Short stories

Wings of Healing (Chapter 6)

Wings of Healing (Chapter 5)

Chapter 6

Banji

It felt really good listening to the division heads giving their presentations. Everyone was motivated and seemed intent on delivering their goals. A motivated leader nearly always translated to motivated workers.

I nodded as the division head of the Real Estate unit concluded his presentation. Andrew was relatively new to Matrix but had already accomplished so much. I had been present during his interview two years earlier and had just had a gut feeling that he was the right person for the job. His credentials had been excellent, but then so had been those of the three other men who had applied for the same position. But there had just been something about the guy that had stood out.

“We’re still focusing on building the five-bed luxury detached houses in the two estates we’re currently working on, but we’re also pushing the construction of modest two-and-three-bed apartments across the city.” He paused as he let his eyes sweep the faces of the other division heads seated around the polished mahogany table in the conference room. “I’m sure most of us must have seen the adverts on TV?”

There were nods and comments of approval all round.

I’d seen the adverts, too, and felt they were really good. They had featured a couple of very popular comedians in them, and the ads, whilst very humorous, had passed the message about the affordable homes to the viewers.

“There’s been a good response to the scheme, and we already have a number of deposits which have exceeded our initial projections.”

“Good work,” Gabby, the woman who headed the accounts division, called out.

There were some other comments from the other heads and a few questions which Andrew clarified before he continued.

A couple more division heads gave their reports, and the meeting was over about an hour later.

I headed out for a meeting with the CEO of one of the banks immediately after we were done. The bank was planning to move to another site and had invited bids for the building. Matrix’s bid was amongst the top three that were being favorably considered, so I hadn’t been surprised when the man had requested a meeting.

I attended the meeting with Andrew and another member of his team. The CEO also had a couple of his people in attendance, and I could see they were impressed with what we showed them.

“Banji, you’re doing a great job at Matrix,” the CEO said as he shook hands with me afterwards. “I’m sure your father would have been so proud of you if he had been around.”

“Thank you, sir.” The CEO was a contemporary of my late father. He was somewhere in his sixties but was still going strong. However, I’d heard from reliable sources that he was on the verge of retirement.

“I would really love to conclude this move before my retirement later this year.” His next comment confirmed what I’d heard.

“Ah, you’ll be sorely missed by the business world, sir.” The guy was a regular war horse and had brought in a lot of successful innovations into the bank.

“Thank you, Banji.” He smiled. “I’ll miss being part of all this, but it’s about time I let go off the reins and allow the next generation to take over.”

We made small talk for a few more minutes. He confirmed that his son would be taking over from him, something I’d already heard from my business sources. I knew his son. We had attended Wharton Business School together, and we were both members of Tariga, a club in Victoria Island.

“It seemed they really liked our bid,” Andrew commented as we got into the elevator a few minutes later. He punched the button for the ground floor, and the car started its descent.

“Looked that way to me, too.” I gave him a cool look. “That’s going to be more work on your plate. Think you can handle it?”

I watched to see his response.

The expression in his eyes and his smile were confident. “That’s what you pay me to do, Boss.”

“Good,” I replied before switching my mind to the next couple of meetings I had to attend shortly at Matrix.

***

I leaned back against my car seat as my driver navigated his way through the busy traffic at the end of the day. As usual, I was knackered, but satisfied at what I’d achieved that day.

I watched the hawkers dashing amongst the cars as they tried to sell their wares. A couple approached my car and rapped on my window with their knuckles. I shook my head, indicating to them that I didn’t want any of the wares they were selling. They dashed off and headed for another car.

“We’ll stop over at my mum’s,” I told the driver.

“Okay, sir.”

I closed my eyes. The air conditioning was on full blast, but I could still hear the din of the traffic. I wish there could be a law against motorists horning incessantly, but that would be a tall order in Lagos. The hawkers and street urchins would have to be cleared off the roads, too, because they would be in more danger if the drivers couldn’t horn to warn them off as they drove along. I wasn’t sure how they would survive without their daily routine on the roads, either, so the government would have to provide an alternative source of livelihood for them before they could be banned.

