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WHISPERS of birds, trees and the flowing stream were the music in Teo’s ears that afternoon.
But then, it wasn’t just nature that whispered melody to the ears of the young architect. The melody was the harmony of nature’s humming and Teo’s staff member’s murmurs.
Teo had brought his four-man staff to the Yemija River in Yemija, a neighboring district to Kakakhi.
They’d been there that afternoon on a picnic. At least, in Teo’s definition of one.
When Teo read the announcement made by the Mayor of Kakakhi the previous day, the young ambitious architect made plans to enter for the design bid and contest.
Teo decided to go to a place with abundant natural scenery and draw inspiration from the view. He declared a work free day for his staff and replaced it with a picnic.
His staff members were excited when he announced a picnic the previous day. What they didn’t know was that the picnic wasn’t going to be the exciting thing they’d imagined.
It’d been four hours Teo and his team had been at Yemija River. For what wasn’t looking like a picnic at all.
Teo spent about an hour staring at the verdant greens that formed the backdrop of the scenic riverine environment.
He spent about another hour examining the pebbles, stones and shells at the riverside.
In the third hour and the fourth hour, Teo went over into the river and sat on a mound of rock that shot a little above the water level.
His eyes fixed beyond the clear surface, the young man gazed curiously into the riverbed. Stirring the river every once in a while, with the long stick in his hand.
Teo wasn’t the only one busying himself with the Yemija River. The architect had got his staff members busy with replicating the natural scenario in drawings.
When the boys offered to take pictures, Teo insisted nature was better represented naturally.
And now, the four youngsters had reached the peak of their frustration; and they grumbled behind their boss.
They casted a lot to see who’d bell the cat and inform their insensitive boss that evening was fast approaching, and that they should start leaving the riverside.
The cast fell on Tim, Teo’s secretary.
Tim was the first man to be recruited, and long before others were. He was practically a founding member. And he was an architectural technologist.
The young technologist walked up to his boss and spoke the team’s mind.
While the two men were still at it, Teo’s phone rang.
Teo picked up the call and it was his heartthrob. Foye.
Dr Oye wore an eager look that afternoon.
The conversation with President Jimi Jacobs the previous day had given him a gleam of hope.
Given him something to assure him of his establishment even in the new presidential term.
It was October 2017.
When Jimi Jacobs resumed office as the President of Kimberland in July that year, Dr Oye had feared that he might lose his grip on Kimberland’s economy.
He’d fought a silent battle to hinder the all righteous man of the people ascending the country’s most powerful seat at the Rock Castle.
But then, Oye lost the fight and Jimi Jacobs eventually emerged the President elect.
And then, Oye sent a message to the monstrous shadow behind him. A large cross-continental, multi-national economic body headquartered in the United Kingdom.
The old man called on the Utopia to withdraw their developed interest in Kimberland for a period of four – if not eight years – of the presidential term, or terms.
As the era of Jimi Jacobs would most likely seem entirely difficult to negotiate with.
But then, it appeared fate had smiled on the fifty-six-year-old Oye again, and he could again dust up his ambition where it lay.
The old man had sighted desperation masked in the guise of goodwill. He’d seen self-service garbed in a cloak of nobility.
Oye found the weak point in Kimberland’s high wall and he knew what to do to pressure for a crack.
He’d halted his retirement plans earlier today. He was sure he wouldn’t be retiring now as he’d thought all along.
The seated old man picked up his phone where it lay idle on his office desk.
He reclined fully in his seat, smiled broadly and swivelled himself around while he waited for the other side to pick up.
The other side was on the line in a moment.
Oye halted his spin and sat right up. His voice was deep, low and decorous.
‘I have found a crack. Check your email in a minute.’
He hung up immediately and gave a light chuckle. And then, he went through his phone and sent an already prepared email draft.
When the message was sent, he deleted it, emptied his trash folder and slid his phone into his jacket’s inner pocket.
He swivelled his seat around and smiled broadly.
‘It’s going to be a long year.’
‘Where are you at, really?’
It was Foye speaking at the other end of the phone call.
Her slender, lovely voice had an anxious tone that only sounded rather so charming in Teo’s ears. In the caring manner her cute, feminine voice rolled out the words.
‘You aren’t at your office. And I also checked you at the house? Your number wasn’t going through since I’ve been calling you. Where exactly are you, my Teo?’
Foye almost always added the possessive pronoun when calling her sweetheart’s name. And she’d turned the possessive word more into an endearment form.
Every time Foye called his man ‘My Teo,’ she felt pleased that he was hers. She loved him and would choose to love him over and again.
Foye had always told Teo over a playful talk that his kids as well as she would probably call him ‘Our Teo.’
Teo’s lovely jewel was that funny and playful.
Interestingly, the young architect hadn’t even proposed marriage yet to the light complexioned beauty of twenty-six.
It was Teo’s turn to show concern and put her girlfriend’s heart at rest.
‘Hello, dear,’ he said, raising his voice a bit above the rustling sound of nature. ‘I’m on a picnic. How are you?’
Picnic was the word that caught Foye by surprise and Teo didn’t preempt what’d follow.
‘Picnic! Where? Alone?!’ Foye was a little confused.
Teo didn’t know where to start the description of his picnic idea. ‘Let Tim explain to you,’ he said; handing over his phone to his twenty-two-year-old secretary.
Tim was totally taken aback but within a second or two, the youngster had calculated the scenario and he knew what to do
Teo was a quiet man and he always found talking something of a big deal. He’d often let awkwardness have its way instead of immersing himself in explaining things out.
Foye had always had to put up with that, in any case.
Tim was Teo’s Aaron, his outspoken mouthpiece. He’d represented his quiet boss in design presentations on many occasions.
Teo often talked to himself far more than he talked to others.
His four staff members had always wondered how he’d managed to find a gorgeous and well-spoken woman as girlfriend.
Tim took over the phone call. ‘Sis, it’s work picnic. We also thought we’d have fun here but we’ve been here at the Yemija River since early afternoon.’
Foye’s voice was calm. ‘No worries, little brother. Hand the phone over to your boss.’
This wasn’t the first time Teo would make Tim save the situation. And Foye had found a kid brother in the young technologist.
Tim handed the phone back to Teo.
Teo had a smile on his face. ‘So you understand everything now, right?’
Foye’s response was a cutting rejoinder. ‘No, I don’t! Until you speak to me yourself this time.’
‘Ok-ay,’ Teo stuttered. He breathed in and then spoke in a steadier manner. ‘It’s just work picnic, darling. Don’t be cross with me, uh?’
‘Promise this will be the very last time,’ Foye said.
‘I promise, Foye,’ Teo replied.
Foye was pretty fed up. ‘But that was exactly the words you used the last time and here we are at it again today. So I can’t trust you on this, Mr Teo!’
Teo paused for a bit and spoke with a determined poise. ‘Okay. I solemnly swear!’
Foye burst into giggles.
And it was the kind that was simply contagious to a listening Teo at the riverside picnic.
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