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I looked at her in the eye, even if she recognized me, I was not going to cower.
Nora: “What is your name?” she asked
Leke: “I am Mikhail ma’am”
Nora: “Are you computer literate, can you do graphics?” she asked impatiently
Leke: “Sure ma’am” my heart was already singing because I knew where it was leading to.
Nora: “My graphic designer just quit, and our collection launch is close, can you fill in till we get someone else? You will be paid of course”
Leke: “Yes, I can do this” I said enthusiastically
Nora: “Come on then” she took me to the creative department floor; I had been raised from the ground floor to the top floor. This department was the most important, if they had a problem, the whole company got a problem. If I wanted to learn the rudiments of my mother’s business, this was the department for me, so I was determined that this arrangement would be a permanent one. After my first day using the usual applications to transform hand drawn cloth designs, I went online and found out about AutoCAD. I spent the entire night studying it in an all night café around the company. The next day, though I had deep eye bags, I was ready to take the whole creative department by storm. After making the first batch of dresses using my AutoCAD, the creative director ran to my cubic office which was a cut out from the storage rooms. She was around thirty or so, but had this twentyish look about her. She was dressed in a midi skirt and a blouse with a flamboyant bow on it. From her dressing, you needed no one to tell you, she made the designs the fashion house owns.
Director: “You made these?” she said with her eyes wide behind her wire mesh glasses, holding the prototypes in her hand. Nora walked in at that time; she always seemed to walk in at the right time. I have noticed that she did not actively engage in the day to day activities of the company.
Nora: ‘What is the excitement about?” she asked obviously not pleased with the bickering.
Director: “These prototypes are the best I have seen, since I started working here, and he made them” she said. Nora looked at me, and smiled. She was probably pleased with herself for bringing me on board.
Nora: “I think you got the job then, congratulations” she said simply and proceeded to her office.
Director: “I am Kunmi, I have been designing for this company ever since, even when the real madam was still here”
Leke: “You knew my mother!” I exclaimed and immediately regretted it, as I saw the look on Kunmi’s face.
Kunmi: “Your mother?”
Leke: “Not my mother jare, I am always thinking of my mother ni, she died many years ago” I said hitting my head in an exaggerated manner.
Kunmi: “Same, with the original madam. I love her, she is the reason, I am still working here, if I leave here, I am going to open my own fashion brand, I will probably carry all my fans which are the customers of this brand. This present madam knows nothing about the fashion industry and she will not calm down to learn.” She said. I put it in mind, to keep my head down and learn all I could from Kunmi, I had just found the career I would be in. My mother left big shoes and I was going to fill them.
Leke: “Wow, I wish I met the former madam, she sounds interesting”
Kunmi: “Ha, she is oh. She had a flair for fashion, I learnt most of the things I know today from her. It is a pity she died as she did”
Leke: ‘How did she die?” I asked, but Kunmi had sealed her lips.
Kunmi: “So I am glad you are our graphics designer, you bring my designs to life even before they are cut. I love it, what you say we do lunch, with my younger sister, she just got admitted into the University, you will like her” I accepted and that was how I found a new family where I had none.
Lunchtime came, and I followed Kunmi to an upscale restaurant, there was a simple air about Kunmi, but she didn’t do anything in a simple way. I felt the restaurant was too much for a simple lunch, but what did I know? I spent years inside a mental home. She was ordering for both of us, when two young girls walked up to us. One was the exact replica of Kunmi, Olive colored skin and all.
Kunmi: “Hey, Banks you are here. Make yourself comfortable, I was about ordering food. Oh and yeah, this is Mikhail, my colleague at the office, Mikhail this is Banke my sister and her friend, Prisca”
Banke: “Sister mi, this one is too small for you oh” she said eying me from head to toe, she even bent to look at my shoes.
Kunmi: “Naughty girl, he is my protégée, a genius if you like. If you see what he made of my designs, he landed himself a good job today” she said .All the while Prisca was just looking at me, like she had never seen my kind before, while Banke was more or less disinterested in me or what her sister was saying. The meals came and I dove into mine, I had not forgotten table etiquettes, but I have also not seen this good food in years. It seemed however that I was irritating Banke the more.
Banke: “If you ask me, he looks more like a stray, than your colleague, sister mi. Is Fola fashion house now employing strays?”
Prisca: “Haba Banke” her friend said.
Kunmi: “Banks, be nice” I dropped my cutleries, and dapped at my mouth. I disliked her immediately; she was just like Nora, beautiful, but not beautiful in my eyes. Latter along the way, Banke would fall head over heels for me, and she would be my first victim.
The day for the collection launch finally arrived, I had something planned, I wanted to test a theory I had, the outcome would determine my next step. I was busy the night before with the creative team, they were putting finishing touches to the collection, and I was there every step of the way. I had decided I was going to study fashion and design in one of the good fashion institutes in Lagos, but I was going to gain as much hands on experience as I could from Kunmi. I saw Nora less often as I would have liked, she was rarely at the fashion house, but she was always there to collect the accolades like she was involved. I knew she would turn up for the collection launch in her best, ready to reap where she did not sow, and I was ready for her.
The guests had arrived, the host for the show was already thrilling the guest, some musicians had performed, and it was time to showcase the designs. Nora came on the podium, dressed in a vibrant dress that I recognized from the prototype I made. She had a good body so it looked good on her, I could not deny that fact. I myself, had gotten myself cleaned up, I was dressed in a sleek Tuxedo. I had been collecting monthly pay which was more than most boys my age earned, so I invested in a good Tuxedo. I knew Banke would be attending, and I really wanted to impress her. Yes, it is the Nigerian mentality, we impress people we don’t even like. The models began to strut on the runway in the clothes designed for that collection, they were halfway through all the designs when the lights went off, and the big projector screen came on. A voice boomed out of the speakers saying;
Voice: “You killed me, confess! Confess now” the voice was guttural, like an animal’s.
People screamed, but Nora screamed the loudest, she screamed till she slumped on the ground in unconsciousness. Pandemonium broke as the guests began to find any way to escape the hall. I looked up to the screen and smiled. On the screen was the picture of my mother, with her neck slit, blood oozing out unto the white bed sheet as she splayed on the bed. I had found the picture on the internet, and tweaked it with my new found graphic designs skills, to look more horrific. An ambulance was called and Nora was wheeled into it, her face had lost all color, despite the makeup on her face, she looked dead, only the slow rise and fall of her chest made people know she was still alive. The collection launch had ended in a mess. But most importantly, my theory had been tested, the coming days would tell. I walked out of the event center, into the hotel’s lobby. The event had been held at the prestigious Eko hotel and suites’ event center. I bumped into Banke, she glanced at my outfit and I could tell from the faint smile on her lips that she was impressed.
Banke: “Hey Mikhail, have you see my sister Kunmi?”
Leke: “No I haven’t “I replied her in a disinterested way, and brushed past her. I turned back to see her mouth open in disbelief. I went out the gate of the hotel, hoping to catch a bus to the hospital, I needed to know how Nora was faring. I was about jumping into one of the yellow and black stripped buses, when I heard my name… my real name. In my new life, after the mental home, no one knew me by my real name. “Adeleke” the voice called. I turned, with fear etched on my face and behold…
Question: Who knows Adeleke in his new life, has his past caught up with him?
…. See Episode 6 Below (You don’t wanna Miss this!) … AdeLove Stories … Premier Naija Inspirational Blog!
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