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THE WEAKNESS OF A MAN: chapter 2

Rally Trade

    Finally, we got to Abuja after a long, hectic, journey that seemed endless to me and after Vivian narrated my story to her mother, she became very sympathetic. She welcomed me into her home even though we hadn’t given her prior notice of my coming to live with her.  My happiness knew no bounds.  At least, I had a home and a family that showed me love. Well, so I thought.

       Vivian’s mother operated a Beer parlor somewhere in one of the satellite towns of Abuja. Vivian and I lived in a self-contain room some blocks from the Bar while mummy, Vivian’s mother, lived in a self-contain apartment attached to the Bar. I wondered why such an arrangement. I mean, they should live together, why rent two separate apartments but I kept my thoughts to myself.

     I wasn’t sheltered or fed for free, I worked eighteen hours of every day at the Bar. I only rested on Sundays because the Bar didn’t open for business on Sundays. Three days after I was welcomed into the fold, I became the replacement of the girl I met there. I wasn’t worried about handling the chores alone, I was desperate to give them value for all their kindness. And it was a better life, compared to being treated like an outcast by my family members. I was grateful to have it.

       I worked very hard even though the work was too tedious for me. I didn’t dare to complain, I had nowhere to go. I always had that at the back of my mind. So I put in my best, determined to please my benefactors. I told myself that if I impressed mummy with my diligence and hard work, she would send me back to school, which was my ultimate goal. But I soon realized it was simply impossible to please her. She was always angry with me. How naïve I was not to know that a new door to hell had just been opened to me and I had walked right in.

      A few weeks later, I discovered why she was always angry with me. Vivian didn’t bring me to the city just because she wanted to help me. They operated a racket, she and her mother. They recruit young unsuspecting girls to the city and make them prostitutes. The arrangement was for the girls to flirt and sleep with her customers in order to retain them. Whatever money the girl got from the customers belonged to her. Mummy was only interested in keeping her customers. From time to time new girls came and work for few weeks and go back. Most of them were undergraduates who needed extra cash and they were happy to have the opportunity. I was the only permanent girl at the time.

        One evening I overheard Mummy and Vivian discussing. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but when I realized they were talking about me, I had to listen.

“She is not a baby.” Mummy retorted. “It is over two months now and she is still misbehaving. My customers are beginning to complain of her stubbornness. Especially Ahmed and I have even promised him to personally make her go home with him for a night.”

“Tell him to be patient Mummy, she is not used to this.” Vivian begged on my behalf.

“I have been telling him that and he is now very impatient. You know he is my major customer and I don’t want to lose him. I would rather throw her out than lose Ahmed.”

“Ha, Mummy! You can’t do that, she has nowhere to go.”

“Then she should behave.” Mummy said in a flat tone. “Well, I know what to do. I am going to start charging her for her meals, after all I pay her salary.”

“Mummy you can’t do that. How much do you even pay her? It is barely enough for her toiletries.”

“I will even do more than that, you can watch me and see. Who does she think she is? The Virgin Mary? Look at you, you are doing well. Why can’t she learn from you?”

        They went on and on and when I couldn’t take anymore, I walked away from earshot. I felt very bad and disappointed that a mother could so encourage her own daughter to prostitute when she ought to encourage her to further her education. It was even more painful because I couldn’t interfere in the matter. My hope to impress Mummy to help me further my education died instantly. I had other concerns now. I realized my days with them are numbered because there was no reason on earth that would make me sell my body, no reason at all. Not even the threat of death!

       Before Vivian and I retired to our room that night, Mummy announced her decision to us in the most convincing way that would have made even a Reverend Sister see reasons with her and denounce her faith and embrace the oldest trade in the history of the world.  But I wasn’t moved by her unholy sermon.  Perhaps if I didn’t eavesdrop at their discussion, I would have been moved to break my vow.  Of course she didn’t put it as blatantly as she’d put it to her daughter but I knew what was underneath her sermon.  She was only trying to push me into a tight corner.  She figured that if I am left hungry, I’d opt for the only available way open to me to make money. To say I was both shocked and disappointed to hear her tell me her mind was to put it very mildly.  I couldn’t simply believe it.  So all along she has wanted me to prostitute and flirt with her customers?  Just so she would retain them?  So that was what they both actually did for a living.  I had thought Vivian got all that money from her mother and uncles.  To think I have always secretly admired her and slaved so hard so I could get even a little of such mercies from Mummy infuriated me the more. I was totally angry but I kept calm, I had nowhere to go.

