Every man wants a piece of you. They see you looking ripe like the apple before Adam had a taste. They see you looking brighter than the future before humanity went to waste. Your dreams and hopes are not their concern. Talk about them for an hour and you become a burden. My mother told me that power is the slit right between your legs. It’s the only thing that makes a man beg.
I was raised by a single mum. I grew up hearing about other people’s dads, while mine remained a mystery. Later I convinced myself that God was my father. My mum spent nights with businessmen, politicians and anyone who would help us with rent, food and put me through school. They gave her money to buy clothes, shoes, handbags and weaves, but never enough to set up her own business. Always enough to make her come back for more.
I spent my nights praying to God that my mum would find a decent husband. Someone who would give us a better life. Then it occurred to me that majority of these men sleeping with her are married. Are there any decent men? Is there even a reason to rely on men for a better life? It’s the typical Nigerian mentality isn’t it? That women must wait on a man to have a happy ever after. It’s not just Nigerian, Disney has been shoving that down our oesophagus.
Even when you make it in this country, people will always tie your success to a man or men. Like it’s the norm that you must sleep with at least one person to get to the top. People will always assume we used that power between our legs to get anywhere. Yet when a woman is openly sexual they shower her with condemnation. The western society use names like Marilyn Monroe to drive sexual liberation of women. Sometimes I picture Marilyn Monroe in hell signing autographs on repeat while men kiss her feet.
The way I see it our bodies are either for free or for sale. Consider yourself lucky if you go through primary school without Mr McPervert sliding his hand into your undies. You’re the lucky one if you graduate from secondary school without Mr Ashawo touching you inappropriately or going further than that. Your university lecturer awaits. Your employer is on the waiting list. Right next to random men on the street, in shopping mall, market, there’s always someone out there who thinks they have the right to your body parts.
Crown me Miss Paranoia 2015 but this is the world I live in.
The scorching sun blasts the street with piercing rays, boring holes in my skin for sweat to pour out like rain. I stand on the pavement, waiting. Years back, I stopped taking okadas after witnessing several accidents, and after one man robbed me of my handbag. I quit using bus because of the one-chance story. I’m well aware that taxi isn’t safe but I always make a good bargain with them.
Abruptly, a silver Honda Pilot comes to a grinding halt in front of me. The window slid down revealing a dark skinned man. Low cut, scraggy beards, white teeth flashing at me. He says to me, “Hey, how are you?” All too familiar but we’ve never met.
“I’m waiting for a taxi,” I mumble, looking away from him, searching.
“Where are you going?”
“Thanks, but I’d rather take a cab.”
“I’m not hitting on you,” he says. “Actually, I’m gay. I saw you and I had to stop because your beauty is extraordinary. I actually want you to model for my lookbook. I’m a fashion designer.” He grabs his iPhone from the passenger seat and strokes the screen a few times before stretching his arm towards me. He says, “Look at my work. If you come inside I can tell you more about my business while I drop you wherever you are going. I’d really love to work with you.”
Cars behind him blow their horn. I’m sliding through his phone and seeing beautiful dresses. Very stylish. He tells me the name of his brand. I don’t pay much attention to fashion but I know it. Drivers keep pressing their horn, causing me to hop inside his car.
His hands grip the wheel, real gold on his fingers. Around his wrist wraps a Rolex watch. He says to me, “I was on Vogue last year. Marie Claire as well. This collection is the best I’ve ever done and the moment I saw you I knew you’d bring it to life.” He grins at me. “Have you ever modelled before?”
“No sir,” I murmur.
“Normally, I’d hire from an agency but your beauty is so rare.”
I cut him off just to tell him where I’m going, since he hasn’t asked.
“Noted,” he replies. “What’s your name and what do you do?”
“I’m Ngozi and I don’t have a job yet. Been job hunting since youth service.”
“The unemployment in this country is insane, isn’t it? Poverty as well. People start to think of crazy things to do for money. I always say the country would be better if we had agencies that helped with temp jobs like they do abroad. At least people can try out different jobs, you know.”
From there he regales me with stories of different countries he has visited and their lifestyle. He travels a lot for inspiration. This man is actually interesting. I’m so honoured to have met him. God works in mysterious ways. We exchange contacts and arrange to meet this weekend before dropping me off at my destination.
On Saturday, I take a taxi to his house at Parkview. It’s a white mansion, dry set masonry fence, black metal gate with railings to show off the house and its brick floor pattern of the compound. His gate man opens for me to walk in.
“Hey, come in,” he says as he opens the front door, beckoning me with his hand. I follow him into a luxuriously furnished hallway. Not much time to appraise the room, we stride into the living room, which is even more beautiful. I can take selfies forever in this room. He grabs a flute of champagne from the bar and hands it to me. “Drink this, relax, you seem tensed.” We move over to the studio which has already been set up. The serenity blue back drop and the clothes are on the rack.
“I take the photographs myself. I actually took a course at the University of New Mexico. Photographers in this country don’t understand my concept.”
Sipping my champagne and shuffling through the racks of clothes, I listen to him talk about the inspiration behind this collection. He tells me the makeup crew is on their way. “They better get here early, I hate the lateness in the country.” A tingling sensation is rushing through me. My heart is racing violently in my chest. I can hear it beating in my head. So loud. I can’t be drunk. I’ve only had two sips or three. My visions are getting blurred.
“You need to sit down,” He says, grabbing my hand. My eyelids are compelled to close. Something isn’t right.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Sam74100