***The previous night***
“Hey, buddy,” Sam said to Cupid as he walked out of the elevator. Chief had just left and the night still had much fun to offer based on the plans already drawn up. “Where is he of the night school?”
“He is on the way home to his lovely wife, Sam,” Cupid replied and then turned the music on even louder. It was much louder than it had ever been. “Wouldn’t it be fun if we were both married and had our wives and kids here with us?” On a second thought, Cupid was not so sure about kids running around his glass House. Everything in it was breakable and also polished to a shine. Picture frames of his mother hung beside an expensive painting by Thomas Kinkade he had bought on a business trip to Vienna. Not having his father around, and also losing his mother at an early age, Cupid had become scared to have children. They deserve to be looked after, loved and cared for. Per his position as the CEO of Cupid and Sam Inc., he wasn’t sure he would have the time to be the father he wished his father, Kelechi ‘Nwokeoma’ Orji, would have been.
“Sure, buddy, I have thought about us settling down many times, believe me. It will happen soon,” Sam replied, with a boyish ebullience about him. Cupid was an expert at body language and reading people’s behavior. The kind of smile Sam had on his face when he referred to settling down was the kind you see on the faces of young kids when they turn 15 and start exchanging love letters in class.
“Alexa, turn the volume up,” Cupid requested, sounding like there was more than enough adrenaline to power his system for the entire night. “It’s uncharacteristic of me to be this noisy. I’m being negatively influenced by you and Chief,” Cupid complained and then he laughed.
“Been influencing you positively for 12 years now, bud,” Sam murmured. He seemed super-charged to enjoy the rest of the night. Could we pop some champagne to our friendship?”
Cupid responded with a smile, “has it really been that long?” he asked, amazed that 12 years had passed since he met Samosa back in the University. Together they had created magic for so many years. “Relax, there are so many bottles of different shapes and sizes to be popped.”
“Yes, we have been kicking it together since the year 2005. Homeboys for life.”
“How time flies,” Cupid replied, sipping some wine from the cup in his hand. “It’s funny how much you have changed since then. I think I’ve had the greater influence on you though.” That was really true. There were many things Sam had accomplished that he would never have if he had never met Cupid, the visionary love-guru that had changed the love lives of several people. For one, Sam could not even talk to a girl face-to-face before Cupid upgraded his life.
“No contesting that, bud,” Sam replied, acknowledging how much Cupid had helped him be a better man.
“So, who is the…?” Cupid said, his eyes trying to convey the words he didn’t want to utter.
“The what?” Sam replied, acting like an innocent kid just out of the first-grade.
“You know…” Cupid said, shaking his head and smiling.
“I don’t have a clue about what you are referring to,” Sam replied. His nose would have grown longer if he had the genes of Pinocchio. He was lying.
“The… You know what I’m talking about. Don’t play dumb when we both know you are super smart. You graduated with a first-class. Vanguard even reserved a little corner for your picture on the front page of their dailies.”
“I knew I couldn’t escape that question tonight. Can this night just be about the fun and not things pertaining to matters-of-the-heart?”
“Sure, that’s alright, If you’d prefer to have me hound you every other day like a hungry Rottweiler.” Cupid clipped both his palms and tucked them behind his head, and then he crossed his leg. “Why are you all sneaky about this?” There was almost nothing about Cupid that Sam wasn’t privy to and vice versa. No secrets kept between brothers.
“Alright. Since you insist, I have no choice, or do I?”
“We have the whole night to play this back-and-forth game.” Cupid’s lips curved up a mischievous smile. “Alexa, play me ‘A Te’ by Andrea Bocelli,” he requested and adjusted his body to a more relaxing position. It’s poor taste if you don’t like any song by Kenny G or Andrea Bocelli. You need to be schooled in good music. ‘A Te’ was more especially lovely because the chemistry between Kenny and Andrea created magic all the way. It was not the kind of music that Chief would enjoy by any means. Maybe if Kenny G featured Emeka Maduka Morocco or Osadebe that would get his attention. For the moment, Billy Jims by Michael Jackson was still the only foreign song that made sense to him.