       Vivian had a steady boyfriend who was obviously in love with her and I never suspected she was a prostitute. Though I have often wondered why she had so many uncles, I have never really thought it strange. It was so clear to me now. All those men she called her uncles were actually her lovers. God knows they were far over twenty in number! How stupid of me not to have guessed it.  Often times, while I was still attending to customers in the restaurant, she would leave for hours on end on the excuse that she wanted to see one uncle or the other.  And to think that Mummy knew all along and even encouraged it made me feel so sick. I really should have known what actually took place behind those closed doors when almost every night she would ask me to excuse her for a couple of minutes to have a private discussion with one uncle or the other in the room we shared.  Some of these uncles sometimes make passes at me but I always politely discourage them and whenever I told her, she would laugh and merely say they were naughty and that I shouldn’t feel embarrassed.  What nonsense? I have been living with a prostitute, my mind kept screaming as we both strolled back to our room.

       But even as the realization struck me, I couldn’t hate or detest her, I was only amazed and angry at my own stupidity. I couldn’t even detest her mother. I just felt sorry for both of them.    

        That night, sleep became a stranger to my eyes. The moment I stepped into our room, I felt so irritated that my stomach heaved and for a moment I thought I would throw up. I couldn’t help but imagine some of the dirty and sordid activities that might have happened inside the room and on top of the single bed we shared.  My God, it was as though the bed and room were suddenly smeared with shit. An imaginary telescopic lens in my mind’s eye portrayed the grimy images to me.  I knew I could never bring myself to lay or sleep on that bed again after what I now knew. No amount of soap, detergent or stain remover would rid the bed of the smear my mind painted.  I felt so irritated that when it was time to sleep, I told her plainly that I preferred to sleep on the floor.

         I spent the entire night thinking of a way out. I wanted to be prepared for the worse. I had no doubt that Mummy would make good her threat to throw me out one day if I continued to resist her customers. I know I could never fall to her scheme. I hate the particular customer she mentioned. He is so lousy and so full of himself, an empty braggart who relies solely on his father’s position in government and wealth. I hate him with passion and I have never been able to pretend about it. He knew it too and I am sure that was the reason he has given Mummy the condition. Ahmed is never going to have me. I am still a virgin and Ahmed is never going to be the man to break my virginity. It shall be over my dead body!

      Even way into the early hours of the next morning, I racked my brains but there was still no way out.  I weighed all options open to me and they were very few.  I had saved some money I got from tips and from some of Vivian’s generous uncles but it wasn’t much.  Although Vivian promised to assist me with my feeding money when we both discussed the issue in our room that night, I wasn’t going to count too much on that.  Mummy will definitely stop her if she finds out she was helping me. I certainly wouldn’t sell my body and definitely, I won’t starve to death either, so there must be a way out and I must find it.  When I awoke in the morning to prepare for the day’s work, I still didn’t have the solution to my problems. The only thing close to a solution I could come up with was to stay calm and watch whatever happens. So, I remained calm, looking out for whatever opportunity that might come my way and at the same time, preparing myself for trouble.

       Vivian kept to her words.  She was so generous.  And her uncle’s too, she made them give me huge amounts of money.  Maybe it was all to entice me or maybe she was just being nice.  Soon, I was able to save enough money to rent my own apartment should the need arise. I remained with them, buying time. I was very careful not to let Mummy suspect that Vivian and her uncle’s secretly gave me money.  I saved every penny I could, rationing my meals to once daily and most times, I had them without meat or fish. I couldn’t afford such luxury yet. I was so determined that sometimes, even Mummy was moved by pity to help me.  She would give me food and a piece of meat or two, depending on her mood.         

