Thursday, 20 July 2017

Royal Blue

It was her perfume that caught his attention. He stood rooted to the ground and sniffed the air twice, like a police dog on a hunt for an escaped drug dealer. He turned his head and took a second look at the beauteous damsel who had just passed him. Her silky dark hair was heaped on her head and flowed to her shoulders adding some elevation to her gait. Her carefully chosen strides emphasized the fact that she was a well-bred young woman. His mouth watered at the sight of her curves and his heart suddenly began racing like a galloper.

 

There was only one moment in history that could be likened to this very one Kwabena was experiencing. It was like the stirring of the pool of Bethesda. He suddenly felt a strong urge to pursue her. He was surprised at his own visceral reaction to this mystery woman. Why should he be palpitating so much at the sight of her? After all, this was Koforidua, the headquarters of all that was beautiful and pleasing to the eye. No, he said to himself, this woman must surely be my missing rib. He turned a full 180 degree in pursuit of her. In his brief moment of romantic reflection, the object of his interest had walked a good two hundred meters away from him and entered the crowd of busy pedestrians on this fateful Tuesday afternoon. He could only see the bright royal blue blouse in the midst of the crowd.

He took to his heels in pursuit of his new-found love…. Oh well…a man is free to dream. No? In his haste, he crashed into a sachet water seller who was busily hawking her wares. Her container came tumbling down along with its content. The young girl begun screaming terribly at him. He turned his eyes to look at the spectacle he had created and bent down to help the girl. On second thought he remembered his mission, dipped his hand in his pocket and handed the crying vendor a 20 cedis note and quickly returned to his chase of the mysterious lady. But he couldn’t see the royal blue dress anymore. The lady was gone, along with his enthusiasm. It wasn’t a kairos moment after all.

Kwabena returned home that afternoon utterly crestfallen. The lady in blue whose pursuit had cost him a whopping 20 cedis from his lean treasury had eloped. Such a wild goose chase, he thought to himself. This was the first time he had mustered enough courage to pursue a woman of his fancy that he had seen in town. Unfortunately, it had ended unprofitably. This lady is beautiful, he screamed, simultaneously throwing his hands in the air and almost crashing the mirror that hung above his 13 inch cathode ray television set. It already displayed a conspicuous crack from the last time Kwabena threw his hands in disappointment when he received a mail informing him that he had not passed his last job interview. He straightened the mirror and glanced angrily at his TV set. It’s about time he replaced it, he conceded. Most people his age had flat screen TVs fixed on their walls. He needs to get a job badly, he soliloquized.

lady

He fell on his bed and picked up his Brich laptop to continue his preparation for his job interview tomorrow. Selo Art, Ghana’s No.1 sign making firm was opening a branch in Koforidua and he had applied to be its Manager. He had heard that the company’s CEO was a soft-spoken yet disciplined and astute businessman who had no place for shoddiness and mediocrity. He was determined to put in his best effort to impress him. After an hour of rehearsing likely interview questions, he put his head on the pillow to take a respite. When he woke up again, it was daybreak. He had slept throughout the night.

He got off the bed quickly and rushed into the bathroom. He returned and donned the outfit he had ironed a day ahead of the interview. He was determined to ace the interview and had left nothing to chance. He locked his door and rushed quickly to the road side to pick a taxi. One that had parked to let out some passengers had already taken off. He chased after it with screams of “Taxi! Taxi! Taxi!” The driver obliged and stopped for him board. He sat down and greeted the passengers already. His nose caught the scent quickly. This perfume is familiar, he said to himself. He turned to look at its owner who sat next to him. It was the lady in blue. He had met her again! This time she was in red. He said hello with a broad smile and in a tone that betrayed a sudden affectation. She responded in kind.

He couldn’t believe his luck. On the morning of his do-or-die job interview, he had met none other than the lady in blue he narrowly missed yesterday. If Lady Luck was going to smile at him thus then he was also surely walking away with a job today. He brushed the thought off aggressively. Kwabena did not believe in luck. Throughout his life he had lived by a maxim that Mr. Afum, his high school English teacher had taught them. He had always reiterated that “there is no such thing as luck, boys. The belief in luck encourages people to have false hope, it leads them into believing that they can get what they want out of life by merely expecting it. Hope is not a strategy, boys. Whatever you want in this life, you must craft a plan on how you are going to get it and follow through.” He would finish by asking, “what did I say, boys?” And they would all respond “craft a plan and follow through!” Mr. Afum would walk out of the class grinning from ear to ear, obviously pleased with himself. It was a lesson that had sunk deeply into Kwabena’s cerebral cortex. Craft a plan and follow through.

But here Kwabena was, in a taxi with a woman he desired. He had no plan not to talk of even following through. The A-Plan, as Mr. Afum’s advise had been dubbed by the boys, had made no room for the unexpected. What was he going to do? After he had exchanged pleasantries with the ravishing young woman and savored the joy of his good fortune, Kwabena had gone silent. The woman of his dreams was sitting right by him and he could find nothing to kick-start a conversation with her. It appeared that the proverbial cat had gotten the better of his tongue. Finding nothing creative to start a conversation with the comely creature whose perfume had sent his heart thumping so rapidly, he opened his laptop to continue prepping up for the morning’s interview.

