11/40

11/40

If anyone told me that Sunday afternoon that I would be at the office going through proposals with Martin trying to save my job, I would have laughed at them and probably searched for contacts to Mathare Mental Assylum. I know Mathare would have been the stronger thought, but as it is no one tells you when you are about to served a good one.

No one also tells you that the person you get along with at the office is the one who wants you out because your department is a liability. The proposal Nicole wrote was based on the never ending war between Human Resources and Public Relations. It was a case of I can do what you do, and can even do it better. Reading her work was like walking on coals trying to strangle your master who was seated at the end watching you with a smirk on his face. For someone whose job was to be aware of my job description, Nicole was clearly off the mark. Even as I read through her working drafts and reviews of the contributions made by the PR department, I found myself torn between dealing with the matter professionally and pushing her down a flight of stairs.

The spreadsheet detailing the funds set aside for the project I was assigned was attached to the proposal together with a reviewed version she had in mind.

“This is outrageous!” I said.

“What? the fact that she stole the document you accused me of stealing, or that you were having the last supper with your friend?”

“Martin, do you know what this means?”

“What? The proposal or the impending apology from you?”

“Look, now is not the time to play games Martin. I understand that the HR department has the right to look into appraisals and make amendments on certain issues, but this is not just a forty percent slash, it is more like a sixty percent slash because there will be no funds for the marketing department to follow up on the project I was assigned. She is…”

“Saying to hell with your project!”

“Exactly and”

“It is making you mad.”

“Yes, but…”

“That is not all, she is doing this and has got Lillian backing her up, an epic case of HR versus PR with the Board of Directors as an audience.”

“Exactly and would you”

“Stop interrupting you!’

“Yes!”

“Well, I am hungry and the food we ordered is cold. We cannot warm it up because the microwave is in the kitchenette and we do not have those keys.”

“I carried my keys. There is a microwave in my office, but there is a way we can save face because I mean that’s what we do. We make other people look good for a living, so here are some notes I took as I was going through the proposal. Read them and let me warm the food you bought.”

“Yes Boss.”

“Martin, please don’t call me Boss.”

“For as long as you keep dishing out orders, Boss it is, now what duty did you assign me?”

“Please, just take a look at what I noted down, some are weak points in the proposal and they can be sued to make a counter proposal. Others are just ideas I guess, I would love to know what you think.”

“Now did it hurt you to have started with that Marjorie?”

“Whatever, just read them, I will be right back, I am hungry just going back and forth with you.”

“I know, right?”

I was about to add a sly remark but he smiled. He looked better without those brown sweaters.

11/40

11/40

Getting to town from the house on a Sunday was like looking for a signal on my phone while standing in my grandmother’s kitchen. I got a matatu and it stopped every five minutes for people to alight or get aboard.

When I finally made it up the office, it was nothing but sheer luck that had me going or the need to prove Nicole wrong and tell her to back off. 

Martin was seated in the conference room. He got to his feet when I pushed the door open and approached the table.

“Thanks Marjorie. I know this is very last minute but I appreciate it,” he said.

“What do we have Martin? Can I go through those proposals?”

“We could eat first before the food gets cold and then work on this.”

“You can start. I will join you. I want to know what HR has as the rationale behind this whole budget cut.”

“Do you want to know it or do you want to know who wrote it?”

“Martin, start eating and let me read a few pages, is that okay?”

“For your information, Nicole was the one who tore the financial pages off your proposal, I arrived in your office in time and sat there just so no one could walk in and take something else.”

“Look, Martin, we have to work out a way of ensuring that our budget is honored and sustained by the funds the organization has and now that HR is gunning for our department, we have to remind them that our work is just as essential as theirs. I wouldn’t mind slashing their budget too, but that would be a bonus.”

“You are welcome Marjorie.”

“Look, I am sorry for seeing you as a culprit then, but the whole apology would come after I have read Nicole’s report.”

10/40

The Boss called me on Sunday at 2:00 P.M.

I had just finished mopping the house and my knees had become noodles. His response to Jeremy’s idea for a collaboration was ‘just do what needs to be done to make us look good.’ I set the phone on the brown leather chair Dad had bought me.

I looked through my fridge hoping for a different result every time I swung the door open, but magic had ceased to appeal to me. I could go down to Mama Jacinta’s kibanda and get mboga ya ten and stop over by Jose’s shop for two eggs and come back to prepare lunch. Or I could simply make some tea and have the two slices of bread with it. The healthier option would involve adding a tomato to it. The phone started ringing as I was still standing by the fridge hoping to open it’s door once more and see a piece of grilled chicken.

It was the office.

“Hello.”

“Hi, Marjorie, it’s me, Martin. I had to talk to you about something urgent and I knew you would not answer if I called using my number.”

“I might just hang up now that I know it is you. What are you doing in the office on a Sunday?”

“I was working with the Board of Directors on next quarter’s plans. The golf event that I was working on took place today at the golf course so, that’s why I am calling.”

“Okay, how can I help?”

“There is a disconnect between the PR department and HR and Accounts departments. The HR and Accounts do not see the need of what we do and their proposals have come down to a forty percent budget slash and if this gets to the meeting on Wednesday, we might be forced to pull out of the project with The Light Keepers and also consider letting go of two people in our department.”

“Do you have soft copies of the proposals that HR and Accounts made?”