       Sometimes, when I give it a deeper thought, I told myself she meant well for me after all.  But I just couldn’t bring myself to do what she wanted me to do. I wish there was another way. I just wasn’t cut out for things like that. My idea of sex and love were extremely different from theirs because of my background. Love was a precious thing to me, it’s been so right from the very beginning of my life. It was the only memory I retained from my past and I was bent on having the kind of relationship my parents shared.  It is the greatest phenomenon on earth and I want to have the experience. There is nothing compared to it. I know because I was a part of it, it is simply breathtaking.    

       Well, let me face the current situation. Gradually, my resentment for Mummy and Vivian and our room reduced and soon too, it disappeared completely.  I told myself it was the life they knew, after all, I was only opportune to have a different perception of the whole thing because of my parent’s love and the influence it gave me. Not that I even flinched about collecting the money from her, knowing exactly where it all came from.  If I could save the money for my own use, then I must be less severe in my condemnation of them and their way of life, I told myself one day.

       Vivian remained very good to me. She gave me money without looking back or complaining.  She bought me new clothes. She couldn’t give me her old clothes because we both knew Mummy would recognize them.  At some point I was so sure she’d dare to introduce me to her trade but she never did. She probably lacked the guts to do so or perhaps, she simply didn’t want me to become like her.  She had her grey days sometimes, when she was sober and in the mood to pretend to be repentant and close to God in holiness, she’d keep away from her uncles.  But the moment she became broke, she’d jump out of her sobriety as quickly as she’d jumped into it and it becomes business as usual again.

      Then one day, Mummy called me into her room for a discussion.

“Have you ever had a man in your life?” she began.

“No Ma.” I answered, shocked at her words.

“Ok, that explains why.” She muttered absently. “Vivian told me you haven’t but I didn’t believe so I had to ask you myself.” She added and paused. As I didn’t say anything, she continued. “According to the Holy Book, money answereth all things. I believe you must have come across that?” I gave no answer.

“Well, I will take it that you have.” She said and cleared her throat. “While I was still in the village, married to Vivian’s father, I lost my only son to fever because I didn’t have the money to take him for treatment. His father wouldn’t give me even though he had the money. I was stupid enough to be a dutiful and faithful house wife back then. I relied only on what he gave me, when he deemed it fit to give me. He had other wives and children so he could afford to lose some. But that was not so with me. I only had Vivian and her brother and when he died, I left my husband and came to the city, determined never to lose anything again because of lack of money. Also, I was determined to give others in need an avenue to make money and help themselves and not be at the mercy of others. This I have been doing ever since I came into this town. Are you getting me so far?” she asked and I nodded that I was.

“Good. Most people in my line of business use charms to get and retain their customers but I don’t believe in such. My strategy is to keep my customers happy and they will be sure to come again. You may be wondering why I am telling you all these but I doubt that. My mind tells me you know why. My customers are complaining about you. They say you are not cooperating and I am not happy about that, either you begin to cooperate or you find yourself another abode and work because I cannot afford to lose any of my customers because of you. And I am very serious about this and this is the first and last warning you are going to get from me. The next time I hear a complaint about you, I am going to throw you out. Have I made myself clear to you?”

“Please Ma, I………”

“I don’t want to hear anything other than you telling me you understand my position. Do you understand me?”

“Yes ma but …….”

“Now that I am well understood, you may go and I expect to see changes or to hear you are leaving.”

“Yes ma.” I said and left the room, feeling dejected. I never expected that Mummy would have such a conversation with me.

     Vivian would have been easier to deal with. It would have been much easier to tell her my mind and make her understand why I could not oblige them their desire and give out my body so cheaply to just any man who could pay for it. It was a decision I took a long time ago. My virginity was a gift I was prepared to reserve solely for the man I fall completely in love with.  It was a gift I was determined to give to the lucky man that would share the same love my parents shared with me; the man who would love me completely, the man that’d love me unconditionally.  Only such a man would I surrender my body and soul and virginity freely to, the one man made by God for me and me alone.  It was a sacred thing for me, it’s been since I was a child.  You cannot imagine the hunger in me for this wonderful man. I would rather die first than be rid of such a graceful opportunity. I just couldn’t sleep with any man for money. It was preposterous, I mean, not when I have so much knowledge and experience of that wonderful thing as a love shared by two hearts? How much money can possibly equate it compared with what I knew? What could possibly replace that elation, that satisfaction and joy when it is the one you love that took your virginity?  What other gift can a girl present?

