Iphey was having the worst possible Monday in the history of Mondays.
To begin with, she didn’t hear her alarm ring at 6am and flew out of bed at 6:43 instead. Rushing to get ready and stepping out of the house within an impressive 35 minutes, she was beginning to have faith that the day could still be salvaged when her car refused to start. Her mallam-cum-makeshift-mechanic insisted he could fix the problem in "pife" minutes. "Madam, only pife minutes I need,” he declared but Iphey had neither the patience nor the mood to wait and angrily stomped out into the sunless morning to hail a taxi.
Rapture or something like it must have occurred that morning – that was the only explanation she could think of for the practically standstill traffic, and she spent many angry minutes uncharacteristically cursing the taxi driver, the other drivers, the okada riders, the Lagos state government, the Nigerian government, and every other entity she could think of.
Walking into her 9am meeting at 9:26, she fumbled into the nearest empty seat, muttering a breathless “Sorry I’m late. Got caught in traffic.”
“And they say you're professional,” Funmi muttered. “Do you have the report?” She snapped more loudly.
“I’m really sorry,” Iphey said, shuffling through the papers she held in her hand. She picked out a couple and asked Bisi to pass them down. “Here they are.”
Funmi shot her a withering look before resuming her presentation.
Iphey could not have been more embarrassed. It’s this stupid Chinedu, she thought to herself. She had gone home fuming from the party, thinking she’d made a huge mistake. She didn’t even know what made her kiss him; it wasn’t like her to do so. She was never quite the forward type, but somehow Chinedu had waltzed in on his high horse and messed up her rhythm. She hadn’t been able to get much sleep the past few nights, tossing and turning and staring at the pitch-black darkness way into the early morning.
Feeling cranky from lack of sleep, she willed herself to disappear in her seat. It didn’t seem like she was doing a very good job because she caught Ayo winking at her. Suddenly she was very annoyed. What was wrong with this man? He'd shown up to a party on her mum's invitation as her boss but then proceeded to get chummy at every chance as if he’d just proposed. Had he no shame or sense of decency? Did he not care about his wife? What’s wrong with men these days even? It’s like they don’t know what they want.
She didn’t realize she’d hissed out loud until all eyes in the boardroom turned to her.
“Excuse me, did you have a problem with something I said?” Funmi asked, sounding irritated.
“I’m-I’m sorry,” Iphey stammered and for lack of a meaningful explanation to give, reorganized her papers and tried to look busy.
That was her Monday so far, and it wasn’t even 10 o’ clock yet.
Determined to make up for her double strike at the meeting, she decided to skip lunch and use the time to put in some extra work. Iphey felt upset with herself for being so careless, and she reminded herself that now was not the time to slack off. The recent spate of terminations all over the banking sector was nothing to joke with, especially now that she was due for confirmation.
Around 12:30, Bisi and one of the girls from Accounts Reconciliation stopped by to ask if she would join them for lunch.
“Oh, thanks for the invite,” Iphey smiled, “but I really have to finish all this work.”
The other girl excused herself for a phone call, and Bisi waited until she was out of sight before saying, “So when are you going to gist me about you and you-know-who at your party on Friday?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Iphey laughed nervously, she didn't want to talk about Chinedu.
“Ahahn don’t form for me jo,” Bisi teased. “I heard he was all over you and even gave gifts to your mom.”
Iphey stared back at her blankly for a few seconds before realizing she was talking about Ayo.
“Oh you mean that one?” she said and then hissed. “I don’t understand why he won’t leave me alone.”
“It’s so obvious he likes you,” Bisi said, pausing to add, “He’s really rich you know. And I hear he and his wife haven’t lived together in over a year.”
Iphey was about to ask why Bisi was sharing this information with her when the other girl returned.
“You guys should enjoy your lunch,” Iphey said. “I’ve to return to this portfolio anyway.”
“We’ll talk later sha,” Bisi replied and left.
Iphey turned back to her monitor and thought about the conversation. A nagging feeling at the back of her mind told her trouble was breeding somewhere, but she convinced herself she was being ridiculous and tried to focus on her work.
At 8 pm, she decided to head home. Most of her co-workers had gone by then, so she packed her papers and hurriedly left the building. Stepping outside the gates of the bank, she suddenly realized she hadn’t eaten all day and she stood for a few minutes, the cacophony of the evening hustle and bustle interspersing her angrily growling tummy, until she spotted an empty taxi heading in her direction. She stretched out her hand to flag it down and, without a word, got into the backseat.
The driver turned around to ask where she was going, and Iphey gasped as she recognized the disheveled, unkempt stranger as James, her sister’s missing husband.