Sam sat down and then he said: “take a seat and listen to my story.” Take a seat? Cupid was already sitting, so he just shook his head at how shifty Sam was this night. It was certain that the story was going to be interesting. Sam began the tale of how beautiful it felt to be in love. “You know we have helped the world become a better place. I wonder how many happy marriages and homes there is today because of how hard we have worked. The good Lord has finally smiled on me and I know that it is only a matter of time before he smiles on you, my brother. Our labor of love cannot be in vain. You see, I remember whe-”
Cupid’s was getting antsy, his face suddenly contoured into a grimace. “Samosa!”
“You are far too kind and generous with your words tonight. But can we skip this introduction and the entire speech and fast forward things to where you tell me her name and show me her picture?”
“Keep things easy brother. If a movie has no credible and unusual plot, then it wouldn’t be a box-office smasher.” Cupid had a ridiculous look on his face but Samosa was really showboating and it seemed he was doing it on purpose to get Cupid irked.
“Your ego and grandstanding are at an all-time high tonight, this plot had better end with an Academy award,” Cupid said, sitting up for a few seconds and then he stood up.
“Where are you off to bud?” Sam requested to know, looking stupefied.
“Chill. Since your tale would go on until the end of time, I need to keep my mouth in motion.” A huge chicken lap with chili pepper sauce slapped all over it was thrown into the oven to heat up and then he poured a dark shade of red wine, looking at it as it was coasting around the sides of a Sherri Copita wine glass, the Vino Tinto looked inviting.
“Buddy, where is mine?”
“You are the masterful raconteur,” Cupid replied and then he sat down. “I’m all in, bud, shoot on.” That was a polite way of saying Samosa had no part in the feast. Sam wasn’t hungry. But you know how it plays out when someone is eating and you are watching, right? #?Ojukokoro #ChidiAfoNri
Cupid took the first bite off the chicken and closed his eyes, slowly grinding the grilled flesh between his teeth while Sam watched with precision like a hungry marksman. “The lord is good,” Cupid said when he finally opened his eyes.
“Rub it in. Well done sah,” Sam murmured.
So Cupid proceeded to ask again, “Can this gist get some steam now? I’m ready for the information overkill. Let the story begin,” Cupid said, motioning his hand like he were an emperor and Sam was the story-teller of his kingdom
A bad eye look followed that statement and then Sam took a deep breath. “Okay, here we go,” he said. Off course it was a boring story because he kept navigating unnecessary waters. Cupid yawned severally due to boredom. It had been a busy day and Sam was putting him to sleep with the details of how ‘a cat walked across the road to visit a mouse and then it suddenly realized that the mouse could be perfect for dinner, but then, it fell in love with the mouse’s first daughter…’ How does all that concern the main gist?
“I’m in love with Onyinye,” Sam finally blurted. That jolted Cupid so fast that he almost fell out of the chair in surprise. “Are you alright, bud?” Sam inquired as his friend suddenly choked and gasped for air.
Cupid tried to gain his composure. “Which Onyinye?” he asked. He did not have to ask that question because the only reason he choked was that he knew perfectly well that it was the Onyinye that sits a few meters from him in the office every day. Yes, that very same one that called him boss and admired him per second.
“I know that this goes contrary to the code of ethics for staff, but-”
“But what buddy?” Cupid raised his voice louder than he had done in a decade. “When were you going to tell me about this?”
“I was going to-”
Cupid jumped in again, interrupting Sam, “but I have had to push you for many days now to get this revelation. And I’m supposed to be your best friend?” The anger was justified, but the reaction was unreasonable. Even Sam began to wonder why his best friend was having a fit of rage. Cupid wasn’t even sure yet what he felt for Onyinye. But just the thought that Sam had an interest was cause for vexation of the soul.
Rushing to the fridge, Cupid grabbed a bottle of cold water and poured it over his head. That behavior was entirely out-of-character and for a minute. he almost looked like someone deranged
Sam wished he could pull out his cell phone to video Cupid so that he could replay the footage to him sometime when whatever was possessing him had let go. Love is one of the greatest forces both creatively and destructively and it has been known to make people act out-of-character to the amazement of those who know them. Some young men have jumped from Balconies or drank otapiapia because a girlfriend left for someone else? Those are the kind of things that Chief would hear and get mad; “Instead of thinking of how to make money you are drinking otapiapia because of a woman?”
