Celebrating East African Writing!
Mark Mutua had woken up earlier than usual. This was despite the fact that he had gone to bed very late the previous night and he had also been tired. The work was rearly overwhelming, but he would always find joy in every accomplishment he made in his carrier. Any success at work to him was a personal success too. It always gave him self fulfillment and actualization each time he achieved any success at work. This was the reason why he had even worked past midnight at his office to ensure that this launch would be a success.
He was doing the final touches of the day’s programme. He was looking at the list of the attending guests who had been invited, those who had confirmed and so on. He also made sure that the samples of the three beauty products had been put in place. These would be dished out to some of the people and the distinguished guests. These had been specially meant for this specific purpose. He knew, well that the first impression always mattered and lasted. The ratio of the ingredients in these samples had been raised in order to get a few which were of a greater quality.
They had been working together with the brand manager, a lady who shared the same mind as that of her general manager. He too was ambitious and out to make a mark whenever she went.
Mark was the General Manager in charge of beauty Therapy and skin care Ltd. This was a form that specialized in manufacture of beauty soaps and other cosmetic products. He was the chief executive officer and under him there were other senior administrators and the junior officers. His immediate juniors were the human resource officer, marketing manager, finance director, Brand manager whom he always enjoyed working with. At times their relationship always drew so much and some would doubt whether it was just the “normal work- relationship”. Mark was a married man with two children, aged 7 and 3. His wife was a senior civil servant working with a government ministry.
On the other hand, the Brand Manager was not married and in her mid thirties. She was indeed beautiful and Mark could always admit inwardly to himself that she faired the same as his beautiful wife in terms of beauty. They both could admit that there was a general feeling towards each other. That feeling which is always beyond the “normal office relationship” but they were always careful not to let this go beyond the limit.
The big day had finally come. They would be launching three more beauty soaps and from their hard work, they knew they would reap generously. They knew this would push them ahead of their competitors.
In a moment, Mark had had breakfast and he was now kissing the wife goodbye. She always understood but mark knew too well. He knew the repercussions of neglecting his husband roles. He had already seen the early signs. In those searching eyes of his beautiful wife, he could only interpret two meanings; that ‘‘you have become scarce for your wife’’ or ‘‘you are cheating on me’’. He knew the wife could not admit the latter openly but she was after all a normal human.
As Mark was driving into the high way, his phone rung. He pulled alongside the road to receive it. It was his brand Manager, Esther. she was calling with “some bad news”. Something had happened. After listening carefully, Mark requested to see the newspaper first before responding. He put the phone to its place and opening his window he beckoned to one newspaper vendor who was selling at the major junction.
He bought the two different copies which Esther had mentioned and closing his car window, he switched off the engine to have a good time. Then he flipped through the pages of the first newspaper “The Standard” his heart thumping. Indeed the story was there on page five and there was a good photo galary to compliment it all. The chief executive officer had posed outside, the Serena Hotel and he was with who is who in the city’s Business and Co-operate Community.
Mark could also see the smiling faces of two senior officials from the Ministry of Trade. He bit his lower lip. He was further shocked when he saw the three new beauty products on the next photo. They were a copyright of their own products scheduled to be launched this morning at the Laico Regency. One was called Femi-soap, while theirs was Femi-soul, Femi soap was green in colour with a green wrapping and on top was a picture of a beautiful lady smiling and holding her right hand on her chin. Mark’s brand Femi-soul was also green, with a green wrapping and a picture of a lady smiling but not holding her hand on the chin.
The second beauty soup was Divas Will. This was Mark’s brand name while the already launched soap was Divas wish, Divas will was glowing pink in color, while Divas wish was also a glowing pink. Divas will has a pink picture of a lady with hands folded over her chest, Divas will had a pink picture of a lady holding one hand akimbo in a model’s pose. Both ladies in these pictures were smiling.
Mark was lost for words. He was always a man who saw details and he could confirm that whoever was doing it had every detail of their product. He had only made some little changes here and there to make it look legally different. Though practically speaking they were look alike. The third and the final commodity were also having so many similar aspects. Mark’s brand name was Easy Glow beauty while the other was Easy Flow beauty. Easy glow was lavender in color. Easy flow was too of the same color. Easy glow had a lady in a lavender night dress and she lay on bed while easy flow had the same picture though the smiling lady was sited in bed.
Mark did not need to check on the second news paper. He had indeed got the whole information. He just stared at the two newspapers blankly. He was convinced that this was an inside job, some sabotage of some sort or maybe big money had been exchanged for that much information and detail to get out. Definitely the organizers knew Marks launch would be on that particular day; hence they put their day before. They even had most of Marks guests on their list. Mark was more than sure ultimate beauty manufacturers had their guy within Mark’s Company doing espionage for them. Immediately Mark’s mind begun evaluating all the workers who were under him.
He was nearly dead sure; Esther could not be the guy. The human resource guy, the procurement and stores guy; he never knew much about him but it could be because of the nature of his job. He always did his job well though he seemed to always keep to himself. The finance director, and on and on he evaluated all the officers, some of who he never knew by name, but he could not even suspect any. He had been in that state for almost twenty minutes after reading the bad news. When he remembered he had promised to call Esther. He composed himself and. He picked his phone, and feigned all possible courage and composure he called her number.
‘Hallo …. Yah …. Yes I know …. Indeed we were almost there but, no way dear. All well be alright … I know how. It’s gone though not completely …. Yah ….yes … indeed…. The best is we have somewhere to begin after all is gone. See you then Mark put the phone back, switched the engine on and slowly he got into the highway, joining the fast moving traffic. Admitting that he was not worked up would be like a devoted Christian admitting there was no deity. This was a project that had eaten into the whole lives in terms of personal and co-operate lives. They had invested so much time and money on laboratory as well as market research. Others like Esther had sacrificed their relationships for the its sake .She had broken up after her lover could not tolerate her being dropped home late after midnight by a male ‘boss’ and getting busy even on Saturdays at the expense of weekend outings .
On his part, Mark knew he had been risking his marriage life; even though it had not gone to that bad point. However severally he had observed the tell tales in that beautiful face of his wife.
On the company’s part money had been used, paying the researchers, buying raw materials and much more all with the mind that the returns would be good, but now here they were. Things had been blown off at the last minute. The market which they had sought to have all by themselves was now to be shared with their arch-competitors. To add salt to injury they were having legally different brands but practically the same brands. They were legally different in the sense that there were no grounds seek legal redress, just because of those few alterations. These were bad enough to confuse the potential buyers and the sure next thing; they would produce low quality goods to discourage buying of these products, consequently phasing them out. This was a trick used mostly by most competitors to phase their rivals out of operation. Mark knew too well and this was his greatest fear. He would all together get assistance from a private anti fraud investigator, but this was a dream long gone, having escaped from their hands. He had finished them and Mark would explain this to the board, whether they sack him or retain him as the manager. The enermy within had aborted the unborn child just hours before the birth.
© Festus Ngangi 2010
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