This week, I’m sharing a bit from the scene of the first encounter between Onome and Nnamdi from Starting Over Again.
They met at a job interview where Nnamdi was one of the interviewers for a job Onome desperately wanted.
This encounter didn’t go well at all, but I enjoyed writing the tension between them.
It was about four in the afternoon when the tall lady called Onome in. She was the last person to be interviewed. Typical. The only female in the cohort, yet the last person to be interviewed. These people knew nothing about the concept ‘ladies first’. Now she would be late picking up Fejiro from Madam Bisi’s place.
As she rose, clutching her folder tightly, she held her breath. She followed the lady into a spacious room. The tall lady announced Onome’s presence and exited the room.
Three men occupied executive seats across from where she now stood nervously. The fourth executive seat was empty. Onome briefly wondered who had occupied that seat and where he or she was. She was yet again the only woman in the room.
Great, she thought, dismayed. Do I really stand a chance?
With her heart pounding ferociously, she took the leather seat opposite the six peering eyes. This was it. Her chance to dazzle these people. She could do it. She had the qualifications. A second-class upper degree in banking and finance from the University of Benin, a master’s degree in finance from the University of Lagos. Yes, she could do it. After all, what a man can do, a woman can do also, if not better.
One man cleared his throat, indicating that the interview was about to begin.
“Good afternoon,” Onome said, trying not to sound nervous.
All three men nodded in response.
“Tell me about yourself,” the man sitting beside the empty seat, said. His name and position were written in front of him on a small wooden desk wedge. Mr. Rotimi Falade. General manager, finance division.
“My name is Onome Odafe. I graduated from—”
“I can see you have started without me,” a baritone voice interrupted her words, causing Onome to turn her head sharply towards the entrance of the room. Her heart almost stopped.
The most handsome man she had ever seen in her life had just walked into the room. He was tall with broad shoulders encased nicely into a perfectly tailored black suit and silver tie. He had light brown skin. Onome was not usually attracted to light-skinned guys, but his skin was evenly smooth, like butter. And his face—almost pretty. Thick curly hair, thick eyebrows, long lashes, dark brown eyes, a strong long nose and full pink lips. He was beautiful. Not handsome. Beautiful. Yet, there was no denying that he was all man. A firm strong jaw, a strong neck and large hands and feet. Yes, he was all man.
“So, Onome, continue telling us about yourself,” Mr. Pretty said, a small smile playing on his lips.
It was obvious that he knew he was stunning and was used to rendering women speechless by his beauty. He took the empty executive seat and Onome quickly glanced at the desk wedge in front of him. It read, Mr. Nnamdi Obi, CEO. She was face-to-face with the owner of this establishment. Now, she knew she did not stand a chance.
When applying for this job, her research into Zenith investment and mortgage firm had revealed a little bit about him. She had read from a few gossip blogs about his total lack of respect for women. His social media pages depicted him as a relentless womanizer and a brutal heartbreaker. In fact, she found his twitter post following his latest breakup with a prominent socialite very distasteful. He had tweeted, “another “hoe” bites the dust.”
Sighing inwardly, Onome turned her attention to the other interviewers.
“I’m a graduate from the University of Benin—” she resumed, her pulse rate quickening.
This man’s presence had increased her anxiety a thousand-fold. She never expected the CEO to be carrying out interviews himself. She couldn’t afford to let herself get overwhelmed by this man. She needed this job badly.
“We know who you are, we can read,” Mr. Pretty CEO interrupted again, quite rudely.
Onome immediately disliked him. Although he was attractive, he was rude and obnoxious.
“Tell us why you think you will suit this role?” he continued, rolling his pen between his fingers and reclining in his seat.
“I’m passionate about banking. Especially mortgage banking. I know how difficult it is to own a home or any property for that matter. Mortgage banking has transformed the way Nigerians view home ownership.” Onome paused, focusing her attention on the other interviewers’ expressions for a clue on how she was performing. Their bland expressions gave nothing away. “During my youth service, I got a few farmers at Irrua to mortgage farming land so they could own the lands they had been borrowing for farming—”
“Impressive, but we have seen all that. You dropped your CV with us, Onome,” Mr. Pretty CEO cut in, shaking his head. Onome turned towards him fighting the irritation creeping up her spine. “Tell us things about you that will convince us you can work with this firm, the best mortgage bank in Lagos and, soon, in Nigeria.”
Onome hesitated, then looking boldly into his eyes, she said, “I don’t take no for an answer. I fight tooth and nail to get what I want and I won’t accept bullying of any kind from anyone.”
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Please leave a comment.
Starting Over Again
Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/StatingOverAgainAmazonUK
AMAZON USA: http://bit.ly/StartingOverAgainAmazonUSA
RovingHeights (Paperback): https://rhbooks.com.ng/product/starting-over-again/