With Madam Funke’s purse buried in Edidiong’s wardrobe, I decided to wear my journalistic cap, and follow my father to his office. Who knows what I will find there. Edidiong reminded me we were sworn to an oath.
I hissed. “What nonsense oath?”
He looked around and gave me his tongue.
Mum thought it was not good to follow Dad to the office. “What’s she going to be doing there?”
“You’ll be amazed,” Dad said. “There is so much work to do. I looked through the office yesterday and there are so many files I want to sort out. I need to get acquainted with all of them.”
Mum’s shoulder slouched. “You got back around 10pm yesterday. Now you’re going again with my daughter. Will you be gone for half of the night?”
Dad smiled. “She’ll be fine.”
My mother couldn’t be convinced. “You have a secretary that speaks through her nose. Is that not enough?”
Dad ushered me out of the house with a light shrug. “If she doesn’t like it, I’ll have the driver drop her back.”
Pastor Kent’s office was not on the floor we entered the church through last Sunday. I had noticed the ceiling in the worship auditorium was high, but didn’t think there were other floors on the administrative side. I was so wrong. Three floors catered to the offices. My father’s floor was the last.
The office was twice the size of the sitting room at home, and was fully furnished to be a sitting, conference, and office area.
I gasped and Dad laughed. “My reaction too the first time I entered.”
Mr. Festus carried Dad’s bag into the office right behind us, and excused himself. I looked around and touched surfaces.
“This is fantastic.” I looked at my dad. “Was this the office the former archbishop used?”
“I believe so, though it was cleaned out when I came. Even the furniture was changed.”
“Wow. All these are new? That must cost a fortune.”
Kentoroabasi, the missionary, smiled sadly. “You can’t even begin to imagine the waste I’ve seen. What happened to the old furniture? You can’t guess.”
I sat in one of four lush visitors’ seats facing my father’s leather swivel chair across a huge mahogany desk. “The staff shared it amongst themselves.”
“I wish. They are locked up in one room in Archbishop’s house. The wife wants to keep as memorabilia.”
My eyes widened. “I couldn’t have guessed.”
“Anyway,” Dad took his seat. “Let’s pray. I have several meetings today. So while I am attending them, you can continue with what we started at home, and sort out the branches for me.”
Dad prayed a simple prayer, and showed me all the folders on his laptop. “I had them sent to me from the server so I can look through without having to log in.”
My father laughed. “These were terms we heard in American and British detective or high-class business movies. This church is a million years ahead of what I ever knew.”
“You’ve learned fast, Daddy.”
“I have to.”
He excused me shortly afterward, and I looked at all the files on the computer. With what Madam Secretary taught us, I could open the files but do little else, so I started to write the stuff out in the book Dad gave me previously.
Until someone I least expected walked in about an hour later. Juwon. He was the young security man who pitied us and rescued our family the night we first arrived, and there was no hotel booking. On the day we went sight-seeing at the airstrip, we’d met his uncle, Bro. Julius working there.
“Hello. Huh, Daddy’s secretary said I could just walk in.”
And that was what he did, after a brisk knock. Well, I wasn’t doing anything funny, but what if I was? My father’s secretary had been as cold as I first knew her to be, and she made no mention of her purse so I had a story to think over there. If she’d asked, I would know she didn’t think she had anything to hide.
“Oh, good morning, sir.”
He laughed. “No, please. I am Juwon. Don’t call me sir.”
“Okay.” At least he spoke normally, not through his nose. “You’re welcome. My dad went for a meeting.”
“I know. He asked me to come over and put you through the computer.”
“Ah, very necessary. Thank you very much.” I turned the laptop toward him. “I’ve just been struggling.”
He took the seat beside me. “It’s not so difficult.”
For the next few hours, Juwon taught me how to navigate the computer, and he was quite good. At about noon, a woman came into the office to take our order for lunch. Apparently, there was a restaurant in the church premises, which made sense. We both ordered fried rice and chicken.
Over lunch, we made small talk.
“Are you on night duty today?”
“No. I left the job.”
“I was just doing it to keep body and soul. I’m done with university and looking for work.”
That surprised me. He looked very young. About my age. “I thought you just finished secondary school.”
He chuckled. “That’s what many people say. In fact, my uncle says so too. I got in early though.” He shrugged. “I applied to the church university for masters’ degree but it’s so expensive.”
“This our church?”
“Almost a million naira per semester, and I have three semesters for the course I want to study.”
My mouth dropped open.
He smiled. “The school is really good, though. I mean, everyone says so.”
I didn’t need to find out he didn’t attend the church university for first degree.
I kept thinking about Juwon even after I got back home at about 7pm with Dad. There was evening service at the church but Dad didn’t want us to attend…long story for another day. As for Juwon, why couldn’t the church do something for him? I planned to ask my father in the office the following day.
Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/ready-vicar-church-religion-faith-1153149/