My mother and I are more like friends; we talk about food, life, relationships, fashion, parties, things that concern us, and even those that don’t. She advises me about everything.
Our bond was so strong that it upset my three elder brothers so much.
After the NYSC program, I became very depressed. I was dumped by my boyfriend, went for job interviews but never received any callbacks. My close friends were all getting married and moving abroad. My businesses slowed down to the point where I considered quitting. It felt as if I was cursed, and my life was on hold.
Eventually, I did manage to find a job, but the manager wanted to have sex with me first. He gave me 24 hours to think about it. I was confused about what to do, so I turned to my mom for advice. She told me not to agree to it.
I started contemplating my situation. At my age, I had nothing and was still dependent on my poor parents for survival. All of this led me to agree to his demands because I was desperate for a job by any means possible.
Well, a few weeks into the job, he began demanding more sex, which I firmly declined. Then, he started making my work life difficult by adding more tasks to my job description, making me work on weekends, closing late, and starting early at 7 am. He penalized me for minor mistakes, whether they were mine or the team’s. I became so desperate that I attempted to take my own life twice.
I just couldn’t continue, so I decided to quit. One Friday afternoon, after a series of meetings, long hours, and monetary penalties for trivial mistakes (for a salary of 15,000 that I was being paid), I walked into his office to submit my resignation letter. He asked me to sit, and I did. He asked why I wanted to quit, and I explained everything to him, leaving out no details about my frustrations.
After listening to my concerns and seeing how desperate I was, he offered to make me happy, reduce my work-related stress, and even promote me with a salary increase of five times my current pay if I agreed to be his “side chick.” He also gave me 30,000 in cash, which was the equivalent of two months’ salary, to help me think it over. I accepted the money, please don’t judge me (smiles).
I got home after battling the traffic on the 3rd mainland bridge and found my mom preparing for a night vigil at our church. We were supposed to go together, so she was waiting for me. When I walked in, she noticed my sadness and asked me to go to my room, take a bath, and she would bring me some food.
While I was eating, my mom asked me to tell her why I was so sad and to be completely honest. I told her everything, from agreeing to sleep with my manager to his continued demands and how he was making my life miserable, to his new offer and the cash. She asked for his information along with my office address, which I provided. She also asked me to give her the 30k he had given me.
I told her I was afraid to carry such a large amount of money around because of the risk of theft, so I had used 14,000 to buy new clothes and shoes. My mom understood and commended my decision.
Because I had seen some beautiful dresses and shoes at Oshodi market while on the bus, I decided to get them for myself, especially since I rarely had the opportunity to buy nice things due to my financial situation.
My mom suggested that I stay home and pray instead of attending the night vigil with her because I was so stressed. So she went alone, and I prayed at home for God to intervene.
The next day was a Saturday, and I was in bed watching the series “Boys Over Flowers” while praying that my future husband would be as wonderful as the main actor. I was also crushing on the main actor while sipping hot chocolate, enjoying a well-deserved break.
Suddenly, I received a call from a colleague informing me that my mom was at our office, causing a scene with the manager. I quickly got dressed and headed to the office. I even had to pay for all the seats in the bus because no one was going my way at that time, and I didn’t want to wait for the bus to fill up.
Upon arriving at the office, I saw my mom grabbing the manager’s shirt and berating him with every detail of what he had done to me, except for the sexual part. She was not listening to anyone trying to calm her down, and in the process, the money he had given me scattered on the floor. It was the complete 30k, and my mom added her 14k to complete it.
I rushed over to her and managed to calm her down. We were about to leave when the company’s director unexpectedly walked in and asked why the office was in such chaos. My mom took that opportunity to tell the director everything, despite our attempts to stop her. The director summoned the three of us, me, my mom, and the manager, to his office.
In his office, my mom explained the entire situation to the director, including how it was affecting my life. The manager tried to deny it and even claimed that I had been the one pursuing him for favors. The director asked me to speak, which I did, leaving no detail untouched and emphasizing how I deserved a higher salary based on my qualifications.
The director instructed us to go home and return on Wednesday so they could thoroughly investigate and get to the root of the matter.
