There is a couple, Dayo and Faith.
Faith is the girl, in case you were wondering. It gets tricky with these things.
They are new age. Not new age new age, but they are modern.
Dayo proposes to Faith at the park. Before that, they go to watch a movie, it is a Saturday afternoon, and this time he holds her hands for the full 90 minutes, except for when he reaches for the popcorn. After the movie, they eat lunch at the food court then she feels like he’s rushing to drop her off at home, but he says, First let’s stop at this park.
At the park their friends are there and her parents too. He has done the right thing and asked them and even though they are not crazy about him, it has been a four year relationship so they’ve said, Fine you can ask her.
No one yells Surprise or anything like that. The couple walk into the park, Faith sees her friends, she turns to Dayo, maybe knowing, maybe a little confused. He holds her left hand, he drops to one knee. He tries to put his hand into his pocket to get the ring out, but by kneeling down he has wedged the case tight in his jeans pocket.
He stands back up, still holding her hand and wiggles the case out. The audience of friends and family do a nervous chuckle and end it with a small cheer as he gets the case out. He kneels again, says something like, Ever since I met you I have dreamt of this day. The day to finally ask you to be my wife. Will you, Faith, do me the honours?
She nods, says Yes. He squeezes the ring onto her finger, gets up. They hug.
After that, things get intense. One day, they have their regular date night. Dayo says he’s thinking of getting a tattoo. He wants it to say Faith, right over his heart. Faith laughs, says they should get matching tattoos. Well, not matching she says, I should get Dayo and you get Faith. Dayo doesn’t laugh back. He grips her hand, his gaze is serious. More serious even than when he asked her to marry him. He says, Yes we should.
They are at the tattoo parlor a few weeks later. They go into separate rooms. Dayo and Faith. When he comes out 30 minutes later, Faith is standing there in the open space.
Dayo is holding his arm stiffly, in pain. Faith says, I couldn’t do it.
Dayo is looking at the fresh markings on his chest. Faith. He says, What?
Faith says, I tried. Honestly. I just couldn’t do it.
Dayo storms out, leaving her there. Faith tries to call him, he doesn’t answer her calls or reply her messages. She tries for three days. Then she gets angry. She tells her sister to forget him. She tells her sister Dayo is being petty. She tells her sister, of course Dayo wouldn’t mind inking Faith on his chest, even if we break up, it would still be meaningful. Faith says, Imagine me carrying Dayo around on my chest forever. What will I tell another man?
Dayo calms down a week later. He calls Faith who doesn’t pick up. He calls her sister. They chitchat. Her sister says, I will talk to her for you. Her sister says, You sef you shouldn’t have gotten angry. Dayo says, Why wouldn’t I be angry? Am I not the one here with Faith written on my body?
The sister lets it slip, Yes but it’s Faith, it can mean anything. It’s not like Dayo.
Dayo is silent on the phone. The sister does a delayed laugh to try to retrieve her comment. The laughter trickles out of her mouth and achieves nothing. Dayo is quiet. She checks, Hello are you still there? Sorry it was just a joke.
Dayo says, So it’s like that?
Two weeks later, Dayo and his friend come to Faith’s house. She is there with her sister. It is their first time meeting since the tattoo parlour incident.
They sit in the living room. Faith’s sister serves drinks, she sets them out and returns to the kitchen. Gets an extra glass, gets an opener.
Faith says, Things didn’t have to get this bad. I am so-
Dayo holds up his hand, cuts her off. He says, Here is what’s going to happen. I am going to get your middle name, Tubosun, on the right side of my chest.
Faith says, Haba I thought this thing was settled.
Dayo says, It’s sad that I have to prove that I love you, but I’m doing this for myself.
Faith says, And I have to get the Dayo tattoo?
Dayo shrugs, as if to say, it doesn’t matter. He is seated on the sofa leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. He drops his head into his hands. In a low voice, he says, If you want to get married.
Everyone hears him.
The tension in the house is thick. Dayo’s friend is not sure why he is there. He sips his malt. He looks around the room. The television is on mute, the sounds of traffic come in faint from outside. He sips his malt again. He attempts a joke. Just Dayo? Or Dayo and your middle name? Hehe hehe… He puts awkward laughter at the end. Then quiet.
Minutes later, Dayo says, It’s Timothy.
Faith says, There’s no way I’m getting two tattoos.
Dayo says, Then do the full thing, Olamidayo.
Faith says, Oladayo.
Dayo says, Fine whatever.
The last time I saw him was at the beach. He was wearing a tank top and striped shorts. He would wade out until the water was up to his knees then he would wait for a large wave to come and race it back to the shore. Sometimes he would outrun the wave and make it to the shore, and sometimes, the wave would crash around him drenching him. You could see the edges of two tattoos on both sides of his chest, and he was alone. Very alone.