“Is there more to this than I know?” Sam softly spoke to Cupid.
“What do you mean?” Cupid replied rudely.
“I’m only in love with Onyinye. I’m not dating her, I only like her.” Sam made it sound so simple as if everything was going to end with him just liking Onyinye and nothing more would come out of that. Cupid knew that Sam was about to get himself tangled in a vicious cycle, one Cupid had advised many of his clients to avoid like a plaque. The cycle of being in love with someone who is in love with someone else. That’s complicated. Really complicated. Let me explain… It’s like being in-love with Stacy but Stacy Likes Chibuike, but Chibuike is eyeing Ginika, and Ginika thinks that James is hot. What would be the right word be? Complicated. Always remember this when you see someone’s profile on Facebook and their relationship status says – complicated. Pray for them.
Onyinye was attracted to Cupid and there was no way Cupid could tell Sam about that because the love-and-the-workplace policy was strict and no one should have been falling in love in the first place. But when you spend most of each day with the same people, at some point they are the closest thing to a family you might have, and then ‘the feelings’ begin to grow. That smile becomes the best smile you see each day. That voice becomes the sweetest you hear because it’s the only one that keeps replaying in your head when the day over. So, as much as Cupid expected professionalism from everyone, he wasn’t so naïve to believe that nobody would fall in love. Anyone else but Sam would have been fine. Office related issues are easier to handle when you are dealing with a colleague who is nothing more than a staff. But Sam was a staff, co-founder, best-friend, brother and there were a thousand words that could describe his relationship with Cupid.
The only words Cupid could utter was “I’m sorry about the way I reacted, Buddy.” His action and words spoke louder than his heart. And since man cannot see the heart, they judge by the actions. Cupid wasn’t exactly being swept off his feet by Onyinye, at least not at the moment. But why his secretary? Couldn’t Sam fall in love with his own secretary? Or one of the many pretty young interns and customer service representatives? Many friends have fought over a lady’s heart and ruined a great friendship. Cupid did not want that and he had the executive power at his disposal to avoid such. The wildcard would be letting Onyinye go. A cold termination without a reason. It was better for that to happen than for the glass-house to be destroyed by rivalry. But Onyinye was an amazing lady who didn’t deserve that sort of treatment.
“I should be the one saying sorry,” Sam replied, trying to express his regret that he had not said anything to Cupid all the while he nursed his ‘love-fever’ until now that his love-temperature was burning hot.
“You know that there is no one that wants you as happy as much I do. But this is complex. Have you told Onyinye how you feel about her?”
Sam smiled and replied: “Yes.”
“What did she say?”
“There is a wonderful guy in the picture that she already likes. But if it doesn’t work out, then-”
“Did she tell you who this guy is?”
“Nope. I pressed a little but she wouldn’t talk about him, it was obvious to me that she really does care about this guy.”
“So, you are kinda settling for second place?” Cupid asked. “Kind of like you are hoping he chokes on a sandwich so that you could move to number one?”
“I’m not that wicked. I’ll just give it some time and if it doesn’t work out with this guy, then I become number one. Numero uno, bro.”
It was not a good time to get into more details about the situation. “Tomorrow is Sunday. We can talk about this some other time.” The silence that followed was awkward. Nobody wanted to break the ice, so Cupid asked Alexa to play something nice. Alexa didn’t disappoint with the right music. It couldn’t disappoint because machines sometimes act smarter than humans. Ask a DJ to play a list of classy evergreen love songs on your wedding day… he agrees to do so quite alright. But on that day, he’d play the songs that he has prepared for his own wedding. Nonsense!
“Good night, brother,” Sam said to Cupid as he looked at him almost reverentially and then reached out for a handshake. “You are Superman and I have nothing but love and respect for you. Saving the world-”
“One day at a time,” Cupid added, finishing the statement with a little smile.
