Tunde never planned to have a side chick. He was by himself, minding his business, when she fell on his lap. It had been a long day at the office, battling with multiple complaints about the internet services in the agency he worked for. Usually he left most of the footwork to Oghale but Oghale had resigned last week to join his 70year old bride in Britain and the agency hadn’t found his replacement yet. He had just sold his Toyota Camry and couldn’t decide if he wanted a Benz or a BMW next so for the mean time he settled for the company bus.
He sat by the aisle and popped his earphones in, closed his eyes and waited for the bus to fill. He felt the bus move then break suddenly and something hit him on his thighs. His eyes flew open and he saw the prettiest bum in a skin tight purple skirt rise from his laps. He removed his earphones in time to hear her profuse apologies and to hear the whole bus berate the driver for his carelessness. He eased her to the window seat while trying not to make his appraisal obvious.
Her tag stated she was an intern. She looked young, early twenties most likely. Her hair was done in simple cornrows and her glasses gave her a bookish look. He looked away and was about to resume his Asa album when she thrust her arm towards him.
“Hi, I am Ima Brown.”
“Again, I am so sorry for falling on you like that.”
“Don’t be, it was the driver’s fault.”
With that he smiled and wore his earphones but something had changed.
He got home an hour later, microwaved some spaghetti and chicken and had a bath. He was about to sleep when his phone rang. It was Osuchi, his fiancée, he smiled as he picked the call.
“Hello baby, what’s up?”
“Tunde love, how are you?
How was your day? Did you miss me?”
“Of course I missed you, I miss you every minute of every hour and yeah my day was CRAZY. But I am alive so, I guess that’s all that matters. How are you? Did you ace the test? Are the results out?”
“Nah, they aren’t. We hope for the best. I am so sad to hear you had a rough day. Stay strong baby.”
And they talked about the movies they wanted to watch and the books they were reading; Osuchi just finished Anansi Boys by Neil Gailman while Tunde was trying to finish Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. They talked about the weather in Canada where Osuchi was doing her masters and the rot in Abuja where the streetlights couldn’t stay on. They talked about the babies they would have: two lovely girls, Ola and Lola. They were joking about how long it had been since they last kissed when the line died.
— Sorry darl, looks like me airtime is gone
–Not to worry, I ll call you tomorrow
–I love you
— I love you too.
Tunde slept smiling that night, he had no idea what the future had in store.
Over the next few days he saw Ima everywhere. She was behind him at the cafeteria. She was waving at him across the hall. Every evening she sat beside him on their way home. They liked the same football club Manchester United, they hated boiled groundnut and semo, they were ardent fans of the Game of Thrones series. One Friday she followed him home.
While he made her rice and chicken casserole, she told him about her childhood and her dreams for the future. It wasn’t long before they were spending entire weekends together. He told her he had a fiancée but she just laughed and rode him harder. Weeks became months and soon Osuchi would be back. He had to find a way to end things gently. Ima was lovely and everything but Osuchi was his life.
He tried to make the break up as gentle as possible . He held Ima in his arms and told her how much he loves her and how he wished he had met her first, she would always be in his heart but they had to stop seeing each other. Ima didn’t say a word, she picked her things and left but Tunde could hear her sniffing back her tearsas she closed the door. Relief flooded him like a river. He had to be more careful next time, he had to make sure there wouldn’t be a next time. He slept thinking of his honeymoon.
He found himself on a beach. Before he could rise the waves embraced him and drew him underwater . He couldn’t breathe. His lungs were about to explode when he discovered he was in a bubble. He took quick breaths while trying to wonder where he was. He was traveling underwater. He could see fish, manatee and octopus as he drifted past. Strange music filled his ears as he was hurled on dry land. Two rows of women in grotesque red and yellow masks carrying spears were waiting for him. One of them dragged him to his feet and they marched him forward chanting and hitting their spears. He was frightened now but mostly he was curious.
Why was he here?
What was this?
Where was he?
Abruptly he was pushed to the floor and he hands were bound behind his back. A blindfold was wrapped around his face and he was lifted to a mat and dragged the rest of the way.
“Tunde, welcome to Zimora,” a warm sonorous voice said, “Our daughter’s tears have summoned you here. You used her and crushed her. Was that fair? Was that right? You had nothing to offer her but your manhood,in return, you broke her and trampled her heart underfoot. Our daughter has demanded vengeance. And vengeance she shall have. Henceforth you shall lie no more with any woman nor with any man. Your seed shall be ours as penance. Your heart shall be tossed as a leaf in the rain. Your days shall be long and loveless. This is our decree.”
He was speechless till he felt a searing pain on his left arm and couldn’t hold back the scream. He woke up drenched in sweat and panting. The room was dark and eerily still. He sat up and tried to breathe normally. It was just a dream. The lights came back on then and to his horror the letter Z was boldly tattooed on his left shoulder.