when they start coming to look
for me, I’ll be as radiant as the beautiful Queen I’ve always been.” I reached
out and collected the papers from her. “Thank you for your candid advice and
for printing out my files.”
“You don’t have to thank me for printing your work for you, it’s Dowel’s job and it’s added to my monthly salary,” she said smiling and handed my flash drive to me, patting my hand in the process.
It was 10 ‘O’ clock as we drove out of the
premises. I furtively looked at the watch.
“Miss Queen, I thought you will have to go
with Engineer Adigio to the Chairman’s residence to deliver the job,” Andrew
said as he pushed the car forward to join the traffic on the road.
“Whatever that gave you that impression,
Andrew?” I asked him, reaching into my bag to bring out my makeup pack.
“Well, I heard the Engineer telling Indiara
that we will not be staying longer today, that he’s going with you to the
Chairman’s place and that the others should lock up early soon after him.”
That sounds presumptuous of him; though he tried to do just that, I persuaded him to free me as I have something to attend to in my house, and he had graciously obliged me.
“Do you realize, Andrew, that today is
“Of course I Knew, Miss Queen. I’m even surprised
that you were asked to come to the office today, in the first place.”
“Anyway, it’s a good thing that we have
closed earlier,” I said stealing a look at my watch for the umpteenth time
Andrew deftly maneuvered the car around the hoards
of tricycles emerging from every crevice of the street like a swarm of bees in
this mid-Saturday morning.
It was gladdening to notice that the sun was
not quite as fierce this morning and the sky was so clear with just the rolling
of the cumulus cloud under the blue sky chasing one another and then spreading
out to form varying shapes and dissolving into the distant horizon.
This is just another day filled with its own
activities in life’s adventure; I wondered what it holds for me before it will
close in the evening. The idea of a date with Tony was just as exciting as it
was foreboding. I wondered what Ebiere will say when she sees him.
This is Chapter 9 free to read, of the excerpt of my book ‘The Queen of Ottawa and Mbellecie’: to follow the serial of this free to read, go to chapter 8 on my blog, the hallmarkinfoblog here and write a comment of what you think about the story.
“I think we could work out something that will give us an opportunity to find out about this Mr. Tony,” she said and sat down on the only stool in the kitchen.
After she had outlined her strategy in about ten minutes I felt like a heavy burden is been lifted off my shoulder.
Ebiere has been my childhood friend. We have passed through school together. So many people had thought us to be sisters and have always treated us as such: a fact we have also not done anything to discourage. She is just about my age, a very likable person.
Her father has a law firm that has been operating successfully. Her mother is a matron at the State-owned Baham Memorial Hospital (BMH) in Port Harcourt, both of whom are from Kalabari.
We both attended the Government Girls Secondary School, Habour Road, and graduated from the University of Port Harcourt in 2010. While I had pursued a course in Project Management, Ebiere had read Banking and Finance.
During our 1year mandatory National Youth Service Program, she was posted to Edo State, I had mine in Osun State. That was thep only time we have been ever separated from each other for quite a long while.
I stirred on my bed, reflecting about our discussion of the previous evening. Could Ebiere be right that I have fallen in love with Tony? But it was not herself that had put the idea in my mouth to say that much.
What is Tony’s status at Ottablecie Holdings? Though, it is not all about what he is in the company that matters. I am sure that company, the way I have seen it from both the inside and about their ethics, would not erroneously employ any staff with a shady character.
Tony himself also looks quite a decent sort of a man. If he is not acting for vanity, he would make a good home builder. What is that thing Mom always says about a Bishop from the Bible?
That a Bishop should be a man of one wife and not giving into strong drinks, and all the dos and don’ts about what a good man would have to be. Though I am not in the waiting list for a Bishop to come calling as a life partner, or whatever the relationship would lead up to, I see in Tony not being far from that list.
Then, so is Engineer Adigio and all the other men that have taken a shot at you, Queen, I heard the sneering in my head.
I coiled in tightly under my bed covers and mumbled a short prayer, and deliberately shut my eyes, trying to sleep out today. Tomorrow is floating into the world from the horizon, cocooned in a silvery sheet of fog, bearing in its wing the sadness and joy that each day deposits into our lives, and fleeing away into an infinity of time-space.