The rest of the night was spent looking out at the night sky, thinking about Chabria and Onyinye, two of the most amazing ladies Cupid had worked with. He liked both of them and they also seemed interested in him. Dating one was a way to start a rivalry between the two ladies and a dominoes effect, one that might not stop until Cupid and Sam Inc. is completely destroyed. Avoiding both of them was a key to making each day at work almost impossible. Chabria was a genius and Onyinye was an organizer. For a moment a vague thought of getting rid of Sam came across, but Cupid quickly dispelled that even though that would have been possible because technically Sam had an insignificant share base in comparison to Cupid who owned 62% of the company. And a clause in the partnership allowed Cupid to term Sam’s appointment and buy him out at any time. Every prudent CEO understands why such clauses are important. Keep your vision within your control and then it gives you all the flexibility you need. But Cupid was too much of a Godly man to treat Sam that way, and that was the reason Sam also didn’t even care to read the clause before he penned his signature to the partnership. That was a blind-trust a lot of business partners didn’t have for each other.
At about 1 pm, after several hours of being unable to sleep, Cupid’s phone screen lit up and he decided to visit his Facebook page. There was over five hundred notifications and 254 friend requests that had not been attended to. “People will just be sending me messages and tagging me anyhow,” he murmured and then searched for Chabria Campbell’s Facebook account. A couple of Facebook profiles pulled up, but it was not hard to locate the lady of interest. She was the fairest amongst them all. “Beautiful family,” Cupid muttered under his breath. Her father was a Bishop of a church in upper Brooklyn, New York. The man had a smile that could convince you to be a Christian if you hadn’t thought about it. And her picture-perfect mother looked fiftyish, a few wrinkles working its way around her beautiful face. The only odd fellow was her only brother who had a scraggly beard, wore a bandana in every picture and looked like a younger dread-locked version of Tupac Shakur.
…THE NEXT MORNING…
Anurika had slept off before Chief returned the previous night, so, she never had a chance to see him for the entire day. But it was Sunday and like most people, a little extra sleep before Church is always a nice thing, and therefore, she kept snoozing her alarm clock. After a prolonged period of pandiculation, she finally stood erect with clear eyes and an alert mind. “My lord, what is burning,” she screamed and rushed to the kitchen. The Roman man was in his apron, and the kitchen was on “fire.” Being so engrossed in what he was doing, he didn’t know that Anurika was standing at the door. There was so much chaos in the Kitchen. The chicken appeared charred and as soon as Chief flung the onions into the hot oil, there was a spatter. “Eyimba le!” he screamed as the hot oil landed on his skin. “Onye nw’anyi merem ebere,” (Lord have mercy on me)
Anurika’s first instinct was to walk in and rescue her husband. Yes, he needed to be rescued before he hurt himself. But it was good to see the Chief get off his traditional high horse. What would his best friend – high chief Nebukadineze Nwankpa – say if he could see her husband running around in the kitchen? Anurika felt like laughing, but she quickly tip-toed away, unnoticed by Chief who was still so absorbed in what he was cooking. Back in her room, she folded herself under the duvet, waiting for the day to fully break. Whatever Chief was up to would be known in time.
“Coopeedi,” Chief greeted, sounding as gleeful as usual. Cupid had barely closed his eyes all night in the light of his discussion with Sam. The night was supposed to be a night of video games and movies, but they both parted ways at 11 pm without doing any of the things they had planned. Sam thought it best to give Cupid a break and some thinking room. Cupid wouldn’t try to convince him to stay back either. So, it was silently a mutual agreement by both buddies. “Nwanne, I have almost finished everything, it’s just for it to sustain it now,” Chief gleefully informed Cupid. “I didn’t see pepper, so I used three spoons of ose oji instead.” (ose oji – peanut butter)
“Oh, my Lord,” Cupid whispered as he wondered what the outcome of Chief’s cooking would be. “Ok, give it some time to sauté. Five minutes or more should be fine,” he added, his voice sounding raspy. Maybe it was a bad idea suggesting that Chief prepared breakfast and served his spouse while she was in bed.