“No. They are in hard copy.”

“How long will you be in the office? Have you had lunch?”

“I had some heavy breakfast at the Golf course canteen but I can order something for us at Tuffoam Mall.”

“Okay, I would appreciate that. I will get there as soon as possible. We can work through this and I think a budget slash on my project with The Light Keepers would not be such a bad idea.”

 

 

Oh,so you are romantic?

Nothing beats reading a good romance novel.

I tell you, even The Beast fell for Belle and Prince Eric got Ariel without singing (thank you Disney, Prince Eric is the only Prince in the fairy tales who doesn’t sing,saves the spotlight for that crab, Sebastian,under the sea )

Have you ever had someone reading over your shoulder? I don’t know about which location you are in as you read this,but in Kenya it happens. Someone stretches their neck towards that paper you are reading in a matatu or that woman seated next to you looks as you answer a text. Seriously, why is it always old women who help you read and answer chat messages in matatus?

I was reading this steamy romance:

Now, Jackie Ashenden tells a wicked story about a dictator of a Sheikh,named Zakir who comes across this woman, Felicity, her company develops and sells software. He kidnaps her mistaking her vehicle for another one belonging to a Princess and what results is a passion like no other. It made me burn onions the first time I read it and the second time I missed my stop while in the matatu. But, I’m getting to that, settle in your seat peaches!

So, I get into a matatu at rounda just near the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Grounds in Kisumu and sit by the window. I take out my tab and scroll through my carousel of ebooks and settle on this book. I take out twenty shillings and hand it to the tout just in case I forget and get cosy to this book. 5% into the book, I hear a snort, more like a suppressed bout of either scornful remarks or anger. I turn and catch the eyes of a man. Dark, an eighty percent chance of sideburns that need a trim,his eyes are sinking into mine but he cranes his neck towards my tablet and smiles. Clean teeth. Neatly arranged like he bought his dentist a plot, but he says “niaje,” in a mild voice like he broke it last decade, he’s still refining it. That or he has a cold.

“Poa,” I croak out. Two frogs have met.

“Naona unasoma romance, so what is it with ma kina Danielle Steel na Sidney Sheldon that madame who like? Kwanza that Sheikh is rude to that Chile mbona anamgive time yake?”

Pause. Place a bookmark. Breathe in. Indulge a muggle.

I think of how to answer him, he must be in his late twenties because they are the people who know about Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon. I am about to tell him that  those are not the only romance writers in the world. I am about to toot my horn and ask if he’s heard of me, but neither introductions nor marketing are needed here. He stretches out his hand and says “James, nice to meet you, so you are romantic?”

I am a hopeless romantic, you have no idea! But before I croak out another response the matatu comes to a stop, a lady alights outside Kisumu Girls High school and he steps down and takes the seat beside me. “So, nashuka kondele, how does that story end?”

“Nashuka karibu but we can read now that umejua story, or I can tell you the title uende ukajisomee.”

“Sina tablet.”

“No, you don’t need one, with Amazon Kindle you just need an email address and uko sorted. You can read it on your phone or PC bila stress.”

“Ni sawa,I don’t read books sana.”

“But you were just reading what I am reading?”

“Yes, and trust me, I never do such a thing! It’s like it just happened plus I saw this shirtless jamaa and it’s good to know what ladies dig. Dating game ni noma kiasi.”

I shake my head and continue reading with the tablet between us. When I lift my head we are driving past Jalaram hospital and I think,we just passed my stop! Now I will have to alight at Kibuye. I reach out and tap the tout, “kibuye!”I say and he nods and I turn to meet James’ eyes again. ” Unashuka?”

“Ehe,Kibuye.”

“Ni sawa but does the guy get the girl?”

“He does, most romance novels have happy endings.”

” Hiyo ni poa, otherwise thanks. Siku ingine.” The matatu comes to a stop at Kibuye and I alight. James waves at me and the tout smiles as the car drives off. I look at the stretch ahead of me and think of just how much I’d give to have those Ice za five five! A cold block of colored water to chill my insides. Even as I wonder about all the stuff that have happened to me in a matatu, I cannot help but wonder just how taken I was by Ashenden’s book.

10/40

10/40

When Jeremy dropped me off, I realized two things; I talked more about myself with him and I had no control of the project. It was nine o’clock. My neighbor, Suzie, was coming down the stairs in her black knee high boots and red bare back dress. She pulled me into a quick hug and smiled at Jeremy then took to those stairs like a swan. Jeremy shook his head and tucked his tongue into his mouth. 

I held out my hand and thanked him for a wonderful evening and took those stairs two floors up to my apartment. 

Two things needed my attention: Nicole’s two timing face and Jeremy’s stubbornness.

If I was lucky, then I would find a way to deal with both issues without breaking a sweat even if it meant not talking to Nicole over those lunch breaks.

Let me

You.

Oh, how I wish you knew,

The anger inside that you brew,

Will eat at you.

Piece by piece.

You.

Oh, how I wish you saw,

The love that ought to thaw,

Will set you free.

Piece by piece.

You,

Oh I wish I had the words, the rhyme, the pace, the beauty,

To simply remind you that You are beautiful,

You are true and you are with me now,

So let your heart thaw, and set aside your anger,

Because in two days time,

You shall see me no more,

But these words will haunt you down that path you trod.