       Well, most people may not understand my point of view, especially those like Vivian and her mother because they probably understand nothing about the kind of love I speak about. They’d probably think I am so philosophical about the whole thing because I am a parasite who had Vivian to feed on. Some may think I would have been in the streets, hawking my priced body freely, begging any and every randy man to sleep with me for peanuts just to survive like many girls my age do when they find themselves in similar situations.  Well, that could be true for some but definitely, that is not me.  I would die instead, I swear it. Perhaps, if I hadn’t the experience I had, or the back ground I grew up in, maybe I would have felt differently. But I had a humble upbringing, I learned from my dear parents and it was so perfect, so pure and so sweet.  And even though I agree now that my father hadn’t been fair to his other wives, I still cannot blame him.  He found love at last and he was saddled with the rest.  He chose to live for what he believed in. Why not? You only live once, why throw away your opportunity to have a fulfilling life of happiness? 

        I strongly believe in love.  Love conquers all and if you have patience, perseverance and determination, you can surmount all of life’s difficulties and find true love. I knew that fact too well and I knew I had all it would take. I am resilient, I persevere long suffering and I am patient.

       Well, I survived another month in the house before real pressure began.  By then I had saved more than enough money which I always carried on me where ever I went.  It was well concealed in a special trick pocket I tied around my waste always. I was prepared for any eventualities; I was ready. 

       Mummy became very mean and Vivian too seemed to be tired of me.  I was only thankful to God they weren’t going to take me unaware any more.  I was now fully prepared for whatever they decide to do to me.  I was only just hanging on, waiting for the worst to happen but quite unfortunately, it happened on a lonely and raining night. It was at the very wrong time even though I was fairly prepared for it.

        The opportunity came when, Ahmed, drunk and lousy, patted me lustfully on my buttocks as I walked past him.  I was so angry that for a moment I was tempted to smash the serving train I had in my hand on his head but I swallowed my anger instead when I realized Mummy was seated close by, watching. So I walked away to attend to another customer, very furious.  The raucous laughter that came from them seemed to bore a hole on my back but I ignored it too, hoping that she would caution them. I concentrated on my business, ignoring them determinedly. But moments later as I walked past them again to attend to another customer, he pulled me fiercely by my left hand.

“Come and attend to me,” he slurred, squeezing my hand as he spoke.

“What do you want?” I asked trying to free my hand from his hold but he held on tight to my hand.

“I want you babe, I want to take you home with me tonight. I have discussed it with your madam and she says it’s ok.  Go and get your night stuff, I am taking you with me.” He said in a loud voice and he probably didn’t know he was yelling. Neither did he realize everyone in the big room were now watching and listening to us.  I was so embarrassed.

“You know what? I said slowly. “I think you are drunk.  Why don’t you go home and sleep?” I said and tried again to free my hand from his grip but his hold was still so tight I couldn’t get free.

“Not so fast honey, we are leaving together,” he insisted.

“You are hurting me,” I protested further but he held on to me.

“I will escort you to get your night things or do you want to confirm from your madam first? There’s no problem, she is right there, let’s hear what she has to say about this,” he said, virtually dragging me towards her.

“She does not own me, I only work for her.” I said furiously when I realized Mummy seemed to be enjoying the scene. “Please let go of me.”

“I said we’re going together.  It’s all been arranged.  Let’s go, common,” he said touching my right boob. I had thought it was a mistake at first but when he started fiddling with it I lost my control and turned swiftly to face him. I slapped him across the face so that he staggered back and before he could balance himself, I slapped him again before I pushed him and he landed on the table his friends occupied.  He went down flat with the table and one of his friends. I watched them as the bottles, glasses and plates flew in the air. I stood defiantly, very furious but scared.  In confusion, I remained standing breathing heavily, trying to gather my compunction as I awaited reactions.

      Then all of a sudden, two things happened at once.  Mummy jumped on her feet and rushed at me as Ahmed got fast to his feet and rushed at me too.  She reached me first and slapped me across the face so hard I saw stars hovering before my eyes. I staggered back but quickly regained my balance.

