His palms were sweaty and he could feel his heart beating rapidly. He looked at the six faces watching him and felt sweat trickle down his thigh. They looked intently at the wall where only recently, the projector flashed images and pie charts. He wished they would say something soon so that he won’t keel over from a heart attack. The deliberation session that came after the presentation was over and he was here to hear their verdict. There was an audible sigh from one of the occupants on the table as he dropped his pen and relaxed on his seat, never once taking his eyes off the screen wall. There was a grunt from the head of the table and all other heads turned to face the MD as he motioned for the lights to be turned on.
‘Mr Okoli’ he started and paused, letting the grim silence torture the new comer for a while. ‘What you suggest is utterly outrageous but I suppose it is do-able’. At the look of gratitude on Okoli’s face, he continued, ‘However, I regret to tell you’….pause…., ‘that the company may not be able to fully sponsor the outrageous cost you propose….’ The young man looked crest fallen at the MD’s declaration.
‘But you could come to my office later along with the accountant and we would discuss the costs of this project’.
Okoli straightened out; his smile almost fearful but jubilant. The members of the table stood to congratulate him as they filed out of the room. He felt like he could soar beyond all the commotion around him but alas he wasn’t to do any such thing. At his name, he looked at the faces that faced him. He expected smiles of congratulations but everyone tried to avoid his eyes. He looked at the direction from whence his name was called and saw the black men of the police looking at him, a mean glint in their eyes.
‘Mr Okoli, we would like you to escort us to the station…..’ his throat went dry and it was then he knew the hour had come.
* * *
That was about six hours ago. It was a terrible experience and he tried not to think about how he had given evidence against his long time best friend, Mr Ukeli, the accountant. There were crosses to be carried and this was one of them. He breathed deeply, focusing on the road, hoping to shake off the tension he felt but there was no relief in sight. The ordeal was over, he thought to himself, ‘why then do I still feel this way???’ He tried to think about other things but his mind kept going to his home and the line of events that were sure to take place and he almost reversed and turned back to the office. He steeled himself and focused on the task at hand. He cursed whatever fate destined him to be this way. Two left turns and a right turn later met him in front of the gate of his Ikoyi home.
‘Welcome sah’ Muyideen greeted as he parked the card. He nodded curtly and practically sprinted into the house. He got in and saw that Sola was already around and that dinner was ready, bless her soul. He turned on the radio to beat FM and listened intently to the OAP reeling out requests. Just then Sola walks to give him a hug. He looks deeply into her eyes as the radio personality reels on.
‘How was work today?’ she asks.
‘Shhhh,’ he hushes her. He smiles at the quizzical look in her eyes. ‘Listen’ he says. Just then the OAP says …..’ and this one is for a certain Miss Sola Badmus from Mr. Okoli. He says to wish you a happy valentine’s day and to ask if you’d like to spend the rest of your life with him’……