“Nna, curry and turmeric are the same thing?”
“Chief, anu na azu o bu the same thing?” (is meat and fish the same thing?)
Chief thought about it for a short-time but he still seemed confused. “But the color is the same,” he reacted to the idea that he might have added something wrong to the meal. “Nna mehn, Coopeedi you can give someone trouble.”
Cupid only felt sorry for Anurika because she was the one supposed to eat the disaster that Chief was concocting. “Chief, just in case things don’t turn out great when you are done, do you have a fast food outlet or restaurant close by?”
“Butu I’m just cooking the same thing that me and you cooked yesterday.” That is the problem with most people… You take a picture with a celebrity and the next day you expect that anyone who sees you would recognize you. That’s a non sequitur. Chief only assisted with the minor details of cooking that breakfast, but he was relishing in the glory of Cupid’s culinary proficiency. Chief was dexterous quite alright, but not in things pertaining to the kitchen.
Cupid didn’t want to discourage him, but from what Chief had said, the food was likely to be something you can expect from a parody of ‘worst cooks in America.’ But every great coach always has a backup plan. “Chief if things go south, tell your wife this – ‘I spent all this time in the kitchen and this is the best I could come up with. But it is amazing how you spend so little a time and you make miracles happen.’ Say it in Igbo if that would be easier for you.” Cupid made sure that Chief repeated that statement over and over until it registered.
In Chief’s mind, it was not possible that the Chicken stir-fry he was cooking would not be a hit. Mega-hit for that matter. It was going to be more super-delicious than what Cupid had even cooked. “Hapu ihe a,” (leave that thing joor) Chief said under his breath, not believing that he would have to fall back on the backup plan. He was going to keep things one-hundred like a boss would. Never give in.
“What are you putting on right now, Chief?”
“Ejim wrapper kpuchie ahu m,” (I used a wrapper to cover my body)” That was true and he wore his Air Jordan canvas too. A wrapper tied around the waist and Air Jordan on your feet? Chief was avant-garde, redefining fashion in ways the normal man had not imagined.
“Please dress up like a boss, and ensure that you smell good and your breath is fresh before you walk into your wife’s room.” Why a young couple of less than a year had separate rooms was an issue that Cupid was yet to get to. Taj Mahal was not built in one day, so, the change would have to be a day at a time. “When you stand before your wife, think of yourself as the most handsome man alive. We both know that in reality, you are not anywhere close to being handsome.”
“Anu… Chief was about to call Cupid Anu mpama (a wild animal) but he constrained his lips. Coopeedi, Gini ka I na ako? (What do you mean Coopeedi?) Chief asked, with almost a rude tone. But Cupid was being factual. Chief was a handsomely-challenged middle-aged man with a big nose who was blessed to have married a beautiful young girl that even many fine young men like Cupid would love to get married to. How Chief’s mother pulled off the connection that landed Chief and Anurika together was still baffling. What did the woman tell Anurika that convinced her to marry her son? Cupid was interested in meeting the woman. Maybe he could hire her to provide her exceptional skills to Cupid and Sam Inc.
“Chief, by Alaba International standard, you are Vin Diesel. But your wife isn’t looking at you by the Alaba standard or she would not be thinking about divorcing you.” Cupid was trying to tell Chief that many girls will see him as handsome based on his wealth and business empire but that was far from the truth. The truth would set him free. He wasn’t pleasant to the eyes, but to his wife, he could be the hottest thing since fried akara. The earlier Chief began to act like he was hot akara to his wife, the better their relationship had a chance of blooming. “Smile at her like she was the only queen in a universe where everyone adores her. The two of you were meant to be together and I’d fight with everything in me until your marriage works.”
“Nwanne, idi savage.” (you are a savage – in a nice way)
Cupid really would have done anything to save the marriage of a client. He was Superman. “How is your wife?”
“Coach, I’m about to surplise her after I sustain this thing I’m preparing.”
“I’m sure she would be very surprised. And it is pronounced – sauté, Chief,” Cupid said and repeated the word severally until Chief could say it right. “I don’t just want you to just win your wife back. I want your vocabulary to improve too. I want your buddies in the market to know that something about you is different.”
