(An excerpt from the novel AFTER THESE EERIE DAYS by Abiose A.Adams… continued from last week)
I couldn’t sit on both buttocks, for between my laps burnt like flame. I couldn’t walk with shoulders high, for my face flushed with shame. My walk has changed and my talk would change. My look has changed and my outlook would change.
My eyes would be open like that of a girl who knows ‘what’s up’, like a happening girl, for I was seventeen and life has happened. And for all these, I hated myself.
It happened the night after I met Khalil. Before I met him, I had thought I controlled my will and my world. But the night after, I understood the real meaning of the phrase ‘circumstances beyond control.’ The night before, I had my heart together. The night after, I had to get my heart together. The night before, I thought I was a strong girl; cool and cocooned. The night after, I had my sheets soiled in red and realized I wasn’t so omnipotent.
I was no longer in charge. My emotion was no longer cast in the frame of self-will. Like rebellious waters, it had spilled out and lost control. This was one gift I had been raised to keep for the one I would marry. This gift of self-preservation and self-sacrifice. Many a friend had told me how antiquated I was. But I was happy to be so referred- out-modish, old-fashioned, dull girl, S.U.
But a physical and emotional accident had occurred because I had not applied my brakes. I had lost control. An accident that brought pain and more pain. An accident that made me wise and made me hide. An accident that marked both the end and the beginning of life’s event. A baptism into adulthood.
I sank in the bed, condensed with sorrow, curdled in my blood-stained bedsheet. I wanted to quit the house and quit myself. I hated Hamil. And I hated myself for the reason I hated him. The winter was clearing, the sun was returning, and the sunniness angered me. It was like a rude interruption into my depressive mood. I wanted to be depressed. I ought to be depressed. I deserve to be depressed because I had lost control.
It was the morning after, and the sun rays persisted at my window. Gradually its warmth began to hit me. I stayed in bed, still, counting the boxes in the ceiling in the room. I gazed at a sugar ant that was trying to find its way out of the window net. I continued staring into blankness, forgetting I was supposed to go for a job interview.
I had met Jolomi, a 26-year-old Nigerian who did a night-watchman job at the house of an Italian Savouy. The day before my meeting with Khalil, I was just returning from Jolomi’s place when Khalil struck that mesmeric conversation with me on the patio. Jolomi had told me of a job offer as a cook in the palace.
“His lordship rarely comes home,” he had said.
“But when he does, he needs a servant that could run few errands for him.”
But he had offered me the job on two conditions. The first- that I would give him 30 percent of my earnings and that I would be his live-in lover. He said he needed one because he was very lonely and the winter was very sour. He also promised to help me with getting along with my studies at an Italian university, if I’d cooperate, that is. He told me he used to be a banker in Nigeria, but used his life’s savings to pay for master’s school fees, and had to quit the Nigerian job to hustle in Italy.
Jolomi was stout, very dark skinned, and had a wide mouth with thick lips- the type they call pomo. I had never seen what his head looked like because he was always in a black oversized coat and a woolen cap, flapped over his ears and drawn to his eyelids. He normally isn’t the kind of guy I would want to date, but, given my state of mind, I began to consider leaving Hamil’s house for his offer.
This reality of the possibility drew strength to my feet. I threw the smothering sheets of sorrow off me and staggered into the bathroom for a quick bath, packed my few belongings and began to steal out of the house hoping to see no one or talk to any. I scampered on the premises, trying to still the disturbing click, clack, sound my shoes made against the marble floor of the yard. But as I stepped out of the first gate, I heard a hoarse voice. It jerked me and injected dread right into my feet and they stopped.
“Where you think you’re going?”
I turned and saw Hamil peeking from amidst the pink rose wall flowers twining the exquisite pent-house. He stood tall and his upper body was bare, showing off multiple strands of brownish hair crowding and crisscrossing his white chest. His large, brawny arms glistened with sweat. I wondered why anyone would sweat so much in winter. He looked shagged and hazy. His words came out slowly but with an undeniable insensitivity and selfishness.
“Get you in” he said, giving no room for dissent.
I stood for a while, watching him with a bad eye, as he puffed cigarette smoke and gulped directly from a king-sized, beer bottle. It was around 11am and he was already high on something.
I felt a quiver of fear rush through me. Without arguing and as though under a spell, I went back in. The following morning before daybreak, I stole out again, to check with Jolomi for the job, and met a Liberian girl already taken the job.
“You came late nah…
“Sebi you were doing shakara,” he said, pushing out his wide lips.
God knows how many lips those lips have deceived, how many women he had offered the same job. I had thought I was special. Shit! I stomped out of his presence.
I returned to the footballer’s mansion, where Hamil lived, but Khalil owned. In the night he snuck into my bed again, looking at the wall, but not looking at me.
He was dumb to me and I was numb to him. I jumped out of the bed to the door, he jumped to the door and pushed me to bed.
In the day, he hung in the penthouse, smoking, drinking, talking to himself, and getting all his feelings pent up.
What in the world was this guy up to? Keeping me in this house as what?
Week in week out, the gates were locked, and the guard was on vacation. The mansion covered by wallflowers, smelt of floral lavenders on the exterior, but marijuana on the inside.
Its glassy swimming pool and marble jacuzzi would be for any sane person, the definition of luxury, but for me, it was the definition of misery.
Could this be what I feared the most? To be treated as an inanimate object of sexual satisfaction? I was inanimate to Hamil until he needs a vent to vent his frustration. For him, sex was an entitlement- another way of saying pay your house rent.
For him, it was a means to an end, a stress reliever. And I was his stress reliever. Perhaps he might even be afraid to lose me, as much as I was afraid to say ‘No’ and become suddenly homeless snow.
But I was waiting to regain control. I know Khalil was going to come back someday, for the house was his. But I don’t know if it was going to be a happy accident or an accident that would further tear me and bring me more tears.
For now though, I was there; a captive dove, fluttering, not seeing the sun, not seeing hope, not seeing Khalil, for Khalil represented, to me, sunshine and hope.
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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