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BN Prose: The Work Place by Ugochi Ukah

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It was the first time I met Oluwakemi Olatunde. She had been on vacation and now she was back to work at the top magazine company where I had just been hired as a writer.

Everybody called her Ms. Kemi; I thought it was because they found it difficult to pronounce her full name. I had been looking forward to meeting her as she was my direct supervisor, and also because we were the only Africans working for the company. So it was with excitement that I went to her office on the first day she resumed work.
“Good morning Ma, my name is Akua. I am the new writer on the block” I said, grinning widely.
“Call me – Ms. Kemi” she answered brusquely without taking her eyes off her computer screen.
Nonetheless, that did not throw me off and I continued.
“Ok, Ms. Kemi. So how was your vacation?” I asked.
“Good” and she said nothing else afterwards.
I stood there smiling and thinking about what next to say that will lead the conversation on.
“I hear you are from Nigeria; I am Ghanaian. We are both West Africans” I said, hoping this would do some magic. After a brief moment of silence, she looked at me for the first and asked – “Why are you standing there looking at me like that? Have you got nothing to do this morning or are you a lesbian?”
I was taken aback. I muttered a quick apology and headed back to my office feeling sad but I did not mention the episode to any of my colleagues.

The next day, I had to submit my first piece of writing to her. My first encounter with Ms. Kemi had not been pleasurable, but I was sure that my freshly written article would impress her. I had been working on it for a while now and it was the best I had written in my life. I went into her office feeling confident that morning as I greeted her and handed over my work to her. I did not wait for a response as it was a four-page article and so she would need some time to read through it. As I approached the door, she said “Hold on” and then picked up the article. She glanced at it and within a minute, she handed the article back to me saying “I have seen better.” I was bewildered. “Are you saying that it is not good?” I asked in a shaky, voice, trying my best to keep calm and not to sound rude. “I said that I have read better. That means you should get me a new piece. Tomorrow. Please close the door behind you.”

I left her office with my article, feeling much worse than I did the day before. She had not even bothered to read the paper and yet she had asked for another one. It was then that I concluded that Ms. Kemi disliked me. However, within some weeks I realised that it was not only me that she treated in that manner and that she was just a queer lady. My other colleagues, most of who were friendly, had learned to ignore her personality issues. “You will eventually get used to her” they said to me, after I had brought up the topic again one day during our lunch break but I did not want to get used to that kind of behaviour. I wanted to understand Ms. Kemi and possibly help her overcome whatever problems she might have. “What about her family or husband? Do they come around sometimes?” I asked, still curious to find a solution. “She’s not married and does not have any children, at least none that we know of” one of them answered.
“Ahan, that is obviously the problem! How can a woman who is obviously in her forties not be married nor have kids? Let us find her a man!” I said enthusiastically but nobody else shared that feeling with me. After trying but failing to convince anyone of the benefits of my plan, I decided to opt for a pet instead. So I bought her a kitten and even though nobody else contributed to the cost, I included a card saying that it was from all of us.

I had never seen Ms. Kemi as excited as the day I gave her the kitten. She was in a great mood for the next few days. The next week she was off work, sick and when she returned, she called a brief meeting for the junior staff.
“Whose idea was it to give me a cat?” she asked.
“It was mostly mine” I replied, unsure of what was to follow.
“My doctor says I have cat allergies; that is why I have been ill. Were you trying to kill me, because I have a feeling that you did it on purpose?” I stood there speechless.
After that day, Ms. Kemi disliked me even more and my life at the office became so miserable that I started nurturing the idea of quitting my new job. She made me re-write most of my articles for no apparent reason and sometimes, I had to work late to meet up with her ridiculous deadlines.

It was on one of the days that I had returned to the office to work late that I saw Ms. Kemi and her boss, Mr. Johnson having sex in her office. I had not meant to pry but I was surprised that her lights were still on by 7pm, so I went to have a look. Our eyes met. The next morning, I received my letter of appointment termination, quoting “incompetency at work” as one of the main reasons for firing me. I said nothing, picked my bag and went home to think about what next to do with my life.