I became increasingly anxious about losing my job. I was a young woman who had just started working with them for three months, and there was the manager, who had been with the company for many years and was likely to be trusted more. Who would believe me over him without proof? In the director’s office, he even cried, claiming that I was trying to ruin his career and that it would affect his wife and six children who were still in school if I succeeded. My mom and I prayed for God to be the judge.
On Wednesday, my mom and I prayed again before I left for work. I kept thinking about how I didn’t want to continue waking up early, fighting for the bus, and enduring the stress of working for a meager 15,000 monthly salary.
When I arrived at the office, the manager came to my desk and threatened to ensure that I was fired and would never find another job in Nigeria. He boasted about his power.
I decided to respond confidently, even though I was ready to accept a termination letter. I told him, “With all the power you mentioned, look where it has landed you, in a company that pays its workers peanuts as salary. What a waste of power! Focus more on yourself; it will benefit you more. This response angered him, and he said, “You have a big mouth; I will show you.
Our director called both of us into his office. He asked us to sit down, and then he informed us that he had thoroughly reviewed the situation with the board members. They had also reevaluated my qualifications. Then, the director said to me, standing up and extending his hand for a handshake, “Congratulations, Chichi, you are now our new manager with a salary of 100,000.”
I was in shock and didn’t know what to say. The manager was also surprised and asked why I was taking his job.
The director explained that the manager was a dishonest man who had taken advantage of my situation and my desperation for a job. The company had discovered his corruption and untrustworthiness regarding financial matters. They intended to make sure he faced legal consequences.
Then the director turned to me and said, “Chichi, your first task as the new manager is to terminate the old manager.” He handed me the termination letter. I looked at the manager, who was already on his knees, begging and pleading with the director to consider his wife and children.
I found the strength within me to stand up confidently and told the manager, “Mr. Kayode Williams, your services are no longer needed in this establishment. You are hereby terminated with immediate effect. Drop your office ID card at the reception on your way out, and you will be hearing from our lawyers soon.” I thanked the director and left the office, while the manager continued to plead and cry.
As the manager dropped his ID card at the front desk, I approached him and advised him to use his power to find a new job and hire a good lawyer to represent him. Otherwise, he would spend the rest of his life in jail. He didn’t say a word and walked away.
I felt a tremendous sense of relief as I entered my new office and was briefed on my new responsibilities. I thanked God for this turn of events and prayed for my mom. I wanted to find a way to thank her for helping me find my voice and express my frustrations.
I went online and discovered that fresh flowers, along with other gifts, were perfect for expressing gratitude. I closed work early, emptied my bank account, went to the market to buy wrappers, a gown, and shoes for my mom. I also ordered a box of red and yellow roses along with chocolates and a cake.
When I got home, my mom was not there, which was perfect. I unpacked everything from the Uber I had taken home and arranged them nicely on the table while waiting for her to return.
When she came in, she asked me who had given me all these beautiful things. I told her they were all for her and that I had been promoted at work with a substantial salary increase. I had bought them to express my gratitude for everything she had done. She initially thought I was joking, but when she realized I was serious, she danced and sang in our local language, thanking God and admiring the gifts.
When she saw the flowers, she said, ‘Na live flowers be this abi, this no look like rubber flower’ (Are these fresh flowers? They don’t look artificial), and I confirmed that they were indeed fresh. She expressed her desire to take a picture with the flowers to make her husband jealous and thanked me, saying, “Thank you, my daughter. God bless you, and may your new job bring you happiness, as you have made me happy.”
She called her sisters to show them the gifts and the flowers, making sure they knew they were fresh. After her many phone calls, she asked me how much I had spent on the flowers, as one of her sisters thought they looked expensive. However, I didn’t tell her the price and instead emphasized that it wasn’t polite to ask the price of a gift.
My mom then advised me to stop spending money lavishly and save more for the future. I jokingly offered to return the gifts and save the money, but she refused, stating that she deserved expensive gifts too. We laughed about it and went to the kitchen to make dinner.
Every day, I remember how happy she was about the flowers, and on her birthdays and Mother’s Day, I make sure to get her fresh flowers along with other gifts.
I am Chichi Nwankwo, and this is my story .
LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA. 28 YEARS OLD, A MANAGING DIRECTOR .
September 21th, 2023.