My mind went to the charity my mother ran. Matrix supported it as well as a couple of other charities, but there was still so much to be done.

I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew, we had arrived my parents’ home. The housekeeper opened the door for me and told me my mum was in the smaller sitting room.

“Good to see you, son.” My mother smiled warmly at me as I entered the sitting room a couple of minutes later.

I bent down to give her a hug and enquired about her health.

“I’m all good, son. Taking things easy as you always tell me to do.”

She asked about my day and called out for her housekeeper to heat up some food for me. We caught up on news and she told me about some happenings in our extended family. A second cousin of mine was getting married. Another cousin had just had a baby. I listened and made the appropriate responses. I would have to make out time to go see the new parents and baby.

We continued chatting as I ate, the vegetable soup was a delight on my tongue, and the fish, and assortment of meat parts with which it was cooked, perfectly seasoned.

“It’s very tasty indeed. Denola made the soup and sent it over. That girl has always had a way with her food,” my mum said when I complimented the food.

I paused for just a moment before I resumed eating. Denola and her got on like a house on fire, and Denola regularly visited her.

“That was nice of her,” I remarked as I put another forkful of vegetable soup and pounded yam into my mouth.

“Denola is a lovely girl, and that’s why I can’t help being happy for her now that she’s moving on.”

I wondered why the air appeared to whoosh out of my lungs at that news. So even my mother knew about her new relationship.

“She’s moving on?” I tried to deadpan, but wasn’t quite sure I’d succeeded. “Who’s the man?” I asked before taking a sip out of the water in my cup.

“His name is Alex, and he’s from Rivers State. They got engaged when you were away in the UK. He’ll be accompanying Denola for my birthday party, so I guess you’ll meet him then.”

Whatkind of man is this Alex? I pondered as I pushed a morsel of pounded yam on my fork. What was it about him that had attracted Denola to want to make a lifetime commitment to him?

“It will be good for you and Denola’s fiancé to get along since he’s going to be Zara’s stepfather.”

My mother’s voice interrupted my thoughts.

The muscles in my face tightened involuntarily. I didn’t want to share my daughter with another man. Zara already had a father and didn’t need a stepfather. Calm down, Banji. You’ve always known this day would come, so what’s the big deal?

“I’m happy for her,” I told my mum as I placed my fork down and took another sip of water.

“I’ll expect you to be. She’s been a good mother to your child and deserves to have her a life.”

“Being a mother doesn’t mean she hasn’t had a life,” I said defensively. I had always tried to play an active role in Zara’s life. I had also tried to offer as much assistance as I could even though that stubborn woman always tried her best to frustrate my efforts.

“True. But now, she’ll be a wife, too. She’ll love and be loved by a man, and hopefully have other kids, too—playmates for Zara.”

Yeah, I should be happy that Denola was going to be all that, but each word my mother spoke seemed to twist my guts a bit tighter.

“Aren’t you eating anymore?” she asked as she looked at my plate.

I tried to school my expression as I saw her peering at me speculatively. My mother knew me so well, and I didn’t want her zeroing in on the state of my mind. I was struggling to regroup and wished I was alone to process the thoughts of Denola’s engagement.

I picked up my fork again half-heartedly. I’m feeling this way because it’s still all very strange, I tried to assure myself. I was so used to Denola being a part of my life that it was hard to imagine her belonging to another family.

“I’m happy for her, Mum,” I said, deliberately maintaining eye contact with her. “And I wish her and her fiancé every happiness.”

My mother smiled in a way that almost made me feel she didn’t believe me.

“That’s how everyone would expect you to feel, son,” she said. “Like I said before, Denola is a good woman, and we’re all happy she’s moving on.”

I didn’t bother replying and concentrated on finishing the food on my plate.http://Wings of healingWings of Healing (Chapter 7)

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  1. […] Chapter 7Wings of Healing (Chapter 6)Wings of Healing (Chapter 6) […]

  2. […] So I was really happy I would be attending the party in a few weeks with Alex. Before then, I didn’t intend to rock any boat.Wings of Healing (Chapter 6) […]

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