“Melissa, we just moved in here. How could two men know where i live?” I had suddenly asked while standing at the entrance door.
It had suddenly become mentally difficult to enter the house.
“I dont know” She said, “They saw me at Domitz and asked if i know you”.
I asked if she knew their names.
“Yes” She had said, “One of them said his name was Jacob and the other….”.
“Its OK, where are they?” i interrupted.
I had started breathing freely again. It was Jacob, not Ano’s men.
As i walked into the apartment and sat down, i wondered if i was ever going to be able to become really free. It seemed something was always going to be chasing after me.
I had thought that my freedom was intact but as this stood, it was clear that it was going to be from one problem to another.
I would have started planning on how to leave Italy entirely but the truth was that i knew nobody elsewhere. I also didn’t know how things were going to turn out if i sneaked out of Italy into France or Switzerland, but one thing was definitely going to happen wherever i ran to; I would surely be required by law to go for asylum again. The one i took in Italy only covered me in Italy. The moment i stepped outside Italy, it would be useless.
“He said i should tell you to call him when you return” Melissa said.
She had stood in the middle of the sitting room and wondered what was wrong with me.
She knew i had been behaving differently ever since i returned from Milan. She knew that i was jumpy at every strange news but what she didn’t know was the reason for everything i was doing.
As i sat there looking squarely on her face, i felt that it was time to reveal some of my secrets to her.
I believed she would help me to carry some of the burdens.
Melissa was a fellow woman and prostitute, i was sure she knew the value of freedom and i was also sure that if it was her who stumbled on the money up there in Milan, she would have done the same thing i did.
“Maria, what is the problem, you dont look relaxed at all, is everything OK?” that was Melissa.
The Good news was that she had recognized that everything was not fine with me.
“Please sit down” I said as i waved at a vacant chair.
Melissa sat beside me and waited for me to start whatever i wanted to tell her.
After over two minutes of silence, i started,
“Melissa, what I’m about to tell you must remain between two of us. It took a long time for me to decide whether to tell you or not but since we live together, i think it is better that you know so that you know the kind of people you bring here next time. I had a boyfriend in Milan” I said.
She looked up at me and said nothing.
“His name is Ano and i met him in Venice yesterday” I said and kept quiet.
Melissa found out that whatever i wanted to reveal to her was difficult for me, as a result, she didn’t say anything, she just kept quiet and waited for me to keep talking.
“I was living with him Milan until he was arrested by the Police. He was taken to Prison and i didn’t know when he would come out again. I worked at the McDOnald then and when i got to work the following day after he was arrested, one girl approached me. She said that my boyfriend sent him to take some money from the apartment. I told her that we would both go to the apartment in the evening after work but before the evening, i left work and returned to the apartment alone” I said and kept quiet.
“Did you find the money” Melissa asked.
I nodded and remained calm as tears rolled down from my eyes.
“I see, that’s the money you gave to Aunty Philo” She said.
I nodded again.
“Look Maria, i dont know why you are crying. I know you think you did a bad thing but atleast you achieved something with the money. I would have blamed you if you didn’t achieve anything with the money. You must stop crying now” Melissa said.
She was right. It was time to stop crying.
I thought she was going to get jealous and blame me but she didn’t.
“I saw him in Venice yesterday, he has been released by the Police and he came looking for me there because i told him that i was posted to Venice after my asylum” I said.
Melissa wanted to know everything that happened in Milan and Venice and how much money i took from the apartment.
For some reason, i pegged the money at 20,000 Euros. I didn’t want her to begin to think that there was some money left.
I was sure that if she knew i had more money, she would be expecting me to give her some. That should not have been a bad idea because i couldnt just tell her the problem parts and kept the money for myself alone but Unfortunately, i already sent the remaining money home to Nigeria and there was nothing i could do.
“Did he see you in Venice?” Melissa asked.
I nodded and went on to tell her the story of how i escaped from Venice Foreign Office.
It was after my story that Melissa understood why i was jumpy since she announced that two men came looking for me.
Melissa went on to encourage me to be strong. She said that what had happened had already happened and that if Ano was such a good man as i made him look, he would surely understand that what i did with the money was the right thing.
I eventually ate some food and slept.
I had an appointment to visit Uncle’s restaurant the day before but i didn’t go due to my journey to Venice.
I had attempted to reach uncle on two occasions but he didn’t answer my calls.
I had planned to go to his restaurant that evening after sleeping but something else happened.
Jacob and a young Igbo man showed up again in our residence.
I didn’t call him to come. I didn’t know if he had just decided to check on me again or if Melissa had called him with the news that i was back in town.
Whichever one it was, Jacob was not a danger to me. I knew that his line of discussion would be about how he loved and cared for me and how i didn’t want to be with him.
Despite the enormity of that topic, it was still better than the case of Ano and the missing money.