Catherine heaved a sigh of relief when she pulled up in the car park. After being stuck in that hell of a traffic, she was glad she had finally made it to work. She hated Monday mornings and all the stress that it came with. She looked at the time. 8.42 am. She sighed again knowing how terribly late she was for the meeting and she was sure to get a scolding from her boss. Comfort Aning! That overbearing woman. She rolled her eyes and psyched her mind for the long day ahead. Grabbing her heels and slipping them on, she pulled out the key from the ignition and reached for her bag. She locked the car and started walking briskly towards the storey building that housed the firm in which she worked.
“Good morning, ma” the security man greeted and smiled when she bypassed him.
“Good morning, Owusu” she smiled back and quickly rushed to the elevator, leaving him quite expectant.
Under normal circumstances, she would have paused to exchange pleasantries with him before sending him to buy her “hausa koko” but not today. The koko can wait. She had Comfort Aning to face. Owusu scratched his head and went away quite disappointed because it seemed he wasn’t going to get a tip that morning. Catherine always tipped him anytime he ran an errand for her and he always looked forward to that.
A young man bumped into her as she made her way into the elevator. She turned to look at him, expecting an apology but he kept walking on without looking back. It felt as if he was escaping from someone.
“Such bad manners” she hissed and shook her head.
“Which man uses flowery perfumes though” she wondered as she sniffed into the air.
She got to the fifth floor and made her way to her department, the Accounts Department, and made the sign of the cross before opening the door. The meeting was underway. Several pairs of eyes cast glances at her as she made her way to an empty seat. Her heels didn’t help her situation either, as they clicked on the polished tile floor. She sat down, heart thumping loudly. Comfort Aning was chairing the meeting and she sent glares her way,suggesting that she had a bone to pick with her. After about fifteen minutes, the meeting ended.
“Thanks for your time and let’s help to make the Accounts department a more functional one” Comfort Aning concluded and everyone dispersed.
“Catherine, see me in my office, right now” she said in her shrill voice and walked into her office.
Catherine nodded and headed for her desk to drop her bag. Lariba, her closest colleague in the office cast a sympathetic glance her way. Catherine smiled at her, wiped the sweat of her face and headed for Comfort Aning’s office.
“Come in” Comfort Aning’s voice rang out when Catherine knocked.
Catherine walked in slowly and stood before her, mentally prepared for her rants.
“Catherine Boa-Amponsem, I believe the memo I had pasted on the notice board last Friday was explicit enough. The meeting was supposed to start at 8 and you walked in about forty five minutes later. I…..” Comfort Aning said sternly when Catherine cut in.
“Madam, I’m very sorry. It’s not my fault. I really wa….” Catherine tried to say when Comfort Aning cut in, the pitch of her shrill voice rising.
“Don’t cut in when I’m talking. I understand that this company belongs to your dad but this attitude of yours will take you nowhere. You might take over the management of this company in future and so you have to try as much as possible to discipline yourself. I’ve said enough. You may leave” she concluded and propped up her glasses on her nose.
Catherine slowly walked out of the office and made her way back to her desk where Lariba and Jacinta, another colleague, were waiting for her return. She looked at their faces and automatically, all three of them burst into laughter. They all thought it was going to be the usual long talk but she took them all by surprise today. Her rant lasted for less than two minutes.
“You better lower your voices before you’re called back into the Supreme Court together with your accomplices” Kwame, another colleague said and grinned.
He was talking to Catherine. The Supreme Court was the name given to Comfort Aning’s office since every problem or issue that came up in the office was discussed and solved there.
“And you better take that “koose” out of the office into the canteen before you’re also called into the Supreme Court ” Agyeiwaa, their chubby colleague said, pointing to the contents of the black poly bag on Kwame’s table.
Kwame chuckled and left the office with Agyeiwaa following him out. Agyeiwaa was the foodie of the office. Wherever food was available, you were sure to find her there.
“Let me guess, she mentioned something about your dad owning this company, right?” Lariba asked.
“Of course, what else can she use against her?” Jacinta said.
“That woman is a pain in the neck but we just have to tolerate her. In less than a year, she’s gone” Catherine said and snapped her fingers.
Comfort Aning was going on a voluntary retirement in the next eight months and that seemed to be what everyone in the office was looking forward to. They all regarded her to be a tyrant.
The office was quite noisy for a Monday morning. Everyone seemed to be rambling about what they were up to over the weekend and other unnecessary stuff. Comfort Aning suddenly opened her door which sent everyone scrambling to their seats. Just at that moment, Agyeiwaa and Kwame walked into the office, giggling. They quickly stifled their laughter when they saw her and hurriedly walked to their desks.Comfort Aning shook her head, adjusted her glasses on her face and walked out of the office.
They all heaved a sigh of relief when she left and went about their work.
Catherine chuckled and reached into her drawer for a pen to start her work for the day. Her hand touched something strange and she sat up, quite startled because she knew every item in her drawer and that item wasn’t there last Friday. She fumbled with the item till she got hold of it. She pulled it out and there was a paper box right in her hands. She placed it on her desk to examine its contents and opened it to find cookies. She smiled. Was today any special day? She checked the date just to be sure it wasn’t her birthday and lifted the cookies out of the box for a clue as to who sent it but there was none. She looked into the drawer but found nothing there. She then looked around to see if anyone was flashing a mischievous smile her way but everyone was busy with work. The expression on her face changed from awe to curiosity.
“Where could this be from?” she asked herself and her imagination started running wild.
Hausa koko – Spicy millet porridge
Koose – Spicy bean cakes