Florence swallowed a chuckle as the angryvoice wafted in through her window. Her neighbours were at it again. Their little scuffles always entertained her.Florence Iheanacho had learnt early to appreciate the little things in life.Born into the home of an average earning couple as the third of six children, she had to learn how to share everything; her food, her bed, her clothes and even her personal space.
The two bedroom flat in which she had grown up had been barely enough to accommodate her large family and she had cherished the opportunity of independence that a university admission promised her, vowing that when she graduated and got a job, her first priority would be to rent a big house she could livein alone.In the University of Lagos, however, she found she also had to share her space even more intimately in the crowded hostels. Things grew harder when her father passed away after a debilitating illness which drained the last of her family’s savings. The lack of money forced her to juggle her last school year with a part-time secretarial job and variousentrepreneurial pursuits in order to raise her school fees.When she eventually graduated and returned to Lagos after a hard year of mandatory national youth service in Kaduna, she ended a fruitless search for a white collar job worthy of her qualifications when the frustration became too much to bear.
She shelved aside her degree in Laboratory Science and found a job as a secretary. For extra income, she started a side business of selling food like sautéed and fried meat, various local pastries and moin-moin to corporate employees in the area where sheworked.Unfortunately, she also found herself unable to achieve her dream of living in a big house by herself.
Instead, she was forced to share a room with a female friend in a ‘face-me-i-face-you’, an apartment in which all its rooms were occupied by different tenants.There was certainly never a dull moment in that place.“So you’re the one who removed my bucket of water from inside that bathroom? Are you okay at all?” the voice came through her window again. Florence walked over to the window, brushing her hair as she craned her neck to see the owner of the voice. It was Bisi, one of her neighbours, who was fond of putting on airs and looking down her nose at everyone who lived in the compound. She had gotten into an argument with Brother Matthew, who had just come out from oneof the three communal bathrooms which about fifteen residents had to share.“Abeg make I hear word with this your big English.” The man retorted, securing his towel around his waist, beads of water dotting his back. “So even as you keep water comot, make I leave am there dey look? You want make I late for work?”Bisi rolled her eyes, and hissed, her British accent disappearing miraculously. “Comotgo where? I just drop water to go carry soap, you rush inside!”Brother Matthew chuckled and shouldered his way past her. “You for dey there dey speak oyibo now. Abeg comot for road.”Bisi turned to follow him, indignant, but her response was cut short as someone else rushed into the empty bathroom, causing her to shriek in anger. More voiceswere raised and Florence chuckled, turningaway from the drama outside her window. Her roommate, Felicia, had already gone off to work and if she didn’t hurry, she would be late as well.She arrived at work about ten minute’s brisk walk later. She had been fortunate to find a place to work that was close to where she lived. The pay wasn’t much so itwas a relief that the cost of transportation was nil, although it was a bit strenuous to haul the food and snacks for sale to the office by hand. And just the day before, she had been transferred to a new floor, higher up, so she climbed the stairs to it, huffing, and made her way to the desk shehad been assigned, relieved her boss had not arrived yet.Florence paused as she reached her desk, surprised to see the secretary opposite who she would be sitting, crouching at the door of her own boss’s office, ear pressed to the wood. She had met the young lady when she came to arrange her new desk the evening before; her name was Nancy Ogwor.“Nancy, what are you..?” Felicia began to ask.Nancy shushed her with a finger to her lipsand beckoned her to come over and listen as well. Florence hesitated and looked around, worried someone would walk in and see them eavesdropping.
But her curiousity got the better of her.
She pushed the heavy bags she was carrying beneath her desk and joined Nancy, pressing her ear against the door of Jide Babalola’s office.And that was how Florence, the second source of Jide’s temptation, entered his life.