The next week, I was back at work like nothing had happened. Ms. Kemi was surprised and called me into her office.
“Were you not fired last week?” she asked.
“I don’t think so. You tried to fire me because I caught you with Mr. Johnson but I’m sure you wouldn’t want anyone else to know about it” I answered with a poker face.
“Oh, I saw this coming. You have no proof so I’m not afraid” she smiled.
“Ooh, I also saw that coming so I had you followed and now, I have evidence.” I smiled back brandishing a tape I had in my hands. She looked shock and after moments of consideration, she offered my job back if I gave her the tape.
“That would not be necessary as I have duplicates. However, I can assure that I will not release it or let anyone else know, as long as I keep my job.”

We signed an agreement and I resumed work immediately. Thereafter, Ms. Kemi became most agreeable to me; it was almost like I was her best friend. If only she knew that the tape was empty and that I really had no evidence against her! As for her personality issues, just like my colleagues, I decided that it was none of my business.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Spwidoff

Ugochi V Ukah is a student and loves writing in her spare time; using sarcasm, humour and wit to relay her thoughts. Visit her blog for more stories at: www.ugochivukah.blogspot.com and follow her on twitter @vivio_gogo and IG: @ugochiukah

48 Comments

  1. yourstrulyblogposts.blogspot.com

    August 19, 2014 at 10:59 am

    What a miserable woman Kemi is ! lol. – there is a Kemi in every office, and no matter what you do, it is impossible to please her. I have come to the conclusion that people like her have problems which are deep rooted. Lol @if only she knew that the tape was empty – Nice one!!

    • nene

      August 19, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      there was a miserable woman like that at my PPA during my nysc year. she cut her hair low, never wore makeup and would get into arguments with everyone. she was very unpleasant.

    • Trina

      August 19, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      @nene Ah! So you know how it feels to constantly be in contact with unpleasant and surly people. Hope you know that’s how you come accross in 80% of your comments. Scratch that, make it 95%.

    • Iris

      August 20, 2014 at 4:53 am

      LMFAO. YOU found her unpleasant? She must be downright demonic.

    • Curious

      August 20, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      ROFTLMAOOOOO! Totally done with both of y’all men! I don laugh die. LMAO @ demonic!

  2. Beamer

    August 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

    I like where you were doing with this but you portrayed Ms Kemi as a no nonsense woman who had gotten to her position through sheer ambition. Such a woman would not be contented with not seeing what evidence you had on the tape. Personally, i feel the ending was a bit too hasty and the climax should have been consistent with Ms Kemi’s character. Other than that, the rest of the story was an interesting read. Well done!

    • Wale

      August 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      I agree with you. But nice story and effort all the same.

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      August 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      I completely agree.

    • chichi

      August 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      I see your point beamer but i also think ms kemi isnt very sound. I also think she is a lousy woman who probably slept her way to the top. So I’m not surprised she fell for that.. someone gives you a cat, you are excited and you take it not knowing you are allergic to cats. you fall sick and you have the guts to accuse that person of wanting to kill you..How is she supposed to know you are allergic to cats when you dont even have a clue??. Too much Nollywood. Yeah, so i was done with Ms Kemi after that paragraph. Chick is also a bush rat and the ending suits her perfectly. Trust me, she isnt that smart.

  3. TOLU

    August 19, 2014 at 11:12 am

    l,maooooo.

  4. nanciejul

    August 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Good write up, short and precise.

  5. PACE

    August 19, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Beautiful piece Ugochi, keep up with the good work :-bd

  6. LOL, u little devil.

  7. Loulou

    August 19, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Nice one, some people can never be pleased so no use trying. Smart chic o, if u no get money,u must get sense nah!!!

  8. Ms Kemi

    August 19, 2014 at 11:36 am

    i have seen better.
    LOL

    • Alii

      August 20, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Lol

  9. Banky

    August 19, 2014 at 11:54 am

    This can -and should- be better. Good effort though.

    I

    • Ife

      August 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      lol

  10. Aderonke says #Bring BackOurGirls#

    August 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    loool nice one Ugochi

  11. Cee

    August 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Beautiful piece! Salut’

  12. Pius Christiana O

    August 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    lol….nice one

  13. @edDREAMZ

    August 19, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said…
    .
    Oboy this ms kemi is one tough woman but yu are really smart like big tym…
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  14. Roxxy

    August 19, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    This story would have been more interesting if ms kemi was caught masturbating. obviously she’s a soulless robot that only she can satisfy. good story tho, like the allergy part.

