Moths of the Brothel...
I was inspired to write this short story by the experience of a dear sister Raquel Kasham Daniel. She's such an inspiration and I beleive every young lady should look her up and follow her.
I really can’t disappear in that sense, so I am in plain sight, not hidden, as customer after customer comes in for the different girls. Some fine looking young men, others hideous in appearance from drug use and others pot bellied and eager, sometimes women come in two... a big shocker for me.
They don’t look at me.
I am In this brothel and even here it feels like I’m insignificant, like I was in my father’s house... but this is better than the feeling I had in the place I once called home. At least in my brief stint under the bridge, I was seen enough to be a target of rape one too many times, I mean that’s being significant right? Like this hideous scar on my legs... a souvenir from a rape attempt. I’m proud of how that one played out. Being significant comes at a prize.
Ashawo work wouldn’t accept me. The truth is I tried to do it. It was the last straw. But it revolted against me. Cringed from my touch. It locked its gates to me.
I’m not talking physical now; there was an unseen barricade, locking me out. So I took my bible to a corner, in the midst of all the darkness of sin, and the pleasure screams from men and pretense of pleasure from the ladies, I read the word of God. I basked in the light of his love in the midst of it all. It was my shield and my comfort. My hope for my emergence to more than this low situation I had found myself, it’s been one long year since the day I bumped into Carol, who used to be a cleaner for my family, and she gave me this shelter, the best she could for me, at least it was better than under the bridge.
Sometimes I walked over to mallam Musa, the devout Muslim who owned the neighborhood kiosk. I sat with him and he showed me love like a father. Sometimes he would give me pads, sometimes I had the luxury of coke, and biscuits and Vaseline, but every time I had conversation and laughter.
He treated me better than the church did when they realized I was from the brothel... it didn’t matter why I was there, if I was a prostitute or not, I was not welcomed.
The youngest girl, 19year old Felicity or FeFe as I called her found me in the corner. She was high, but I could see the sadness pushing through the glazed eyes. She’s said to be one of the stars in the strip club across the road.
“This job don tire me” she said as she lit a cigarette and took a long drag.
My heart went out to her...
“But e better make dem dey pay me to open leg for them to chop than for my papa to dey carry am free.” She said as she took a drag from her cigarette. “That man foolish no be small. I for kill am before I commot from that side. Even the belle wey e give me, kai! My sister e no be small something.”
She’s opening up to me, that’s progress.
I sat there just listening. I can’t disappear because I am the light the rebellious moths are drawn to, even when they don’t want to, and I know soon enough they will be consumed by the light of my fire.
I am visible here for a reason. Even Benny the new girl who’s been here only two weeks has found her way to me to unburden.
That’s what I do.
The girls always find me, and then begin to regurgitate ugly tales so bitter that you begin to understand how the brokenness has left them wounded and scarred in places where the physical eyes have no access.
No one knows my story. That I am from a home of wealth. No one would believe... with my one pair of jeans and two tees and badly shaved head thanks to my Mallam friend, because I can’t afford to think about hair care. If I really was, what am I doing cleaning toilets, doing laundry and cooking for board and food in a whorehouse? I could tell you my story, oh I really do want to tell you how this time two years ago, I was in Disneyland with my mother, how I was chauffeur driven to school. How it all went downhill when mother died in the hands of father and....
My life is what a Nollywood scriptwriter’s dream is made of. But that’s not important for now, because as broken as I am, I find purpose here... they talk to me, and subtly I feed them grace. I feed them love. With silence sometimes. With a smile at the sarcasm... with a hug that has caused me black eyes sometimes, strongly resisted till the coldness melts like wax in the heat of the fire burning within me in prayers for them.
I know I can’t change everyone, but I try.
And so this little meeting of the moths flowing to me has become morning devotions.
Not your regular devotion.
As I get requests that’ll make a priest blush.
I get asked to pray for “plenty customers”
For upgrade in ways of service...” innovations to keep clients coming.”
I get asked to pray for this and that...
But they come, they pray, they talk and they let me hug them now, most especially when another girl has been found dead with missing parts, or another is plagued with disease.
I smile more now as I wash the toilets... as I pick up used condoms, and wash soiled sheets. If only the devil knew what glory lay in this brothel... he never would have allowed me land here. The darkness didn’t quench my light like he wanted, instead I’m torching down his domain. Oh, God hears a mouthful from me sometimes, because I get tired, because I remember days that were so good, I want to wake up from the nightmare. But I pick myself right up and live. I know this is just a bend in my story, and restoration in near, so I choose to thrive in adversity while I hope and wait.
Gbemi is quitting the brothel, she got a job as a secretary and she’s working on going back to school... baby steps that really are giant ones .
Andrea has stopped Igbo... that’s progress.
Angel who’s confided her real name to me (Amaka) has found a church, and she’s planning her exit.
FeFe isn’t always high... I find laughter in her eyes sometimes... I know she’ll be fine, very soon.
And me? I’ll be fine.