You know how easy it is to condemn something that is against your personal life ethos? How you can easily tear down the next person for getting involved in something totally out of your moral circle. You know how you become the judge and moral conscience to someone who did something outside your personal belief? That was me, four months ago.
A colleague of mine came to the office and was saying how she had fallen in love with a married man and was head over heels for him. I looked at her with so much disdain and said “you disappoint me. How could you have done that, you’re so morally bankrupt”, and trust me (if you know me), I ended every form of relationship with her. Everybody knew that about me.
That same month, our HR manager resigned and a new person was employed. He is Bright Anumudu by name and he is the beginning of my tale.
His presence at Ocean Bay Enterprises was a big stir during his first month in the office. Every female wanted to be identified with him in one way or the other. (Please know that Bright is a “look”. He is someone you will look at, hold the picture and go dream about him at night). Anyway, every female in the office wanted to attend to his every need. He didn’t need an office assistant to help him buy food. Ada, the MD’s secretary, always went to his office every afternoon to say “I’m going for lunch, do you want me to buy anything for you?”
You know the beautiful thing about Bright (Mr. Bright, as I called him then)? He always had a way of flaunting one of the most beautiful rings I’ve ever seen on a man’s 4th finger. He has a way of rubbing it in the faces of my female colleagues. An example was when Tosin, one of the HR executives, invited him over for a friend’s birthday party, he smiled and told her “my wife will need me around for the evening”. (E pain her shaa but to me, she so deserved it. How can a girl throw herself at a married man like that? Height of moral bankruptcy!!!! What ladies can do these days!).
I respected Bright so much and secretly wished for a man like him. On his table was a cute picture of himself and his wife, Tessy, kissing and other picture of him with his wife and daughter, Mirabel (the kind of picture that makes you want to start a family). They looked so happy together.
I and Bright stay in Surulere, so we always went home together. One of those days, he suggested I meet him at a particular bus stop in the mornings so we could go to the office together. It was a wonderful idea to me (omo, T fare don comot from my monthly expenses), so I jumped at it.
Two weeks into this “awoof” arrangement, I discovered that our discussion was “maturing”. It started with comments like, “Your boyfriend must be very lucky to have you”. I responded, “I don’t have a boyfriend”. With his eyes wide open, he asked,
“How did you even know my age?”
“Helloooooo, I’m the HR Manager, remember”.
To discussions like, “has anyone told you have a wonderful smile? And the way your eyes twinkle when you smile is simply amazing”.
He usually commented on anything I wear down to perfume and make-up. There was no need to be wary, Bright was/is a perfect gentleman.
Our Project Manager’s wife came to the office to sell human hairs (you know that kind of hair that at my level, you do window shopping for), Bright asked me to come help him select two different hairs for Tessy. I chose a 26″ Peruvian hair and 24″ Malaysian hair and he signed a cheque for the woman.
On our way home, he moved off the road and parked, then brought out the Malaysian hair and said, “This is yours”. Now, pause here and think, if na you, wetin you go do? I lost every sense of decorum (all those forming like I don’t visit the white house), I jumped on him on the driver’s seat and gave him this long bear hug with all my strength with my mouth full of “Thank Yous”. (I know you will say, I am so material but come on, with my salary, all I could buy was Chocolate which I SAAAVE to buy and it must be used more than once. Yes, I’m not a Lagos big geh, I just carry myself like one).
When I “came to”, I shamefacedly withdrew and apologized but as I made to go back to my seat, he pulled me back and began kissing me. At first, I was hesitant but when I saw he wasn’t stopping, I responded without any inhibitions. I really wished this moment would not end but then suddenly, the alarm went off “He’s a married man”. I pulled away, sat back on my seat and said, “I’m sorry about that, I don’t know what came over me”. He just looked at me and said “I am not sorry”. As if nothing happened, he started the engine and we drove off. Your guess is as good as mine, the rest of the drive home was in silence.
For four days, after the car incident, I deliberately avoided Bright and he knew. I left for work early and made sure I was the last to leave the office daily. On the fifth day, after work, he came to the office I shared with other Sales Reps, pulled my visitor’s chair and sat down. I looked at him and said “Hey Mr. Bright”, he replied, “Hey Nike, I am waiting for you to finish, we are going home together”. I tried to give every reason for that not to happen. I listed all the non-existing reports I had to prepare and he simply said “I’ll wait”. I had to pack up and leave with him. It was a Friday evening and we knew what 3rd Mainland traffic will look like so he suggested we go talk somewhere. My heart did not miss a beat, it missed like 7 beats. I had not gotten this man out of my mind and here he was stirring me up again.
Truth is, recently, Bright has been all I think about. I always looked forward to seeing him at work and when I did, he always brightened my day. I have come to start enjoying my position in his car that I secretly envied Tessy for being the rightful owner. I just wished he was not married, I would not have minded asking him out but I kept telling myself that he will never look my way. He was too responsible for that. This was why the car incident threw me off guard.