  15. h

    August 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    yawnnnnnn….. typical ending, kust as i expected.

  16. pretti

    August 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    wow, interesting article, keep it on. but the end is a little hasty like Beamer said

  17. h

    August 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    yawnnnnnnn……. typical ending..just as i expected.

  18. Chika

    August 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Nice one, got me smiling after reading, thank you.

  19. Joan

    August 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Wonderful message! Keep it up darling….it’s interesting.

  20. bellemoizelle

    August 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    beautiful…… La vie est belle

  21. Annie

    August 19, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    i absolutely agree with the the first comment. There is always ms Kemmi in every organisation. Sometimes it doesnt have to be someone in authority. It could also be a colleague. People with deep personality issues always looking for the next victim to knock off their happy state of mind with their condescending attitude . They are the real victims and really need help.

  22. EB_Pearls

    August 19, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    very lovely piece. I could picture the scenes in my head as I read. Ms Kemi is obviously a frustrated lady who is torn between being a feminist and being a normal woman who has respect for her subordinates and appreciates their efforts at work. I never wish to be anything like her. in as much as I will like to achieve a lot for myself, I also want to build a balanced life- v a family, build good relationship with people and respect people.

    • Changing Faces

      August 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      What has feminism got to do with this story now? So feminists are not normal women?

  23. sum1special

    August 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Nice one girl..she got it coming.

  24. yemisi

    August 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    For me i love the article and just like the first comment said there is always a kemi in every office, the one in my office is something else, i dont even know what to make of it again, it is just too irritating. Any way that is the person’s business, i just dey do own

  25. chicadimples

    August 19, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Nice
    good job girl

  26. T

    August 19, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I like the short story. The end was a little Nollywood and can do with a little more polishing (I’ll advise that U change it). Great attempt

  27. Uju

    August 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Nice one Ugochi………………greetings to Chinwe

  28. valprewwy

    August 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    i really loved reading this piece…good writing dear.

  29. mimimi

    August 19, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Several reasons for Kemi Like behaviour: 1. excessive workload leaving you little time to socialise with colleagues 2. Women always have to be tough to be taken seriously in the corporate world 3. She has experience in her role but not in managing people and probably never been trained or mentored so you can’t give what you don’t have 4. She has high standards and not about to drop it for nobody 5. She is not a happy person generally so it extends to her attitude to work

  30. Gafar Olamilekan Alamu

    August 19, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    whaoo….lovely article……keep it up.

  31. NaijaPikin

    August 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Great attempt. It didn’t work for me. The story was too predictable with no element of surprise. Nothing i haven’t read or watched and there’s no twist to the delivery to make me want to read the same thing over.

  32. moo

    August 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    And some kemi in some office is a man.The brief of it all is that there ill always be a kemi in every office be a man or woman . Ability to manage them is what ill make u at peace with urself

  33. Taye

    August 20, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Ok Ms Kemi was a bit of a *beep* BUT I got the impression that you felt that you had some sort of entitlement to kindness because you was both West Africans – does not work that way in the corporate world I’m afraid. Bosses tend to be major pains i n the butt to get to where they are and they must do everything they can to stay on top.

    Also, by asking you to re-write that article again without reading it, will push you to do better than your best. My science teacher was like that, she’d tell me to do my work again and I will push to make it perfect.

    • tunmi

      August 20, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      You and Beamer echo my thoughts

  34. as for me

    August 20, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    I just dont know why “Ugochi” will use the name “Kemi”

    Ibo-Yoruba beef

    not nice Ugo

  35. ify

    August 20, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I have a number of kemi’s in my organsation and most of them are usually mature single women giving the young ones nightmare. I sometimes wonder if it’s their nasty behaviour that left them single or maybe being single at that age makes them act nasty.May God help them.

  36. arabella wood

    August 30, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Pay closer attention to detail to improve your writing Ugo. One ‘meets’ a deadline NOT ‘meets up’ with it. ‘She looked me for the first’ should be ‘She looked at me for the first time’. Happy to proof read your work going forward.

  37. brownybone

    April 13, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Nice work,keep it up

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