She placed a hand on her forehead. She realized that he was bent on conversing with her, regardless of her disinterest.
“Yes, if you have any problems with the students or your lesson notes, I will help you out,” he beat his hand on his chest.
“Oh okay, thank you.”
He smiled at her, revealing a set of teeth that had gone brown. She blinked in surprise and adjusted her face cap.
“I have to go, I have a class to teach,” he waved and walked away. She made a sigh of relief. ‘Finally, peace at last!’ She said to herself.
Promise returned home that day at about three in the afternoon. She felt as if she had been toasted like bread in the hot afternoon sun. She needed a cold shower and would probably warm the remaining vegetable soup she had kept in the fridge and eat it with pondo yam. Maybe making garri will be faster. She was very hungry.
Sweat broke out all over her when she realized that she had forgotten to take her house key to work that day. She had changed bags and didn’t remember to take the key out of the other bag. ‘What kind of nonsense is this?’ She mused and leaned on the wooden front door. She began to dial her room-mates’ numbers one after the other.
One of them told her that she wasn’t coming home straight from work. She had a few places to go to. Another told her that she wasn’t returning home that day and the third girl told her that she was on her way home but was stuck in traffic.
Promise pulled off her khaki jacket and removed her face cap. Why did she forget to take her key to work? ‘What were you thinking about you small girl?’ She questioned herself and debated whether to check if any of her neighbours were around.
There were six self-contained apartments in the compound, the other five were occupied by a couple with their children, two sets of live-in-lovers, a bachelor, and four male youth corpers.
She decided to sit at the door and prayed that the traffic subsided. She wasn’t in the habit of budging in on her neighbors. She would rather remain pleasant from afar than become over-familiar with them. Familiarity always brought contempt. Thirty minutes later, Kabira Danyaro walked up to dozing Promise.
She opened her eyes.
“Why did you forget your key?”
Promise got up, yawned and stretched. Kabira unlocked the door and they went in.
“I changed bags and forgot to take the house key.”
Kabira shook her head and went straight to the kitchen. Promise sat on the bed and untied the ropes of her boots. She wondered if she should eat first and take her bath later.
“Are you the one who kept this vegetable here?” Her voice flowed into the room.
“Don’t touch that soup! That is my lunch,” she joined her room-mate in the kitchen.
“We will share it.”
Kabira eyed her, “You made me come home, I was planning to buy some things in the market.”
Promise groaned and opened the plate, “Look, see, the soup is small.”
Kabira collected the frozen plate from her, “We will add water.”
Her room-mate hissed.
“Please make garri, be a nice girl.”
Promised eyed her. This was one of the challenges of living with someone.
“We will share the chilled can malt in my bag.”
She brightened and plugged water, while her room-mate started to warm the soup. Sharing her lunch didn’t seem like a bad idea anymore. A can of chilled malt in the afternoon heat would soothe her nerves. At least, her day seemed to be winding up well, regardless of the torturous start.
‘Lord, I thank you. Today is really a day you have made. I sincerely rejoice,’ she conversed with her maker with a smile pasted on her lips.
On her way to the canteen, the principal called out to her. She saw him standing beside a middle age woman under the mango tree. The tree was very fruitful. Whenever the fruits were ripe, the students and teachers would pluck them until none was left.
‘What does this man want from me?’ She said to herself and approached him.
“Good afternoon sir. Good afternoon madam.”
The woman nodded and smiled a bit.
“Please help Mrs. Kufuaye to carry these bags to her car,” Mallam Bature instructed her.
Promise groaned. ‘What kind of man is this? Didn’t he see any student around? Why did he call me? Why is this man always disturbing me?’ She said within her and picked up the polythene bags at the foot of the tree. The weight of the bags made her to stagger a bit. ‘My God! They are so heavy! Does this man think I am Super woman or Wonder woman? This is pure punishment.’ She hissed and followed the woman to her car. She wondered what was in the polythene bags. She tried to peep but she was at a disadvantage due to the weight of the bags.
Mrs. Kufuaye unlocked and opened the boot of her car. Promise placed the polythene bags inside the boot and started to walk away.
She halted and turned around. ‘What does she want now? I am hungry. I am tired. I have done what the principal wanted. I don’t have time for all this nonsense.’
She nodded and approached her.
“What is your discipline?”
Promise sighed. ‘Now what? What is her business? Why does she want to know what I read at school? What kind of trouble have I entered today?’ She cleared her throat, “I studied Mass Communication.”
The woman’s expression brightened, “Really?”
She smiled, “I work at Yellow Tube Communications. We need people like you. Why don’t you come and serve in our company?”
Promise’s jaw dropped in shock. ‘Did she just say that I should come and serve where she worked? I know Yellow Tube Communications, it is one of the best communications company in Nigeria and they pay their staff well. Is this really happening or am I dreaming? If I am dreaming, I don’t want to wake up.’ She blinked and stared back at the woman. She closed her mouth and opened them again.
