“He kicked you out? Your father?” Ronald didn’t believe her. “But why?”
“Hey, this is a girl’s heart to heart talk here, sweetheart. No boys allowed.” Winnie gave him the evil eye.
“Huh! I think you’re father got it all wrong! I mean I have daughters of my own, if some guy was circling around them, I would lock them in the house and throw away the key. Kicking her out of the house is like shouting, “Here, take my daughter for free!”, right?” Dodi gave his opinion.
“Mr. Dodi…. this is supposed to be between us girls!” Winnie protested again.
“Maybe you’re adopted.” Ronald said again.
Tia looked at him strangely, “Thanks for the encouragement, guys.”
“But seriously, from one dad to another, yours did not make the right decision, and what’s wrong with Mr. Ahmed? He’s rich, successful, handsome, and kind.” Dodi praised, “Besides, everybody in the company knows that the two of you have been flirting with each other for the past three years. That’s why when Madame Al Rashid announced that he was engaged with Miss Ratna we were all surprised.”
“What do you mean we have been flirting with each other for three years?” Tia asked. “Before he started dating me a few months ago, he was dating Daniyati, the previous HR Manager.”
“Yeah right….” Winnie laughed.
“No, I’m serious, he used to date Daniyati, he told me that they went out for three years…”
“Stop trying to make up stupid excuses to deny it. We already know anyway…. ” Winnie said, “The whole company has been whispering about it ever since you started working here.”
“Guys….” Tia paused when she heard her phone ring, “It’s my aunt, I need to take this call…”
* * *
“He can’t be serious!” Princess Latifa squealed.
“He looked very serious.” Mr. Omar bowed his head solemnly.
“Do you hear that, Ahmed?” She looked at her son, “Look what your actions lead you to. You should start behaving properly to Ratna, otherwise they will take your position away.”
“Let them!” Ahmed challenged, “If they want me to resign, the I’ll resign. I’m not going to let them force me to do something that I don’t want to do. And I’m certainly not going to trade myself for a job.”
“Are you out of your mind?” She screamed, “Don’t you have a brain? I never thought that I raised a stupid son like you, are you willing to throw your career down the drain just for that stupid bitch?”
“Mama, I won’t let you call her like that!.”
“Calm down, the two of you!” Mr. Omar tried to stop them.
“This is all her fault, I’m going to teach her a lesson!” Princess Latifa stomped out of the office.
“Mama…” Ahmed tried to call her but she ignored him. He quickly rushed out of the office to stop her. He saw his mother entering the elevator, the door closed before he had the chance to follow her. Ahmed pressed the button for the next lift.
“Look that one!’ Unexpectedly his father was standing before him. “Let’s go, we have to stop your mother before she throws everything to hell.”
* * *
“Auntie, are you downstairs?” Tia asked through the phone, “Wait for me at the receptionist’s desk, I’ll rush down quickly to meet you at the……”
“You bitch….!” Princess Latifa pulled her by the shoulder and slapped her on both cheeks. “You did this to my son! If it wasn’t because of you, you’re going to destroy his future, you’re going to ruin him….”
“Madame calm down…” Dodi tried to persuade her.
“Whoever dares to interfere, I won’t let you go. I’m going to fire you right away, and if you want to sue me, then sue me. I’m not afraid! Don’t think that you can gang up on me! I’ll make sure that you’ll never find work in this country again!” She threatened every body present.
This made the staff back down in fear for their jobs.
“Who do think you are? You shameless piece of garbage! You’re nothing but a social climber who looks for rich young men and milk them for money.” She grabbed Tia by the hair and began shaking her.
“Madam please…” Tia whispered, puling herself away.
“Do you think I don’t know your type? Cant you be satisfied with that shop owner and with Hafiz? Why are you trying to prey on my son? He’s a decent and kind person, that’s why he easily falls into the claws of a gold digging tramp like you!” Princess Latifa continued shouting at Tia.
“Mama…” Ahmed came running out of the elevator. “Let go of her!”
“Auntie Latifa is right! You’re nothing more than a bottom feeder!” Ratna appeared out of nowhere.
“Be quiet! This has nothing to do with you!” Ahmed yelled at her.
“Latifa, we should talk inside. This is embarrassing! All the staff are looking at us,” Mr. Omar calmly said.
