It was 5:20 am on Tuesday morning, and Chidi had just taught on what he titled ‘Guarding Your Faith’. They prayed, and in closing, he asked Rita to lead the family in sharing The Grace. Rita wished the earth would open and swallow her there and then. Morning devotions were always a nightmare for her, yet there was no escaping it. Chidi had threatened that the day she missed any, would be the day she’d leave his house. Usually, Rita would sleep through the teaching, and mumble gibberish during prayers, counting seconds till the end. This was the first time Chidi was asking her to take any part of the devotion.
“Rita, lead us in sharing The Grace” Chidi reiterated impatiently.
Morning devotions were always a nightmare for her
“Errm…” She started. “Surely, may the grace of God, al…mighty, the love of Jesus the son… his goodness and mercy, be with us now and forever.” She finished.
Only Laura said ‘amen’. Chidi gave Rita a hard stare and shook his head. Rita quickly got up and headed for her room.
Beatrice, their 5-year-old daughter pulled on her dad’s sleeve and asked why aunty Rita shared a different grace. “Daddy which Grace is that?” she asked innocently. Benjamin, their 9year old son, burst out laughing, and Laura smacked his back. “Ouch mum! Beatrice, that’s what you call a remix” Benjamin said and laughed some more, moving away from his mother’s reach. Chidi looked at his wife, and they both burst out laughing too. Only Beatrice didn’t laugh, she was genuinely confused.
Rita stormed into her room and slammed the door shut. Why wouldn’t they just leave her alone? She didn’t think she could put up with these early morning devotions anymore. It was a big enough challenge already that she had to wake up at 5 am, but to be constantly made a mockery of was just too much to bear.
Rita heard a knock on her room door. She asked who it was and heard the person giggle. “Benjamin?” She called her nephew, “what is funny? What do you want?” she snapped.
“Ahn, aunty Rita, why are you angry? My daddy asked me to call you.”
“For what?” Rita asked irritated.
“I don’t know”, he answered, obviously getting impatient behind the door.
“I’m coming” Rita answered, and he scurried off.
Rita went downstairs to see her brother. He told her she would be following him tomorrow morning to see a friend of his who needs a personal assistant. He told her to prepare for it, and that it was a good thing she already has some experience in that line of work. “…and Rita”, he added, “please be decently dressed, it is an interview and he is a Christian” Rita threw him a flippant ‘thank you’ and went back to her room.
The next day, Rita was in her brother’s car waiting for him to return from his office. He had gone up to sort a few things. He called her and told her a lady called Monique was coming to join her in the car before he returned. Rita said okay, and he ended the call. Almost immediately a young lady approached the car, and after confirming her name, Rita let her in.
Monique was a petite woman with a teenage body frame, she had a beautiful face accentuated with nude make-up, she had a full black afro wig on and was wearing a black see-through blouse on slim blue jeans, with blue stilettoes that revealed her hot red painted toe nails. All together she looked like a billion-dollar. Rita loved her instantly.
“You must be Rita, thanks a lot. My car developed a fault, I am just glad it was close to Chidi’s office. I called him immediately and he said he would actually be heading my way.”
“Sorry about that, it’s nice meeting you, Monique. How do you know my brother?” Rita asked. Whether or not she liked Laura, she was going to watch her sister-in-law’s back.
“He’s friends with my husband,” Monique answered.
“You’re married?” Rita asked surprised.
Monique chuckled; she could relate to Rita’s surprise “Yes I am”, she answered, stretching her left hand forward so Rita could see the shiny silver band on her finger. “I am also a mother of two”.
“Wow, you have the body of a 16-year-old, you’re so lucky”, Rita said, and Monique chuckled some more.
“So where are you going?” Monique asked.
“I’ve got an interview this morning. My brother’s friend needs a personal assistant,” Rita answered. “I just hope the place is not a boring one, this one Chidi was emphasizing the fact that the guy is a Christian.” Rita said.
“What do you mean by boring?’ Monique asked.
“Well, I am single and overly ready to mingle” Rita said, and Monique giggled, urging her on. “Ordinarily, I wouldn’t take the job, it’s not my type of thing, but I am hoping to meet my type of man there, and of course starting with this boss of mine. I hope he isn’t married, though that’s not a new kind of challenge.” Rita said and laughed.
Monique raised an eyebrow at that and then laughed, “You are one naughty lady’” She said to Rita.
Chidi appeared, got in the car and greeted Monique, then they headed out. He slowed as they approached Life Gate pharmaceuticals, Monique’s firm, a large blue and white building on the right. Monique touched his shoulder from behind and told him she would follow them to her husband’s place first, something just came up and she needed to see him. Chidi said ‘ok’ and drove on.
“Rita, I forgot to introduce Monique, she is married to the person I’m taking you to, they are very wonderful people.” Chidi said.
Rita felt sick immediately. She mumbled a weak ‘ok’, keeping her face straight. Monique answered Chidi also and told him they’d already talked. Chidi sensed tension between the two women. He looked at Rita briefly and hoped nothing had gone wrong while he was away. They got to Ubest Consults, a large management consulting firm and the trio boarded the lift to the third floor. As they got out into the hallway, the receptionist greeted Monique cheerfully, and then Chidi and Rita. Monique headed straight into her husband’s office, while Chidi waited outside with Rita until Monique was through.
In less than 5 minutes the door opened, and Monique and her husband stepped out. He was a stout, middle-aged man, with long white beards and a bald head. Monique collected his car key, kissed him briefly, and bade Chidi and Rita goodbye, as she left. The man shook Chidi, and they exchanged pleasantries. He called out to the receptionist, “Kimberly, please serve the lady some biscuits and tea”, then he and Chidi went into his office. The receptionist asked Rita if she would have biscuits and tea, and Rita politely declined. She was too disturbed for that.
“Who is Mrs. Tonye?” Rita asked rudely
Not long after, Chidi came out, he beckoned for Rita to follow him, and they left. He didn’t say anything to her on their way down, but he was obviously fuming inside.
When they got in the car Chidi let out his steam. “What did you say to Mrs. Tonye while you two were alone in the car?” He looked mad.
“Who is Mrs. Tonye?” Rita asked rudely.
Chidi wished he could hit her hard across her cheek. “Get serious you silly girl, I spoke with Dozie just two days back and he still told me he hadn’t gotten anyone, and you could come, suddenly this morning he says he already recruited someone. I am not dumb like that Rita, I sensed the tension in this car as we drove here, and with Monique storming into his office like that, you must have done something. What did you say to her?”
Rita’s face crumbled in remorse. “I didn’t know she was his wife; I didn’t know. I only made a joke about marrying the man.”
“Aah!” Chidi exclaimed banging his fist against the steering wheel. “Rita, apugim ikwe na anyi nuru otu ara [I can’t believe we suckled the same breast]”.