She showered slowly, scrubbing herself with much force, trying to wash his touch, his scent off her skin. It was not just an act of ablution-the scrubbing. It was punishment too. She had allowed the slimy bastard to have his way, she’d let the son of the devil get what he wanted, and he was going to add her to his list of conquests. How could you? Her eyes accused her; looking teary and red in the wall-high mirror. Remembering the things he made her do, the things he did to her, she scrubbed herself harder. The pain did nothing to blot the memories as she wished it would; instead it made the shameful pictures running through her mind more vivid. Waves of nausea hit her and tears mixed with the water pouring down her face. Then she was overcome by a feeling of self-loathing so intense, paralysing her. She sat down on the bathroom floor, looking into the mirror, seeing nothing; not feeling the cold water; not hearing the patter of the shower drops as they hit the tiled floor. Despair-the dark fog she knew too well-clouded her mind. You are no good. To the inventory of your wrongdoings you’ve added ‘sluttishness.’ You’re done for. The taunting words came to mind again. More kept coming: failure, bitch, fool-she poured a deluge of disparaging words on herself till she could find nothing more to say. With the ceasefire came a gradual awareness of external stimuli. She was shivering from an overdose of cold water, the film of water over her eyes made her reflection in the mirror blurry. Wiping her eyes made the reflection clearer. She was looking forlorn.
She picked herself up, turned off the shower and wiped herself dry. Walking absentmindedly, she left the bathroom for the adjoining bedroom. The lush soft rug felt comfortably warm under her feet. She dressed up slowly, wearing a T-shirt and a pair of shorts. Then she sat in front of the dressing mirror. There was no need to wear makeup since she was not planning to go out, but she wanted to do something, anything to occupy herself.
She was beautiful. She knew it, and acknowledged it without the slightest trace of conceit. Her eyes were striking, with hazel pupils, long black eyelashes and finely curved eyebrows she never shaved. She had a thin nose and luscious lips. The lower lip was a fresh pink; needing no coloured lipstick-she only applied transparent lip gloss. Her delicate features were mounted on a gloriously oval face. The most stunning feature was her incredibly long jet black hair. She was beautiful, yes, but what had it brought her? Grey haired, pot-bellied men old enough to be her grandfather at one extreme and puppies in their teens, younger than her kid brother, at the other extreme, and those in-between made passes at her. If she was not beautiful, that bastard won’t have made such a bargain. Shutting her mind, she dried her hair. She enjoyed the way the hot air tickled the nape of her neck. After drying her hair, she brushed it and tied it in a ponytail. Still feeling cold because of the long while in the shower, she went to the kitchen to fix herself a cup of cocoa, her footsteps echoing in the empty hallway. Lonely! Lonely! Wretched! Wretched! The flip flop sounds of her slippers seemed to be mocking her.
The kitchen was larger than the average three bedroom flat sitting room-almost twice as large, and the noises she made echoed in the utter silence. When would the silence be replaced by a baby’s cry? When would children run around the house? When would she lie safe in a man’s bosom-a man she could call her husband? It would never happen. She told herself. Not ever. Once any man finds out about you, he’ll scram, or treat you like dirt. The kettle whistled, jolting her out of her thoughts. She prepared the cocoa and milk thick and sweet-the way she liked it. Then she went to the massive living room and sat down to an action movie showing on satellite TV. An empty cup and a few minutes later, he called.
She let it ring off. He called again and still, she did not answer it. When you need what he has, you will be the one calling him, eh? Now that you are okay you are playing tough. You’ll still grovel at his feet. She mocked herself. On the third ring she picked the call.
His leering tone filled her with a cold rage. She wanted to throttle the bastard, kill him, heck, anything that would silence his mockery. But even if she could kill him (she couldn’t) she won’t. She needed him, what he had to offer.
“You were so wonderful,” he leered, “come on, aren’t you going to compliment me too?”
She cut the call. He called again, and she let it ring off twice. The third time, she picked the call, for she didn’t want to annoy him beyond salvaging.
“Don’t you ever cut the call whenever I’m talking to you,” he spat out viciously, icily.
She began to quiver slightly.
“Well. I called to share some good news. I just finished watching the video footage of our little action. There are some colourful pictures too. What do you think?”
She gasped. The words hit her like a blast from a shotgun at close range. He couldn’t have. Blackmail. The realization made her quiver more, so much that her teeth began to chatter uncontrollably and the phone fell out of her hand. The press would feed on her like esurient hyenas. She was not popular an item enough to make headlines but her parents were. She could just imagine the headlines: Wayward Daughter of Venerable (Prof.) and (Dr.) Mrs. Olubiyi in escapade, Daughter Brings Shame on Well-Respected Parents, Daughter of Cleric Makes Porn Video… Her mouth went dry. No! Her parents could not share her woes! Omo burúkú!
