By Adeola Nissi
Amara entered the conference room, walking steadily towards the head of the table. She was already ten minutes late and, as expected; four ladies were already seated at the table. As she approached, they became quiet and alert, Amara noted this with quiet satisfaction. Tega, a smart young lady, walked hastily behind Amara, files in hand. Immediately Amara got to the head of the long table, she wordlessly pulled back her chair and sank into it. Tega quickly but neatly arranged some files on the table and passed a tab to Amara.
“Thank you” Amara said with a straight face, collecting the tab and placing it on the table before her. She anchored her elbows on the flat surface of the table and linked her fingers as Tega went about giving the four ladies some printouts. When Tega was finally seated, Amara took a deep breath and placed a small formal smile on her face. “Hello ladies” she called like she was just seeing them.
“Hello Ara” they responded in unison, with more enthusiasm.
“Sorry I was late, I had to attend to a few things” she began. “But since I am here now, let’s get down to business; I am going to make this meeting as short as possible because I have an appointment to catch, so please, be as attentive as possible.”
The ladies nodded and murmured their acknowledgements, adjusting their seating positions and placing pleasant smiles on their faces, all desperately trying to impress her. She noted this and mentally scored the way they carried themselves for future evaluation. She smiled. “Well, you all know why this meeting is being held. You have been under training for the past two weeks, taking lectures and going through the most practical aspects of events’ planning. We have taken you through decorations, styles, designs, colour combinations, decorum, manner of approach, courtesy and a host of other necessities; however, this is when you need everything you have learnt to speak for you” Amara said, stood up and paced softly at the head of the table, keeping eye contact with the four ladies as she continued.
“Here at ‘Ara P’, we boast of impeccable and unbeatable events’ planning services. Right from the reception of clients to the end of their various events, we strive to deliver excellent services. We have been known for our professional approach to everything, both here and on the field. Our clients are treated with dignity and respect, we are not only focused on the money but we always do our best to deliver excellent services to make the event spectacular for our clients, put smiles on their faces and keep them coming back. Our clients are our marketers because no form of advertisement can beat the words of mouth and testimonies of satisfied clients.” She paused for emphasis and to be sure the ladies were following. She noted that one of the ladies – Lara – was jotting down important points and she mentally added points in her favour. Little did the ladies know that their test had begun.
Satisfied, she continued. “The position you all are vying to fill is the position I consider the most crucial department here at ‘Ara P’ because you would be out there on the field. Whatever the event might be, you would be part of those making things happen there. We have so many people in this department already and only two of the four of you would be selected to join that team. We would be testing you for the next one week. Everything you have learnt must be put to full use. You have to show your creativity skills now and ability to grab information quickly. We would be testing your team spirit and ability to work effective alone and with others. Tega here, along with some other ladies would take you through the test and give you everything you need. I would also be checking in every now and then. I wish you best of luck” she said and exhaled.
“Thank you ma” they simultaneously responded.
“Do you have any questions?” she asked softly, but after they responded negatively, she smiled. “Good. Have a lovely day ladies” she said and walked out of the conference room. With her tab firmly in her hands, she walked into her office, greeting her staff as she went.
She closed the door to her office firmly behind her and walked towards her table. Six years ago, who would have thought of her being an events’ planner? She hadn’t thought of it either, but it had all happened so fast, she was surprised how far she had come. Her dreams of being a medical doctor had easily been trampled upon. After hitting rock bottom and all she wanted was to get back up, she had quickly realized that her dreams had been destroyed, and the way to move forward is not to continually mourn dead dreams but to build new ones. And she did build! Her experiences had changed her, had turned a naïve girl into a strong Independent woman
After leaving Kelvin’s house six years ago, she had loitered around Abuja for weeks until she met with a traveller who was headed for Lagos. The kind middle-aged driver had offered to help her get to Lagos since he was travelling alone anyways. The man had been extremely kind to her, even fed her when they were halfway through the journey. Coming to Lagos had been the best decision because there was always something she could do to sustain herself in the ever-busy Lagos. Her ladder to success hadn’t been an easy one but she had made it. She was not where she wanted yet but she was definitely not stopping.
Amara took her system out of the stand-by mode and opened the company’s mail box, checking for new mail but she found none. She just checked minutes ago and was not really expecting to see new mails, but checking the mail had become an habit. Even though Tega was always glued to her system, checking for mails and reporting immediately she found anything interesting, Amara still made sure she checked again. She always wanted speedy response to customers who chose to send mails instead of calling or coming personally, who knows, they might impatiently seek another planner if they wasted time in responding.
Finding no mail, she opened the spreadsheet she had been studying and continued her study. They had three events on their hands right now and all the arrangements were already in place. All the three events were wedding ceremonies. It seemed like everyone wanted to sentence themselves to the prison that is called ‘marriage’, she thought drily. Everyone wanted that ‘happily-ever-after’ dream that only fairy tales talk about, if only they knew that what they would get here in the real world is ‘sadly-ever-after’, they probably would not accept the life sentence so happily. Shaking her head, she focused fully on her system.
