I poked my head into the Nursery chamber, eager to see my magnificent ant-beauty, Zita.
But she wasn’t there, the chamber was empty except for the pupa broods crawling around. Where could she be? Why wasn’t she here? She was way too devoted to just neglect her duties. My head drooped.
“And what are you looking for in there, Zoro?”
I whirled around in shock. It was Kiki. She too worked in the nurseries.
“You are looking for Zita, aren’t you?” Kiki crawled into the Nursery.
“Yes.” I confessed. Why deny it?
Kiki crawled closer and knocked me with her head.
“Ouch!” I cried. “What was that for, Kiki?”
“What are you trying to do, get both of you killed?” Kiki demanded, her eyes bright with annoyance.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “You know I’ll never do anything to harm Zita.”
“And how will I know that, huh?” Kiki raised her antennae and struck me with them. “What is the matter with you, drone? Are you suffering from the Tiga-disease?”
“What?” I exclaimed in shock. “Of course not.”
The Tiga-disease came into existence a few years ago, or so I was told, when an ant, Tiga was born and after a few weeks, it was observed that there was something was amiss with her. For some reason, she acted like she was possessed by some contrary spirit. She was never where she should be; never could do what she was asked to and she was forgetful, always late, always making mistakes. Literally scatter-brained. So after she died, some months later, the colony tagged whatever it was that had been wrong with her the Tiga-disease. And since then, any ant acting weird was said to be suffering from the Tiga-disease.
“Are you sure?” Kiki demanded. “Because you are acting like it.”
“Kiki, I am not suffering from the Tiga-disease. I don’t forget things, I am never late and I don’t make mistakes.”
“You don’t make mistakes?” Kiki’s eyes slanted scornfully. “Zoro, you are here in the Nursery instead of in your own chamber waiting for the nuptial flight season. You asked Zita to leave the sanctuary of our Hill and go out in the fields with you and yet you say you don’t make mistakes?” She leaned her head towards mine. “So pray tell, what then do you call what you are doing?”
“Showing my feelings to the one I love.” I defended righteously.
Kiki stared at me. It was like she was seeing me for the first time.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” It was my turn to make demands.
“Azzz!” Kiki creaked. “I think the colony is bedevilled with mysterious diseases. Alas, we now have the Zoro-disease.”
“Very funny.” I said.
“No, not funny but a disaster.” Kiki turned her back to me. “Go back to your chamber drone. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, so scoot before Doga or worse still Kaza finds you here.”
“But where is Zita?” I asked, not moving.
Kiki whistled out a sigh. “Azzz, you don’t give up, do you?”
I stared straight at her.
“Fine, she was assigned to the Queen’s chamber for today. Miku died last night.” Kiki told me, her eyes batting with exasperation.
“Oh, okay.” I turned to leave, then stopped and turned again. “Thanks Kiki. I know you think I’m suffering from some kind of mad disease, but truly, I do love Zita. I’m in love with her.”
Kiki creaked and shook her antennae at me. “We are ants, we don’t fall in love, Zoro.”
“We are ants, yes, but… I am in love with Zita.”
Not waiting for her to respond, I turned and crawled out of the Nursery, down the sloping hill and straight on towards my chamber. My head felt heavy and drooped, I didn’t need an oracle to decipher the reason for the heaviness— I had not seen my beloved and it weighed heavy on my heart.