“But mummy you saw what he did to me.  He was embarrassing and assaulting me.  You can’t blame me for defending myself.” I said in defense when I got the power to speak.

“You are crazy to think your action is justified. You must leave. I don’t want any trouble.  Who do you think you are anyway? Don’t you know that the customer is always right? What did he do to you that’s new? Do you know whose son you just slapped? Please go to the room and pack your filthy things and leave my house at once. I don’t want you around here anymore.”  She said angrily.

        At that same moment the guy reached me and grabbed my hand without a word, dragging me outside with all his strength.

“You heard her.  You and I must settle this outside. I will teach you never to hit a man again.” He said furiously, dragging me with him. The look on his eyes scared me and I started screaming and calling Mummy to save me but my plea fell on deaf ears.  I fell on my knees but he continued to drag me along.  His friends tried to free me from his grip but he threatened them.  They just watched him drag me on. We got to the back of one of the parked cars and he bellowed to me to get on my feet.

“Let it go Ahmed, you are going too far,” one of his friends dared to tell him.

“Stay out of this. She must pay for slapping me,” he growled.

“Leave her alone.  She is not even your class.”

“Class? Didn’t you hear she has not been broken? That makes her my taste.” He said angrily.

“Let her go, you can’t drag her all the way home.”

“I will if I have to, please beat it.  You are interrupting a promising session here.”

“Please let me go.  I am sorry for hitting you.  Please.” I begged.

“You really want to go huh.” He asked mockingly.

“Yes sir.” I replied quickly.

“Ahmed it’s enough, let her go. I don’t want any trouble.” I heard mummy say from behind me. “I am sorry for what happened.  Let her go and pack her things, I want her out of my house immediately.” She added angrily.

“Mummy please, don’t do this to me. I don’t have anywhere else to go to. Vivian, please help me.”

“You should have considered that before hitting him. Honestly, I am fed up with your attitude and I want to be left out of this please.” Vivian said and walked away.

“Oh God, oh my God.” I cried as I watched her walk out on me.

“Madam, please leave us.” Ahmed said to Mummy. “I just want to talk with her for a while,” he added.  Mummy hesitated for a while before walking away, leaving me at their mercy

“Guys break it up.  I want to talk to her alone.  I will join your later.”

“Are you sure you just want to talk?  Please don’t hurt her any more, she is just a kid,” one of them said.

I won’t. I promise. I am fine. I like her, she’s got guts.”

“Okay if you say so, you know you’ve got to protect your reputation. She isn’t worth the trouble,” one of them said and they left us.  That left the two of us.

“You can make this easier on yourself you know,” he began gently. “I won’t bite you and I won’t harm you, I only want sex and nothing else. I will pay you good money and I assure you we’ll both enjoy it.  So what do you say?” He asked slowly.

“I am sorry but I am not a sex hawker.” I said quietly. 

“I know but you just stirred me up, I’ll be nice to you. Be my friend then.”  

“No.”

“I want you and I always get whatever I want, you won’t be an exception. I’ll take good care of you and your needs. Let’s go to my home, you’ll be fine.”

“I will rather die than spend the night with you.  You are a disgrace to your family.  It is such a shame that a guy from a decent background like yours could descend so low to behave like an ordinary tout in the motor park.” I spat angrily.

“Hmm. You don’t seem to realize that you are at my mercy.  You are not even afraid to open your mouth and say what rubbish you like to me.”

“Sorry to disappoint you but I have no respect or fear for your kind.   Now if you’d excuse me I have to go back.” 

“You don’t have to go back to that filthy life, let me change your life forever. You won’t regret knowing me.”

“I am not interested in your offer. I am done here.” I said and suddenly, I turned and walked away as fast as my legs could take me.

“Come here. Come back here!” He shouted, rushing after me.  I walked on, faster.  But I was not fast enough as he reached me before I could go much farther.  He turned me viciously to face him and before I could utter a word, his open palm landed across my face. I fell down flat on the ground.

