It was one of those rainy days in June. The city was Lagos, Nigeria. I was pregnant. Besides the usual traffic at some trouble spots, I’d say I had a smooth ride to the office that day. What a great way to start my working week, I thought. After the usual hellos, handshakes, fist bumps and sorts, (got teased because I could no longer give my preferred warm hugs since my tummy bulge was really big), I settled down, in preparation for the day’s work.
A few working hours and it was time for my much coveted lunch. Don’t judge me; I didn’t have breakfast. Besides you know what they say – the myth of eating for two when you’re expecting.
It was not uncommon to have colleagues stroll into the lunch room and have a few moments to catch up on sports, a new hot tele-series, gossip and so on. What was not common was to have some top officials of my organization come visit without prior notice. We had mixed emotions – surprise, excitement, caution, great restraint and an eerie pressure to be at our best. You can bet we had lunch in a hurry and returned to our desks.
As my boss took the executives around, they made a stop at my table. They were really friendly as they wanted to know a little more about my job functions. They seemed intrigued and asked how I fared with my pregnancy. Looks like that was the cue my boss needed. She began to complain about my work, attitude, ethics, delivery of tasks and assigned roles. She went for the kill as she confessed how irritated and mad she was that I ‘chose’ to be pregnant at such an inappropriate time. “What just happened?” No one could have prepared me for this. As I had a million thoughts run through my mind, I was literally tongue-tied. To think that there were a thousand and one scenarios as to how I should respond, but I just stood there – shocked, rattled, distraught, broken and yes teary-eyed too. As her eyes caught mine, you could see the contentment of her gaze. She looked fascinated and accomplished at what she’d just done.
They all left my office but the moment remained. They took a bit of me with them. Thankfully, one of my colleagues came to check on me and as I relayed what had just happened, she patted my back and offered a shoulder where I cried on, unabashedly.