He took the wooden picture frame from his mahogany desk and stared at it, tracing every curve and every smile in his old mind. He had left them. His beautiful loving wife and their seven-year-old daughter.
He had abandoned them when they needed him the most but then that was the only way out to the mess he had created for himself. A very painful sacrifice he had made for him and his family.
Today was supposed to be special for him. It was supposed to be his and his wife’s wedding anniversary and if he had not left, he would have been celebrating twenty three years of happiness together but alas it was not so presently. Mr Jude Okigbo had worked sweat and blood to pay off the debt he owed to the gang and then toiled through the years to get to the position he was today. It was for the best. For the safety and future of his family but then he wondered if they would ever forgive him for leaving them. His little girl who kept on crying and pleading with him to stay. Those images brought back unwilling tears but he forced it back as usual. The door to his office opened and in walked his secretary who had been working for him ever since he started the company.
Leah was like family. A middle-aged woman who did her work efficiently and without complaint. He had yet to see or find another person who was like her.
“Good morning sir,” she chirped in handing over his correspondence to him as she prepared to write down notes for the day and prepare appointment.”Morning Leah. How are you today?” He asked as he placed back the wooden picture frame next to his calendar.
“Fine thank you very much.” She observed his mood and shook her head. “I must say sir with due respect but you are just so plain stubborn.”
He raised his eyebrows at her. “I hope you do realise that I am still your boss,” he replied. “Why do I always feel like you are trying to overstep boundaries when you put in the word ‘with due respect sir’?”
Leah shrugged as if not caring about what he said. She adored her boss of many years and she always saw the longing in his eyes whenever he stared at his family’s picture. The rest of the staff may not notice but she did. At first, she wondered why she had never seen them but as time went on, she stopped thinking about it. Not until when he finally opened up to her about them. She saw his fear, the fear of never able to bond with them again, the fear of not ever forgiving him.
She had tried over and over again to talk him into trying to face them and try to make amends but to no avail.
“I still think that you should……….”
“Leah!” Her boss interrupted her as she spoke. “Don’t you think you have something to do in your office?”
“Ehm..but sir, I..” She stopped, searching for words to say.
“Good. You are suddenly speechless. Now be a good secretary and go back to your duty post. I’ll call if I need anything,” he replied while pretending to read what she had brought for him.
She nodded enthusiastically and stood up to leave. The last thing she needed was an angry employer barking out orders to her. As soon as the door was closed, he raised up his head and smiled. Yes, she always meddled in his business but deep down he knew that she was just worried for him. He hated to deny it but she was right. It was time he paid them a visit, especially Silva. She was now a graduate and he had made sure that she lacked nothing in school even though they never knew where the money for the tuition was coming from.
“Please God, how do I face her?” He sighed deeply.