"You are not a materialistic person," she overheard his affirmation to the caller, and she angled her head further towards the cubicle partition, fingers arrested mid-air. His unusual positive message was a sharp contrast to his habitual excuse-filled avoidance of tasks-at-hand, petulant complaints and nagging criticism of office policies.
"But, what you need to do is put your foot on his back and kick him to the concrete, that's what you need to do," he continued.
Her memory of the rumor-mongering lesson she learned as a teen was as fresh as the dewdrops on the banana leaves in Bibi’s* plantation. Nobody would ever finger her as feeder of the office beast.
"If that doesn't work, we'll wait and see," he continued, "you know they are going to earn every penny of their salary now," he snickered, "it's going to get nasty." He rarely used his library voice, and this morning was no exception. It is no wonder; her curiosity peaked in spite of her old-fashioned ethic and Bibi’s favorite proverb, sikio hailali na njaa.**
“Okay, talk to you later.” He ended the call and, after what seemed like a lifetime, her nimbly executed Ctrl+P command set off the rhythmic whir of her printer, spitting two blank pages; her camouflage tactic, albeit delayed.
“Thank god it’s Friday, right?” she called over the wall. Then, without invitation, she got up and glided into his cubicle.
“Yes indeed,” he responded as his eyes traversed her jean-clad pear shape; every business setting needs dress-down Friday eye candy. "Nice boots," he added.
“You know that fool of an attorney that is head-over-heels over that new secretary?” He began smoothly with the current affairs.
"What do you mean?” the blank look belied her knowledge.
“Where have you been sweetie? I don’t even know how he practices law, he is such an idiot,” he said.
“It’s about to go down up in here,” he continued in a voice wrapped in such gleeful venom, she suffered an immediate allergic reaction. A heat rose up her neck and flooded her cheeks leaving tracks the size of hives. Yet, she stood immobile, unable to remove herself to her cubicle, intrigued by the certainty in his voice.
Just yesterday she and the new secretary had gone out to lunch.
***A short short intro to my new series. I will post the next, longer segment of As quiet as it is kept on Sunday, January 16th. Supposed secrets of every day life.
*Bibi = grandmother
** sikio hailali na njaa = an ear does not go to bed hungry, there is always plenty of gossip; a Kiswahili proverb.
Copyright © Mama Shujaa 2011. All Rights Reserved.