We went to Sicily’s bar along Ajose Adeogun. We chatted about everything but us. He talked about Mirabel with so much admiration in his eyes and funny enough, this made me “like” him better. He must be a very passionate man. Eventually, we became quiet and after the silence, he said “Nike, I have grown so fond of you that it is your thoughts that keep me excited. The past 4 days have been hell for me. Tessy even senses something is wrong with me and she is too frustrated about not being able to find out what it is. I have been so withdrawn and everything she does irritates me. I know I cannot date you officially, of course, I am married. I am just asking that you stop running away from me and be my friend, no strings attached”. I stared at him and couldn’t find any words to say to him. I just nodded.
So our friendship journey began. This friendship took us to some very low key hotels on the island, some you never knew were there. It was friendship with benefits and we both knew where we stood with each other. We were very tactful with our sexcapades and ensured nobody suspected anything, even in the office. People just knew he took to me a little more favorably than he did to others and I could smell the jealousy but I really did not care. I was having uncensored fun. We decided no text messages, no pings, just calls. We needed to be highly discreet.
Bright kept complaining about Tessy to me, how she was a direct opposite of me. I was very sensitive to his needs. I knew when his smile was not from his heart. Whenever he came to the office with any hint of tension in his face, I would call his intercom to give him some sweet talk to brighten up and of course, at the close of work, I brightened him up better. He complained about how Tessy nagged about everything and cared less about his feelings except when she wanted something from him. I was infuriated with her. How could she be doing that to my Bright?
One of those days, Tessy came to the office. From what Bright said later on, she came to pick up a cheque he forgot to give her at home. Everyone was trying to familiarize except yours truly. I even struggled to greet her with a smile when Bright brought her to our office to introduce her.
You might be wondering what prompted this story. As the friendship grew, I wanted more of Bright. I wasn’t okay just being his “friend with benefits”. I wanted him all for myself and I saw Tessy as a big rival. The biggest obstacle on my way. As far as I was concerned, he wanted to be with me but Tessy was keeping him. If I see what I will do to get her out of the way, I will do it, except murder, of course.
Two days ago on one of our special evenings, we drove into Finclays Hotel and noticed that there were a lot of cars parked there. That was quite unusual so before we checked in, we asked the receptionist what was happening, she said some people were having their end of year party. So we walked on to have fun as usual.
Two hours later, we walked out of the room and towards Bright’s car, holding hands. As we got to the spot where Bright’s car was parked and were about to get in, we just heard a lady’s voice say “congratulations guys”. We both turned and right behind us was Tessy!!
She made a clapping gesture and when Bright was about to say something, she raised her palm to his face signaling him to hold his explanation to himself. She moved close to me and said, “You rat! I knew there was something odd about you when I first saw you but I couldn’t place a finger on it. Now, I know better. You are a shameless girl who does not have enough dignity to pick a man of your own. You enjoy eating from people’s crumbs because that is so easy for you to do”. While she was saying this, I was expecting Bright to at least, calm her down or out rightly shut her off but he just stood there looking down at his feet. So I had to defend myself.
“Tessy, Bright and I love each other. It’s so sad that you had to find out this way…….”
“Will you shut up your mouth there? Do you know it’s my wife you are talking to? Have you no respect…..” Bright cut me short.
I was dazed. This is the opportunity we’ve been looking for, to have the world at our feet, to express our love for each other without any hindrances anymore. She will be mad, file for a divorce and leave him and then we will have ourselves. It was just the perfect plan. Why is Bright now seeing me as the enemy?
While I was still in my bewilderment, I saw Bright go on his knees
“Baby, I’m sorry. This was a big mistake. I’m sorry I allowed this get this far. I wouldn’t have done anything to hurt you in my right senses. I was blackmailed to do this. Have I ever done anything to disappoint you like this?”
Yes, I wish he was talking to me but hell NO! He was talking to Tessy. I am a MISTAKE!!! I BLACKMAILED HIM!!!! I was so confused that I just stood there staring at both of them.
Tessy pulled her hands away from him and walked towards her car. He followed her but she entered and drove off. I quietly slid into the front passenger’s seat of Bright’s car while he ran back towards the car. He just glared at me and shouted “Leave my car now!” I was still hesitating when he pushed me towards the door. I had to open the door and stepped out in shame as eyes were looking at our direction then. He drove off with me standing there and with all the eyes looking at me. I summoned the little courage to walk out the gate and called a Red Cab to take me home.
It’s been 2 days now and I have not heard from Bright. I secretly wish he could call and apologize. I have already excused the embarrassment he gave me. I understand that he did that to put Tessy off for a while. I’m just sitting back and waiting for him to come back into my arms where I will accept him with arms wide open. I have waited for his call and it’s not coming through. I have tried calling him and it had always rung out without being picked.
Tomorrow is Monday and I will be seeing Bright at work. I planned on embarrassing him at work but come to think of it, what do I stand to gain? Does it change the simple fact that I’m nothing but the MISTRESS? The wife always comes first while I’m just the spare tyre. This is what I’m gonna do. I’m just gonna pull my tail in-between my legs, bow my head in shame and nurse my hurt. My biggest challenge now is how do I work with Bright in that office?
Osadebe Ijeoma is a banker based in Lagos, Nigeria who writes as a part time hobby. A student of Writer’ Bureau who loves to write short fictions and also relates life lessons from short stories. She has also worked as editor or contributor to some online magazines. She hopes to take her writing career to the next level of becoming a full-time writer.