I didn’t count the days, all I knew was, at a certain point, I was dragged out of the tub of water, dried off, dressed in good clothes and had my short hair combed till I felt it would pull out of its roots. A young girl Chijioke, was with me all the time as she fed me, clothed me and made sure I was rested. Everything happened in a blur and somehow, I didn’t understand myself anymore or my body changes, it felt like I was being drugged or intoxicated. I smiled at every whim and stopped protesting, instead I made myself feel at home. One day, as I was sound asleep with only Chijioke as a companion, the door was pushed open quite roughly as someone stumbled in.
“Chi…e don happen ooo.” The voice cried, it belonged to a female.
“Shhhh…don’t speak pidgin…I don’t want us getting into trouble. What happened?” Chi asked the girl in a confused voice.
“That …that bastard…that good for nothing Alhaji…he…he…” The girl started and choked in tears.
“What did he do to you? Didn’t you take a guard with you?” Chi asked.
“I have been with that bastard for over six months now so I felt I didn’t need the protection. I was wrong, he is a pig…a goat…a buffalo…an idiot…God will punish him…” The girl continued cursing.
“Fola…calm down, and please keep your voice down, the new recruit is asleep…don’t wake her up with your noise.” Chi cautioned.
“Poor girl, she doesn’t know what she’s gotten herself into…how I wish I turned back the day my mother brought me here. We are suffering ooo…let’s stop deceiving ourselves. We are high class prostitutes who are used by big men at will and …oh God!” The girl started and broke down in tears.
Chi ran to hold her in her arms.
“Shhh…please don’t let Madame get angry with me. Your noise is too much and even though I had the new recruit drugged, she could wake up at anytime.” Chi said.
In flinched at her words, ‘drugged?’ I said to myself, what did it mean? ‘Drugs na medicine na?’ I said inwardly. Then, I instantly knew, all the medications I have been receiving, the food, the drinks, everything had drugs laced in, all for me to stop causing a fuss.
“I want to take my life…I want to die…I can’t continue this way…no way!” Fola stamped her foot on the ground and made moan-like sounds in her throat.
“Tell me, what did he do? Please tell me…” Chi pleaded.
“He…he.” Fola started but later dragged Chi closer and whispered into her ears.
“What?” Chi shouted, disregarding the warning she had given Fola earlier about shouting.
“Yes…he did that and many more to me…Chi, I cannot let another girl live this kind of life. I need to stop this or else…” Fola continued.
“I can’t believe he did that! O my God! Please go and tell Madame…”
“What? So that she’ll throw her nose up in the air and tell me that she warned me never to go without an escort? I admit that Madame helped relieve me from poverty but how much better am I now that I’m here?” Fola said and referring to me, she said “Has she taken the oath yet?”
“No… she hasn’t yet.” Chijoke answered quietly.
“Then she can actually leave before things get worse for her. As soon as she takes the oath, it’s over, all over!”
“No way! Madame proposes to send her to Italy. Look at her, she’s so pretty and she has the finest skin even after living a ratchet life and all. Do you know she murmurs about the encounters she went through on the street in her sleep? I have never seen Madame so invested in anyone like this girl. I practically eat, breathe and sleep with her, she is like a mini Queen. Madame knows that this girl is on huge money bag. Big time!”
As I feigned sleep, my heart pumped in fear. One thing is certain, whatever that Alhaji did to Fola was bad, really bad and I wasn’t ready to be a part of it or anything associated with it. At that moment, I really wished my mother was a witch or possessed some kind of supernatural powers to save me. Inwardly I screamed;
“Mama ehhhh…abeg join witchcraft make you come carry me fly comot from hia ooo…dem wan use me do juju.”