1 comment

Black Contemporary Creative Nonfiction

Like every other staff of the civil service that had put in up to thirty-five years in active service, Dr. Newton had retired on the 1st of June, 2020 and was deservingly re-appointed as Managing Director on a substantive basis on the 1st of January 2021. His re-appointment came as a shock and thorn in the flesh for Jemima, Gordon and Sam Jay, but far from thus disposed were the rest members of staff of Root Crops Nigeria. It was more like a happy homecoming for Dr. Newton and the generality of staff, which to the trio seemed like a huddle, not too long ago crossed by them that fate was cunningly pushing forward to them again for crossing.

When the rumour of his purported re-appointment coasted through the organization and eventually berthed on its threshold, both the trio and the rest members of staff got their tongues wagging; precisely from December, 2020, when it crept into their rumour-mill to when the letter arrived and became a reality in January, 2021.

The majority of staff were no doubt favourably disposed to having Dr. Newton back as their Managing Director, but not so with the trio of Jemima, Gordon and Sam Jay who had vehemently wished, albeit covertly that such an occurrence should only be witnessed over their dead bodies. Fortunately for Dr. Newton, and perhaps tossed punitively at the trio, it indeed turned out to be so; with the three of them dying in their sleep.

Albeit, on an acting capacity, Sam Jay, who took over the reigns of office from Dr. Newton after his retirement had got wind of the latter’s re-appointment and was in a bid to thwart the letter getting through to him, but fate played its role and crumbled his plans of intercepting the letter.

Sam Jay’s original intention, which converges with that of the trio was to intercept the letter at the Security Post of the organization and prevent it from seeing the light of the day. But fate split course with him and let the letter coast through to his secretary, who ironically was in the best of terms with Dr. Newton before and even after his retirement. She got the envelop from the man, who had couriered it to Root Crops Nigeria; ripped it open; saw the content of the letter and screamed excitedly; much to the surprise of staff in the adjoining offices, who rushed in speedily either to hear what was amiss or somehow calls for celebration.

They stood gaping for an answer that could assuage their expectations, but to no avail until Maria broke the silence that trailed the screaming.

“What ails or tickles the pelican that causes it to scream and to attract a teaming audience to its nest?” She asked hilariously.

Dr. Newton has been reappointed as a substantive Managing Director of Root Crops Nigeria,” Gloria replied with a start; brandishing the original and file copies of the letter at Maria and the other teaming staff.

“Surprises will never end, and this one is a good one; and not just a good one, but a mind consoling one,” Maria said and burst into a hilarious song; with all the others following suit. It soon turned into a procession from one office to the other. Gloria falls into a state of reverie and recapitulates:

“The countdown has begun. Three days from now and you’ll be proceeding on your pre-retirement leave,” she said patronizingly.

“Yes, thirty three days to be precise and I’ll gladly hear people addressing me as a Veteran Agriculturist.” Dr. Newton replied enthusiastically.

“You succeeded in building an excellent agricultural organization. What? Did I say anything incriminating, Dr Newton?”

“Not at all!” He replied with a start and continued, “You’re a darling; come rain; come sunshine and I want you to note this.”


“Cultivating and perpetuating excellence is an exercise with ambivalent proceeds. It may earn you trophies as well as unforgiving enemies. You’re certainly not one among the latter, but Gordon and Jemima can’t escape being tagged as such.”

“They constituted themselves a nuisance for precipitately being thus disposed.”

“I harbor no regrets in having them transferred from enjoying close proximity with me to the General Administration Office.”

The foregoing was Gloria recalling the last week she spent with Dr. Newton  before he proceeded on pre-retirement leave that predisposed his retirement from the civil service after thirty-five years of active service. She could not help saying it loud to the hearing of the remnant population of teaming celebrants in her office: “Retired and Re-appointed Back to Active Service. Lucky Dr. Newton.”

Just like Maria and the rest members of staff; Gloria was enthusiastic over Dr. Newton’s return as Managing Director of Root Crops Nigeria. She put the file copy of the re-appointment letter into a file and tucked the original copy of the letter into her handbag, presumably to personally hand it over to Dr. Newton at his home; not too far away from their office complex. She placed the file copy of the letter on top the table of the Acting Managing Director, who interestingly, was not on seat to attend to it. He did not return until they closed work on that day, and Gloria was able to deliver Dr. Newton’s copy of the letter to him same day.

Sam Jay, the Acting Managing Director resumed work the following day and felt spited, when he saw placards welcoming Dr. Newton back as Managing Director of Root Crops Nigeria. He was apparently in turmoil and far too diminished in courage to make his way down to his office, but eventually managed to gather himself out of his official car down there to confront Gloria, his Secretary.

