Emeka, …

God gave you an early birthday gift on the second Friday, twenty-second, two days before your twenty-second birthday. You had gone to see Hassan but met his absence. To worsen matters, he was not taking his calls. Because you knew he always returned home to prepare for Jumu’ah prayers, you walked up the Jatau Bridge, hoping to catch him on his way back. Unfortunately, you did not see him.

You whined that you had wasted your time for nothing when you saw Grace. She struck as familiar, but you could not place her identity. You were standing and waiting to recall who she was when she noticed you. The stress lines across her face disappeared as it broke into a smile. Alas! It was the same lady you saw in your dreams.

‘How come I didn’t identify her?’ you wondered.

“Hello,” you waved, walking towards her.

“Hi,” she mouthed tiredly and stood still, waiting for you to catch up.

“Grace? Am I correct?” you asked upon reaching her.

“Yes, you are, Nani boi,” she affirmed, smiling.

“Nani boi? No. You,”

“You said your name was Nnaemeka the other day. Isn’t that Nani boi’s name?”

“My goodness! You remember my name?” you could not believe your ears.

“Of course, I do. Who forgets the name of the African Aquaman? Without locks and inks, though.” she joked, corroborating your sister’s assertion that you had a spitting semblance with Jason Mamoa, the actor behind DC’s Aquaman character.

“Wow!” you exclaimed – you were making headway with your quest.

“Yeah! Oh! I think I owe you a handshake,” she recalled, stretching out her hand.

You hesitated for a moment, unable to process how she managed to remember events of several days before like they happened a few minutes ago.

“Hey, I don’t bite,” she assured soothingly, like a caregiver welcoming a first-timer to creché.

“I’m sorry,” you knocked yourself out of the woolgathering and shook the outstretched hand.

Her hand felt like fresh-water fish. You could not help holding on for longer than usual, but she did not seem uncomfortable – she probably kept her cool to make up for startling you by initiating the handshake.

“I’m surprised you remember the details of our brief meeting,” you said at last.

“Am I not supposed to remember?” she asked, puzzled.

“Well, not everyone remembers stuff like that,” you explained.

“Oh! I see. Isn’t it great to be unique?” she asked, slightly irritated – stress seemed to be getting the better of her.

“Hmm, it’s great,” you agreed, although you did not think so.

You weighed the idea that she was a witch or mermaid. ‘Maybe Hassan knows what she was, and that’s he refers to her as his Mami-water,’ you thought.

“That’s settled then. How have you been?” Grace asked, eager to change the topic.

“I’m blown away, as you can see,” you answered, laughing.

“And I’m worn out. In short, I’m not fine,” Grace answered, and you realised why you couldn’t identify her immediately.

to be continued…

Is it strange that Grace remembers the details of their first meeting?

Do you think Emeka is right to feel Grace is a mermaid or witch?

What else do you think?

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P.S: This work is purely fictional. Any semblance to actual persons (living or late), places, or events are merely figments of the writer’s attempt at keeping in touch with reality.

✌🏾 Ka ọ dị!

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