Chapter 23: The Critical Choices we make
Back in Lisbon, I had witnessed how the two shakers who worked for Madam Grace nearly molested Mary because she didn’t raise up to the amount she returned to Madam Grace the previous week. They tore her clothes and threatened to beat her severely if she didn’t come up with enough money the next day. That was the kind of life I was subjected to in Lisbon Portugal and when I finally found a man who was willing to take me away with him, my parents down in Nigeria were asking how I could run away with a stranger.
The truth was that even if I had found a man who was half as good as Solomon was, I would still follow him. The objective was to leave the streets, leave Lisbon, leave prostitution and run away from the mad woman who called herself Grace. I knew that morally, I was never going to feel guilty. I was told lies right from Nigeria about what I was going to do in Portugal. I was told about this wonderful Supermarket where I would be working as a sales girl while going to school but when I got to Portugal, I found out that the Supermarket in question was just a small store with Garri and Yam, Crayfish, Onions and the rest of the things I ate every other day while I was in Nigeria. It was deception of the highest order and since my international passport was taken away the moment I arrived in Lisbon, there was nothing else I could do except to wait for the opportunity to run away. That beautiful one-in-a-life-time opportunity eventually came and what did Madam Grace do? She called my parents and told them I was going to be used for rituals.
What ritual was worse than the prostitution ritual she forced me into?
What ritual was worse than the one that involved strange drunk men inserting their penis inside me every other night?
The prostitution situation I found myself was taking away my life and my sanity. I was changing rapidly. I saw it and I felt it. My heart was bleeding. And the people like Mary my co worker and roommate whom I confided in told me that I would get used to it with time. How on earth was I supposed to get used to prostitution? It meant I would become a Prostitute for the rest of my life. And at 18, the rest of my life was still a million years away.
It crossed my mind once to kill myself. It happened the first day I slept with a fat man in Lisbon. He was a fat man with large stomach. He was drunk and time was running late. I was supposed to return 500 Euros to Madam Grace the next day. She had called earlier to remind me that I would pay the next day. I had told her that I had 400 Euros and she told me to work the next day to complete the money because her shake up boys would not take it easy with me. Perhaps she was bluffing but that was a bluff I didn’t want to risk. Therefore when the drunken fat man showed up, I had no option than to follow him.
Inside the dirty room where he lived, he collapsed on me as soon as he finished struggling to remove his trousers. I had to remind him that he still needed to wear a condom. When he eventually remembered what condom was, he hissed, took it from me, found his manhood hidden under his stomach and put on the rubber, and then he collapsed on me again.
I was suffocating under him as I tried to push him away but I couldn’t. He was seven times my size and weighed nothing less than 150 KG. I doubted he even knew when he released because he stayed on top of me until I scratched his face with my wailing fingers. That was when he rolled off me and dozed off. The only good news that night was that he paid me before doing anything. I had grabbed my bag, threw my underpants inside it and ran outside. I went home without wearing my pants. I sobbed all the way to the apartment where Mary was eager to know how I was able to handle that fat thing. She saw when I left with him.
I didn’t go out the next day with Mary, I stayed home and cried. I thought about taking my life. I wanted to end it right there. I went as far as picking up the knife in the kitchen to stab myself in the stomach before I remembered that I would go to hellfire if I took my own life. That was the kind of things we were told when we were kids. That was what we were told in Church every other Sunday. That was the only thing that stopped me from killing myself but when I met Solomon, I knew that God had good plans for me. He gave me reasons to return to humanity. He showed me care and love. He gave me hope and encouragement. And while he was about to send money to my parents, they rained curses on him.
I was sure many men would have left me as a result of the curses and abuses from my mother but my Solomon stayed. He had laughed it off and said that he didn’t care. He said he didn’t believe whatever my mother said from Nigeria would affect him. He said he didn’t believe in such things and that the only thing he needed to know was where I stood.
We went to see a movie on that December 27. Solomon said there was a new movie that got released and that he wanted to see it. We went to a cinema hall and paid for our tickets. When his phone rang inside the hall, he excused himself and left. I wanted to follow him because I was scared he could just disappear. I had lived on edge since the morning when my mother abused him. It was true he said he didn’t care but he could be thinking about something else. I was a burden to him, I knew it, he knew it and he knew that I knew it. Nobody particularly loved to have a girlfriend or boyfriend who was a burden. We were all created to expect only the goods.
I waited in the cinema hall, half watching the movie and half looking at the entrance to see when Solomon would return. At a stage, I realized he had spent over twenty minutes outside. I thought it might have been over. I thought he has disappeared. My heartbeat was faster than normal. My body suddenly became weak. My legs suddenly started shaking as I stood up and staggered towards the entrance door.
Then I saw him standing in a corner, phone on his left ear, telling someone to come to Porto the next day.
My Solomon didn’t leave me, he was still there.
“Why is your face red?” He asked as soon as he finished talking on the phone.
“Nothing, I just don’t…..”
He hugged me. “It’s okay Jennifer. I know you don’t trust me yet but know this; I will never leave you here. Besides if I want to leave you, I will tell you because I don’t see how you can stop me from doing that.”
The tears started falling freely from eyes.
Chapter 23: The Critical Choices we make