Just Imagine is a Zikoko weekly series that takes fictional pop culture icons and reimagines them as chaotic Nigerians.
Headline – “Man marries Fish.”
Does that seem like what a Nigerian man would do?
There are only a few Nigerian men who would find out you’re a mermaid and stick by your side and even fewer that would go ahead and marry you.
On this episode of #JustImagine, I take on Disney’s Ariel, the Little Mermaid and reimagine Ariel as Amara and Emeka as her prince.
Ikorodu Ferry Station
It’s just past 7am in the Ikorodu area of Lagos. Emeka is standing on a long queue of people ready to get on the ferry bobbing slightly on the water. The ferry is conveying the passengers from Ikorodu to Victoria Island, where Emeka works.
An officer, Dele, hands out life jackets to the people as they get on the ferry. Emeka reaches the front of the queue and Dele hands him a life jacket.
Emeka: (scrutinises the life jacket) why does this thing have a hole?
Dele: (irritated) which hole did you see?
Emeka shows Dele the tear on the life jacket.
Dele: And so?
Emeka: If this boat should capsize, won’t I drown with this life jacket?
The woman behind Dele pokes her head.
Woman: Oga, which one is capsize? Abeg, Jesus will not let that one happen. Collect the thing and pray on top. Or maybe you should go and enter BRT.
Dele hands the woman a lifejacket with an even bigger hole in it.
The Ferry starts to move towards Lagos Island. A distance away from the ferry, Amara, a mermaid, swims to the surface of the water. The tide changes and the ferry starts to shake.
Woman: Jesus! Jesus o!!
Emeka holds on to his lifejacket and does the cross sign.
Amara swims under the ferry and holds it steady. After a while, the ferry stabilises and Amara swims away. Emeka catches a glimpse of her tail.
Emeka: Hay! Mamiwater o! I saw mamiwater!
Woman: (frowns) Are you the one they sent to us? Because you were the one shouting capsize before. Now, it is mamiwater.
Emeka: I saw mamiwater.
Woman: You better stop saying rubbish!
At the bottom of the sea, Amara is kneeling, surrounded by singing mermaids. The singing stops as soon as their leader, Queen Mother, steps out of the shadows.
Queen Mother: Amara! You say you want human legs?
Queen Mother: Because of a man.
Amara: I want to marry him, Queen Mother.
Queen Mother: And what will you give me in return?
Amara: (humbly) My voice.
Queen Mother: That sounds like generator?
Queen Mother: Talk another thing.
Amara whistles and some mermen bring in a chariot. Amara bows dramatically.
Amara: Queen Mother, I present you the latest sea chariot. This one is really expensive.
Queen Mother: Amara.
Amara: (bows) Queen Mother, I am your servant.
Queen Mother: That’s the chariot they stole from me last week.
Amara looks at the chariot and back at Queen Mother.
Amara: This is it?
Queen Mother points at the number plate that reads – Queen Mother’s Chariot.
Amara: Is it your own Queen Mother? Or like Agbowa side Queen Mother.
Amara: Help me, ma. I want to marry.
Queen Mother: Do you have anything else to give me?
Amara: I have sardine.
Queen Mother: (sighs) Just give me your voice.
Amara opens her mouth and Queen Mother takes her voice.
Queen Mother: Swim to the surface and your legs will appear. If you do not marry that man in four weeks, you will go back to being a mermaid and become my prisoner. Now go!
Amara starts to drag the chariot out.
Queen Mother: Is it that your head is not correct?
Amara: Sorry, ma.
Emeka’s boss, Mr Jude, walks into the office with Amara. Everyone looks up from their computers.
Mr Jude: Everyone, I want to introduce Amara. She is our new intern.
Amara waves and all the men in the office wave back, excitedly.
Mr Jude: Emeka, you will be mentoring Amara this week.
Mr Jude leaves the office and Amara goes to sit next to Emeka.
Emeka: (laughs nervously and stretches out his hand) Hi, my name is Emeka.
Amara grins and shakes his hand.
Close of Business
It’s almost six in the evening and Amara is packing her bags. Emeka stops at her desk and Amara looks up.
Emeka: Hey, do you want me to wait for you?
Amara nods and finishes up before they walk out together.
Emeka: Do you want to grab something to eat?
Emeka and Amara are sitting at a table. On Emeka’s plate are different kinds of fish. Emeka is eating everything, hungrily.
Emeka: (crushes bone) There is no kind of fish that I don’t eat.
Amara raises her brow.
Emeka: You, you’re not eating? You don’t like fish?
Amara shakes her head.