The woman laughed, “I can influence your transfer. We need people like you… ” She looked around, “You are wasting your skills teaching in this school.”
She nodded in agreement, “Yes, ma. You are right ma,” her heart began to race. ‘Is this really happening to me? God! God! God! Shame on me! Shame on you Promise. I have been grumbling since the principal called me. God have mercy on me. I am so sorry daddy.’
“I am not against Corpers teaching at schools, but I feel more of them should be given opportunities to serve where they are most needed.”
“I believe so too ma.”
The woman gave her a complimentary card.
“Yes, ma. Thank you ma.”
Mrs. Kufuaye got into her car and drove away.
Promise removed her khaki face cap from her head and used it to fan herself. ‘Abuja is so hot.’ She stared at the card long and hard. ‘God please give Mrs. Kufuaye the grace to get me out of here. Oh my! Oh my! Forgive me for grumbling and complaining. Oh Lord God! Promise! Promise! Promise! You! You! You!’ She prayed and admonished herself. She bit at one of her fingers. This was exactly what she had asked God for before she left Lagos. ‘Hey! Principal thank you for disturbing me! You can disturb me anytime you want. God, I will stop grumbling and complaining.’
She headed for the school canteen. She needed to eat, but her stomach felt full all of a sudden. Would she be able to eat? She was too excited to eat. God had answered her prayers. If it all worked out, she wouldn’t have to disturb her parents at the end of the month. God was so good.
“You must celebrate your new transfer with us,” Bolatito tapped Promise on the shoulder, “You can host us at Yahuza suya spot or Mama Cass.”
“I hear you.”
“How I wish I can also get a new place of primary assignment. I will be so happy,” Kabira waved her hands in the air. Promise and Bolatito laughed at her comical display.
Adaeze hissed, “Stop fooling yourselves. God knows why we were all posted to schools to teach. Influencing your place of primary assignment is just like deviating from his plans.”
They all stared at her, the jealousy in her tone wasn’t lost to them all.
“I hope PHCN will give us electricity soon,” Promise changed their topic of discussion. There had been light off since mid-day. They had decided to sit outside their apartment when they couldn’t take the heat anymore.
“Now that you will be earning something aside from what the Federal government is paying us, you can at least buy a generator,” Adaeze adjusted the stool she sat on.
“Adaeze!” Bolatito clapped her hands and faced her room-mate, “You want Promise to use all the money Yellow Tube gives her to buy a generator. You are very wicked,” she eyed her.
“Please mind your business. I was addressing Promise and not you,” Adaeze retorted.
Kabira signalled to Promise to remain quiet. They all knew Adaeze to be a trouble maker.
The bachelor living in the apartment opposite theirs drove into the compound.
“Hey! Bachelor is back!” Adaeze jumped to her feet and hurried away.
Kabira and Promise shook their heads. They all knew she had been longing for the man since they moved into the compound.
“That girl is acting so cheap,” Bolatito hissed.
“Leave her alone,” Kabira yawned.
“I am going to spoil her show tonight,” Bolatito left them.
Bola ignored her and joined Adaeze who was chatting with the bachelor.
“Bola is looking for Adaeze’s trouble.”
“Leave both of them. They are both after the bachelor.”
Kabira hissed. Her mission in Abuja was to serve her country and nothing else. She would rather allow a man to chase her than to throw herself at him.
“Shameless girls,” she hissed again.
Promise watched her room-mates who were competing for the bachelor’s attention. She doubted if she would date anyone during her service year. She would rather wait till she returned to Lagos, get a good job, then she would be ready for a serious relationship. The last relationship she was involved in started and ended at school. She wasn’t ready for a repeat.
Promise walked into the Publications department and greeted everyone seated. The office was large and it was divided into five cubicles.
“You must be Promise Daodu, we have been expecting you,” the only lady in the office shook hands with her.
“I am Maimuna Idris.”
“Okay,” she smiled at the woman who looked a little bit over thirty.
“This is Abubakar Sheu, Ogbonna Ilechukwu and Edet Uduak,” Maimuna introduced her colleagues.
“It is nice to meet you all,” she smiled at them.
“You are welcome,” the men chorused.
“Our head of department has gone out. When he returns, he will see you.”
“I will give you a tour around the office.”
“Thank you,” Promise followed her. She had not been sure how she would be received. She had not expected her new colleagues to be nice to her. She thanked God in her heart. Her service year was turning out to be perfect.
At the end of her first day at Yellow Tube Communications, Promise called her parents and informed them that she was no longer teaching in a Secondary school. They rejoiced with her and wished her well. She also called her siblings. Prince was elated and Gift was thrilled and reminded her of her plans to visit.
Promise wondered how Gift would cope with her roommates. The apartment was barely convenient for four girls to live in, a visit from her younger sister would cause chaos. She might have to stall her sister’s visit until one or two of her room-mates decided to travel home. That was the best plan she could come up with at the moment. She was happy that things seemed to be working out in her favour. God was so good to her and she was eternally grateful.