“Stop right there!” I did not know which voice from the two men ordered, but I turned.
“With due respect sirs, I don’t think I can go ahead with the interview.”
“Why? You came into my office hardly offering any greetings, behaving abnormally and then walking out on us. Do you think that depicts a good manner of a woman?”
“Sir, exactly my point. I am walking out because I can’t wait for you to walk me out. Even if I should answer your questions correctly, and do the right thing you would walk me out. I would have taken the risk sir, if I was sure, I would answer your questions rightly, but the reality is I don’t know anything. I've never worked anywhere, and I can’t wait to hear any bad news again.” Now, I was panting, thinking of how Aisha would skin me alive for messing everything up this way.
“If you don’t mind I am taking my leave now. Thank you.” I said, reaching the door.
“I like your confidence and natural disposition, this company will do with people like you. You have gotten the job. Congratulations Mrs…
I slowly released the doorknob and came face to face with the two men in front of me. The man behind the big chair was smiling while the other one’s face was expressionless. I moved forward and reached for the seat in front of me, completely reticent. At a point I thought, I was dreaming, so, I had to tap myself underneath my veil to come back to reality.
“My name is Alhaji Nuhu Abubakar, I'm the chairman of Nuhu and Sons investment and the person sitting next to me is Alhaji Habibu Ahmad, the general manager of this establishment, who would later explain to you what this place is all about.”
“But sir if she is here for an interview, she ought to know about Nuhu and Sons but……..”
“GM, we've already passed that phase, and she scaled through the hurdles, she is now your employee.”
“Without even knowing her name?” All along I sat gazing at the two men in front of me without uttering a word. I was suddenly brought back to reality by the GM’s statement; I quickly braced up in my newfound confidence and stood up looking from one person to the other as I spoke.
“My name is Ittihaj Mahmud…..”
“But what we've here in your certificates is Ittihaj Abdul,” the GM interrupted.
“You're right Sir; I decided to revert to my maiden name. Abdul is my husband’s name.”
“Why would you change your name?”
Just when I was about to respond, the Chairman spoke. “It could be for personal reasons GM; moreover women are now getting more enlightenment about Islamic education, which supports using their father’s name. So there's no harm in reverting to her father’s name.”
“Thank you, Sir,” I said in sincere appreciation of the chairman’s effort to relieve me of the tension that was building up between the GM and me. "I want to apologise for my behavior when I stepped into this office. The beauty of your office coupled with your personalities, which I see only on TV stunned me initially and besides that nobody hinted me that the most successful business personality of our time and his much talked about GM would interview me. All these overwhelmed me and I decided to choose the honourable way out.” Their appreciative laughter gave me the opportunity to pause and regain my composure.
“Are we having an acceptance speech here?” The GM spoke again, this time with a straight face as if he was not the same man that was laughing a while ago.
“Yes sir, it's an acceptance speech and thank you for giving me the honour to present it verbally before writing it. I promise to do my best and live up to your expectations. Nuhu and Sons Investment is a household name and whatever responsibility I'm saddled with, I shall be outstanding.”
“What about the Marketing Manager of our Pharmaceutical Company?” The Chairman said very quickly.
“What Sir? How can you…….Ittihaj thank you. As the Chairman said, you have gotten the job, but we will decide where to place you. Your appointment takes effect immediately; your appointment letter should be ready by Monday. Congratulations.” He quickly said eager to send me out of his office, and I was more than glad to leave their presence. I thanked them and rushed out clutching my handbag.
The first person I saw was Aisha pacing restlessly. She did not see me coming; I hugged her from behind as I cycled my hands around her. She held my arm saying, ‘AlhamdulLillah’ Severally. Later on as she drove towards my house, listening to what transpired during the interview, tears of joy were streaming down her cheeks as she kept comparing me to Frank in Some Mother Do Have Them comedy series.
Aisha took my children and I to an amusement park to celebrate my new job. The children had a great times catching fun while we discussed intensively on the expectation of my job. Aisha’s assurance erased all my fears.
I noticed, it was getting late, so I suggested that Aisha should take us to her house, which would enable me see her kids, Al-Saleh and Humaira and also express my gratitude to her husband for all the support I have received from them in that trying period, but she told me not to bother as it was already late. I insisted on visiting her family, assuring her that we would take a cab home from her house. She insisted that I should reschedule the visit for another time, but I could not hide my pains which made her to give up.
She drove us silently to her house such that I almost gave up on the visit, but the thought of showing my gratitude made me go an extra mile not minding how inconvenient it got. She parked her car in front of her beautiful and attractive house while we alighted from the car. They moved to their personal house about a year ago, but I had not had the opportunity to visit because Abdul wouldn’t allow me.
I joyfully congratulated her and she responded with a smile. She led us into her tastefully furnished sitting room, but I did not have enough time to scrutinise the whole house before her children ran towards us hugging their mother while kneeling to offer their greetings to me. I lifted Humaira off the floor and hug her. She was 5year-old while Al- Saleh was 7year-old. When I let go of her, she rushed after the other children, who had all gone upstairs probably to the children’s room.
Just when I thought I was alone with Aisha in the sitting room and was trying to catch a glimpse of the beautiful room, my eyes caught that of Aisha’s husband, Yakubu, who looked very busy sitting behind a desk pretending to be oblivious of what was happening around him. I looked at Aisha and walked up to him, offered my greetings, but he did not respond. I felt embarrassed but persisted by offering another round of greetings; he picked something from the table and ran upstairs as if I were invisible. I was deeply hurt and felt humiliated. Aisha looked at me as if to say, ‘I tried to stop you but you wouldn’t listen.’ As the tears were gushing out of my eyes, she moved towards me and held me by the hand until we were by the door steps.
“Now listen to me and listen well.” The tone was that of warning. “You are in another phase of your life now, you need to be strong and live above this childish attitude. The way my husband treated you in there is a child’s play compare to what you would experience when you start working. You had better grown thick skin now and stop showing your weakness at the drop of a pin. Today is your day, and it should remain so. For goodness’ sake after achieving a great fit, why should it take just a person that judged you wrongly to spoil it?”
“But what have I done wrong to Yakubu?”
“Do they need any good excuse?” Aisha asked rhetorically.