Emeka: You’re missing o. (cuts fish) Are you a vegetarian?
Emeka: (laughs) I will teach you how to eat fish. (calls out) Iya Seki! Bring two more titus and one kote for me.
Amara’s eyes widen.
Emeka: If I don’t eat titus, I can die. My uncle is a fisherman (crushes bones) Look at that water.
Amara looks towards the lagoon.
Emeka: If fish should finish there, hold my uncle. He is the one that caught all the fish.
Amara and Emeka are sitting on the sea and watching the waves. Emeka leans in and they kiss.
Amara looks at him and points to her ring finger.
Emeka: You want me to engage you?
Emeka: Ha. I don’t know o.
Amara looks at him and Emeka faces her.
Emeka: Let me not lie for you. Sometimes, you use to behave somehow.
Emeka: Why do you use to go to the river at 3am? What are you always looking for?
Amara signs that she is washing clothes.
Emeka: Why are you washing cloth at 3am? Then when you come back at 4am, you will sleep on tree. (leans in and whispers) shey you are ok?
Emeka sits back and brings out some fish and starts eating.
Emeka: (chews) Me, I don’t think so o.
Amara stares at him.
Emeka: I should stop eating fish again?
Emeka: Ok. Sorry.
Amara writes on a paper – Tomorrow is my birthday, come to the river at 6pm.
Emeka: We are going to water again?
Amara and her friends are in the shallow part of the water, surrounding a chair. Emeka reaches the water and sees Amara wearing a crown.
Emeka: This is what I was saying before o. This is what I was saying o. Why are you wearing crown now? When you’re not Queen of the Coast.
Amara gestures for him to come in.
Emeka: Come where?
Amara points to the chair.
Emeka: That burial chair?
Emeka: So you people can collect my destiny?
Amara shakes her head.
Emeka: Is it not your birthday? Why am I the one sitting on chair?
Amara points to her ring finger.
Emeka: You want to do wedding?
Emeka: Is this the way to church? Is it not birthday we came to do?
Amara is frustrated. She points at her ring finger.
Emeka: I say we will go to church! CHURCH!
The End Of Amara’s Four Weeks
It’s a few minutes to sundown and Amara is at a local bar with Emeka and his friend, Saheed. Saheed is a little drunk while Amara bites her fingernails nervously.
She raises her hand and points at her ring finger.
Emeka: (gulps a glass of beer) Amara, calm down. See engagement ring is expensive o. Abi will you buy it?
Saheed: (belchs) Maybe you can help me buy another beer here.
The sun goes down and a loud gong sounds. Amara starts to shake as she turns into a mermaid. Emeka jumps up. The woman running the bar runs inside and locks her door.
Saheeed falls off his chair and Emeka wipes his eyes as he stares at Amara in disbelief.
Saheed: (whispers) Amara is Titus?
Queen Mother appears.
Queen Mother: Amara, your four weeks are up.
Queen Mother looks at Saheed and Emeka.
Queen Mother: Which one is the one you wanted to marry?
Amara points to Emeka and Emeka points to Saheed.
Saheed: Who? Ma, it is not me o.
Queen Mother: Amara, I will only let you live if your man is willing to fight for you.
Emeka: Is Saheed that will fight.
Saheed: Hope they have not been swearing for you?
Emeka: I bought Gulder for you now!
Saheed: I should now die because of that?
Queen Mother: Shut up! You, why haven’t you married Amara?
Emeka: (prostrates) Mummy, I have wife.
Amara stares at him.
Emeka: In the village. See the picture.
Emeka shows Queen Mother some photos on his phone. Saheed looks at it.
Saheed: When did you marry Fathia Balogun?
Emeka: Shut up your dirty mouth.
Queen Mother: For your deceit, you are coming with me!
Emeka: Ha! I have promotion interview tomorrow o.
Saheed starts to leave.
Queen Mother: And you too.
Saheed: Ehn? Ma, Is not like I don’t want to go with you but I still have 1,000 Naira with GTB. Do you have GTB branch there?
Queen Mother touches them and they vanish. The bar woman comes out and starts wailing.
Bar woman: Them no give me money ooo!
Emeka and Saheed are dressed in loincloths, mopping the bottom of the ocean as punishment.
Saheed: Because of Gulder that I say you should buy for me, I have reach marine kingdom to be mopping ocean.
Saheed: You get two bay?
Emeka: For what?
Saheed: I wan carry fishwoman this night.
Saheed winks at a mermaid swimming closeby.
Check back every Friday by 2pm for new stories in the Just Imagine series.