(An excerpt from the novel AFTER THESE EERIE DAYS by Abiose A.Adams… continued from last week)
The reality of my predicament, the unbelievability of it, forced everything out of my bowels. I left the pit latrine woozy and teetering around the possibility of a woeful future.
Shall I return to daddy, in the cocoon of family security, and a sunny future deserving of 17-year-old like me? Or shall I, in the name of not renouncing my faith in Christ, risk co-mingling with this family of lechers, losers and cheaters?
Madam Maga’s restless eyes met mine as I re-entered the room. I watched her from the corner of my eyes, as she followed my every move.
“You,” she said, gesturing with her head after which she paused “what is your name?” She resumed chewing her gum after she had asked, her eyes, winking and twinkling like the little stars on a moonless night. I stared for a moment. She reminded of me those women I had read about in novels. Those women whose husbands have left them for the other woman and now they are ready to teach ‘the other woman’ a lesson by snatching any man that remotely looks like a husband: women who are victims of emotional and sexual vendetta, and are ready to institute a machinery of girls to help them achieve their vengeance objectives.
“Am I not talking to you? ” she huffed. Her voice was cracked, perhaps from cursing a sex slave who had made away with her money, or even imaginably, from screaming in bed whilst with her men cronies.
Her yell jolted me, understanding dawned. I realised she was talking to me.
“Oh Funto,” I answered tersely.
“You have to shange that name,“ she said with a definitive confidence of a mother about to rechristen her child.
“But that is my name,” I eyed her. She eyed me back, as though both of us knew what the other girls don’t know. At that moment, her maid pushed in a portmanteau. She unzipped it and began bringing out pieces of clothes that resembled rags and napkins. Madam called them hot and sexy outfits. She brought out knee-length stilleto shoes too, foundation with MaryKay or Imam brand names… lipsticks, tacky jewelry were also there.
“All of you are going to shange your clothes now,” she ordered, getting up to pick out the dresses, throwing them to each of us.
“And you will all shange names too.”
The ready compliance of the other girls stunned me. Even Uju with her natural obstreperous demeanour, gave off swarmy giggles, chuckles and smiles. She fitted her swimsuit attire- a red velvety bra and underpants strapped to the back and hips with a rope. Her right hip shot out as though a disjointed bone was lodged there. She later wore the knee boots, teetering from left to right like one halting between two opinions. She was the most forward, and the most complying. A curious contrast.
The other girls fitted their attires of coruscating brilliance- vinyl lace-up micro miniskirts, net-tights, knee-length stiletto heeled boots, what they call club tops, bareback, velveteen, halter neck. “It’s cool, it’s nice, it fits me, ” they said simultaneously, taking turns to preen themselves in front of a standing mirror at the corner of the room.
“Hmmm,” I sighed and looked.
“I want you to wear this,” Madam made a beeline for me and threw it in my face. The clothes fell, I looked at her, and then at the clothes on the red carpeted floor.
“Pretty angel, wear this,” she ordered.
“My name is Funto.”
“In this place, we don’t use our real names. I will give you a new name, from today you will bear Angelica.. or Angel for short.”
“I have an English name, Questa. Why don’t you call me just that?”
“No. Your name is Angel,…..because you are a very pretty angel.”
“See your chape,… “ she drew closer, making the shape of a curve with her hands. I saw those hands also approaching my breast, and then my butt. I budged.
“My customer will like this one. And your English is….hmmmh!,” she paused and kissed her fore-fingers with delight and blew into the air, “c’est bo!” Though they said she had lived in Cotonou for 20 years, her French was no French.
I wanted to call her what Yoruba call agbaya (big fool) but the giggles and titterings from the other girls embarrassed me. But I was still able to bounce her hands off my body.
“Oya wear them naa,” she gave a smile that reeked of lechery and mendacity.
“An–gie b-aa-bb–y,” Uju drawled. Somto too gave me a come-on wink
I still didn’t. How would it be said that I, Funto, Questa Colesworth is found in this ignominious attire?
Then she flung new bras and hugging tops at me. “My customers will love this,” she made the sign of thumbs-up and winked excitedly like a woman who is lucky to be given the opportunity of experiencing puberty for the second time.
To say I was heartbroken is to understate the obvious. How did I get into this mess? I asked myself. Shouldn’t I have just gone back to my parents and obey their orders not to practice my kind of Christianity, which they call the ‘born again’ type? Now won’t this lifestyle force me to sin against the Christ my heart loves so much?
We returned to our rooms. The girls were bubbling as they collected the equipment for their new job. Condoms for protection, sachets of lubes to cure vaginal dryness, paracetamol to relieve menstrual pain, tetracycline to treat toilet infection, flagil to cure diarrhoea and toilet rolls for mopping up. We also got magic lotion for attraction to the ‘big fishes. Our job was to catch the big fishes. The big fishes with the money bags and bullion van.
To be continued next week…
Abiose A. Adams is a novelist, investigative journalist and programme officer at TheCable Newspaper Journalism Foundation. She can be reached on [email protected], @abioseadams, 08174217144(WhatsApp only).
Synopsis (After these eerie days)
She is ambitious but unschooled in street-wiseness. Seventeen-year-old Funto Colesworth did not know the trip to study her dream course, Medicine, in France, is one to nowhere until she finds herself in a brothel in Cotonou.
Rather than remain there to hawk sex which she is mandated to do, she escapes and joins another set of human traffickers to cross the ghoulish Sahara Desert with ten other trafficked girls. On surviving, she continues her flirtations with danger; gets into a close-shave with death in the Mediterranean Sea, where she is the only survivor amongst the girls. Arriving Italy breathless, Funto is introduced to Rome’s red-light district, where she subsequently meets a rich and snazzy footballer, Khalil.
Their whirlwind romance would have resulted in marriage and landed her a fortune, but her hopes went up in flames again when he is killed by his irascible, psychotic twin brother Hamil. Then she realises the more ruinous cost of naivety when Hamil implicates her, leading to her imprisonment in Germany. Thrown in gaol, and with no clemency in sight, Funto felt defeated until she meets a Ghanaian missionary, Duncan Melanby, whose romance with her leads to the fence-mending between father and daughter, after twelve eerie years.
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