Edua scratched an itchy spot on her scalp. Although the shoulder length braids still looked somewhat good on her, she had carried it for far too long. Three months, two weeks and four days to be precise. Every four weeks, she washed, conditioned, and applied weave-on oil on it. She couldn’t afford to think about when she would loosen the braids and make another hairstyle. She had no extra money to put aside for the hair. She might as well leave it. Hopefully, once it clocks four months, she would have enough money to loosen the braids, retouch the hair and fix a stylish weave-on or make Ghana-weaving. It had been a while since she rocked something like that.
She clutched the red hand bag which matched her red high heeled sandals and stepped out of the church auditorium with other members of the congregation. It had been a beautiful Sunday service. The Pastor’s message had encouraged her, giving her hope that God would come through for her, it was only a matter of time. She would continue to trust in the lover of her soul and wait on him. After all, he promised in his word that he wouldn’t leave her nor forsake her. She believed that her time of favour had surely come.
She greeted some of the familiar faces she had grown accustomed to overtime and headed to the Pastor’s home. She hoped lunch was ready. The pastor’s wife was a fantastic cook. She couldn’t wait to partake of one of her sumptuous meals. She was totally submerged in hunger. At the gate of the house, she noticed that their cars were not in the compound. She knew when Pastor Victory left the church for a program on the mainland, but, she was sure the wife didn’t go with him. Maybe she decided to join him at the program after the church service.
She paled. She had banked on eating lunch and dinner at the pastor’s house that day. She exhausted her foodstuff at the beginning of that weekend and had decided to eat at the Pastor’s place daily, until she was able to re-stock her kitchen. She had also planned to ask for some money from the wife so that she would be able to go out the next day in search of a job. She had less than a thousand naira on her; three hundred and fifty naira to be exact. What was she going to do now? She turned around and placed both hands on her hips.
The rumbling in her tummy made her groan in pain. She placed a hand on her stomach and sighed heavily. She could buy bread and sardine with the three hundred and fifty naira she had left in her purse, then thought against it. She also need money to transport herself whilst she searched for a job the next day. It wasn’t wise to spend the only money she had left. What was she going to do now? What choice did she have? She had no idea when the pastor and the wife would return home that day.
Her light brown eyes darted about the estate. A thought crossed her mind. She could go to Chidi’s place, say hi, and joined them for lunch. She shook her head. What kind of thought was that? It was a bad plan. She doubted if Chidi or his siblings would even allow her into their house, especially Chuks. She groaned inwardly and started to walk homewards. She opened the red bag and brought out her phone. Who could she call now? She scrolled through the list of phone numbers and dialed a friend’s number. An ex-friend. Bimbo Dede. Someone she had not spoken to in a long time. They used to hang out together in the past, sleeping around with men who could afford to pay them in hard currencies and clubbing.
She recognized the bell like voice. “Bimbo, it’s me Edua.”
“Edua? I don’t know any…”
“It’s me Beauty,” she interrupted.
“Beauty? Oh Beauty! Girlfriend where have you been?”
She chuckled and slow-walked. “I am around.”
“Really? Are you sure that you are still in this country or have you followed Alhaji Bature to the Philippines?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Has he relocated?”
“I cannot believe you are asking me that kind of question. Am I the one sleeping with him?”
Edua scratched her scalp and cleared her throat. “We are not together anymore.”
“Seriously? So it’s true.”
“What is true?”
“I heard a rumour that you have started following those Jesus freaks about.”
She sighed heavily.
“I don’t understand you. What’s wrong with your brain? Why have you allowed yourself to be deceived by the likes of those loco, good for nothing nonentities?”
She cleared her throat again. “Bimbo I need a favour from you.”
“What is it?”
Edua pushed the gate open and walked into the compound that housed her apartment.
“I am broke.”
Her friend’s laughter echoed in her ears.
“I am serious.”
