African Voices Summer 2017 AV Summer 2017 Digital Issue - Page 27

brow turned white. His entire frame shook. He went to the door, flung it open and beckoned to the directors to leave. He held the door ajar as they filed out quietly. He banged the door after the last person. *** Tosan ruminated over the events of the past few days as he drove. CEO had bypassed him to carry out the fraudulent scheme. His immediate subordinate, the Production Manager, had been too willing to lick CEO’s boot. A staff member told Tosan he overheard CEO promising the Production Manager his position – Production Director. The first batch of the under-filled milk had been shipped to the market the previous day. Tosan slammed on the brake to negotiate a pothole on the pitted road. Bumping from the opposite direction was a now familiar car, a black Toyota Camry. As the vehicle drew close, Tosan turned his face to peer at the lady behind the wheel. The woman locked eyes with him briefly fluttering her fake eyelashes. Almost on a daily basis on his way out of his estate, Tosan ran into this woman who unlike others never averted her eyes at his gaze. Her boldness was becoming uncomfortable for him. Tosan was on his way to see the chairman. He had sent a text message to him requesting a meeting. He didn’t get a reply until three days after. The chairman had scheduled to meet with him today. He had not discussed his move with his colleagues. He didn’t trust them. Someone might snitch on him. He was determined to report CEO to the chairman. He would go it alone. CEO summoned the directors to a late meeting – 7:30 pm. He had just returned from the chairman looking subdued. He wanted to know who reported him to the chairman. Everyone including Tosan kept a straight face. He lit a cigar and plopped on his chair. He gazed at the ceiling and shut his eyes for what looked like eternity. After a while, he opened his eyes and spoke in a conciliatory tone explaining that whatever decision he took was to save the business and everyone’s job. He said the chairman had ordered that the grammage reduction be discontinued immediately and all stock sold to the market be withdrawn. He announced that the meeting would continue the following morning to discuss in details the withdrawal plan. “Does anyone have anything to say?” he asked. “Otherwise the meeting has ended.” Tosan said, “CEO, that was not the way to go. There are several ways we can improve this business without defrauding the consumers.” Others nodded in agreement. “It’s OK. Tomorrow, come up with your suggestions. Tomorrow, we see,” CEO said and turned his attention to the screen of his computer, indicating that the meeting had ended. *** Staff members gathered in groups on the corridor and in their offices to celebrate the exit of an inept tyrant. CEO had just been matched out of his office by a bevvy of stern looking security men. It happened during the Monday management meeting while Tosan was making a presentation and battling with the overpowering whiff of incense burning in a small crucible lying at a corner. The men burst into the meeting without knocking. The tallest of them all confronted CEO, “Are you Mr. Sharma Balachander?” CEO replied in a trembling voice, “Yes, yes,” shaking his head. CEO shook his head when he meant yes and nodded when he meant no. The men, apparently acting on the instructions of the chairman, asked him to pack his belongings. Tosan and others looked on astonished. The men thereafter escorted a jittery Mr. Balachander out of the premises. As the news spread around the company, there was a wild jubilation. The rhapsody was like that of the day, some years ago, when the late maximum ruler, Abacha dropped dead. african Voices 27