From the distance, the city of Port Harcourt is humming with the sound of power plants from every home like tuneless grunge.
The grungy sound was insistent and seemed to be coming from under my bed. I rolled out of the sheet and tried vainly to shut out the noise by closing my ears with my hands.
Oh, it was my phone that was ringing beside my bed. I stretched my left hand to reach for, knocking it down onto the floor in the process. God, I hope I have not damaged the phone.
The ringing has stopped as I picked it up. Thank God, the screen was not broken and it was still on. Engineer Adigio’s name was showing on the screen.
This is not possible; what would he be calling me up for on a Saturday morning? I hope there is no problem at the site.
I sat down on the edge of the bed, and as I was trying to redial his number, his call came back in.
“Hello, Sir. Good morning. I hope all is well?” I asked grumpily.
“Hello, Good morning Miss Queen. I’m terribly sorry. I hope I didn’t wake you up from your sleep?” He asked, his voice sounding pleasantly over the phone. “There is a memo we have to raise this morning. The Chairman will be traveling with it to Abuja later in the morning……….
“Excuse me, Sir, today is Saturday, and yes, you just woke me up from my sleep. I can’t be in the office this early, and you know it, Sir.”’
My mind was in a turmoil; I need a break and they knew that I need it after the week’s hustling in the swamp.
“Come on, Miss Queen, it’s not that bad yet. Okay, Don’t worry. I’ll try to make up the time for you. I have already called Andrew, he should be already on his way to your house to pick you up and bring you to the office. He will be at your places latest by 08:00 ‘O’ Clock.”
“Sir, I hope it will not take the whole day,” I said looking at the time on the phone. It’s 07:00 AM; I cannot believe I have slept through the night.
“It will not be; just a couple of hours for you to write up a brief report which the Chairman would take with him on his journey to Abuja, and we’ll be done, and you’ll be on your way home and to have your rest, I promise you. I won’t waste your day Miss Queen,” I could hear the relief in his tone.
“That’s okay Sir, I’ll be waiting for the driver.”
“That’s my most dependable ally,” he said. I could hear his laughter at the other end before he hung up.
I’ll not have to call Mr. Tony to tell him that I’ll be engaged somehow in the office briefly in the morning, trusting that the little job will be through with before his coming. It was then I remembered that I do not even have his number; I had failed to collect it from him when he was arranging for this lunch date.
Isn’t that just great, I smiled to myself and went to have my bath. What a way to start a new day. It has come bearing in its stock the nuts and twists that will shapen our lives and activities. Let’s see how much of the surprises I am going to receive before it gives way to the night which is just rumbling away into the western horizon.
I looked up at the clock on my table; 09:30 AM. Tony had said he will be in my place before 1 PM. I do not think it is a wise idea to have him waiting for me; it’s not so much important as missing out on the date, but it does not just sound polite.
There were still piles of papers on my table that Engineer Adigio had dumped on me to sort out about some details on cost and their references, and to also raise a work order for a client which the Chairman will be taking along to Abuja later in the day.
“Sir, but why did you have to wait until this morning to bring this up?” I had asked him when he brought them in the morning.
He was already in the office when Andrew drove into the premises in the morning and had come out smiling to meet me as I came out of the car.
“I knew you’ll not disappoint me, Miss Queen,” he said, stretching out his hand to me. “But it’s a good thing you’re here.”
I looked at him, he was putting on a red T-shirt on a navy blue Chinos trouser and a white face cap.
The blazing sun conspired with the dusty haze hangs in the air, filtering into one’s nostrils Mixed with the fragrance of a thousand apothecaries.
The atmosphere reeks with the sounds of the parties’ slogans, buried in spurious rhetoric, the Politicians traverse the cities in their flowing agbadas
Bogus and unattainable promises were spewed out to a gullible populace held captive by an excruciating poverty unleashed upon it by a dubious elements in the political class.
Feeding fat on their lies by an ignorant populace, bereft of objective analytical skill on the dummies sold out to them daily, as facts.
They sold their right of choice for a crisp of a fiver of their stolen national wealth; this is rightly theirs Thus, like the dawn of a new day, when the dark nightly clouds were chased away at the birth of the morning sun, and the silhouetting shadows of the night had vanished like melting vapors; reality stood out like a naked woman in a market square.
