I walk into the banking hall, a little bit off my usual self. Been worked harder than a horse in this place. I try not to show my tiredness.

It has been one full year I got a job in this bank. I was lucky to get it immediately after I graduated from University Of Calabar.

The bank — Friend Bank — located at a corner of the state capital, around Mount Zion Road, is housed in a brick red, old-English building, with the sign, “Friend Bank…Your best friend in banking” hanging on top.

The manager, a Mr Olusanya, a yoruba man though I don know which part and I don’t care to know which, a pot-bellied five-feet-two-inches, who must have made ladies running after him in his youth days, meet me as I walked in.

“Good Morning, sir”
“Morning, Amanda”

He just strolled past me. I just hope he didn’t see that the smile on my face was pasted there. I walked on to my desk and sat down.

I opened my desk throwers and placed my bag into it without closing it.

“Morning, Amanda”

I lifted up my face from my table to look at my colleague, Chris, in his immaculate white shirt ironed and black trousers to match with a blue tie.

“Morning, Chris”.
“How are you?”
“I’m ok. N you”

I just prayed that he should move on. Got things to do.

“I’m doing ok, dear”

Chris, the randy man. Always “my dear”, “can I help, dear”. Have caught him twice or thrice saying to another female colleague, “How can I help, darling”.

Not that I’m jealous or whatever. Just that it felt out of place for such in a bank. Anyway, that’s Chris for you.

“Ehhh, Amanda. You didn’t pick my call yesterday’s evening”
“I’m sorry, Chris. I was so busy”
“Ok. See you around”

I heaved a sign of relief as he left. I then opened my bag and brought out my little mirror and checked my face.

I sighed. Why was I worried before? Nothing out of the ordinary. I put it back and said a little prayer. Its still 7.30 am. The bank opens by 8 o’clock.

I switched on my computer and waited for it to boot.

Then, from nowhere Emem walked up to my desk.

Now, Emem is what you can call an “Angelic Beauty”, with curves at the right places, full breasts and all the nine yards. She got it all.

Ever since I stepped into the bank, we had been friends till a month ago when a vacancy appeared. The assistant manager had died in a car accident. We became competitors for the seat. She and I were, stupidly I would say, told by the Manager that we were favorites because of our commitment to the bank.

Emem took it more than I could imagine. I was told she said that an Igbo girl can’t come to Calabar and be her “Madam”.

There was how our rivalry was born.

…To be continued