“Why won’t you be broke? I don’t understand why you have decided to deceive yourself. I advise you to call your mum. I heard there is a gig this weekend. I am already enlisted. The men are paying in Pounds sterling and if I am lucky, I might be traveling to Dubai next weekend.”
She started to shake her head. She saw the landlord, his wife and children seated outside the duplex, around a square-shaped wooden table, eating from a tray of roasted chicken, chips and what looked like salad. Her tummy roared. She turned away and backed them.
“Bimbo, I don’t roll like that anymore.”
She heard her friend’s laughter again.
“Let me text you my account number. Just send me a token. It’s urgent.”
“You must be very stupid. In fact, you are running mental. If you think I will go out there, sell my body, then give you out of the money I am paid, you must be dreaming.”
She placed a hand on her head, completely lost for words. She blamed herself for calling the lady. She decided to delete her number immediately after the call ended.
“God has given you a body that men will die for. A body that they can empty their accounts to touch. And you are there begging me for money, instead of working your ass out like the rest of us. It is not your fault. You better receive brain.”
The line went dead. She realized that her friend had hung up on her. She sighed heavily, turned around and greeted the landlord and his family. They didn’t respond. She tore her eyes away from the food that they were eating and headed to her apartment which was behind the duplex. She tried not to think of what Bimbo had said. She deleted the lady’s number, then called her mother. While the phone rang, she begged God to soften the woman’s heart.
“Beauty! So good you called. Look there is a gig tonight. I
promise you, you will get the full 100% fee. All I need is for you to show up and light up the gathering. You know how we roll.”
Edua halted in front of her door and leaned against the hard wood. “Mum, please… I can’t.”
“What’s wrong with you now? I have pleaded, I have begged you, yet, you are adamant. Why have you decided to ruin things for me Beauty?”
“Mum, you have my account number. Send me something, anything, for the sake that you carried me in your womb for nine months.”
There was silence at the other end of the line.
“Will you come over tonight?”
“Then I cannot help you.”
The line went dead. Blinded by tears, she unlocked the front door, staggered into the apartment and slumped on the nearest chair to the door. She started to cry. She was hungry, tired and feeling depressed. She opened the bag and searched for the three hundred and fifty naira. When she couldn’t find it, she poured the contents of the bag on the tiled floor. She noticed a green business card amongst the naira notes and picked it up. It was Edet Udeme’s business card.
She stared at it long and hard. Should she call him? What was she going to say? Should she ask for his help? Was it wise to ask him? Will he be able to help her? They were not even friends. She decided to take the risk. After all, she had nothing to lose. She reached out for her phone and dialed one of the numbers on the card. The phone rang for a while. Maybe he was still in church. She cut the call and glanced at the wall clock. It was past twelve. She dialed the number again and waited.
Her heart missed a beat at the sound of his voice. “Hello… hi, Edet, it’s me,” her voice trembled.
“How are you doing Edua Imasogie.”
Her light brown eyes widened in shock. She couldn’t believe that he recognized her voice.
“I… I am okay,” she scratched her eyebrow subconsciously.
“I have been expecting your call for the past three weeks. You
just boned me. If you had given me your number that day, I would have called.”
“Oh… yes, sorry,” she scratched her itchy scalp.
“How are you? You sound like you have been crying. Are you okay?”
She swallowed hard. How did he know?
“Edua, have you been crying?” he sounded concerned.
She leaned against the chair. She had no idea what she was going to tell him.
“Text me your address. I am coming over.”
“What?” What was he talking about? What was he coming to her place for? Should she allow him? If he comes, she might be able to ask him for a token. He seemed nice enough. She was sure that he would be able to help her.
“Text me your address.”
“Okay, I will.”
“Have you eaten lunch?”
“Em… no, no,” she shook her head. Why was he asking?
“Okay. I will pick up something on my way.”
“Okay,” she felt elated.
“Hang in there. I will be there in a jiffy.”
The line went dead. Tears filled her eyes. She dropped the phone on the chair and covered her face with her palms. God was going to use a total stranger to feed her that day.
God thank you. I am eternally grateful.