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I looked at her in the eye, even if she
me, I was not going to cower.
Nora: What is your name? she
Leke: I am Mikhail ma'am
Nora: Are you computer literate, can
you do
graphics? she asked impatiently
Leke: Sure maam my heart was
already singing
because I knew where it was leading
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
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 mothers
business, this
was the department for me, so I was
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
engage in the day to day activities of
Nora: What is the excitement
about? she asked
obviously not pleased with the
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
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
Kunmis 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
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
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
Lunchtime came, and I followed
Kunmi to an
upscale restaurant, there was a
simple air about
Kunmi, but she didnt 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,
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
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
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
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
people we dont 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 animals.
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 hotels
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
Banke: Hey Mikhail, have you see
my sister
Leke: No I havent I replied her in a
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

To be continued.....

About Author Mohamed Abu 'l-Gharaniq

when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries.

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