Her mother’s departure was her initiation.
“This world has nothing to give you, stop expecting so much”
Those were her final words before she took the long walk and never returned. It was a cold rainy evening, in a room by the corner of a mechanic garage; a flickering candle stood in the middle of the old wooden table. This room where her mother entertained men after men.
That day her mother left, masquerades began running into her as well. It was as though she was continuing a family tradition.
When he asked her who she was and what she does for a living, she did not think again before saying:
“I am a prostitute, I sleep with men for money.”
His reaction was not as she anticipated, he wasn’t taken aback. His face was as expressionless as the empty sky that stood above them.
“So if I have some good cash, you’d sleep with me too.”
An awkward silence hung in the car, he broke it by clearing his throat.
“I grew up in a brothel” he said adjusting the driver’s seat, so he could rest his back properly. He said like hers meant nothing, like it was a poorly crafted joke.
“My aunt used to do it with men in my presence. The day I turned 12, I was made to give a woman head. That memory never left me.”
She turned her gaze away from him and said nothing. He continued.
“It defined me. I spent most of my Twenties sleeping with women for money in this Abuja but sleeping around actually landed me my first job. See?”
She gave out a weak giggle.
“So, tell me about your childhood, you know, growing up”
She opened her mouth to talk but then it occurred to her, that she actually did not have one. Not like she lived in a brothel or with an abusive relative. She spent it trying to fight for her life. She spent it trying to prove that she was like every other normal person, that her attraction to fellow women did not mean she was a devil. She wanted to tell him, she wanted to tell him of how she was moved from prayer house to prayer house because she was suspended from school for lesbianism. She wanted to tell him of how she was once stripped naked and beaten, of how her own mother organized a group of men to rape her so she could ‘correct’ her orientation.
She wanted to tell him of Miriam, the first girl she kissed and how it was a defining moment for her. She wanted to tell him how she got to where she was, how sex became a commodity, how her mother started trading her vagina for food.
She opened her mouth to speak, to lie, to say her childhood was fair but instead, she found herself saying “I didn’t have one”.
She no longer knew who she was. She used to be so many things. She used to play the flute and sing in the choir and take long walks with her dad, and he’d often tell her she was an angel.
One morning, after a heated argument with her mum, she never saw him again. He left.
His was an accident that took away everyone he loved, and his memory of them.
“I eventually started remembering things but not what my parents look like.”
There was so much pain in his voice, the pain of one who wasn’t sure what or who he was. All the memories had faded into darkness. He was a Muslim in a world where his kind were perceived to be nothing but terrorists.
They both stood, grateful for the thing called social media. It was where they met each other. She had warned him to not expect much and he said he was ready as long as she wasn’t a monster.
“So when are we doing it?”
“I told you what I do for a living”
“I didn’t come here to have sex with you, sex is cheap. Give me something more expensive. “
“Like my heart?”
“Like your attention”
He entwined his fingers in hers, she wanted to resist him but no one ever looked at her like he did. She nodded and began to cry.