“Are y’all going to church today, or you plan to surprise your wife for the entire day?” Cupid asked.
“Ike gwuru m,” (I’m tired) Chief cried out. “Ahu na afumufu.” (My body is aching)
“You of all people need Jesus and church now more than ever, Chief.”
“Obukwa eziokwu. That is true,” Chief replied and proceeded to steer the conversation back to the food. He did not want to go to church that morning and Cupid was not about to convince him otherwise. Chief was not one of the faithful worshippers that never missed a meeting and were eager to get to the church building even before the doors were opened. He believed in special occasions like – Baby dedications, Thanksgiving and especially fundraising services where he could be called upon to showcase his wealth and advertise his business.
“Chief, enjoy the day with your wife. Let’s meet up tomorrow at the office at 8 am. Come with some money or your bank card because you will need to pay for your international passport at the immigration office.”
“Nna, but Coopeedi, is this one not in the one million that I will pay tomorrow?”
“Do you want to pay for the flight to France? It would cost you just a little over $5000 to fly first-class with me. That’s about 1.8 million Naira.”
“Nwanne,” Chief called out twice. “Anyi agaghi aga ebe ahu,” Let’s not even go there (in Igbo),” Chief replied in Igbo. “I’d see you tomorrow.”
Chief was proud of himself when he was done preparing the breakfast, but whether Anurika would be proud of his concoction was something only time – a few minutes – would tell. “Chukwu merem ebere,” (God have mercy on me), he said as he loaded his ‘hard-work’ into porcelain plates. “Coopeedi nwanne,” Chief kept repeating like it was a magic-word that somehow would make everything go smoothly. But he really wished his coach could be there, standing beside him and furnishing him with the right motivation and instructions. He quickly rushed to his room, took his bath, put on a denim with a white Tee and then he went for the overkill – he sprayed so much perfume that even someone with anosmia would have perceived the lovely fragrance. To crown the look-of-life, he wore an under armor face cap. But he wore it backward like a young chap that was into hip-hop.
Chief whistled his way through the living room and down the corridor leading to his wife’s room and then he stopped at the door. As a devout Catholic, he was about to do the sign of the cross but both hands were busy so he just whispered: “Jesus bu odogwu.”
“Kpom Kpom,” Chief cried out. “Mummy,” Chief said, calling out a little louder. Anurika heard him loud and clear but played deaf for a minute. She was having the best time of her life. “Baby,” Chief whispered this time because the word was too heavy for his mouth. Anurika cat walked to the door and then she opened it and stood beside it, looking like a beautiful princess in that had just awakened from sleep.
A yuppie Chief was the last thing she was expecting to see. He had never worn anything like that before. Anurika had the loveliest smile chief had seen in a while on her face. “Good morning, Chief,” she greeted.
“Nne, don’t call me Chief. Just call me-”
“Honey’m,” (my honey) Anurika said, interrupting him and then she gave him a peck on the cheek. That was a first in the last 10 months. The tray nearly fell from Chief’s hand as his feet buckled. “Coopeedi,” he spoke softly as he tried not to lose his balance. It was supposed to be breakfast in bed, so he asked Anurika to go back to the bed while he walked across to serve her the food.
The first spoon-full of the stir-fry Anurika tasted, she felt like taking back the peck she had just given Chief. Of course, the food didn’t taste great. Does one learn how to cook like Bobby Flay or Rick Bayless in one day? But the thought and attempt put into it were much appreciated. Chief quickly fell back on the backup plan he never thought he would need after he saw the Anurika’s face squeeze up badly as she tried to swallow the disaster-of-a-meal Chief had prepared.
‘I spent all this time in the kitchen and this is the best I could come up with. But it is amazing how you spend so little a time and you make miracles happen,’ Chief said to her in the Igbo language. Those were the nicest words she had ever heard from Chief in almost a year of being his wife. She leaned over and gave Chief another peck.
“Eyimba le!” Chief shouted. Just when Anurika was about to ask him why he had shouted that loud, he shouted “Coopeedi” even louder.
