Punked: A fictional short story that highlights the pain of acute betrayal...

A man is stuck in a Lagos traffic jam, his palms gripping the steering wheel as if his life depended on it. Impatient, he tugged at his necktie to loosen its hold on his firm neck. As the traffic loosened a bit, a reckless driver skidded sharply unto his space in the line, blocking him from shifting progressively. Pressing his sweaty palms furiously on his horn button, he honked with sheer displeasure, "Wetin dey worry you this man? E don dey works you?!" He spat at the sharp guy who took his place in the traffic; "Oga sorry o, no be me wey do you wetin dey do you," the former answered back in shrill, feminine tones. This infuriated the offended man; further, the fact that this lawbreaker took his space unlawfully was not enough, he is a guy, and he had to talk like a Lady! So annoying! A lady who is somehow the source of the irate man's frustration. The man has a name; he is Kenechukwu.

Kenechukwu is a guy known to be formidably strong, brawny, and the fantasy of damsels in distress who wish for a knight in shining armor to rescue them from the fortress of their unfulfilled dreams. 'The Mayor,' as he was fondly called by his gang those days in the streets, was a shoulder to cry on, so reliable, so steady, so constant. Not quickly given to anger, he is a bubbly, sunny personality that is so attractive to anyone who comes across him. A ladies' man had numerous belles during his heydays; he was not the committed-ready-to-settle down type until he met her.

Marilyn swept Kene, the Mayor, off his sturdy feet when he thought he was standing firm. She conspired with cupid, who struck him at the most vulnerable part of his being. It was a private, shotgun romantic wedding that was conducted at an idyllic location in the presence of friends and relatives. His friends thought he was being hasty and insane, but he didn't care. It was a picture of Bliss and happily ever after as the couple grinned and stared at each other with love, their cups overflowing with happiness, so to speak.

Kenechukwu gritted his teeth, staring ahead of him at the 'Mr sharp guy' who overtook him earlier as they all crawled in the ceaseless hold-up. He recalled how he loved and cherished her, adored her, worshipped the sand she stepped on. How he pampered her during four beautifully chaotic gestational processes that beget two boys and two girls, a picture-perfect life; that was all he hoped for, wasn't it? Kene cursed under his breath as he meditated mournfully on the revelation he received hours earlier. A Series of awkward situations unraveled as his last son Denzel manifested serious, mysterious symptoms lately. Actually, he has always been the weakling amongst his children due to his incessant ailments that his beloved wife would dismiss as children common sicknesses that he would outgrow with age. Or is it?

Kene took it upon himself to take his kid to the hospital since his beloved had been on a business trip for days now. Since his wife takes monopoly of the children's personal welfare with the "mother knows best" mantra, he had been less concerned about his kid's health status, leaving them in the capable hands of mother dearest. Never did he fathom that his life would never be the same, ever again.

The doctor conducted medical examinations on the sick child and broke the bomb-like news. Denzel wasn't his. How? When? Where did this happen? Marilyn was always with him, round the clock, except on his 8-hour working shift at the bank. Marilyn worked too. How did this happen? What wrong did he commit except love her with all his heart?

Kene gripped his steering wheel so hard that his knuckles shone white, his phalanges threatening to pop out of his skin. His boy, Denzel, who always lovingly called him 'Dad' with innocence, wasn't his! Oh, how he loved him! His temple throbbed in pain as he recalled the silent drive home, with the little boy staring at him, wanting attention from his dad, who suddenly turned cold. Kene was battling his torn emotions only to get home to see his buddy Derek in his matrimonial bed with his beloved, backstabbing Marilyn. That was the height of it all! Stoned, he looked at them as if he saw two ghosts, "Kene darling, it's not what you think!" the lady cried as she sprung out of bed. The smitten man rushed out in a daze, jumped into his car, and zoomed off, leaving a forlorn little Denzel sitting on the steps of their home, wide-eyed and confused. In his little mind, Denzel knew that all was not well, but all he wanted for the moment was an ice cream cone and biscuits.

Now Kene, the loving husband, the larger-than-life, sunny, bubbly, everybody's friend, the soft doting father, and anchor, is speeding to an unknown destination. What his irrational mind is telling him to do, we do not know; all we know is that the hold-up on the third mainland bridge is delaying his irrationality from taking the due course, coupled with the 'Mr. The sharp guy blocked his view, still screeching in shrill tones at other road users whom he also wronged. With all this internal and external chaos that was about to make him go ballistic, Kenechukwu decided to let the steam boil like hot water in a steam kettle, welling up to his throat, he tried to choke it back, but no, his eyes gave way to cathartic tears. He wound up his tinted glasses and cried like he never did in his life.

Suddenly, heavy droplets of cleansing rain descended on the static traffic; it seems the heavens, too, wept with the seriously Punked Kenechukwu. His life of love and light had been a lie all this while. Amidst the tears, he stopped and raised his tear-stained eyes to the view ahead of him, staring into space; what if the other kids weren't his? Oh well, who knows what would sadly happen next?

Written by Ifeyinwa Jemimah Uchendu

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