Date: 13 May 2017 05:16
I know that Jo might have encouraged me to get out of my shell, stop being so judgmental of men and start treating Gabriel like a human being instead of trying to make him perfect, but three hours later when he still hasn’t replied to my text asking how his mother is doing, I decide that I have better things to do than wait around for him. So I delete his number and decide to start take an early lunch.
I pass by Chris’ office on my way out and decide, on a whim, to ask him if he would like to go have lunch with me.
“Liquid lunch?” he quips. I laugh and shake my head. He says sure, he would like to, and I tell him that I will meet him at the staff canteen in a few minutes. He nods and I go off. It’s been a really long time since I have eaten at the canteen, but I think it will be good for the MD to be seen there – to look like he is ‘one of the people’.
A few minutes after I settle down at a table, Chris joins me. I notice how everyone looks in our direction; it’s not unusual. I expect the head of the company to attract some attention. Francis, the factory floor manager, comes over to say hello.
“We don’t usually see you here,” he says to Chris. “To what do we owe this honour?”
“She dragged me out of the office,” Chris says, indicating in my direction. “Otherwise I usually carry lunch and eat in my office while I work.” Francis nods, smiles and walks off to collect a plate.
“Do you really pack your own lunch?” I ask Chris after Francis walks away.
“Yes, it’s more efficient to get tasks completed if I don’t have to go out to eat and fight traffic and all that,” he says.
“Right,” I nod.
“Except on Fridays,” he adds.
“When you go to your club for your afternoon round of golf,” I add.
“Yes,” he says. A look of slight puzzlement comes over his face. “Have you been paying that much attention?”
“Well, I notice these things,” I smile, “especially when I need you to sign off documents on Friday and Ciku tells me you are at the club.”
“Oh,” he nods. “Speaking of, here she comes,” he says.
I turn towards the door and indeed, Ciku is walking in. She turns and spots us – and a look of such pure malice passes over her that I cannot help but notice. I sigh and shake my head; I think it’s time to finally have a long-overdue private conversation with her to find out exactly what’s going on with her.
In the meantime though, Chris and I stand up and go to serve ourselves some food from the buffet. As we settle back at our table and lay our plates of chapatti, rice and stew down, Chris looks up at me. “So what exactly is going on between you and Ciku?” he asks.
“Huh?” I feign ignorance.
“I saw how she looked at you. I notice how she looks at you other times, too. So much dislike there. What’s going on?”
“You know… I don’t know,” I shake my head. And it’s true. Apart from the one time we had a nasty confrontation, I am not sure what’s going on there.
“Hmm… As long as it doesn’t go out of control. We’ve had more than enough scandal in that office. We don’t need any staffers fighting each other too.”
I nod my understanding. “To tell you the truth I think it has to do with you.”
Chris looks up at me and raises an eyebrow. His loaded spoon stops its journey midway to his mouth. “What do you mean?” he asks.
“I think it’s got something to do with you. I think she likes you and she thinks I am an interloper.”
“What?” he says, looking genuinely shocked.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed,” I point out. “I mean, does she not act different around you?”
“I wouldn’t know,” he shrugs. He looks over in her direction, where she is sitting at a table and conversing with her friends. “Maybe I should clear the air with her.”
“You can’t tell her I told you anything, though,” I say quickly.
“Don’t worry, I’ll handle it,” he says. And we finish our lunch in relative silence and head back to our desks to get our afternoon work done.