The woman said her name is Akingbinle Eunice.
Our names in Nigeria can sound so very curious. They often rang up funny images in your head. I like to worry about a client’s name, that in fact, is where I often begin to profile both the client sitting across from me and their husband or wife out there somewhere in the cosmos, on top of another woman or under another man.
I figured that Akingbinle, roughly translated could mean anything from, ‘Akin planted a house or Akin carried a house.’
I didn’t know what Eunice meant but judging from her perfume, the several colors of her skin and the way she enunciated, she was moneyed. I quickly composed myself from my initial shock. This was really my apartment building, what’s going on?
“So madam, my office will get to it. But first, you have to sign an undertaking- ” I called Lola.
She strolled into the office, imperiously, just like I instructed she should do whenever we have a prospect.
I said to her, “Get the forms for madam to fill them, please.”
She had them behind her already, good girl. She placed the papers – three A4 sized papers – in front of the big woman who looked at the forms as if instead of papers, she had been presented with a slide filled with Ebola and Salmonella spores. She wrinkled her face.
“I’m not going to fill any form. Just find that foolish man.” she pointed a chubby finger in my face, “And when you see him, take him and lock him up, then let me have the girl— ”
“Madam, we don’t make arrests, we only-”
“What do you mean you don’t make arrests!? What then do you do?”
“We help you find out if your husband is really having an affair.”
I could see Lola in the outer office straining to keep her laughter down. She always does that, I have told her it is not good for business if a client catches her laughing. The big woman turned around, the timing felt so psychic, I almost jumped. Lola quickly went back to doodling on her desk, a bored and innocent look on her face.
“Was your secretary laughing? Was she la— ”
“No madam, how can she laugh, we are serious people here, this is a serious business.”
The woman pursed her lips, her face was crimson and now I saw dark spots around her neck. Where did those come from?
“That’s the reason we have clients sign those papers before we start. It’s legal, it’s safe and it’s good for the heart and lungs.”
She frowned, “What?”
“Please sign the papers, please.”
She gave me a sideways look, the type you gave to an unreasonable goat trying to eat your yam by force. Do I look like I eat other people’s yams?
She picked the papers off the table, folded them into four places, then eight. She tried to fold them further but the paper had swollen and not even a magician could manage the next phase of folding. Then she put the fold in her purse.
“There, I’ll sign them when I get to my office. I’ll have them sent to you. Can I have a checkbook, do you take checks?”
“We do,” I said, a little bummed.
She raised one brow and for a moment there I asked why any man who wants to leave such a sweet woman.
I opened a drawer back here and removed a checkbook, one issued by Union Bank. I’ve been thinking of closing that account. They don’t treat me like they should in that bank.
I placed the book before her and she took a pen off the desk. She scribbled. Pursed her lips, looked from the book to me briefly, then she scribbled some more. I thought I saw a faint smile bend those lips.
She pushed the book to me and said, “Cash that whenever you want. If you need more let me know.”
I tried not to look at what the big woman had written without asking for my rates. I tried, friends and neighbors, I tried so hard.
But I had to look because honestly, your boy was broke and had been hoping…
Five hundred thou…that was all I had to see.
She pulled her huge frame from the chair, and I swear I heard the chair give praise to the Lord.
“Keep me posted,” she said and walked out, her heels scraped the tiles, the fan above suddenly appeared to do its job better and the whole country seemed to love me at that moment.
Lola stared at me, expectant. I thought yes, maybe my wife can have that asoebi.