Lost to the game or lost in their midst didn’t begin to describe my feeling as Madrid Beasts whipped my last string of hope in getting the season Champions League, at the same time destroying the mental picture of the shopping spree I have planned with my winning ticket.
Viewing centres are very common in my part of the world, so it was no surprise seeing the fans of the victory team running around, chanting “Hala Madrid!” The game analysts on the big screen too were not making the pains of the losers any better. The excitement of the moment swirled around, never once did it stop to remind me the consequences of losing. Losers, to the best of my knowledge, don’t make it to the King’s table. Rather, they settle for the crumbs on the ground.
I nipped on my lips almost drawing out blood as I battled with my thoughts, thinking on how to erase the moment, to be able to function sanely. I almost got there, but the chants about the loss from the other end drown the found peace. I’d had enough with it, so much I was ready to draw out blood. But this time. I won’t allow this to ruin me like it did ten years ago.
“Dami, why bothering giving her third degree. She is not worth all these sweats. She will only end up as an underdog that ate from your leftovers” I said as I dragged my friend away from creating a fist fight. Dami and her relationship drama! I never ceased to wonder why a girl should stick to a relationship that hit the cheating chart all the time. But when asked, the only plausible always answer turned to love endureth all.
“Mide, leave me oo!” Dami said breathlessly. “Can you imagine the whore! Well I do not blame her oo. If Bryan had agreed to the idea of locking his legs with padlock as I suggested, this won’t have happened.” I grimly chuckled, but immediately regained my serious look.
“You know, I never like that weasel boyfriend of yours, talk more of the devilish charm he used in enchanting all the females in this campus”
With that typical lost look, she replied “I know right. I never doubt the lost love between you two”
“Nne, see all these drama? Na just one month im go end. Person go graduate leave the school and its wahala for good”
“On a lighter note, Mide, you go still enter Lagos after school?”
“Yes na! I am going to take Eko by storm! Hit the bank; make fast money out from it; get myself a brand new porcelain skin that will be constantly graced from the closet of the best designers; have my beat-up face plaster all over Lagos billboard; fall in love with my Ikoyi’s boo and then have my dream wedding with you as my MOH .” I dreamily rattled off.
“Hmmmm. You are really serious about this. I hope it works out for you” Dami said with enough optimism she could muster as she marvelled at the dreamy look on my face.
Fast-forward two months, my mind was already made up as I dragged my bags and settled in the bus for the journey to Lagos. Throughout the journey, my mind couldn’t help but center on the disapproving look on my mother’s face, taunting my resolve in making it in the big city, neither could I forget the hearty promise I made to my dad and siblings. Those thoughts busied my mind until I reached GIGM park at Ajah. Calls were made, and my friend, Cyndy, whom I was to stay with till I get my own place drove up to pick me. Her face was agog with excitement, with hearty smile really shining on her face, deepening the two adorable dimple on her both cheeks.
She hugged me.”Aaah, Mide. Welcome dear, hope you had a smooth journey?”
I smiled weakly. “That journey is the longest ride of my life. I kept on feeling dizzy and this urge to puke. You know my history with air-conditioned car.”
“For real?” She laughed as she guided the big Landcruiser expertly on the road. “You seem not to have overcome this your car phobia. People at home nko?”
“They are fine,” I answered.
She pulled the car into a big compound with a magnificent duplex. I always knew Cyndy was from old money, but never knew it was this huge.
Few hours later, I have rested in the room which I supposed is mine throughout my stay there. I came down to look for Cyndy, but instead I came face to face with the man that would later alter my little safe world.
“Excuse me, where is Cyndy?” I asked
“Oooh, Cyndy? My little sister? She stepped out” He replied.
“You must be Olamide.
“Well, well, well,” He said with a mirthless smile. “My sister didn’t tell me she was bringing an hourglass beauty home.”
I was becoming uneasy, especially with his roving eyes lusting over every edge of my body. I didn’t even know his name. He only said Cyndy’s brother. He might be a rapist, serial killer, burglary that breaks into people’s home, I thought. So this was how I was going to be damaged as all sorts of evil plot In James Hardly Chase’s novels ran through my mind.
“Hey pretty one, calm down. I am only dazzled by your beauty; I mean no harm. I am Dickson, but friends call Dick.” I can bet my Hermes bag that there was a double entendre on his last word.
“Okay. When is she going to be back?”
“Soon,” he replied smoothly, still looking at me unabashedly.
“So, Olamide, hope your CV is ready.” My raised eyebrow showed I was clearly taken aback by the sudden change in the conversation with the question he asked.
