By Esomnofu Ebelenna.
Cucumber is your favourite fruit of all time. Your father knows it. Your mother knows it. Your sister knows it. Your brother knows it. Your roommate in the university knows it. Even your professors know it. Why, then, was Emeka, your fiancé, oblivious to the fact that you are so besotted to cucumber?
That Sunday, Emeka clouted you because of a cucumber. Kicked you. Drubbed you. And then dragged you out. You had gone to Ose Market, Onitsha and returned with cucumbers. Emeka wasn’t in. But he had dropped a note on the perfumed foam, as usual:
I waited and waited for you, so I vanished. I will be watching a Manchester United match with my friends in Fegge. Will be missing you.
You folded the paper as you wondered why he didn’t begin the note with “Darling Chioma”, as he used to do. The face of President Buhari on the TV riveted your attention and you temporarily forgot about Emeka.
Janet, one of the girls next door, tapped at the mental door and trudged in. Dappled sunlight danced in her big eyes. She was back from the salon, she announced, as if you did not know. Her boyfriend, who had ventured to China for business, was now on a flight. He would be in Nigeria tomorrow. You said you were happy for them and then youwashed your cucumbers in the crimson bowel.
As she pontificated about her boyfriend, you demolished your cucumbers, one after the other. When the sun in the sky turned red, Janet withdrew and you abandoned the last surviving cucumber in the bowel and wandered into the bathroom. Why is Emeka still outside at 9 o’clock, you wondered.
Perhaps he was gulping beer with his fellow traders in one of the trending pubs and yelping vituperative words at the federal government for this monumental economic recession. You turned on the shower, and as the tepid water refreshed you, you imagined Emeka stumbling into the bathroom, his clothes reeking of alcohol. You desperately wished he was drunk so that the evening fuck would be swift and rambunctious.
Whenever he came back drunk, you screamed off the roof with painful pleasure as he thrust deep and deep.
Finally, Emeka came home. And he wasn’t inebriated! His sobriety made you want to jump out of the bed where you lay naked waiting for him to come and fuck you senseless. You wanted to kick the wall. He edged forward, perilously. And you scrambled out of the bed to hug him.
But he brushed you aside. You stared at him, your good man. He picked up the last surviving fruit – your cucumber, and asked you which of the girls next door was fucking you.
You laughed, a hearty guffaw, but when you discerned the wild shine in his eyes you shut up. You told him that since the footage of “those girls who are acting a lesbian porn movie” was leaked men became suspicious and preposterous across the nation.
And he assailed you. He drubbed you. He booted you. He slapped you across the face and then demanded to be informed why you had been fucking yourself with a cucumber like myriad of Nigerian women of these days. He commanded you to pronounce the names of your female lovers. You plummeted to the ground and cried and swore that Janet was not your lover, that she was just a friend, which she was, but your man wouldn’t believe you.
Ten minutes later, you were out of his house, your head disfigured, your Brazilian wig scattered, your gown drenched in your blood. And tears stood in your eyes. Slowing, they began to tickle down your clawed cheeks. Your cucumber has wracked your two-year friendship with Emeka. He would never marry you again. It was November and the bride price cum traditional marriage ceremony you both had scheduled for December melted like a candle. You wondered what you would tell Mama.
You wondered what you would tell Papa. And, of course, you wondered what you would tell your friends whom you had unofficially invited to your traditional marriage.
The rain picked up and so you crouched and clutched your duffel handbag, which had dropped into the mud nearby, and scurried across the busy Awka Road with tears blurring your vision and a big thunder rolling in the sky overhead.