Adesua sat on a plastic chair outside her shop, watching people come and go, pricing, buying and arguing over purchases. She made a lot of profit that morning when people patronized her, yet, she hoped for more sales that day. There was a very big shop on the same line with her own. It was thrice the size of her shop. The owner sold children wears and toys. The woman had patronage from the early hours of the morning till late in the evening. Her shop was always full. She hoped her shop would be bigger someday. She remembered her butiks in Abuja. She sold quality ladies and men’s wears which she imported from Europe. She was patronized by the high and mighty in the society back then. How she wished things could go back to the way they were. She glanced back at her ten by twelve feet shop with disdain. It was below her status. She cursed her in-laws under her breath. She was hopeful. She believed that things would turn around soon. When she regained her prestige and fame, she would make her friends pay for how they treated her. She felt the vibration of her phone and brought it out of her bag. It was an unknown number. Maybe it was one of her new customers. She pressed the answer button on the phone.
She heard a male voice. She didn’t recognize it. “Good afternoon.”
“Good afternoon to you too. My name is Gbadamosi Hanson.”
Her hazel eyes darted left then right. The name wasn’t familiar.
“Alhaji Musa Sherrif gave me your number.”
Her smiling countenance turned pale. She had not held from her former landlord since she moved out of his house. Why was he giving out her number to every Tom, Dick and Harry?
“Madam, I am interested in the business arrangement you had with Alhaji and his friends.”
Fear took over her face. Her heart beat accelerated. She cursed her former landlord under her breath. She couldn’t believe that the old goat had started telling people what transpired between them.
“I… I don’t know what you are talking about…”
“Calm down madam. I am ready to pay double the amount that they offered.”
Irritation crawled all over her. She was becoming aware that a lot of pedophiles were living among sane people in the society.
“My friend and I are ready to pay you eight hundred thousand naira for an evening with your daughter.”
The thought of having that kind of money in her possession twisted her greedy mind. But, then, she remembered what the girl went through after the incident with Alhaji and his friends. The nightmares faded with time, but, their cordial relationship suffered a major blow. There were times she felt hatred oozing out of the girl. She closed her eyes and opened them. She wasn’t ready to put her daughter through hell again.
“Madam, we will pay a hundred thousand naira into your account today for logistics and give you the eight hundred thousand naira when we meet. Alhaji Musa gave me your account number. I will pay in the money right away.”
“Look here mister, my daughter is not a prostitute.”
“Of course she isn’t. She is a rare gem. She is very special and we want to partake. I will text you the meeting address. See you both soon.”
The line went static. Adesua stared at her phone in disbelief torn between fear and greed.
Eleven-year-old Edua strode into her mother’s shop. She walked to the shop from school every day. The distance between the shop and the school was pretty close. At about six and sometimes seven in the evening, they board a bus or take a bike home. She kept a change of clothes in her school bag. Most times, she wished she could shower before changing into mufti, but, the shop didn’t have a restroom. Every shop owner in the building shared the public toilets built behind the three story building. She rarely used the place and wouldn’t dream of taking a bath in there.
“Have you had lunch?”
She nodded her head and stared back at her mother who was seated on a plastic chair close to the door.
“Your school sent a text message that there is a public holiday tomorrow.”
Edua smiled. She loved any type of holiday. “Yes, tomorrow and Monday. I will have enough time to prepare for my Math’s test.”
“Okay…” Adesua turned away. She had just gotten a bank alert. Alhaji’s friend had paid in the sum of a hundred thousand naira into her account.
The thought of having an extra eight hundred-thousand-naira cash in her hands made her head swell. There was so much she could do with the money. She needed to expand her shop asap. It was a good thing that there was going to be a holiday the next day. Alhaji’s friend wanted to meet with them that evening. Her daughter would have time to recuperate before school resumed on Tuesday. What she was about to do was unthinkable, but, she had no choice. Or does she? They needed the money. She would buy more goods, make more profits, and she would be able to take care of herself and her daughter. They wouldn’t need to rely on anyone ever again for their basic needs. If they were lucky, she might have a million naira in her account before morning. The Alhaji and his friends tipped them handsomely that day. Maybe Mr. Gbadamosi and his friend might also give them a tip. She grinned with delight.
Two young ladies walked in. Adesua got up immediately to attend to them, while Edua went to a corner to pull off her uniform and change into her casual wear.
At half past five, Adesua locked the shop and headed to the roadside with her daughter. She hailed a cab and gave the driver the description of the place she was going. They argued over fares for a while. The man declined and drove off. She stopped another cab and went through the same process again. The driver drove off. She cursed him under her breath.
Edua stood by her mother’s side and watched her trying to stop another taxi. The place her mother described to the drivers wasn’t their route. They lived in Surulere, but, her mother was directing the drivers to Gbagada. Who was in Gbagada? Maybe her mother wanted to pay a visit to someone before they head home. She adjusted her school bag and glanced at the oncoming traffic. She hoped they would get home before it grew dark. She wanted to take her bath. She felt very sticky. She was also a little bit hungry.