“Ahmed, after seeing this woman with so many men, why are you still defending her?” Princess Latifa rebuked grabbing Tia’s wrist.
“Latifa, take your dirty hands of my niece!” Unexpectedly Raden Nabila showed up in the office space.
“You!” Princess Latifa shrieked hysterically.
* * *
“Your Excellency, please sit down.” Mr. Omar said as they arrived at his office.
“Thank you, Sayyid.” She replied politely.
“What Your Excellency? She a nobody here!” Princess Latifa huffed.
“Latifa, please!” He refuted his wife.
Ahmed and Tia entered to the office, he helped her to sit on the couch beside her aunt before walking back to the door and locking it.
Mr. Omar turned to Raden Nabila, “What brings you here to our office?”
“I was talking on the phone with my niece, when I heard a familiar voice yelling at her. Sayyid, obviously I had to come and see what was going on. I can’t allow just anyone to humiliate my family member.”
“Ah, Miss Chang is your relative?” He asked again.
“She is my niece, she’s the daughter of Wendy, my cousin. You remember my cousin Wendy don’t you Latifa? Or maybe you don’t, you went to her house a few weeks ago to offer her money for her daughter to stay away from your son, and you didn’t recognize her,” She smiled cunningly.
Princess Latifa gritted her teeth, “Actually, no. I didn’t remember her, who thought that the poor old woman was that snooty arrogant rich girl from thirty years ago.”
“Poor?” Raden Nabila sneered, “My cousin chose the simple life beside the man she loves, they live that way because her husband refuses to take advantage of her fortune. Naturally it was against our family’s better judgment. I agree, Toni Chang is not an easy man, he is prideful and stubborn. But as long as my cousin is happy with him, who are we to criticize. Even though they live that way, my cousin is hardly a poor woman, she is still the heiress of half of Holy Mountain Conglomerate, how do you think they paid for the girls education?”
“Is that so….” Mr. Omar nodded, ” Regarding the money, I apologize, it was actually my idea to offer money to Miss. Chang’s parents.”
“Let’s cut the nonsense.” Princess Latifa cut in, “Your cousin might be the richest woman in the world, but I still don’t approve of my son’s relationship with your niece. He is already engaged with Ratna, the daughter of our life long friend and business partner, and I intend to have him honor that engagement.”
“That’s not going to happen, Mama.” Ahmed intruded, “I’ve told you many times, I don’t have any feelings for Ratna.”
“Do you want to lose your job? You heard what Ratna’s father said, if you don’t behave like a real fiance to his daughter, they will vote to take you away from the position of General Manager.” Princess Latifa said.
“So let them!” He replied.
“Ahmed, you should think it through before you speak!” His father added. “This will affect your career.”
“With all do respect, sir.” Tia cut in, “I do not agree with you. I know that Ahmed is very good at his job, he has good leadership skills, and he understands very well every aspects of operations. In addition to that he has several years of experience under his belt and has produced proven successful projects for the company. At this moment you have three huge project in the pipeline that is about to be approved. Changing company leadership at such a crucial moment is not the best decision that can be made by the board. But if the board does decide to change the company leadership, with all of Ahmed’s ability, I think he can take this as an opportunity to grow his career outside of Al Rashid.”
“What do you know?” Princess Latifa starred. “You’re just opening your mouth without thinking.”
“She’s right.” Mr. Omar admitted. “Miss Chang is right. Ahmed won’t have any difficulty in finding another job.”
“What are you saying?” Princess Latifa looked at her husband in anger, “Are you going to agree with the other share holders to fire Ahmed?”
“If they want to do it, then let them do it. I can’t imagine the situation with Sumantri. If he’s trying to pressure my son now, how would it be if Ahmed does marry his daughter? He might even try to force our son to kick us out of the company.”
“You can’t be serious!” Princess Latifa hissed.
“I am. Ahmed, what do you want to do?” Mr. Omar asked his son.
“Pa, I want to try my luck with another company. I’ve been wanting to do it for sometime. I think this is the best moment to go ahead with the idea.” Ahmed replied firmly.
Mr. Omar took a deep breath and nodded, “I’ll support your decision.”
“Give me the standard two weeks to handover my duties and responsibilities.” Ahmed’s voice was determined.
“Very well.” Mr. Omar nodded.