Anurika wanted to go to church and Chief suddenly felt like he was meant to be in the house of worship too, so he followed her to her church and slept his way through the sermon.
IN THE WORDS of Chief, ‘it was a brown new day.’ Cupid was unsure about how he would react to seeing Onyinye in the office. One thing was sure; things were going change a little especially when Sam was around. On his way to the office, he thought about the last relationship he had been in and how he ended up with a crushed heart. “Mending a million broken hearts since 2005,” he said, wondering why he could not fix the most important heart that needed to heal. It was more than just the break-up that crushed him. It was how she treated him before the break-up. Cupid had a baggage that no one knew – he felt no one really loved him except his mother that had died when he was still very young. His father had walked away before he was born and so did all his relatives until now that he knew a thing or two about opulence. Being in love was the greatest thing that had happened to him. But like they say; “all good things come to an end.” It came to an end in a sad way and Cupid couldn’t still believe that the only lady he had loved as much as his late mother walked away when he needed her most, and she executed it in a cold-blooded way and burnt all bridges behind her as she walked away.
“Eko o ni baje,” Cupid repeated, trying to distract himself from the depressing thoughts. The commute was slower than it had ever been despite the police trying to assist with the jam. It was the first day in many years that Cupid didn’t feel like showing up to work. But he had a packed schedule for the day. A brief meeting with Chabria, Nelo, and Sam for an update about the merger with eharmony.com and match.com was first on the list of things he had to do before he kept the appointment with Chief for the immigration office.
“Hey people,” Cupid greeted as he walked into the building.
“Good morning, boss,” A young intern shouted from her cubicle.
“The best MD in the world just walked in,” another intern recited over to get the attention of her colleagues.
“You look awesome as always, sir,” The security man beside the elevator leading to Cupid’s office said.
Cupid was dressed in a charcoal-grey suit with a silk burgundy slim-tie. “Thank you,” he responded, faking a smile.
“The most handsome boss in the world is around,” Onyinye boasted, standing to welcome Cupid.
It was usual for Cupid to reciprocate her kind words by addressing her as the most beautiful secretary in the Galaxy. But instead, he gave her a hug and just casually asked how her weekend was spent. As she gleefully narrated the happenings of her exhilarating weekend, Cupid kept imagining how unfair it would be to sack her for something that wasn’t her fault. It’s never a crime to be in love with your boss and it’s neither a crime for the 2nd in command to be in love with her. The quality of her work was never affected by her feelings for him but the quality of his work might be affected by the fact that his best friend likes the same girl that likes him.
“Are you alright, sir?”
“I’m fine. I just need a vacation. Set up the meeting with Sam, Nelo, and Chabria,” he said sounding very formal and then he walked into his office. “I’m traveling to France this week, that would help my nerves ease up.”
“Can I make you a cup of coffee, just the way you like it – fully creamed with two cubes of sugar and a little honey?” Onyinye asked with a smile.
“I have no appetite or desire for food right now. Got a lot of work to do,” he replied and then walked into his office slamming the door behind him, something he rarely did except when he had an urgent meeting.
“Wow,” Onyinye said and rolled her eyes, being sort of confused at how weird the Monday morning was turning out to be. She had only seen Cupid that moody one other time when he was losing the battle to save a marriage. That couple finally got a divorce and Cupid readily accepted to be the fall guy. Failure tasted bad and he cried like a child that had refused comfort.
That morning brain-storming session was one of the best they have had. Chabria needed to travel with Cupid, and Chief to France to spend a few days checking out a few IT firms and attending a training before moving over to Austria to finalize the partnerships that were going to cater for the customer explosion the expected merger was going to attract to the Cupid and Sam Inc. online dating platform. A huge chunk of Cupid’s day was spent with Chief and the annoying people at the immigration office. After collecting Chief’s passport, he sent it alongside that of Chabria to the French embassy with a personal note – “Please issue a Schengen visa to these friends of mine traveling with me” – to the French Ambassador he had met and dined with severally.
THE ARRIVAL (Two days later)
“Welcome to the city of love,” the pilot announced in French and then translated his statement into English.
