True life Story: Never Marry Your Boss’ Daughter
Hello Lively Stones,
It was in the year 1978, that l went to stay with Chief Okafor in Onitsha. I was ten years old then. And my father had just died six months earlier. I was the eldest of eight children. My father was a graduate of Mechanical Engineering, and he taught physics and Mathematics at the village secondary school. Chief Okafor was his classmate in school, and my father was the most brilliant student in their school in those days.
My father later went to the university, but Chief could not pass the entrance exams, so he went to learn how to trade at Onitsha. Chief later went into importation and selling of electronics and home appliances, and he became a Multi-millionaire, with a fleet of ten shops scattered all over Onitsha, while my father ended up as a poor school teacher. But despite the fact that Chief was much richer than my father, they remained good friends. When my father died from diabetes, my mother took me to Chief to become his apprentice.
Life in Chief’s house in Fegge, Onitsha was hard. To start with, I slept on a mat in the stairwell. I woke up by five am every morning to clean the house, and wash Chief’s three cars. Then I rushed over to the shop close to the house, cleaned and opened the shop, before the senior apprentices and other salesgirls arrived. I was the youngest apprentice, thus, I lived like a slave and errand boy for all the senior boys.
Whenever I went back home for Christmas in those days, I always cried to my mother that I did not want to go back to Chief’s house, because I was suffering so much there. But my mother always reminded me that, the reason why my father died from diabetes was because he was too poor to afford taking his costly diabetic drugs, as regularly as the doctors recommended him to. She kept telling me that, I must strive hard to never be poor like my father, even if it meant going through hell in Chief’s house.
My mother’s words hardened me. And I eventually got used to the hard life in Chief’s house. I woke up even earlier than usual, and worked harder than even the senior apprentices in Chief’s shop. I trained my self to be a superstar marketer. I ran helter skelter under the hot sun every afternoon, literally dragging customers to come and patronise our shop. Even when we didn’t have what they needed, I breezed to a neighbour‘s shop to fetch it for them, sell at an higher price and skim my own little profits. By the age of sixteen, I had a bank account of my own, and was regularly sending money home to my mom. The days of complaining to her about the hardships in Chief’s house were long gone.
It was my mother who advised me to attend evening school. One December when I visited home, she called me into her bedroom at night and said: “Ebuka my son, my conscience is not at rest because I am not doing your father’s wish for you. Your father died while training other people’s children in school. To think that his first son will not go to school at all, will make him turn in his grave. Since you now have enough money to buy me ‘Akwaete’ and expensive lace materials, why don’t you use the money and attend night school after market at Onitsha?”
That was how I started attending night school the next January; that was the January of 1986. It was very difficult at first, going to school at night when someone should be resting at home, after a hard day’s work in the market. But after a while, I got used to it as well. I discovered that I loved mathematics, so I dedicated a lot of my attention to accounting and business studies. I became an excellent accounting student in no distant time. And in 1991, l wrote and passed GCE with alpha in Mathematics, Accountancy and Economics.
Armed with my excellent GCE certificate and my business accumen, I was surely on my way to climb the highest ladder of success in Chief’s business empire. Gradually, I found out that I was slowly being absorbed into the decision making mainstream of the entire business. Chief would invite me to meetings with his senior boys and associates. It got to a point that Chief no longer had meetings with his boys, unless I was there. I was barely twenty four then; most of the senior boys were above thirty. But then, l was the only school graduate among them.
Moreover, Chief knew that l sponsored myself through school with money I saved from hustling, while the other boys were fooling around with girls, and drinking beer with their own money. I didn’t know how it happened, but by the age of twenty six, I became the most important, the most trusted and most powerful boy in Chief’s employ. And with my new found powerful position and accounting skills, I soon discovered a lot of tricky schemes, the senior boys were using to defraud Chief of his money.
Then, I gradually but effectively put a stop to their fraudulent schemes and saved Chief a lot of money in the process. The thieving senior boys tried everything possible, to buy me over to their side. When they saw that I wasn’t interested in joining their ring, they then resorted to open threats, but I stood my ground as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.
Chief’s business empire continued to grow and prosper under my effective management. I travelled to Japan on Chief’s behalf for the first time in 1995. After that, I became a globe-trotter. I was shuttling from Japan to Taiwan to Germany to Belgium; countries where Chief imported his goods from. I effectively became the defacto CEO of Chief’s business empire. And I was running the place like it was my father’s business. Actually, it was the place where I grew up, and to me, it was like the only home I knew.
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But suddenly in the year 2000, I slowly realised to my dismay, that all the boys with whom I arrived at Chief’s house as apprentices, were all already free and well settled in life. Even the ones that came after me were already all doing well on their own. Most of them were even married with kids. But at thirty two, I was still an apprentice, for all intents and purposes! I was in Chief’s house parading myself as the most powerful and trusted apprentice, while my mates were marrying and building houses in their villages.