“CV… Yes.” I stuttered a bit as I sat down on a cushion, carefully taking my time in adjusting my blouse that refuses to cover my cleavage well to avoid any raunchy insinuation from him. “I have gotten it ready.”
“Good. ‘Cause tomorrow, we will be meeting this job agent and it comes with a fee.” He replied.
Before I could ask the next question, the door suddenly opened as Cyndy breezed in, bringing along an aroma from whatever she was carrying on both hand that the worms in my tummy started making some rumbling noise, reminding me I have not tasted anything since morning.
The next morning before 6.30am, Cyndy and I had already prepared, waiting for Uncle Dick to drop her at her PPA, and I to the agent’s office. Hours spent there weren’t much, since the agent simply gave me the address and contact of the work place I was to report to. However, the sun was blazing hot and the traffic was just out of this world. Before we were able to get home, it was already 4.30pm. The night went with no drama as I didn’t see Dickson anywhere in the house.
The next day, first day at work, I prepared so early to beat the traffic. And I did. On getting to the company, I was directed to the CEO’s office, where I got the shock of my life: my supposed boss was Uncle Dick. Nature just knew how to play dry jokes, I thought to myself as he pointed to a seat near him.
“Mr. Dickson, you didn’t tell me you would be the one I would meet here……., “I started.
He cut me off as he wouldn’t let me finish. “Why? To spoil the fun of seeing the surprised look on your face? Besides I was just being modest, “ he grinned as he left his seat and sat on the arm of my chair.
“As my personal secretary,” he continued, “the position ought to come with total package. But in your case, I am just helping out. You know, you are yet to serve your country, and you are yet to have any certificate. But I don’t mind accepting like that and placing you on a high salary of eighty five thousand.” He smugly smiled as he concluded. But I couldn’t help but wonder why he had that satisfied look on his face.
I got my answer the next moment as he threw the bomb.
“But Nne, it comes with benefits. You will have to rub my back and I will dollar-massage yours”
“Sir, don’t understand the whole massage thing” I spurred him on to really understand well.
“In simple words, I want you as my lover. Anytime I need you, I want you around. Do not forget you are squaring at mine’s. Life is hard here in Lekki, especially when you are not gainfully employed in any work that can fetched you a roof over your head. So, pray, do not be unfortunate”. And finally Uncle Dick poured his heart’s content out. He had assembled the odds of the game before me, directly forcing my hand to accept.
“But sir,” I began my defences, “I don’t think this is fair deal. You can cut my salary into half, I will not mind, since I am yet to even the odds of my employment requirement. As for the house, just give me three months, I will pack out,” I submitted.
“You cannot help my need?
“I am sorry sir, I can’t.”
“Okay, I won’t be easy.” He shrugged.
I thought something was wrong with the way he accepted my two cents about his proposal, but I was proved right about my suspicion because every night became a nightmare for me in that house. He would constantly knock on my door every night, but I always pretended to be asleep, and thanks to the person that invented locks, I made sure I latched my door every night before I would sleep.
Until one night, I heard the turn of key, and before I could wonder which room was being unlocked, my door burst open with Mr. Dickson in his Calvin Klein boxers which never fail to display the edges of his egg plants. I stood up from the bed clutching the robe of my night dress with hand, begging him to leave my room. He kept on advancing closer to where I was standing, flashing a kitchen knife to silence me. At that moment tears started spilling from my eyes as I remember the disapproval on mother’s face while telling me the evil side of big city. In my mind I had already seen myself as a rape victim. But then, I started shouting and Cyndy had to rush to the room, saving my hides.
The next morning, I had no choice than to leave the house. Cyndy was my friend, but her loyalties was with her brother. With the help of few contacts during the work period, I started as a waitress in a hotel and it came with an accommodation.
I lost my dreams to the odds of the game. A graduate, a waitress? I could not go home and face the disappointing looks of my people, especially my Mama’s. I ended up sharing the crumbs that fell from the king’s with the dogs. The dreamed skin was embalmed with the cheapest makeover while the anticipated body was clothed with meagre second-hand dresses. I had to squash those dreams to afford food and maintain my profile at home by constantly sending money to them. I did that for a month and went home a loser for my Youth service.
That was ten years ago.
I had gotten stronger now, gainfully employed with a home filled with two cute kids and ever adorable Osapa London boo. Though I lost the game, no shopping spree, but I had stop proving anything. I stood up, dusted my pant, went straight to my car and drove off. But the chants from the winners still hovered round the viewing center.