As soon as the Air-France airplane touched down on the runway, Chief told the white man beside him: “Kongratuleshons,” and then he reached for a handshake. The baffled white man smiled out of respect, wondering was being celebrated, but he wouldn’t ask because it was the first-class cabin and he imagined that Chief could be some very important figure in Nigeria.
“Nwanne, kee nke na eme?” (My brother, what is happening with you – how are you?) Chief greeted his friend Nebukadineze Nwankpa. The first person he wanted to inform that he had just arrived the French capital.
“Nwanne ebe ka i no?” (my brother, where are you?) his friend asked him. “Odila ogologo ebe’m huru gi na ahia.” (It’s been long we saw you in the market.)
“Nwanne, m no na Paris,”Chief informed with swag in his voice and the S at the end of Paris being very loud instead of muted. “Anyi banyere first-class,” he added. (we flew first-class)
“Gi na onye?” (you and who?)
“O mu na my biziness partina,” (it’s me and my business partner) Chief said, lying to his friend. How does he tell his him that he went to France because of love? How does Chief curve his mouth to explain spending 11 million so far on a love coach? His respect in the market would be over before he returns from the trip. 11 million Naira was enough money to open a new shade and import enough goods from Taiwan to fill it up.
“Onyem,” (My guy) Nebu called out with respect, the kind of respect that comrades give themselves. “Ibu a chairman.” (you are a chairman)
“Nwanne, o bu Amara Chineke,” (My brother, it is God’s grace). That’s how many people lie and say it is God’s grace. You will see someone getting fatter as each day passes and when you ask what the secret is, they would say it’s God’s grace. Is it God’s grace that increased your waistline by 20kg or is it Coldstone Ice-cream?
His friend went ahead to inform him of how Dr. should be added to his name as soon as he returns to Lagos. This was the Nebu that had added high Chief to his name as soon as he started importing goods from China. Chief liked the idea and started flirting with it right away. “Chief Dr. Remigus Romanus, Obi Dimkpa, ego di ka aja 1 of Mbaise.” It sounded more appealing to him as he repeated it.
As they arrived at the hotel, Chabria walked to the café to buy some coffee and cookies while Cupid and Chief strode to the counter to pay for a room.
“Hello, Cupid said to the overjoyed French man who wore a smile like Simon Cowell would during a great performance.
“Bonjour,” he greeted back. “You are welcome, and how may I help you, gentlemen?”
“We will like to pay for two deluxe hotel rooms. One for the beautiful lady standing over there in front of the café and the other for the two of us,” he added, smiling at Chief, and then Chief smiled back at Cupid. Cupid needed to stay with Chief because with the sophistication of the hotel Mr. Romanus might not even know how to turn on the shower or use the room heater. How about requesting room service?
“Ok, here we go. This key is for room 084 and that is for the beautiful lady. And this key is for room 087 and it’s for you and your husband,” he added and then made the mistake to wink at Chief.
“Isi gini?” (what did you say?) Chief shouted. He knew he wasn’t proficient in English but he heard that clearly. Turning to Cupid, he asked “Osi gini?” (what did he say?)
“O na eche-na I bu dim,” (he thinks that you are my husband).
“Alu! Eyimba le! Coopeedi!” Chief could not control himself. “Enyi, idi Carnivorous. Anu mpama. Onwe ihe na eme gi na isi gi?” (My friend you are carnivorous. A wild animal. Is there something wrong with your mental faculty?). Idi Carnivorous? Cupid couldn’t hold the laughter back and he had to let some out. Where did that term come from? Cupid wondered. Chief just kept pulling out strange words from his storehouse.
“What did he say?” The French man asked.
Before Cupid would even try to translate, Chief jumped in again; “Nga ma gi akanti,” (I will give you a dirty slap)
“What did he say?”
Cupid, the interpreter responded, “he said he will give you akanti.”
“What does that mean? What is akanti?”
“It’s a blessing, one you receive on either side of your face so powerful that your ears ring.”
“Like some kind of voodoo stuff?”
“It depends on how you decide to interpret the blessing. But once it lands on your face, your ears will ring.”
…To be continued.
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