Not like I wasn’t comfortable enough already, I had a flat in Chief’s compound. I had a car, and I countersigned all the cheques, before money could be withdrawned from any of Chief’s accounts. But I still did not have my own business; l was still a servant boy! And the most annoying thing was the fact that, while Chief was busy handsomely settling his other boys with the money that I was making for him, he did not even seem to be thinking of setting me at all!
After a while, my closest friends started advising me to steal Chief’s money and go set up my own business. Defrauding Chief would have been the easiest thing in the world for me to do, because Chief trusted me more than his own sons. I had access to every penny he had. But then, it was that same trust that made it impossible for me to defraud him. Chief was like a father to me.
Then one evening, I told Chief that I would love to see him later that night. He agreed and later sent for me close to midnight, I went to see him.
“Ebuka my son, what is the problem?” He asked me. I told him: “Sir, it is good that you call me your son, and that I see you as my father. But whichever way you look at it, I am not your son. I came here to learn business, just like all the other boys that have served you. Now, all those boys have all been settled except me. Please give me my own settlement money and let me go and set up my own business.”
Chief was silent for a long while, that I started thinking that he must have slept off while I was speaking, Then he suddenly said:
“Ebuka, if you look carefully, you will understand that this business can no longer exist without you. I have been dreading the day you will call me for this discussion. You know all my customers now. You know all my suppliers and financiers. you even know all my bank accounts’ details. What you are asking me to do is to set you free, so that you can go and draw all my customers and financiers away, and kill my business!
I was shocked at Chief’s words, and wanted to quickly say that l never intended to do any such thing. But Chief cut me short and continued: “l am sorry my son, I can’t do that, because it will be tantamount to committing suicide, if I do so. But I have a solution; you see, I will sign a legally binding document with you, transferring thirty percent of all my holdings to your name, but on two conditions. Firstly, you must swear never to resign as my manager for life. And Secondly, you must marry my first daughter Adaeze! This is because you may decide to run my business aground, then run away to go set up ur own.
That is why I’m giving you my first daughter, the first fruit of my lions, as wife. That will cement a bond between us. your children will be my grand-children. And that way, I will be rest assured that you will never allow any evil befall anything that is mine. These are what I have decided. Other than that, I will never settle you! You have from now till tomorrow night to decide whether you agree or not. Untill then, I am taking the keys of my shop from you. Goodnight!”
I left Chief’s presence dumbfounded. l didn’t sleep at all that night, as Chief’s emphatic words continued reverberating all over my head. I had no problems whatsoever with Chief’s first condition. Thirty percent of Chief’s business empire was worth well over a whooping 150 million naira! None of my mates had even ever aspired to own so much money! But my greatest worry was Adaeze, the quintessential spoilt brat, that was Chief’s first daughter.
I knew Adaeze right from when she was born in 1980, I was already in her father’s house before she was born. I watched her grow up. Her name “Adaeze” literally means “daughter of a king” in igbo language. And she was the daughter of a king in all ramifications. This is a girl who had almost never gone anywhere without a car since she was born. When she was schooling in Nsukka, she went to school in Jeeps driven by her father’s drivers. She travels to London for holidays, on intervals. She was very tall, fair in complexion, nicely shaped, and extremely beautiful. Her friends were all children of some of the richest men in Onitsha. How on Earth will I marry such a girl?. I mean, we were light years apart in terms of background.
But when I confided in my friends the next day, they all screamed in alarm at my cool footedness. They warned me to never miss such a golden opportunity. They said that, not only was Chief offering me one third of his wealth, he was also offering me his very beautiful twenty year old daughter as wife! To them, l was practically being offered heaven and earth.
My mother was exceedingly happy with Chief’s proposal, when I told her about it on the phone. Even when l told her that l had never actually done anything with the girl, except to pay money into her bank account while she was in school. And that we both seem to despise each other, l regarding her as a spoilt brat, while she regarded me as a slave boy( a very foolish one at that, to still be serving her father at my age). But my mother told me not to worry. According to her, love grows within a woman, and that with time, Adaeze will grow to love me!
I promptly went to Chief, after my mother’s assurances, and accepted his offer. But told him that I haven’t spoken with Adaeze, and that if she refuses; there was nothing I could do about it! To my surprise, Chief burst out laughing, and told me that him and his wife have since spoken to their daughter about it, and that she was totally game with the whole idea. He even jokingly added, that his daughter must be already wetting her pants and spending sleepless nights thinking about me! He told me to take as much money as I wanted, and go visit Adaeze in Nsukka to confirm what he was saying.
To be Continued……
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