Suddenly, the taxi suddenly screeched to a halt causing all its occupants to scream in shock. Even Kwabena’s gentle idol couldn’t help but join the screaming match. A private saloon car had suddenly crossed their taxi in a reckless attempt to make a U-turn in the middle of the road. The impact of the sharp brake had visibly shaken her. “What’s wrong with that driver?” she asked. The guilty driver drove his car away whilst hurling invectives at the taxi driver who couldn’t believe his ears. “But what did I do? Shouldn’t he rather be apologizing?” he asked no one in particular. “Ignore him driver”, Kwabena spoke, finally finding his voice in the midst of the commotion, “many people in life lack the strength to take responsibility for their actions. They blame everyone for what they do or for where they are in life. Everybody else is to blame but themselves. You are not the only one he is angry at. He is angry at many people for many things, most of which he is responsible for. Just drive us to our destination.” The lady in blue, well, in red today, turned to Kwabena obviously affected by the words she had heard. “That’s deep wisdom you are speaking this morning sir. My name is Akua. What’s your name please?” Kwabena’s jaws dropped. He almost jumped in his seat. His expression changed as if to ask “Me?” He couldn’t believe his ears. His lines had fallen in pleasant places. Just as he opened his mouth to respond, his phone rang.

He took a look at his phone and hesitated. The call was from an unknown number. He was tempted to ignore it and talk to Akua, who still had her eyes on him. Her smile was enchanting, the expression on her face bewitching. I have been thinking about this mysterious yet comely young lady the whole of last evening. This call can wait, he said to himself. But he recognized the 0342 telephone code for Koforidua landlines and rescinded his decision. This could be important. He picked it. “Hello, Kwabena Agyeman here.” “Hello Kwabena!” the voice on the other side responded revealing the striking confidence that is typical of men of business. “This is Alfred Selorm Betepe of Selo Art”. Kwabena stiffened. Why would the CEO of the company he was interviewing for call him on the morning of the interview? His heart started thumping like it did when he saw Akua the previous day.

“You named Albert Ocran as one of your referees on your CV. I happen to know him so I gave him a call yesterday and I must confess that I was impressed with the glowing tribute he paid to you. He has a lot of respect and admiration for you, young man. Great men like Rev. Ocran are not overly generous with their praise so I surmised that you must be really good. How do you know him by the way?” the CEO enquired. “Thanks for your kind words sir. I was President of the Springboard Club in Legon and I did some stints with his firm for internship”, Kwabena responded. “I see”, the elder man said, more to himself than to his listener. “Well, I have come to a rare decision. Not something I usually do. But I have decided to waive your interview and give you the job. Rev. Ocran’s recommendation is enough. Come over to the office today, let’s talk.” They exchanged a few more words and the busy executive ended the call.

Kwabena was dumbfounded. Today was gradually becoming the best day of his life. He has been struggling to find a job after finishing his Master’s degree a year ago. He had attended six interviews that had yielded no results and here he was, with a job without even attending an interview. He suppressed the joy that surged through him and turned to face his other daunting challenge; making conversation with the beautiful woman who sat beside him. When he looked at her face, her expression had changed.

Her initial look of casual interest had changed to one of outright surprise betrayed by her widened eyes. Anyone sitting by Kwabena would have sensed that something special had happened to him. Again, she was the first to speak. “I can’t help but notice how excited you have suddenly become”, she addressed him. Kwabena couldn’t help himself anymore. He had been trying to suppress his joy. This was great news and he had to share it with someone. He told her his good fortune. “Congratulations!” the taxi driver spoke, smiling and peering at him through his rearview mirror.

Akua nodded her head in agreement. “I can quickly deduce at least three things from your story”, she spoke. “One, God just wants to show you favor. Many of us need to wake up to the fact that some of the things we get in life are not a result of any tedious effort from us. God just gives them to us. Two, the thing about persistently applying for jobs is that in time you become good at presenting yourself well on paper that you actually begin to make a great impression on prospective employers. Persistence not only increases your chances. It improves your packaging and presentation. Unfortunately, many people don’t do that. They send a few applications and say ‘They are tired’”

Kwabena was mesmerized. Not only was she beautiful, she also had brains to match. Her reference to God’s favor especially pleased him. His mother would be happy to have her as a daughter-in-law. She had always insisted that her sons marry God-fearing women. “Having a beautiful woman will feed your ego or stir your loins, son. But it is not what will determine whether she will be there for you when you are knocked down by the hard storms of life”, she would always say. Kwabena woke himself up from his momentary trance and asked, “So what’s the third deduction?” Akua glanced at the young man she had obviously captivated and continued, “your story speaks to the importance of making a good mark wherever you go. If you had been shoddy and indolent whilst you volunteered for Rev. Ocran, you would still be unemployed as we speak.” A smile broke on Kwabena’s face like a fresh knife mark in bread dough.

“Enough about me,” he advised. “Tell me a bit about yourself”, he pleaded. “I’m an entrepreneur. I read Biological Science in UCC. But I decided not to pursue it after school. All my life, I have been passionate about fashion. So after my national service with Mantra Auto Finance, where I really learned a lot about setting up a business because I joined just after the company had started, I decided to start my own fashion label, Nsoroma Apparels. I understood that the world has changed. Even if you read Animal Husbandry at school, you could choose to pursue any career path you want. Animals don’t need husbands anymore,” she said causing all of them to break into uncontrollable laughter. The taxi driver who had been eavesdropping also joined in the laughter.

Kwabena looked at the woman who sat by him. Her sharp intelligence was balanced by a good sense of humour. He noticed the set of beautiful white teeth she displayed when she laughed. He also couldn’t help noticing her full bosom and how appealing it looked in the red silky blouse she wore. I can’t let go of this woman, he said to himself. He decided to make his move. “Would you kindly give me your phone number? I would like to keep in touch”, he asked politely. “I’m a South Paw. Please forgive the left hand”, she said whilst stretching her hand to ask for his phone so he could dial her number. That’s when Kwabena noticed the rings. On her fourth ring finger were two rings. His jaws almost dropped. The woman he has been chasing is someone’s wife.

 

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