Five months after RIO began his seduction attempts, the camel's back finally broke. My birthday was upcoming. I wasn't exactly surprised when I was summoned to RIO's office the Thursday prior to my birthday (which was on a Saturday). On getting to his office, I found RIO all aflutter.
"IB, what are we doing on your birthday?" he asked
Side note: Throughout this harassment, one thing that continued to perplex me was RIO's confidence in the fact that sooner rather than later, I was going to give in to his demands. When he wasn't growling at me, I was always shocked at his conciliatory tone that seemed to imply that we were already in a committed and happy relationship not that he was being inappropriately sleazy and creepy.
"I don't understand, sir" I responded
"This your sir...sir...sir..." he said, chuckling "don't use 'sir' to rob me of your delectable body. Abi you think I don't know that you are using respect to shame me?" he concluded rhetorically, laughing.
At this point, I think I threw up in my mouth!!! All through, RIO had been sleazy but he was civil with it. The gloves were obviously coming off. He was settling into an affair with me in his head and I guess my complacency and fear were contributory factors. I was extremely disgusted and shocked by the statement he just made
" Sir, I am very uncomfortable with this line of conversation,sir" I finally found my voice and it was time to nip this bs in the bud . I made sure to emphasise my 'sirs'. "I don't think it is appropriate for you to refer to me in that manner or to keep calling me or to...."
"IB, do you know how influential I am?" He asked cutting me off. His amusement had dimmed but had not been completely extinguished "Do you know how influential I am within and outside this industry?" "I am extremely influential" he said answering his own question, his voice hardening.
"I can make life very interesting and easy for you and I can make it difficult for you both inside and outside this bank, so if you are planning to rebuff me and then up and quit, please bear this fact in mind".
"IB, I am not asking much of you. I only want to help you" his voice had become soft again. He was reverting to his cajoling form "why do you insist on putting up unnecessary barriers between us? I can positively impact your life in ways you can't imagine. I was so excited when I learnt it was your birthday soon. I decided that we would use it as a fresh start. I have a great plan for your birthday. We could be in Dubai by Saturday morning. A friend has agreed to loan me his private jet. We would spend the night at the best hotel and I can give you all your heart desires."
"In fact" he continued "I am willing t overlook how badly and rudely you have been treating me for the past couple of months and give you the best birthday you've ever had. In fact, to sweeten the pot, tell me the brand of car you've always wanted to drive and as a good faith present, it will be ready by the time we return from Dubai" He looked pleased with himself as he outlined all his plans. "IB, go and think about it and we will discuss it tonight".
At this point, even I was fed up with my moral compass and wished the darn thing would break into thousands of pieces. But it refused to and was ticking along righteously. It would be a lie to say the offer wasn't attractive or I didn't want to be wined and dined with no expense spared BUT I was not able to compromise my principles. I was tired of literally being hunted for sport at RIO's instance. I was sick of the constant harassment and I had begun to blame myself for letting it get to a point where he felt it was ok for him to refer to my body in such a cavalier manner and just feel I was his for the taking just by dangling a few trinkets in front of me. All the pent up emotions and anger simply came to the fore and I gave RIO a piece of my mind. Struggling to control myself so I could articulate my position with the clarity it deserved, I said:
"There is nothing to think about sir. Thank you for the offer and for your interest in me but I cannot do what you are asking me to do. It is against my religious and moral beliefs and frankly, I am uncomfortable with your advances. If you truly wanted to impact my life like you said, you would have chosen to mentor me professionally. In my estimation, I have never given off the vibe of someone who was looking to engage in office liaisons of any kind. I've always kept myself to myself which is why your advances shocked me in the first instance and I wasn't able to respond appropriately to them. I think you have taken my silence to mean consent and I apologize if I have misled you in anyway by not nipping this in the bud when it first started. That being said, I cannot go to Dubai with you, I cannot go on dates with you and I cannot have an affair with you".
With that, I turned towards the door and walked out. My heart was beating sooooo fast and hard in my chest, it felt like it was trying to climb out of my mouth. RIO sat in stunned silence till I finished my piece. I bet he didn't think I would ever speak up for myself but that was IB of 5 months ago. This IB, was a bad ass muth...who would not take crap from anybody, going forward.
The die was finally cast.
To be continued.