In a small village, I lived with my single, poor mother and my brother. My mother struggled to put food on the table for us ever since the death of our father, which was caused by a road accident five years earlier. Ever since then, my mother was the breadwinner of the family. She struggled every single day to earn money so we could eat, she would go door to door looking for people’s clothes to wash so that she could earn some money to buy us food. Sometimes she worked on people’s farm land to earn extra money. Every day when I woke up, I saw her like my hero for she never made us sleep hungry ever since our father passed away. Each morning, she woke up very early as we were still asleep and made breakfast, washed our clothes, and by the time we woke up, our tea was ready and she was almost done making our lunch before leaving for her everyday work. I really admired that and wished I would do the same thing for my kids when I grew up. She never complained about anything, she never got tired of working. One day I decided to go with her to where she did her work. I heard only good comments about her. The woman whose house we went to for washing clothes praised her to the moon. She told me how my mother washes so clean, how she irons all the clothes she washes before leaving and packs them where they are meant to be, always leaving her house fresh and well cleaned. Each and every passing day, I admired her for she was a woman of steel.
One morning, my mum didn’t wake up as early as she did every day. On going to check on her she was really sick and there was no money to take her to the hospital. Me being seventeen years old, I knew I had to take care of my mother and my brother for he was only four years old. I looked around for some small money and got her some drugs. It was high time mother was taken care of before we lost her, too. For this I had to think of a way to get money. From morning to sunset my brain was at work on how and where to start looking for money. I knew that my brother, being so young, could not do anything I had to be the one to take over from mum. There and then I sat behind our lonely, bushy quiet house where I knew no one would disturb me for my brain had to work. I can’t even wash clothes like my mother did for I am not strong enough like her, and neither can I work on people’s farm land. How will I get money now for my family to survive? I have not gone to school so I can’t read or write as well, I bet no one can hire me anywhere, it seems I am just so useless, I don’t think I can do anything in this life that can help my family out. “Priscilla…Priscilla…Priscilla,” shouted out mum. “Yes, Mum,” I replied. I was so deep in thoughts that I didn’t hear Mum call me for the first and second time till when she called me the third time, that’s when I snapped out my deep thoughts and rushed to attend to her. When I got there, she asked me if I was okay because I had taken long behind the house, about two to three hours. “Am okay,” I replied. “Okay if you’re fine then,” she said back. I took one jerrycan to fetch water from the well.
On my way to the well, I remembered my friend Tracy who had told me some few months before she went back to the city that I was too beautiful to suffer in poverty. She had invited me to their place in the village and was showing me how she has money all because of men. She mentioned that there were guys who were ready to spend on me as long as I gave in to their demands and satisfied them. Then I thought to myself, why am I suffering while I can end this poverty and provide for my mother and little brother a better future. Mother had been telling me how bad it was to sleep with different men for money, but my friends from the city would come back and talk about it as though it was so simple to do. At that moment, my mind was only on how I could make money to help out my mother and my brother. I didn’t care about the repercussions. Immediately, I hurried up to the well so that I could get home fast and call Tracy to let her know that I was ready for the business. I was excited that at least I was going to meet my good friend again after such a long time. I reached the well and luckily there was no one so I didn’t delay, I filled up my jerrycan and started to head back home.
When I got home, without thinking twice I called Tracy and told her that I was ready to go to the city and prostitute myself. Thankfully she was excited to welcome me to her house and teach me everything about the business. That very afternoon I organized myself to leave for the city. The worst part of it was lying to my mother for I had to lie to her about the job I was going to do. I knew that If I told her that I was going to the city to do prostitution, she would have a heart attack and die on the spot because no parent in their right sense would wish for his or her child to sleep with different men in exchange for money. And I knew that that was what I was going for. Since Mother wasn’t feeling so well, I didn’t talk much. I just told her that my friend had got a job at a restaurant as a waitress in the city, which was a lie of course. Because my mother really trusted me, she didn’t question me at all because I have always been a good and hardworking girl. Instead she was happy that I was going to work, she warned me to be careful in the city and gave me her blessings. I had never lied to my mother before and I felt terrible but I had to do it.
At around midday I was already in the city being picked up from the bus station by Tracy. She welcomed me warmly. She had prepared some nice meals that I had never eaten in all my life. I was used to eating beans that weren’t well fried with posho, boiled cassava and sweet potatoes. But that afternoon she had cooked for me well fried rice and well prepared chicken stew with a very good aroma. I ate like there was no tomorrow and I really enjoyed the food. That very evening she gave me some short dresses and classic shoes to put on. The whole day she was teaching me how to wear heels and since I was a fast learner I learned very well. Immediately after we finished with the heel session, she took me to a clinic to see some doctor of hers so that I could get my family planning done to avoid pregnancy.
On reaching the club that evening, I saw things that my eyes had never seen before, due to the fact that I had never been in a club in my whole life. I saw people dancing as though they were having sex, and some were smoking and others were dressed like they wanted to be naked. We went straight to a table where some old rich man was sitting. ”This is my friend Priscilla; Priscilla, meet chief Benard,” said Tracy. ”Nice to meet you Priscilla, you’re really beautiful!” said the Chief. I took it easy because I took what the chief said as a compliment. As the night went by we drank and drank, something that I hadn’t done before.
I woke up in the morning and realized I was in a hotel room with the chief there and then I jumped out of the bed asking Chief what had happened. ”We had sex and that’s what happened,” replied the chief. I sat beside the bed crying and wondering if we even used protection. What if the chief has infected me, what will I do, how will I explain it to my mother, I just hope I am safe. I felt so disgusted because I had lost my virginity to someone I didn’t feel anything for, someone whom I didn’t even know. If I wasn’t strong hearted I would have puked my lungs out. At that time, I was shivering with fear because I didn’t even know the chief’s HIV status. Immediately, I rushed to the bathroom to take off the dirt from my body, but it was impossible to forget such a disgusting scene. Just the thought of the chief touching me made me feel so disgusted. Thankfully I had been injected with family planning by the doctor that Tracy took me to, so I knew I was safe from pregnancy. I knew I had to get used to sleeping with men because I had chosen that path already. When I got out of the bathroom, the chief threw one million near me and started to head out of the hotel room. Before he left the room, he told me I could stay and leave whenever I wanted because he had paid all the bills. Immediately I picked up the money and sent it to my mum. Partly excited that I had got enough money to send to my mother and partly sad and disgusted by how I got the money. The sound of her voice being so happy after receiving the money was what really mattered to me, how I got it was not important for my mother was what mattered the most.
14 January, 2023