Iphey got back from work that day sweating heavily and knew she was going
to be very late for her date. It had been a hot and humid day and she had been
caught in the rush hour traffic returning home from the office. She now rushed
about her apartment like a headless chicken putting her stuff together for the date
when her phone rang.
“Hello?” She panted struggling into a deep purple skirt.
“Hello, my daughter is that you?” It was her mum’s voice.
“Yes mum, it’s me.” she replied with a bitten off, “who else could be
answering my phone?” under her breath.
“I just heard from your sister. Her son is in crisis again and they are at the
Her heart sank and the wind was knocked out of her sails. She had thought
this was one of those her mum’s infrequent marriage badgering calls. The sister
her mum mentioned was her elder sister who had a 6 years old asthmatic son. He
had often got this sort of crises during this period but it had seemed to subside in
the past year. However, this was the second within the same month this year.
“Mum, I have to go out this evening and I‟m already running late. I’ll call her
when I get back and give you feedback later OK?”
“That’s fine, talk to you later dear. Take care of yourself and be careful.”
Yes mum,” she replied as she pressed the end button.
She wanted to continue getting ready but the “be careful” from her mum got
her thinking of the stormy events at the office today.
She had just returned from seeing one of her clients about an overdraft facility
he wanted on his account, and was walking back to her office when her manager
beckoned her into her office.
Funmi gestured to a seat. “Good morning, Iphey. Please shut the door – this
won’t take long.”
Iphey sat down, wondering what was up; she got on reasonably well with her,
so she couldn’t figure out why she sounded unusually curt. Her apprehension
mounted as Funmi went on to talk about the unprofessionalism she said she had
observed in Iphey’s work, and how she preferred to let her know about it first
rather than writing a query. Iphey was quite shocked; she tried to ask her to be
more specific, but Funmi cut her off
She had also agreed because of the impression she had got when her date
called to set up the time and venue. He had appeared charming, intelligent and
well-spoken – definitely no red flags. He seemed a bit reticent to give more
information about himself, though. All she knew was that his name was
Chinedu, and he “ran an engineering business”. Well, at the very worst, it
sounded like she might have a more interesting time going out than staying in,
even if nothing happened.
The skies were already darkening when she stepped out of the cab in front of
the restaurant that they’d agreed to meet at. She looked around, wondering if he
might be waiting outside, but she didn’t see anyone who looked like they might
be him. Maybe I’ll have more luck inside, she thought as she walked in. Again,
she scanned the dark interior.
“Is he late?” she wondered aloud. She hoped not; one of her pet peeves was
people who disrespected others by not keeping to time.
“No, he’s not. In fact, he’s been watching you since you entered, and he’s
quite impressed by what he’s seen,” she heard a voice say in the same deep
baritone she had heard on the phone.
She turned round, startled, and saw someone who looked to be in his early
thirties, of average height, a bit slim and medium complexioned.
He smiled at her and continued, “Sorry for the unusual introduction… I
shouldn‟t have chosen a table out of sight, but I usually find the view outside the
window provides interesting things to talk about. I don’t think that will apply this
evening, my eyes will be taken up with a much more beautiful spectacle.”
She smiled back. “Thank you, Chinedu – that’s a very nice compliment.”
He led her to her table, and they ordered their entrees straightaway. The
evening passed pleasantly; she told him all about herself, her schooling, how she
got a job at Diamond Bank, what she would really like to do if she had the
money, places she would like to travel to, her views on the different places she
had been to, and so on. Chinedu seemed genuinely interested and impressed by
her ideas and her views; the more she talked, the more he wanted to know. She
was definitely enjoying herself.
Iphey leaned back and smiled at him. “You sound like a very interesting
person. I’d like to hear more of your views on the world; you’ve not talked a lot
Chinedu smiled. “What business does the moon have in the sky when the sun
is out shining? My life these days is not that interesting; you’ll agree that we’ve
both enjoyed ourselves listening to you talk.”
“But what if we could enjoy ourselves even more by listening to YOU talk?
Oya… spill the beans!”
He made an expansive gesture. “OK, what do you want to know?”
She grinned back mischievously. “Tell me your deepest, darkest secret.”
Chinedu appeared to think for a while. Then he leaned closer to her and
whispered, “I used to be an armed robber.”
Iphey stared at him. Then she laughed. “Be serious now.”
“I am being serious.”
Iphey shook her head. He must be joking – who would come out openly and
say such a thing? Even armed robbers wouldn’t do so. “So assuming you’re
telling the truth – why did you go into armed robbery?”
“For the same reason that most other people do – lack of opportunity
elsewhere, and a friend drew me into it with the promise of making a lot of
money from it. The honest truth is that back then, I felt that I had to do what I
had to do. I saw people as objects rather than as human beings with feelings, so I
didn’t feel bad about doing what I did. But that was then.”
“I don’t understand how you can be so open about your past.”
Chinedu smiled, and made the same expansive gesture as before. “Well, you
wanted to know my deepest, darkest secret… there’s a saying, ‘beware of what
you ask for, because you may get it’.”
They continued chatting, but the earlier pleasant mood of evening for her had
definitely soured. After a few more minutes, she stood up and announced that
she had to go.
“What a pity. I feel that we were really enjoying ourselves. I came with my
car; I can drive you home if you like.”
“No, but thanks anyway.”
He insisted, but she was firm. She did assent for him to wait with her while
she hailed a taxi, but responded to his chat in monosyllables. Eventually, a cab
turned up, and as she got in, he gave her his number and said that he would like
them to meet again sometime.
“Let‟s see how it goes,” she murmured.
As the taxi sped off towards her flat, she reminded herself to call her sister and
update her mother. Aisha would have to answer about Chinedu later.