Tag Archives: Nigerian banks

‘Cali’: Part Eleven

Hot yellow light sliced into us from nowhere.

It blinded me. I flinched. The asshole drew back. He turned towards the light. A look passed over him. Anger. In that split second, it seemed to me as if he was baring his teeth.

“Chielozona?” The silhouette behind the car headlights was a welcome relief.  I walked quickly towards Cali, almost skipping in my haste to get to him. I threw myself in his arms.

“Cali…my car died and my phone died and…”

“It’s okay,” he said. He held me a little away from himself and scrutinised me. “I waited than I drove down here slow-slow to see if I would catch you on the way. Sorry I wasted time.”

“No, it’s not your fault,” I shook my head. It was just like Cali to apologise when he was the one helping me out.

The dizzy feeling had all but dissipated. I cleared my throat but Cali was no longer paying attention. His gaze was directed at asshole behind me who now slammed the passenger side door and came towards us with my things in tow.

“Here,” he said, thrusting his arm in my direction ungraciously. He bared his teeth again, not quite a smile but not a grimace either. I could not tell what it was supposed to mean but it made me uneasy. I looked at Cali. He was unmoved, casually brushing his jacket aside to slip his hand into his trouser pocket.

“Cali this is Mr…” I almost said ‘Mr Asshole’ but checked myself at the last minute. “He’s a customer. He was just going to give me a ride.”

“Tenk you,” said Cali. He held out his right hand.

“Later, stranger,” said the asshole ignoring the hand. He walked towards his car, started it up and drove away.

A frown creased Cali’s forehead. It disappeared when he turned, smiling to me. “Ngwa let’s go, mummy.”

On the drive home Cali was silent. I didn’t say much too. My brain buzzed like a hive of bees. Something had nearly happened or had happened but I couldn’t figure it out still and it bothered me. If Cali hadn’t come would I have…what would I have done? Would I have gone with him? I felt myself wanting to, in spite of myself. And what did the asshole mean by ‘unaffected by me’?

“Mummy? Are you okay?” asked Cali. I could tell he was searching my face in the lit spaces between the darkness.

I looped my hand around his neck and pulled his face towards mine. Cali pulled the car over.


My fears seemed unfounded the next morning. I felt like one of those women tied to train tracks in old black and white films, screaming ‘Help!’ and waiting to be rescued. In other words? I felt foolish. So when Cali offered to drive me to work, I refused.

“It’s cool, Cali. I can get to work by myself. There is nothing wrong with my legs,” I joked.

He tweaked my nose. “Did I say there was something wrong with your legs?” His eyes jumped about in his face. I could tell he was glad to see me. “I just want to take you, that’s all. You’re my darling wife.”

I rolled my eyes. “It’s like that the men in your village marry? No bride price? No palm wine on my head? You’ve tried.” I grabbed my bags.

“Okay, okay. Don’t be angly. You’re my wife-to-be?” Something in his tone made me turn around. Cali held out a box. My heart skipped a beat.

“Cali…what is that?”

“I was going to keep it until later but I think that now, you should take it. From me to you.”


“Okay, okay. You don’t have to open it now. Just…take it.”

The box was a bigger than your standard ring box when I looked closely and my heart descended from my throat.  “Thank you,” I kissed him.

“I know you will like it….you don’t want to open it?”

My phone started ringing. I smiled at him, and raised a finger. “Hello?”

It was the bank manager. I handed the box back and raced for the front door.


“I swear I didn’t park my car in your spot, sir. I tried to get home yesterday and when it wouldn’t start, I just left it where I had parked it. By the wall.”

“I do not appreciate having to walk a long way through the car park with sensitive documents flying about because someone, a junior member of staff for that matter, takes it upon herself to displace the manager.”

I wondered what one had to do with the other but said nothing.  I had not parked in his spot, but  did he not have a briefcase for his documents?

“Mr Elendu sir, it won’t happen again,” said the floor manager, cutting eyes at me. I rearranged my face so that my thoughts would not show on them.

“See that it doesn’t,” said Mr Elendu. “It was very embarrassing.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll move it now.” I left quickly before the floor manager could run after me to breathe fire down my neck.

I slipped my keys in the ignition and turned it. My car roared to life.

‘Cali’: Part Eight

I gasped.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me,” said the asshole. “First you ignore me while I am here waiting, then you pretend not to see me as I am standing right in front of you. What does that spell to you?”

Normally I could take any insults from customers with a smile or a barb that went over their heads but made me feel infinitely better. Or if they got too loud, I could just report them. But something about this guy made me believe that not a lot would go over his head. I wanted to slap his face. His stupid, smirky face. I could not believe that for a split second I thought that he was fine enough that I stopped to breathe. That coffee complexion deceived me. I shook my head.

“There was no one by this window and yet you stood here. What does that make you?” I asked. In my head I said ‘Olodo’.

He chuckled again. “Call me olodo for wanting to be served by the most beautiful girl here.”

Don’t mind if I do, olodo.

The man frowned slightly.

“One’s beauty or its lack thereof is not directly proportional to how well they do their job,” I said, glad to have an area to challenge him on. “And furthermore…”

He rolled his eyes. “Learn how to take a compliment, why don’t you? God. I just want to deposit some money.”

And with that he moved to the next window, cutting off the customer who had been on her way there. I saw her brow furrow as if in slow motion, her mouth opened. She had been tapping her foot impatiently while she waited, jabbing the keys on her Blackberry with so much force that the tak-tak  sound filled the entire floor. He smiled at her. The furrows on her face melted.

“Sorry,” she said, as if she was at fault.

“It’s all right,” he replied.

Anger heated my blood.. I gripped my worktop, shaking, shaking. Oh the things I wanted to tell him! I could see the floor manager watching me, always watching me. I took a shaky breath and said “Next please!”

The woman that the asshole had cut off came to my window with a dreamy look on her face. I waited for her to tell me what she needed but she just stood there.

“Yes?” I asked.

“Erm…yes…I came to…came to…” she glanced back at him again. The asshole was busy chatting to my colleague Nnaemeka, joking about. Of course they would get along, I thought. Nnaemeka was a pain in my neck; always making sexist comments that none of the other women challenged.

“What do you want?” I finally snapped at the woman when she wouldn’t say anything that made sense. That seemed to bring her back to earth.

“Excuse me?” she yelled. “Is it me you’re talking to like that? Don’t you have any manners?”

“She clearly doesn’t,” chipped in Asshole. “Nigerian customer service at its finest.”

“Imagine!” said the woman, glad to have his attention.

“Could you please tell me what I can do for you?” I attempted in a lower voice. “There is no need to shout.”

My heart beat very loudly. I thought ‘This is it’. I was surely getting fired now. The floor manager had a niece that she had been wanting to bring in for months. Some chick who studied accountancy. She made no bones about the fact that with my English degree, she did not think I belonged and was always trying to get rid of me.

I had just given her a reason.