That all they had heard were mere illusions and fabrications mingled with malicious and eccentric manipulation, thus every step taken were a reaction to exposing barrenness of reality.
Thus, we stumble and tumble, wiggling and giggling along the way, not knowing when to stop; seemingly lost in a hazy maze, gaggling and gabbing incoherently, gagging all voices of reason
This piece was done over 3 years ago. But now that the drums have started sounding again; much frenzy this time, I guess we could take a pause and reflect back from where we were coming and pick up some cautions so that we do not plunge over the ragged precipice into a national eclipse.
As the echo of the battle fades away into the distance like a rumbling thunder a palpable silence descended upon the battle field and the remnants gazed about in wonder None could fathom the storm that has passed through the state and plunged it into a political blunder
In the pervading eerie silence upon the battlefield came the sound of an anguished cry; a mother has lost a soul, a loved one in the melee: yet she had not a stake or pride Could anyone feel her pain and sorrow when this rumblings and shaken have ceased?
What joy is it to the soul lost in this madness? It fades away like a shadow dissolving at the fading of the light, leaving in its wake a gloom desolation; even as the sound of the Victor and the Vanquished ring out rapturously in the Outer Courtyard The muted groans of loved ones could be heard, weeping for their lost son.
The election has come and gone yet the psychic of the Rivers man has been bruised and battered His cherished warmness and oneness tossed overboard by a strange malady in the wings of politics, that has cast him in the mold of a fiendish, bloodthirsty barbarian.
Oh! Where is the Rivers man I once knew? Who adorned the Highways in his flamboyant attires? Dancing in the waterways in his war canoes Who stood firmly shoulder to shoulder against the Oppressor man
Stretch out your hand through this political maze to your brother and say, Alua, Ibote, nuah, Ibialawe Disdaining this distorting apprehension with a cherished smile
We are one great nation endowed with the best of human capacity in all endeavors of life
Dotted all over the globe, in every nation and every sphere of life, there’s one of us excelling
We made marks in the sporting meet, in technology and in literature thoroughfare; a colossus galaxy breaking through a thick dark cloud: we have bulldozed and broken through barriers to every top meet
It is a pride to see the Green and White fluttering in major international meet; a sign of a once proud nation
It beats one to imagine then how we got ourselves goaded into a retrogressive garbage lane sliding into a jagged abyss
Where are the professors in our ivory towers? Where are the learned friends of the bar? Where are the moguls and the clergies? in their flamboyant arrays now that we need a lubricating breath of freshness
How did we get to this point? when we lay in bed sleeplessly at night staring at the starry sky Not knowing when a jackboot would come bursting into your abode
Our cries are muted within our heart heaving in grief; too fearful to express else you will be mistaken for a treasonable felon How did we get to this point in Nigeria
I wrote this Piece some two years ago about the impending dread I have over the affairs of my Country. today I watched with consternation how very truthful my writing had turned out to be. Night has fallen over our land: Nigeria
I could see on the horizon, the dread of darkness over the land; yet it was just in the morning when the sun should cast its brightness over the land, and throw light in the direction where the New Emperor was headed: things don’t seem right with the rising of the new day.
In the midst of this approaching abnormality the emperor seemed to have lost touch with reality Groping about with contemptuous arrogance, he foisted upon the land an aura of vengeance; blinded with animosity against the preceding state order: from whom they deceitfully wrenched the control of the state
Close watchers of the affairs of the land also noticed the impending darkness swooping in on their cherished land at noon, obscuring the emerging refreshing hopefulness. Their anxieties were discarded as mere wailing by the New Managers of the estate goaded with blind distrust and vengeful jealous; unwittingly, aiding the approaching gloom.
Night has fallen upon my land at noon; yet, this is no eclipse Previous policies that were unacceptable to the present Managers of the realm, and held then, as distrustful and disgusting abnormalities; are now recycled and branded as the best options: bereft of own options to stimulate acceptance: My people are reeling under the burden of uncertain tomorrow.
‘Which way Nigeria?’ old lyrics, reverberating the psychic of a populace fed daily with doses of deceptions and intimidation, veiled and packaged in an elusive golden coloration, designed to brightens the horizon of the days to come. Yet, every step taken results only to a stumbling tumble: Night has fallen over my land at noon in a slippery highway