“If Ahmed goes,then so should she…”Princess Latifa pointed at Tia.
“We can’t afford that. Since our experienced manager is leaving, we can’t afford to lose any qualified staff. This is for the interest of the company,” her husband replied.
“Mr. Omar, I don’t think so, I can’t stay in this company anymore. Today is the second time I’ve been physically assaulted inside this office.”
“Miss Chang, on behalf of my wife, I apologize.” He sighed, “I hope you decide to stay. I do acknowledge that you are one of our best performing employees.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Princess Latifa turned her head away in annoyance.
* * *
“Ahmed, why would you rather leave the company than be a good fiance for me?” Ratna walked to his desk without announcing herself.
“Ratna, you can’t force people like that. As much as I love working here, I love Tia more. If I had to choose between her and my job, I won’t think twice, I know which one I’d choose.” He replied.
“You’ve never even given me a chance to show you that I can be better than her. I can love you more,” she sulked.
“I don’t want you to.”
* * *
“Now that you’re going to be out of a job,” Raden Nabila said to Ahmed as the three of them sat in a coffee shop together, “For the past month, Holy Mountain has been in the process of hiring a Managing Director. If you are interested in the position, show it by sending your CV, a very influential man in Jothar who had worked with you in the past highly recommended you for the job. That is if you don’t mind working overseas.”
“I’ll print it out right away,” Ahmed replied.
“Well, I guess I’ll be job hunting starting tomorrow.” Tia exclaimed. “I feel sad to leave my friends, but I don’t want to be susceptible to ambushes anymore.”
“Job hunting?” Ahmed frowned, “Are you going to look for a job here? In Singapore?
“Since I’m leaving the country, I thought…I thought you could go with me,”
“Go with you?”
“Let’s get married……” He shot out.
“Why are you rushing things?” Her voice was uncertain.
“Hey, think about it, please….” He held her hand.
Raden Nabila looked at them without saying a word.
* * *
“Your Excellency, there is a lady here to see you.” The maid announced.
“Who is it?” Raden Nabila asked.
“It’s a woman claiming to be a Princess.”
“Huh! There’s only one person I know who like to wave titles around. Show her in.”
Princess Latifa followed the maid into the living room. Raden Nabila didn’t bother to stand up or to pretend to be nice. She knew that if that woman came to her house, it wouldn’t be a for a social call.
“To what do I owe the honor?” Raden Nabila started.
“Why did you come here?” She immediately asked.
“I wanted to visit my cousin, I haven’t seen her in a long time. It’s only natural that I miss her.”
“You stole Hamza and Ali from me, now you’re trying to steal Ahmed too?”
“I didn’t steal anything from you. You left them to go back to your country without saying anything. Ali was a little boy back then, he was devastated when you left. That’s how I got to know Bang Hamza. Ali strayed away on the streets looking for his mother, if I didn’t happen to be driving by and rescued him, he would have been hit by a car. So don’t you come here and accuse me of absurd things.” Reden Nabila’s voice was full of anger, “Where were you when he laid in bed with a high fever calling out your name or when had the chicken pox or mumps? It was me who took care of him, that’s why he saw me as his mother, and that’s why Bang Hamza and I became close.”
“I didn’t know that,” Princess Latifa whispered.
“Well now you do!” Raden Nabila affirmed, “In the past I tried to explain that to you, but you didn’t listen, instead you lied, tormented and manipulated us. You used unscrupulous methods to try to break up my relationship with Bang Hamza. Now about Ahmed, stop trying to manipulate him and stop trying to manage his life, he’s a grown man, he can think for himself, and he knows what he wants. If you loose him too, you have no one to blame but yourself.”
“Don’t tell me you never tried to fix your son up with a woman who you think would help improve his social status. Look at Ali,” Princess Latifa argued.
“Oh yes I did, I did try to fix a marriage for my son, not for Ali but for Hafiz. But Hafiz refused, so I asked Ali’s help to persuade him, and you know what happened in the end? Ali ended up falling for the girl and he and Hafiz were at each others necks for a few months.” She paused, “Even though in the end His Majesty chose Ali as his son in law, but there were some bad feelings between them. You see how these things don’t end up well?”
“I don’t want to loose another son,” Princess Latifa whispered.
“Then be his mother, not his dictator…..”