“How dare you walk out on me? Do you think you can embarrass me in public and walk away with it? You cheap slut, do you know who I am? I am going to teach you a lesson you will not forget in a hurry and I’ll make sure I am the last man you ever hit.  Get up you idiot, you must go home with me whether you like it or not.  Even if I have to drag you,” he said and began to drag me. 

      I began to scream for help at the top of my voice.  Many of the customers rushed out. Some just watched us while others left in a hurry. I was afraid to be left all alone with the mad man. Mummy began to scream too, begging us to go elsewhere and settle our differences.  She was angry that we were driving away her customers.

      Ahmed’s friends, who were obviously sick of his behavior, tried unsuccessfully to pull him away from me but he held onto me very tight. The look in his eyes began to scare me. It was murderous and vengeful and I was sure he would stab me if he could lay his hand on a broken bottle or a sharp object.

“Don’t you think you have fooled yourself enough? Let the lady go and stop embarrassing yourself and disgracing your farther.”  A male voice said suddenly just when I was beginning to lose every hope of coming out of it in one piece.

      Ahmed stopped momentarily to look at the intruder. That was all I needed to free myself from him and as he realized what I was trying to do, he ignored the intruder and tried to pin me to the nearby car but the intruder had expected him to do so.  He seized his hands before he could reach me.  I jumped to my feet and moved to a safe distance.  I couldn’t dare to step inside the restaurant.

“Who are you?” Ahmed demanded.

“I am a human right lawyer and if you touch her again, I will get you arrested and charged to court for assault, molestation, intimidation and even attempted rape. Do you catch my drift?”

“Oh get out of my sight. Do you know who you are giving a drift? I can get you debarred in just hours.” Ahmed sneered.

“Then touch her again and you and I will find out who is bluffing.  I am sure your father, whoever he is, whom you so rely upon will not be very pleased to welcome a scandal.  Especially the type a man like me can create. I suggest that if you know what’s good for your, you’d better scram while you still have the chance to do so because if you as much as lay a finger on her again, you’d have a truck load of charges against you.  My drift is scram, and I’ll advice you make it snappy.”

      They watched each other for a long while. Ahmed suddenly gave a loud growl as he realized he had lost the fight. His friends promptly pulled him away.

“I will fix you one of these nights, girl. You are lucky today, you won’t be next time we meet,” he said and spat on my face as he walked past me.

“Are you okay?” my savior of the night asked as I wiped away the disgusting spittle from my face.  “My name is Festus” he continued. “Come on, don’t be afraid now, let me help you to a seat,” he added.

“Oh thanks.” I said breathlessly. “I am okay now. He is such an awful person.”  

“Yes he is but you don’t have to worry about him anymore. Come inside with me.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to go back there. Mummy will throw me out. Thank you so much.  I was so scared he was going to harm me seriously.  I am very grateful to you sir.”

“It’s okay. Come with me, I’ll tell her you are with me now.”

“I don’t want to step into that place again” I hesitated. “It’s been very bad for me here but I have always endured until now. I don’t know what came over me.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll work it out.  Come with me please, you can’t remain outside here in the rain.  Let’s go inside.”

      I followed him and as we entered the large room, we heard voices.  Mummy and another woman were obviously engaged in an exchange of tantrums.  I recognized her as Mr. Festus’ partner. I had served them shortly before the brawl started.

“What are you still dong in my bar?” Mummy asked angrily the moment she saw me. “Please leave and don’t ever come back here again.”

“She is with me.” Mr. Festus put in.

“You can as well leave with her and your troublesome wife too.  You should all leave and never come back here again.  I don’t need customers like you.”

“We are leaving and we are leaving with her. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.  You want her to prostitute for you to retain your randy customers.  You are a disgrace to woman-hood.” The lady said and grabbed my hand. We all walked out of the now almost empty bar.

“Thank you and goodbye.  Please remember never to show your faces here again.” She called after us. None of us paid her any more attention. 

      As they led me to their car, I was so unsure of what to say or do.  I had nowhere to go but I didn’t know whether to trust these complete strangers or not.

“Honey, I am sorry I didn’t ask you first. I hope she can stay with us, at least for the night? That woman is so mean.  I mean, she made me so mad I could have slapped her. I am so sorry.” Mrs. Festus said.