Adesua beamed with relief when the next cab driver agreed to the price she was willing to pay. She beckoned to her daughter and they climbed into the vehicle.
“Who are we going to meet in Gbagada?”
Adesua glanced at her daughter, “Em…” she turned away, “An acquaintance.”
Edua raised an eyebrow and just stared at her.
“Don’t worry, we will be home before Super Story starts,” she looked out of the window.
Edua sighed with relief and rested against the leather car seat.
Forty-two minutes later, the vehicle stopped in front of a guest house. Adesua paid the driver and got down from the cab, her daughter climbed down after her. She followed her mother into the building, wondering what they were doing in such a place. While they waited in the reception area, Edua noticed the glass doors that led to the bar and swimming pool area. The place was filled with men in their forties and above and young ladies in their twenties. Many were seated, eating and drinking. Some were dancing and others were at the pool side.
A tall dark chocolate skin man in his sixties walked up to them. He was putting on a brown and gold coloured Senegalese styled attire. His shoes, wrist-watch and neck chain were glittering. His bald head looked like it had been recently oiled and his protruding tummy was like that of a heavily pregnant woman.
“Adesua, right?” he grinned sheepishly.
She got up immediately, “Yes.”
“I am Gbadamosi Hanson.”
“Oh…” she sized him up again.
“So glad that you could make it,” he shook her hand and looked down at Edua.
“Good evening sir,” she stared back at the man. She didn’t like him. He reminded her of their former landlord.
“She is as beautiful as you are,” he glanced back at Adesua.
“Oh please…” she blushed and looked towards the bar.
“Let’s go meet my friend.”
“Okay,” she signaled to her daughter to get up.
Edua got up reluctantly. They followed the man into the bar and swimming pool area. He led them to a round table by the pool side. An average height, brown skin, potbellied man in a pair of white shorts and black short-sleeve tee-shirt was seated at the table. He got to his feet and shook hands with Adesua.
“Donatus Oyemechi,” he smiled broadly at her.
“Adesua Ayenkegbe,” she returned his smile.
Once they were all seated, Edua noticed the bottles of Whisky and Dry Gin on the table with half-empty bowls of goat meat pepper soup. Gbadamosi signaled to one of the waitresses. She came to their table and asked them what they wanted. Adesua ordered for malt and catfish pepper soup. The young slim dark skinned lady in a white and red blouse and skirt uniform jotted down their order and hurried away.
“Come with me,” she tapped her daughter on the shoulder, “I want to ease myself.”
Edua nodded and got up. She was also feeling pressed.
“We will be right back,” Adesua addressed Gbadamosi and his friend.
“Take your time,” Donatus winked at her.
Adesua and her daughter returned to the reception area.
“I am sure that their toilets will be a mess. I am going to use one of the guest rooms’ toilet.”
Edua raised an eyebrow, “Will they allow you?”
“I don’t mind paying for a room. I am not going near their public toilet,” Adesua approached one of the receptionist and paid for a room.
“Room 46A is on the ground floor,” the lady gave her a key.
“Thank you,” she collected the key and strode down the hallway.
Edua followed her mother and searched for their room. They found it at the end of the hall. Adesua went straight to the toilet, while Edua sat on the bed. The room was spacious. It had a ceiling fan, an air-conditioner, a table top fridge at a corner and a two settee facing a brown wooden wardrobe.
The moment her mother stepped out, she hurried into the restroom. When she came out, she found Gbadamosi and Donatus in the room, seated on the bed, stark Unclad. Where was her mother?
“Pretty girl, how old are you?” Gbadamosi winked at her.
She eyed him and walked briskly to the door. When she tried to open it, she found out that it was locked. She turned around and glared at the strange.
“I want to leave.”
They exchanged glances and started to laugh.
“You cannot leave this room until we have gotten what we paid for,” Gbadamosi sized her up, “Be a good girl,” he patted the space beside him,
“Come and sit down.”
Edua leaned against the door, heart pounding against her chest rapidly. Where was her mother? Why did she leave her in the room alone with these men? A flash back of the day she was defiled replayed on her fragile mind. She didn’t want a repeat of what she went through that day.
“Pretty girl, come,” Donatus beckoned at her.
Edua shook her head. “I want to go home!”
Gbadamosi got up, marched towards her and pulled her by the hand.
“Leave me alone! Let go!”
“Shut your mouth or I will shut it for you!” his threatening stare remained on her teary face, “It is not even your first time,” he hissed, lifted her and threw her on the bed.
“I will go first,” Donatus climbed the bed and pinned her down.
“Please let me go…” she pleaded. The thought of what they would do to her paralyzed her with fear.
“Don’t worry, I will be gentle,” he held her down with one hand and ripped off her clothes with the other.
Edua turned her head and looked at the other man, he was seated on the only chair in the room. There was no iota of compassion written on his face. She knew there was no way of escape for her. She began to scream at the top of her lungs.