She heard a knock and felt the door creak open without lifting her eyes from the system. Tega was the only one who could do that. She was the only one who did not see her as the ‘high and might’ unapproachable Ara. Even though she respected Amara beyond words, she was still that underlying tone to her respect which made them seem more like friends rather than boss and staff. When they were alone, she could say anything that came to her mouth without hesitating. Even though Tega was her secretary, she was more like a personal assistant to her in every sense of the way and Tega prided herself by calling herself her P.A anytime she felt like. Even though Amara hated the fact that she was always overstepping her bounds, she still could not fire her. Maybe because she truly was not as stone-hearted as she wanted everyone to believe. Besides, Tega is indeed an excellent secretary.
“Hey boss, the girls are coping quite well with the first test” she said, sitting down, again without Amara’s permission.
“That is good to hear” Amara said without lifting her eyes from the system.
“A mail came in now, a company is celebrating their third anniversary and would be inviting shareholder and stakeholders. It is a grand event”
Amara raised her eyes from the system to stare at her secretary. She wondered why she always checked her mail when Tega would always be the one to find new mails first. “That is good news.” She said, glad that they would have to work on something else asides weddings.
Tega smiled. “It is really a good news, wait till you hear the company’s name” she cooed with excitement touching her voice. “Bracket”
Amara raised her brow. This news pleased her beyond words. Not because of the particular company involved but because of the status of the company. Disregarding the weird name of the company, Bracket had surfaced out of nowhere and seemed to eclipse all the advertising agencies it met on ground. It grew steadily and speedily and the name of the company seemed to be stamped in the minds of all. Since Amara hadn’t had the reason or the time to seek more knowledge about the company, she knew next to nothing about it. Thinking about the name of the company now, she realized that the name was an excellent choice, probably chosen by a group of experts. The name had a powerful and imposing effect, making it sound solid and unshakable. It was no wonder that the company gained popularity within a short space of three years. And now, they were contacting ‘Ara P’ to organize their event? This could only be good news. ‘Ara P’ is gaining popularity by the day, Amara mused happily. “This really is good news Tega” she said, placing a pleased smile on her face. “Well, there is no time to waste, you know what to do. Send a reply asking for details” she glanced at her watch, gave the spreadsheet another glance and closed it. She briefly opened the mail and saw the one from Bracket, read it and closed it, keeping her excitement carefully hidden under her official smile.
“Do you know the Founder of Bracket?” she asked with a slight tint in her voice, giving Amara a glimpse of what was coming.
“No. what about him?” she asked, shutting down the system.
“OMG. You should really see the man, he is H.O.T, HOT” she blew out. “I have not seen any man born of a woman as smoking hot as that. Oooohhhh” she fanned herself with her hand. Amara raised disgusted eyes at Tega, glaring down at her but the girl; the blasted girl never had the good sense to behave herself around her employer. “I checked him out on Google. You should see his eyes… and Gosh, those lips, they make you-”
“Tega” Amara barked and Tega jumped slightly in her seat, jerking out of her dreamy state. “Need I remind you Tega that this is a working environment? You were employed to perform certain specific duties and if I were you, I would focus on them. There is a long list of unemployed people out there Tega, don’t join them. Also, the office computers are for official uses and not for sampling every male specie that catches your fancy, have I made myself clear?” Amara ranted in anger.
“Yes boss” she said, not seeming the least scared or repentant. Of course, that was not the hundredth time Amara would threaten to fire Tega.
“Now, make yourself useful by sending that mail to Bracket. I have an appointment to catch” she said, stuffing her bag and standing.
“I hope it is with a man” Tega said under her breath but loud enough to be heard by Amara. Amara gritted her teeth, wondering angrily why she could not just sack Tega and be done with it. She walked towards the door and Tega quickly followed in her wake.
“Meet the team. I need an updated report of the ongoing projects on my table by the time I get back. If anything urgent comes up, call me” she said.
“Don’t worry boss, you P.A would take care of everything” Tega said. Amara sighed silently in resignation as she walked out.
Max checked himself out in the mirror again as he ran his hands through his jerry curls. His hair was permed, making him look like one of those American movie stars with his light complexioned skin. He loved the hair now; it made him feel even more handsome even though he knew he had always been so handsome. He grinned at himself at the mirror, delighting in his sparkling white, perfectly set teeth. He left the room and walked to the sitting room, he saw his driver waiting for him. “How do I look?” he asked the driver, standing and awaiting the remark of his driver.
The driver put a dry smile on his lips. “Very handsome sir, any woman would kill to have you” he ranted what he always ranted every time his employer asked him that ludicrous question. But it was not a lie at all. Max was quite frankly one of the most handsome men that Bolaji had ever seen, but still, he wondered why his boss was so keen about his appearance and good looks. Some ladies were not even as keen as Max in terms of appearance, Bolaji thought in utter disgust.
The response of Bolaji seemed to please Max, who picked up his phones. “Yes, any woman would definitely kill to have me, but I would kill to have one woman” he said. The mental picture of the woman he had his eyes set on, came to him instantly and for a minute, he pictured them together. A perfect pair! He thought. He knew undoubtedly that she would accept him immediately she set her eyes on him. He hadn’t seen a soul able to resist his charms. ‘It is just a matter of days, and then you would be mine honey, just mine.’
…To be continued