“Where’s Dr. Newton’s re-appointment letter?” He yelled at Gloria, who replied him with a start.

“It’s been there on your table since it arrived yesterday.”

“By what means did they deliver it?”

“By courier Sir. It arrived a few minutes after you had left the office.”

“Where is the original copy of the letter?”

“I’ve dispatched it to Dr. Newton Sir.”

“Without my endorsement?”

“In line with our extant rules, I did wait for your endorsement before dispatching it, but the Honourable Minister of Agriculture prevailed on me to get it delivered to Dr. Newton before the close of work yesterday sir.”

“And you did exactly as he directed?”

“Yes Sir.”

“In spite of the extant rules concerning the dispatch of letters?”

“Ag. MD Sir; it was a superior officer giving the order.”

“You did well by complying, but what’s the meaning of those welcome posters displayed all over the premises?”

 “I have no hand in it Sir. It must be the handiwork of some overzealous staff who place a high premium on Dr. Newton’s contributions to agricultural development in Nigeria.”

“That means they were all privy of the letter even before I got to know of it.”

“Maybe, they got wind of it through Dr. Newton,” She feigned ignorance, “and lest I forget, the Honourable Minister said you should pull a call through to him as soon as you return.”

“That’s the first thing you should have told me. Why are you still standing there; looking at me? Go! Go! Go back to your office.”

Gloria obeyed and hurriedly made her way back to her office; closing the door behind her gently. Sam Jay slumps into his swivel chair; rocks on it left right and centre before picking the handle of the telephone to dial the Honourable Minister’s number. A voice responded promptly at the other end, but it was not the Honourable Minister.

“Hello!” The voice came patronizingly. “May I know who is on the line please?”

“Sam Jay, Acting Managing Director of Root Crops Nigeria speaking.”

“I’m putting you through to the Honourable Minister of Agriculture. Have a good day.”

“You’re welcome madam,” Sam Jay replied and waited to hear from the Honourable Minister.

“Is that Sam Jay?”

“You’re not mistaken, Honourable Minister.”

“How is Umuahia, your state capital?”

“Relatively calm and peaceful sir.”

“And how is Root Crops Nigeria doing?”

“We’re still the envy of competing agricultural enterprises Sir.”

“Yes, I agree with you and it’s with much thanks to Dr. Newton, who blazed the trail of root crops farming in Nigeria.”

“You’re right, Honourable Minister. And concerning Dr. Newton’s reappointment, we’re all waiting with wide open arms to welcome him back to his office.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that Sam Jay. That’s extraordinarily sportsmanlike of you.”

“We can do it over and over again for him. As a hero in root crops farming, Dr. Newton matters much to us, his minions.”

“I’m impressed. Have a good day.”

“It’s with much pleasure, Honourable Minister.”

Sam Jay placed the handle of the telephone back in place and breathed out loud. Gloria enters and announces Gordon’s intention to see him.

“Gordon is here to see you sir” She said and quickly went back to usher him in as she readily got the nod of Sam Jay to grant him entrance. Gordon enters and without mincing words pours out his mind.

“Our cookie indeed crumbled,” he said, betraying a wry smile before Sam Jay, who equally looks crumbled.

What we have sizzling in the frying pan of Root Crops Nigeria is a reward for excellence,” Sam Jay replied and continued, “Look up north, down south, westward and eastwards; you can never pull down Dr. Newton.”

“We made him what he’s become and we can still unmake him if we desire,” Gordon retorted.

“Count me out of it Gordon! Like patronizing Pontius Pilate, I’ve washed my hands off it.”

“Don’t tell me you’re throwing in the towel. We took an oath to ensure strict compliance. The oath still subsists.”

“I’ve washed my hands off it and that’s all.”

“You’ll turn round to regret it. Don’t tell me that I didn’t warn you.”

“Is that a threat or something?”

“Interpret it whatever way you like. You won’t say, I didn’t warn you.”

“Give me some time to think.”

“The oath doesn’t have that much room for dilly dallying.”

The rest of the day was hell on earth for Sam Jay. The trio of Gordon, Jemima and himself were to set a diabolical trap on Dr. Newton’s swivel chair that would slowly kill him over a time lapse of one week after his resumption of office as Managing Director of Root Crops Nigeria.

The diabolical trap was set in motion same day, albeit; with unheard and perhaps muffled protests from Sam Jay spilled over the rumour mill and the shocking news the following day that the trio had all died in their sleep. Yes! And true to the vaunting of the trio, Dr. Newton resumed duty that awful Monday morning “over their dead bodies.”

December 08, 2022 16:10

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

April Mattson
20:55 Dec 15, 2022

Sounds like a toxic work environment, for sure. I like the suspense and the psychological tension. Nice ending!


Show 0 replies