She picked up the phone quickly, stifling a sob.
“…I was contemplating posting it on YouTube, you know, or selling the pictures and the story to a newspaper; not that I need the money anyway. What do you think?”
“Tunde, what do you want, eh?” tears trickled down her face, “I beg you in the name of God-“
“Which God?” he cut her short, “eh? Which God? You are as much a daughter of hell as I am a son of hell; you should be calling Lucifer instead of God.”
I’m finished. Any hope I had of picking up the shards of my life is gone. She moaned a cry of anguish from the depth of her being. He laughed.
“Listen carefully. As from now, you’ll come whenever I ask you to come, you’ll do whatever I ask you to do, okay? Do not try anything funny. And as long as you comply you’ve no problems. Don’t worry; I’ll take care of you. Bye, sweetheart.” He laughed and cut the call.
Wailing loudly, she hurled the phone at the nearest wall with all the force she could muster. It fell to pieces; like her life had the minute she enjoyed that inebriating pleasure. No, her life was not in pieces, it had gone with the wind. It had been ground to powder, and blown away-irreparable. How long was he going to keep her as his plaything-a few months, years? Even if she got rid of the habit, he would still have a hold on her with the footage and pictures. She shuddered. He won’t let her get out of the habit, she knew. She stared at her arms, wondering when she won’t have any needle marks on them, when she won’t have to do just almost anything to get a fix, when she won’t quake with dire need for that powder-cocaine. It was a curse, one she brought on herself. If only she’d said no that very first time.
If not for cocaine, she won’t have met him. A NDLEA crackdown had stopped her regular supply. She managed for a few days before her need made her useless-she couldn’t work, think or do anything tangible. Holding a pen was a difficult task. That is how bad it was. Then a fellow junkie gave her his number and they rendezvoused at a hotel in Ikorodu. He didn’t sell her the powder. He wanted something else.
“I don’t need your money,” he said.
His voice was oily smooth, with a very arrogant flavour that reminded her of her university heartthrob.
“What do you want?” her husky voice matched his in arrogance, with the nonchalance of the staggeringly rich.
He didn’t reply, looking at her from her gorgeous hair to her perfectly sculpted feet. His eyes mocked her, and a nasty smile played on his lips. Then he spoke.
“I want you. Sleep with me and I’ll give you what you want.”
She was taken aback by his audaciousness. Her mouth gaped and she felt like hurling her glass of juice at him.
“You can’t be serious-“she tried an acidic tone but he cut her short.
“If you really need the stuff, you know how to reach me.”
With that he stood up and left without looking back. She survived three gruelling days before she called him.
And now this…
She cried herself to sleep.
Two months went by. She died slowly every day. He was a vampire sucking away the essence of her soul, draining the remnants of dignity she had. She became numb and her tear wells dried up. She did things like an automaton, mostly oblivious of the things going on around her. A thick shroud of self-hatred and depression insulated her. She could barely keep her head straight because of too much cocaine in her system. He made sure she had a steady supply, and compelled her to take it. And he beat her. Her work suffered, partly because he disturbed her schedule, mostly because she’d lost the desire to work. Now her Hausa workers did all the work.
Two months went by and she didn’t know, or care. The days flowed in one; an endless cycle of the same shame and ‘fix’ filled days. Senses numbed by her slavery to Tunde and cocaine, she didn’t notice that the rains had given way to harmattan, or that her house was not as spick and span as she liked it, or that she was not looking as ‘kept’ and elegant as before. She was thin because she barely ate. Had she any close friends, they would have sounded the alarm. But she didn’t.
She was coming back from the rendezvous with Tunde, crying as usual. The salty taste of the tears mixed with the rank bitterness in her mouth. The wrongness of the whole affair was appalling and she wanted out badly. How? She wondered. Kill yourself. Just swing the car off the road, or better still, ram it into an oncoming trailer. Or slice your wrists and lie down in the bathtub-classic. The idea of dying was appealing. She would just sink into eternal oblivion, where the hungry predators that fed on her-Tunde and the likes of him and her-would be no more. But she did not have the grit to do it. And her religious beliefs condemned suicide, the consequence being eternal damnation.
Lost in thought, she didn’t know that she was feeding the engine too much gas, or that she was no longer on her lane. Then it happened. Wham!! She slammed into another vehicle, which was when she came out of her thoughts. As she was propelled forward, the seat belt strained against her and pain shot through her chest, then the airbags deployed. Her car cartwheeled twice and landed top side down. As she slid into the blackness, she smiled. You got what you wanted without doing it yourself. God forgive me my sins.