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Friday, 22 April 2016

Flora forever (3)



My words must have surprised her for she gazed at me in amazement.“A what?” she asked.
“A P.A. Can you work as my personal assistant?” I repeated my question in case she didn’t hear me properly the first time.
To my surprise, she burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny? I’m offering you a job and all you can do is laugh?” I queried curtly.
She shook her head.
“Don’t get me wrong, Bari,” she stated. “It’s the whole idea that I find funny. I told you earlier that I didn’t finish school so how can I then work as a P.A? I’m sure you work in a very big firm. And having never worked in a corporate environment before, I will feel out of place and maybe make a lot of mistakes...”
I placed a finger on my lips to shut her up.
“It’s ok. I understand how you feel. You feel insecure, with little self-confidence because of what you went through with your ex-husband. But it’s time you put the past behind you and forged on with life. You are still young so you can have a fresh start. Learn to believe in yourself and there’s nothing you can’t achieve. And I will be there to help you all the way,” I assured her.
She was silent for a while as she stared down at her hands in her lap.
Then she looked up at me.
“Alright,” she said quietly. “And thanks so much for your kindness,” she added softly.
I smiled at her.
“That’s alright. Just work hard so I don’t regret hiring you,” I said.
“I will! So when do I start? And what does the job entail?” she asked excitedly.
Two weeks later, Flora resumed for work at my office. I worked with an international aid organization that did a lot of projects in the country and other parts of Africa especially in the rural areas. As a projects director, I had to oversee the various projects we were doing, meet with the community leaders, beneficiaries and other things. It involved my travelling out of town frequently and I needed someone to co-ordinate all my activities.
“There was a lady doing the job before but she left recently to join her husband in Canada,” I told Flora on her first day at work. She had showed up looking very smart in an ash-colored skirt suit with black shoes to match. She looked even more beautiful than usual.
“This is the kind of work you will be doing...” I said, briefing her on her duties.
“My secretary, Mary will make arrangements for an office space for you,” I said when I was through. “Do you know how to use a computer?” I asked her as she made to leave my office.
“Yes, sir. My sister, Janet has one. She taught me how to use it,” she replied.
“Good,” I stated nodding.
“And Flora,” I said. “You don’t have to be so formal with me now, because we are in the office. You can continue to call me by my name as you’ve always done.”
“But I can’t do that, sir. This is an office and it won’t be right if I call my boss by name. It will sound rude,” she noted.
“Ok. But you will stop being so formal once we are outside these premises, won’t you?” I said.
She nodded.
“Alright, then. Go and meet Mary to sort out your office space and see me later,” I stated, turning on the computer on my desk to begin work.

Nikki
“So, how are you enjoying your new job? Hope my darling here is not overworking you, giving you too much stress,” stated Nikki to Flora. Nikki was my girlfriend of several years. She had broken off the relationship about a year before when she found out about another girl I was also seeing. But we had got back together about four months earlier and in that time, she had already started talking about our settling down.
We were at my house having dinner, nearly five months after Flora began work. In that period, she had really impressed me with her capacity for hard work and her eagerness to learn. I had no regrets hiring her but I was curious to know how she felt about working with me.
“I love the job. And Bari has been very good to me,” she said, turning to smile at me.
“Ah, don’t be so diplomatic. You can say the truth, call him a slave master or whatever! He won’t fire you!” Nikki said teasingly.
Flora laughed at that and I joined in too. It was good to see her looking so cheerful and confident, so unlike the girl I first met about six months earlier. It was a Friday and she was dressed casually in a light blue top and pair of jeans. Her long hair was combed up and styled in a knot at the back, a style that suited her well as it showed off her lovely face in all its glory.
“Yes? You were saying something?” I said, tearing my gaze away from Flora to Nikki who was talking about something that happened at her office earlier that day...
“Flora’s really beautiful,” Nikki commented. It was about an hour later. My driver had taken Flora home and Nikki and I were relaxing in the living room. I sat sipping a drink while she was stretched out on the couch, her head on my lap.
“And she still looks so fresh. It’s hard to believe she’s been married and even had kids!” she added in a wondering tone.
I glanced down at her.
“You talk as if she’s a hundred years old. She’s still young. Just 26 or thereabouts,” I stated.
“Beauty and brains,” Nikki noted. “You love her, don’t you?” she asked unexpectedly, looking up at me.
“Of course I do! Like a younger sister,” I replied promptly.
“But you don’t look at her like a brother would a sister. I see the way your eyes follow her, like that of ...,” she began then stopped speaking.
“What are you talking about? Don’t tell me you are jealous of the poor girl?” I queried.
“Do you blame me? See the way she looks! And she’s with you all day long...” she noted.
I began to laugh.
“You think this is a joke?” she said with annoyance, sitting up and glaring at me.
“You women are all the same! Too jealous! Flora’s just my P.A. I gave her the job because I felt sorry for her maybe because of the circumstances under which we met. The poor girl has really suffered. So, you have nothing to fear from her or any other woman. Trust me!” I said.
“You mean that?” she said with a serious look in her eyes.
“Yes, my jealous darling!” I said. Then jumping up, I put a Cd in the sound system and soon, the plaintive sound of Enrique Inglesias’ hit tune ‘Hero’ filled the room.
“Come on, baby! Dance with me!” I said, holding my arms out to her.
She came then and I held her close to me. As we swayed to the music, her perfume filled my nostrils. But all I could think about was a lady in a blue top and jeans that showed off her rounded hips and a smile that could light up a dark room...

****
“Welcome, sir! And how was your trip?” Flora said as I entered the large outer office where my secretary stayed. They had been chatting when I got in.
“Fine. Have you all been well?’ I asked. I had been away to South Africa for a conference for about two weeks. I chatted with them for a while before going to my office.
Flora came in later with some letters and documents for me. I gave her some gifts I brought from the trip and she sat admiring the beaded jewelry, clothes and other stuff I had got for her and her children.
“Wow! These are lovely! Thanks so much, sir!” she said, smiling brightly at me.
“How are the kids?” I enquired.
“They are doing fine. They are home on holidays now,” she replied. “Good,” I said, looking at her closely, noticing the sparkle in her eyes that usually appeared when she was happy. Seeing her again made me realize how much I had missed her. During the trip to S.A, she was on my mind most of the time, superseding thoughts of Nikki. Was Nikki right after all, that I was beginning to have feelings for Flora? How did that happen and when? I shook my head to clear such thoughts from my mind...
About a month later, I had to travel to our branch office in Ghana and I took Flora along to assist me in the work I would do there. Considering the incidents that took place during the trip, it was perhaps, not a very good idea to take her with me...


To be continued
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