Ivana was a most beautiful child. It was in her eyes. Her gaze was sharp but soft, pleasant and discerning. When your eyes met hers, she locked you in, in a way that touched your core. Adure beamed with pride over her daughter. In her, she saw the sister she never had, and vowed that they would be best friends.
Chidubem loved his ladies. They were his world. He was a simple man but when it came to his wife and daughter, simple was a simple word. He has been fortunate. His job paid off. Honestly, he couldn’t complain. But very soon, Adure would. He chuckled as he remembered that incident. Once in a while, a man has to be a man…
It was a year and a half ago. Adure was six month’s gone. It was past 9pm when she came in. Fatigue was written all over her. The moment she stepped in, she pulled her shoes and sprawled on the couch. Had he been too long in getting her a glass of water or was she drugged, Chidubem had barely gone for two minutes to come back to find her fast asleep!
He nudged her to get a warm bath. She had an apple and a glass of milk.
“nkem da’alu”(mine, thank you). she said.
“you are stressed, get some rest.” he responded.
It was 6a.m. In the last thirty minutes he heard her movements. From the kitchen to the living-room and now she was in the bathroom.
“honey, i should be on my way soon”.
“you have forgotten. this is the last saturday of the training. I’ve been going for three weeks now.”
“you can go. but without Ivana.”
Lightning doesn’t strike twice. In all the years she had known Chidubem, she had heard that tone in his voice just twice. She sat on the edge of the bed. “Nna, what should i do?.”
Obafolahan Justin Adeyemi loved Adure. He loved her work ethics. hardworking and intelligent, yet unassumimg and gentle. He has never met a staff like hers. She knew when to come in and when to be invisible. She took genuine interest in people and still knew when to draw the lines. Even his wife knew her.
Adure knew his many flaws but what baffled him was that she never spoke bad about him to others. She had his respect.
He wasn’t surprised when her resignation letter came in. He saw it coming. He knew the drills. Young pretty girls, vibrant and innovative. But when marriage knocks, they have to reschedule their prorities. Some try to juggle both. But in reality, something has to go for something.
He wished there was something he could do. Like make her close at 5. the fact is she was one very resourceful staff. if it were his own company, he would negotiate a deal with her. could organizations be fairer to the Mrs? could there be policies to increase maternity leave duration and shorter work hours for them ? Except in the Civil service. and there is only so much they can employ. And their wages are far lower. yet many Adures are out there. companies spend so much to train them only to lose them in a short time. is it really economical for the organisations? losing a staff is losing hundreds or thousands of man hours of experience and training. what can be done?
“I wish you all the best Adura.” he called her Adura which meant prayer in yoruba. he often teased her that she was a prayer, a request that was granted. Every boss knows that when you have a very good staff who is pivotal in the team, your job is almost completely done. Some were jealous. they felt he favored her too much. what they didnt know is that hardwork and a good attitude coupled with sound judgement is the most potent bussiness charm. Adure had all, and the company was about to lose that.
THE first week post resignation was out of this world. Adure slept like a log of wood. Every sleep was a hit from back to back. From all nights, to after breakfast naps, to midday siestas, motherhood had taken over.
she felt fresh, reinvigorated and light.
And Ivana came. she was worth all the sacrifice. Adure was grateful to have the time to share in all her first moments. to BE there for her. she was her world, her boss, her everything. she and Chidubem had never been happier. Ivana.
SOMETHING bothered Adure. she asked Chidubem for a new pair of red shoes. He told her the one she had was still very much okay. “besides we need to be prudent” he added.
he made a valid point but she was still troubled. back in the days she would simply have gifted herself with those shoes and showed him when she got home. but now? hmmn.
Adure weighed her options. she was still very much employable. a few contacts here and there and it will be fixed. but Ivana. their eyes locked. Adure dismissed that option. she loved her job. the thought came back again. Mama could come. but for how long? is mama me? papa needs mama too. ok. second mama. but for how long? Ezinne and Ebube will need her too. Their eyes locked again. this time she felt sore.
A maid. she remembered the story of the nanny that kidnapped the children kept in her care. the young man who abducted a teenage girl. stories of that sort were abundant. some stole. some lied. some were fetish. she remembered her friend Helen who had a maid named Chugbo. a very hardworking but stubborn girl. she pleaded with Helen severally to overlook the girl’s faults. but when a magazine with very high sexual contents and some sex related materials were found in her belongings, she had to go.
Adure imagined Ivana holding a magazine and asking a Chugbo-like figure for the meaning of ‘Fantasy’ or ‘multiple partners’. She shuddered at the thought. no doubt our children especially the girls are fast becoming an endangered species. They need to be guided, to be protected, to be loved. this requires time. and a lot of it.
Adure thought once more. she had other options. Chidubem had often talked about starting a business. she could help out. Mrs. Asemota once offered her a consulting/admin position in her school. she could write articles, join an NGO, learn a skill. everyone loved her ginger beer and pastries. could she make them for sale? She and Chidubem have a lot to discuss tonight.
Adure picked up one leg of the red shoe she had. she examined it. It was still very good. A very classic and timeless design. Ivana put a foot in the other leg and attempted to walk in it. Their eyes locked. they both smiled. Ivana.
Can you relate to this story? Do you have experiences to share? Have you been able to cope? please let’s here from you. feel free to make your comments below.