Lost in Hue: The Clandestine World of Tamara Lu

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. For the three years that I had been married, I hadn’t visited my wife’s workplace even once, even though it was just fifteen minutes’ drive from Rhodes Park where I worked to the office block next to East Park Mall on Thabo Mbeki Road where she spent most of her days. All because of my busy schedule of course. So when I finally got an opening and decided to take her lunch for the first time ever, I wasn’t too surprised to find that I was a stranger at her office. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was to be told that she hadn’t worked there in weeks.

“There has to be some mistake, ummm……Thandi,” I said, after looking at the receptionist’s desk name plate. The lady seemed like she didn’t want to be bothered, and she made it evident by the way she tossed her long, thick curls back as she looked up at me.

“There’s no mistake, sir, she had been absent from the office for weeks without an explanation. She only returned about two weeks ago and got into a heated argument with management, and before they could let her go, she quit. Haven’t seen her since,” she said, before returning to her work, or more accurately, from what I could see from the reflection off her glasses, her social media page.

“Well, would you at least know-”

“I’m sorry sir, I don’t have the slightest clue,” she replied, without even looking at me this time. So she’s not gonna be any help, I thought, as I turned around and then left the office block. I was baffled, to say the least, but I knew there was something I was missing, so I called her as soon as I got back to my car.

“Hi, Tamara, just forgot something at home…..are you at work?” I asked.

‘Oh, hey Miles. Yeah, I am; it’s kinda crazy here, would have loved to have helped out but I’m kind of tied up…..see you later at dinner?”

“Yeah, sure.”

So now, not only had she withheld information, but she had lied to me as well. She had always been a routine, calculated kind of person who had never lied to me before, so, needless to say, I was taken aback. I had to begin to face the reality that something was seriously off, and so many questions remained, swarming my mind like a frenzy of starving locusts. If she lied about this, what else has she been lying about? Is Tamara even her real name? Okay, I knew I was getting carried away. But putting away all my silly thoughts, there was still that one question that remained, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself that I was thinking things: where she had been spending her time before she left her job?

Could she be cheating on me?

No, that’s not her; it can’t be. But then I thought to myself when was the last time we went out on a date? When was the last time we did anything romantic together?

Could it be that she’s getting all that attention somewhere else?

I needed answers, and she was the only one who could give them to me. I decided that I was going to confront her when she came home for dinner, and for the time being, I had to figure out how I was going to confront her about it.

▪ↈ▪

It was six thirty. I was anxious as hell, and I had even started getting dinner ready to keep myself busy. I hadn’t cooked in years. I remained going over lines in my head, wondering how I was going to start the interrogation because the last thing I would want would be to lose my cool and falsely accuse her of anything before getting her side of the story.

Even though it had been years since I whipped anything up in a kitchen, I was still at least a novice in my own books. That night, everything I did was a mess. I got more nervous as the minutes went by and I botched all the dishes I was trying to prepare. This was a woman who hadn’t failed to be home even a minute later than seven in months.

It was eight-thirty.

What could be keeping her?

When I simply got fed up of waiting, I decided to call her, tapping the kitchen counter repeatedly as I was listening to the beeping sound from my mobile.

No response.

No matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t get through. I tried calling all her friends, and they all said they hadn’t seen her in days. Weeks for some. That’s it, my last resort was the police.

“Hello, this is the police. May you state your emergency?”

“Good evening, this is Miles Lumba, I want to report a missing pers-“

Before I could say another word, I felt a cloth going over my mouth. My eyes widened as I realized what was going on, and what was going into my nose.

Chloroform.

Despite my struggling, I blacked out in seconds.

▪ↈ▪ↈ▪

~Jack~

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