“Aunty, but this is not what Aunty told me in Lagos. She said i was going to be working with you in your boutique” I said.
“Yes, she lied to you. She did that because if she told you what you were coming to do in Italy, you might decide not to come.” She said.
She was right, i was never going to agree to come to Europe if i was told the job was to sleep with different men for money.
“You people should even consider yourselves lucky. People are hoping to get this kind of opportunity in Nigeria. In five years from now, you could become free and have your own money. It is then that you will know the advantages of what we are doing. I was already 28 years when i came here but after working for five years for my madam, i made free and now i have my own house in Benin City, i am the owner of the Boutique you saw in Lagos and i also have another boutique in Ghana. There is money in this business” She said.
I didn’t even know the next question to ask. Ayo and Tricia were scared to dare the woman with questions. I guessed they were thinking of what to do but we were already mentally caged.
Our belongings has been taken away and were going to be sent to Nigeria for rituals. We would have struggled to take it from Lilian if we knew what she was doing on time but we were informed almost ten minutes after she was gone. We couldn’t just burst outside and start looking for her. The immediate danger was that if we had attempted that, we could have ended up sleeping outside. The only person we knew in the entire country was Aunty Philo and Lily and unfortunately, they were both partners in crime.
“But Aunty, you can call her to bring back our things. We promise not to run away” Tricia said out of nowhere.
“Many girls who came here said the same thing but eventually ran away. Though when we sent their names to the shrines, they died. I don’t want anything to happen to any of you because you are all still very young. By the time you turn to 25 years, you must have become successful girls while your mates in Nigeria will still be looking for husbands to feed them. You can then go back to Nigeria and find a man for yourself, buy him and even bring him here to marry you. There are also many Igbo men here in Italy. If you have money, they will come to look for you. Then you can chose the one you like and marry him. I am just giving you opportunities to become big people in the future” she continued.
There was nothing else to say, therefore we just sat there and stared at the large television like kids watching cartoon.
She had offered to give us alcohol from the one she was drinking but three of us refused. Not that it was such a bad idea to drink it but the news we heard was intoxicating enough.
I was to become an official prostitute in a few days, standing in Italian Streets in the night, waiting for unknown men to come and take me either to their homes or to hotel rooms. Although i figured they would be using condoms to sleep with me but it Didn’t change the fact that i could contact disease or get pregnant. I heard in the past that condoms break sometimes and allow the sperm to enter into women. I was scared of what was going to be happening with my body in the next few days but there was really nothing i could do.
If i chose to run away, i would be risking the wrath of whatever shrine my clothes was sent to and if i chose to remain with Aunty Philo, i must do what she wanted.
Two bad options were presented to me and it was required that i chose one.
As i sat in front of the TV, i decided that the lesser evil among the two options was to stay and become a professional prostitute. I consoled myself with the fact that it was just going to be sxx and nothing else. I didn’t know what Ayo and Tricia were going to say, i would find out when we got back into our room but as for me, Miss Maria James, i already decided that i wasn’t running anywhere. I still felt what it took me to come to Italy and if becoming a prostitute was going to be the price i would pay to make things better for me and my family back home, then so be it.
Flashing back to how it all started, i had failed Jamb exams twice and i was sure i would fail the third attempt if i wrote it by myself. The hope of going to the university was slim because even if i was successful in Jamb, there was still the financial issues. My parents were never capable of training me in the University. My major hope of making it there hinged on getting money from men that would be sleeping with me. Atleast that was what most of my friends back then were doing.
I had wondered what was the difference between sleeping with men to get my school fees and sleeping with them in Italy to repay Aunty Philo and become free. They looked the same to me except that with a University degree, i would stand the advantage of having learnt something good and could get a good job.
The entire process was the same as men in Nigeria. After secondary school, some would continue to the university while others join different kinds of businesses. Everybody usually moved on to the next thing.
Circumstances had made it that i was going to continue my life as a prostitute and since people were doing it already, i was going to give it a go.
I also resolved that when i become free, i would work for myself for a few years, save up enough money and join something else. I had always wanted to get married and settle down with a man. I loved children and had hoped to have mine someday in the future.
I only prayed that the prostitution venture i was about to take won’t damage one thing or the other inside my body because as long as i was concerned, i didn’t see any child in Aunty Philo’s house. I wasn’t sure she was even married because women were generally known to mention ‘My Husband’ at least twice in the space of every one hour in every free discussion especially if they were happily married. That was what i never heard from Aunty Philo. She was single at about 37 Years.