Tunde Smart hated his life. He loved his job, which was the architect of the life he was living; still in a bizarre way that nobody else could follow, Tunde loved his job and hated the kind of life he was consigned to lead. A special agent with the Nigeria Intelligence Agency, Tunde Smart was a spy whose job was to infiltrate criminal organizations and remove their backbone before they could do damage to both the country, and her citizens.
He was very adept at his work, having a rating that was off the charts, he had risen rapidly as his analytical skills caught the eyes of his superiors and they assigned him the more knotty cases. He always cracked them, bringing down the culprit and getting their ovation. But this was different.
Out of the blue, one of his superiors had assigned him this case. A cursory read of the file, and he knew he was pretty much fucked. He would have to live as an urchin for months, create credibility with the gang and then move up in their hierarchy. It was an arduous task, a dirty stint, and his boss Colonel Bala had called Tunde into his office. He could remember their discussion.
It had been one of those frustrating days. The sun was imperially scorching; people stared out from under shelter, praying for respite, afraid to go out lest they get thawed under the sweltering sun. Tunde Smart had woken up that morning angry. At first, he hadn’t understood why he was irritable when he was supposed to be eager about meeting his recluse of a boss. He tried analyzing himself, but couldn’t, so he started preparing for work.
He was in the shower when it hit him like a heavyweight boxer‘s punch. He was angry because of Yewa’s call. Every time she called, she seemed to know exactly how to drain the life out of him. He couldn’t recall what they had discussed, being groggy during the call, he fought off her memory and concentrated on getting prepared for work. He got dressed, got into his car and drove out.
It all came rushing back, the call. He had gotten into his apartment at 11:48pm tired and completely stressed out, he had been on a stake out with his occasional partner Dafe Young. They waited in vain for a crime lord they had been tipped off would be conducting his business that day. The man failed to show and Tunde had gotten home, his nerves raw, his body aching, yearning for a long and well deserved night’s rest, and then his phone had rang.
He wondered who would be calling him at that unholy hour. Silently he muttered a prayer under his breath and answered the call. ‘Hello,’ he said, His voice was crisp, surprising Tunde Himself.
‘Lamidi!’ He knew instantly that he had made a wrong decision in answering that call. Only one woman called him that. One woman, the mother of his kids; Yewande Adesoye.
He sighed audibly. ‘Yewa, do you know what time it is?’
‘So?’ Her response was automatic as always. ‘Lamidi, why are you behaving like this?’ He could hear the hysteria in her voice.
‘Behaving, how?’ He was at a loss. ‘I sent you the money you requested for last week, didn’t I? And I got you all the things…’
She broke into tears.
‘What now?’ He was exasperated with her. To think he had almost married her, he silently thanked his stars for not allowing the union to be finalized. Tunde did not think He would have been able to cope with her incessant theatrics and drama. He sighed again, ‘what is the problem Yewa?’
‘Jide got into a fight today at school. He broke the other child’s nose and arm. The parents will be pressing charges. I don’t know what to do.’ Her explanation was interspersed with tears and deep sighs.
He smiled at first, then the gravity of what the boy had done hit him. The boy was twelve; he had taught him martial arts and constrained the boy not to under any circumstance use it on other people; not even to defend himself. Yet the boy had been in a fight. It didn’t bode well.
He stroked his right temple as he rubbed his palm harshly over his face in a bid to wake himself. Asking Yewa why she had called would not only be stupid, it would prove futile. She was calling him to notify him that it was his responsibility. He remembered she had viciously kicked against it when he started teaching both kids martial arts three years back. So to appease her, he had taught only Jide the boy, allowing Yeni be with her mum. His good intentions had come back to haunt him.
‘What have they done for the other kid? I hope he isn’t hospitalized?’ He asked concerned.
His question elicited a long hiss.
‘Yewa, please answer the question…’
‘You couldn’t even ask after my son first ehn? Always the chivalrous man, can’t you for once put your family above others?’ Her tone was harsh.
‘I’m sorry,’ he conciliated. ‘You said Jide broke the kid’s nose and arm, I deduced Jide is fine and that’s why the parents of the other kid want to press charges, am I correct?’
She hissed again. ‘You need to come to Lagos to sort this mess your son has landed himself in oo. Me, I told them that they could do anything they wanted with the boy…’
‘You did what!’ He could feel the blood rushing to his head. Anger enveloped him. He had always avoided Yewa, and she hated him for it; was this payback? ‘He’s your son!’ Tunde protested lamely.
‘Like I said, he is your responsibility. I warned you against teaching him all that nonsense, you wouldn’t listen, now that it’s come to this, you have to come stand by your son. I agree you can’t be held down so you’ve refused to do the right thing by me. I just wonder if you’ll shirk your role as a father too.’ The line clipped off.
Tunde stared at the phone in his hand for several seconds like it was an abominable device. He mulled over a thought in his head and redialed her number; switched off. He knew she had terminated the call on purpose. He tried remembering how on God’s good earth he had met with Yewande. He discovered that it had been a really long while, and he wasn’t in a mood for long reveries. He undressed, contemplated having a shower, decided to rest a little and the bath. He checked the time 11:53pm; that was all he remembered.
He got to the office on time. Processed himself into the building and walked briskly to his temporary cubicle. Being a field agent had its perks; an office wasn’t one of them. He however could operate from anywhere in the world with minimal notice. He started his computer and banished the fleeting thought of Jide from his mind. He would request a few days off to see to the boy, first he had to remain focused on his meeting with Colonel Bala.
He checked his watch, 9:15am. The meeting wouldn’t commence for another forty-five minutes, he decided to get abreast of happening and events in the covert world. He was buried in his work writing reports and responding to mails when Ahmed Tarila tapped his shoulder.
‘Shouldn’t you be meeting with the DG now?’ Ahmed had tapped his wristwatch.
Tunde jumped, took two steps away from his computer and realized his folly. He spurned around, gently shoving Ahmed as he locked the screen of his computer. ‘Sorry,’ he grinned. He didn’t even notice his colleague’s shrug.
The time was 8:55am. He took the elevator up four floors, turned right and made his way to the DG’s office.
‘Welcome, agent Tunde.’ Colonel Bala greeted back as Tunde entered the room and greeted everyone there. There were the usual faces, people he had worked with earlier in his career. Notably, There was Akindayomi Adedigba (the man who had recruited him and bequeathed him with his code name Tunde Smart) sitting amongst the other sharks, smiling comfortably.
If there was one thing that Tunde learned from the man, it was that Akindayomi – the first agent Smart, hated bureaucracy. So why the man sat there in the midst of the sharks smiling amiably wasn’t a thought Tunde was ready to pursue. He knew however, that the meeting wasn’t going to be as he had expected, he braced himself.