“It’s alright darling.  We just can’t leave her there considering her situation.  That woman will think nothing of throwing her out in the cold if she gets the chance. Why not, she could spend the night with us, we’ll send her back to her parents tomorrow morning.” 

“Thanks honey.”

“You ladies should just get in the car and let’s leave this place.  I am sick of it” Mr. Festus replied.

“Excuse me sir, what about my clothes?” I asked, confused. I was still not sure whether I should go with them or not.  I was very scared.  They were strangers but it was very late and I had nowhere else to go to.  Mummy won’t allow me spend even a night in her house now.

“Don’t worry, you won’t need them anymore,” the lady said. “Common dear, get inside the car and let’s go, you have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. My husband and I won’t harm you okay?” She said as she opened the door and helped me in.

“Thank you ma” I said.

“What is your name?”

“My name is Betty Membe”

“It’s okay let’s go.”

      I found myself entering the car.  There was something about her that assured me I was in friendly hands.

      So that was how I got to meet Mr. and Mrs. Lawson and how I started living with them.  They had just been married and they were just the two of them living in a duplex in the high brow area of the town. I just could not believe my good fortune.  I had my own room with a very large bed, my own toilet and bathroom with a king size bath tub. In fact, I had everything.  I was amazed by their kindness.

     That night we all went straight to bed after they showed me to my room.  Nothing was said about all that had happened earlier on. Uncle Festy, like I was later to call him, insisted we all went to bed and leave the discussion until the next morning.  Aunty Gina, like I called his wife too, gave me some clothes to change into.

     At breakfast the next morning, very refreshed and sound, I narrated the story of my life to them. They were both unbelievably moved and they both promised to look after me. They later adopted me!

     That was that. I lived with the Lawsons longer than I cared to remember.  It was so nice, so beautiful. In fact, it was paradise and when I look back, right here in my cell, as I write my story, I can sincerely say they were the happiest times in my entire life.  I had thought my happiest moments on earth were the years I spent with my parents but I was wrong. I had thought too that my parents were the loveliest couple that ever lived but then again, I was wrong.  The Lawsons completely mesmerized me.  They gave me a total and new definition of love and again, I was more than ever determined to experience such a wonderful thing.  You only need to see the pure and unselfish and unconditional love that exuded in them and you’d understand.  You needed only to see them and your cynical perspective will be changed forever.

      I lived with them for years that their influence on me became so great that I resolved that nothing would change my own conviction and determination to experience that same love too, some day.  I mean, this was a situation that made even Romeo and Juliet’s love affair seem like a child’s play, that’s to say the least. I was later to realize that what my parents shared simply amounted to a love shared by two local people.  I mean, how can a person possibly claim to be in love when there were four more people to share from it.  That was nonsense; the Lawsons presented the real picture of true love to me.

      This was the real thing. The perfect example of two hearts that truly beat as one and it was simply a mystery.  One man and one woman, just like the holy book said. That’s the idea.  I am certainly not going to be left out.  I will surely wait patiently for my prince charming to come and sweep me off my feet. 

     I was dying for the experience, the natural and wonderful feeling, the magical feeling of loving someone and knowing you are equally loved in return. I could nearly feel the experience just talking about it. I could envisage it, I already knew enough to imagine what it was like. I had the best teacher.   Aunty Gina.  She kept assuring me my prince charming would come along one blessed day and sweep me completely off my feet. And she would add, “but first things first” And I looked forward to it with such anticipation that I was almost desperate.

     She taught me everything I should know about love.  She told me what to look out for and what to ignore. She taught me everything indeed and God knows she was a good and experienced teacher. 

      But in spite of all that I learned and all she told me, there was something we both forgot or we simply undermined. Perhaps we didn’t give it any consideration, that is, if we remembered or knew it. Or perhaps, we simply over looked it, believing it should never and will never matter.  And even now, several years later, as I write this, I still ask myself, should status really or even matter in true love?


http://www.leisuretimeread.com

Elizabeth Izebere is a prolific writer who prefers to write under the pseudonym Liz Brey Humphrey. She is a Nigerian. www.leisuretimeread.com is her brain child.

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