My Parallel World naija blues

The Achebe Effect

Today started like any regular day: get up, say a short prayer mentally, brush teeth, grab a quick bowl of cereal and drive off to work. Edikan basically lived in a planned out bubble and for a split second of every day, she nursed the idea of going drastically spontaneous. Now anyone who knows her, know spontaneity isn’t something she gets up to.

“You’re too boring Edikan. It’s all the same crap with you. Ah ah.” Her best friend of 20 years would say to her in that easy nonchalant way she had about her that made her so likeable.

Of course the same percentage of people who liked Idoreyin was about the same with those who hated her personality. She had a simple way of looking at everything and if any sane person thought the way she did, hell, it would be a tornado of utter chaos.

Looking through the rough sketches Damilola had sent in was giving her headache. She was complaining about the same thing over and over again and Damilola just wasn’t listening. It was like talking to a rag doll with button eyes and drawn on nose with an expression that never left the face. This is what you get when you bring someone in without her going through the proper channels. As Magdalene’s niece, she hadn’t been interviewed for the job. The CEO just walked into her office and announced a new member who would handle sketches.

“What happened to Joseph Amakri?” Edikan had asked and all the reply she got was a shrug.

“How did you manage to score a job with Madame M sef?” was always Idoreyin’ s favourite question. Of course this was a rhetorical question which was always accompanied with: boring “Edikus” and a short spiteful sounding yet jovial laugh.

Which, when she thought about it, she couldn’t say for a fact what exactly made her start a conversation with Magdalene Offiong, the CEO of one of the biggest local designers that early morning on the flight from Lagos to Abuja. She was heading home for the weekend as she hadn’t seen her family in two years. Working in a city like Lagos and commuting daily between the island and the mainland wasn’t a life that gave you time for anything else except sleep eat work and not necessarily in that order.

“Try and visit sometimes, ekpiri mommy.” Her mother would say and she would begin a lengthy discussion on how she didn’t have the time and this one day her dad yelled from the background in Ibibio : you make time for the people who matter to you. Except we don’t of course then that’s OK!

When he spoke in the native language, it was a sure sign that he was upset. But he was right. So she had boarded a flight early Saturday morning and found herself sitting beside Magdalene. Of course, at the time, she had no idea who the woman was. “Isn’t that Chinwe Achebe?” She had asked out of curiosity.

It was rare for her, seeing anyone hold a book written by an African author and this was a woman who moved effortlessly in what looked like 10inch heels, had on the tightest looking pair of denim and Edikan wasn’t certain how she bent her butt to the seat but that was besides the point. She was gorgeous and could have been holding a fashion magazine or something more fashionable than a Things Fall Apart novel that looked like it had seen better days.

“Yes it is. A very old copy actually. I visited the in-laws and found it among other old books. Apparently, the mum in-law is a collector of all things Achebe. I swear she nearly kissed me full on when I squealed in excitement on seeing it. My son married a smart woman, she said!” In minutes, they were discussing the greatness that was Achebe and how incredible the book was. Magdalene likened herself to Okonkwo in the sense that she too rose from nothing to be where she was today. They talked endlessly about the book and how a remake should be done from the older series. Before parting, they exchanged numbers and then she told ID about the incredible woman she had met on the way to her family’s home.

“You met the most popular woman in Lagos and you didn’t know?” Her friend laughed. “Sweetheart, you need to get out more often. Even the Sahara desert has to be more fun than you are!”

Edikan stared at the sketch pad and with a heavy sigh, got off her seat in a defeated stance then made a beeline for Damilola’s office.

She was backing the doorway, her legs crossed at the ankles and propped up by the window sill, her fingers rolling a thick long pencil as she talked on her cell phone.

“Damilola, please hang up. There’s work be done.” Edikan said, folding her arms and waiting for the drama she guessed would unfold. She had gotten complains about Damilola’s behavior towards the lower staff and had promised to talk to her but she had been immersed in work for months on end and had some how put off talking to her.

Surprisingly, there wasn’t much of a drama. The young girl hung up the phone and turned to Edikan. “Any problem with the sketches?”

“Any…? Are you serious? Two days ago, what was it I asked you to do with the sketches?”

Damilola shrugged, putting down the pencil she had been twirling. “I did what you asked.” She sighed, in a manner that said the request was a silly one but I still got it done.

Edikan held up the sketch book with both hands and moved closer to the desk. It was surprisingly neat, every paper in place, not a speck of dust visible. Even the pencil she had set down was carefully positioned horizontally. For someone who displayed serious OCD, her work was a huge contradiction. “I simply asked that you use the colors I provided and to reduce your stroke impressions. Is it also too much to ask for a neat job? I see patches of your foundation on every page and it smells like you basically empty your bottle of perfume on the said pages.”

“Is that all?” Damilola asked, calmly and quietly. Edikan almost didn’t hear her. This one sided banter reminded her about the constant fights she had endured with an ex. Some people were just not created to argue!

“Get your stuff and get out. You are fired!” Edikan fumed.


So, this is a short series I decided to start. Sort of makes it easier for me to break down. Will be writing Magdalene’s story next, followed by Idoreyin and Damilola. I haven’t written in sooooooooo long, so this is kind of my way of slowing sliding back into it. I loved writing this and looking fwd to finishing the series!

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