JUDGE ME NOT - Episode 1

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - her father, father, Lagos, prostitutes, other more experienced prostitutes, train of tears trickled down, brothel, girls, tonight, you start work, malignant tumor had taken over his left liver.

                                                         
“Take care of your siblings, Oluchi,” her father said through pains. His voice was barely audible. His once massive frame had shrunk into a miniature structure lying forlornly on a mattress whose foam had disappeared over time, leaving a mesh of metal springs behind. “Don’t say that papa! You are not going to die!” Oluchi insisted, defying the reality that stood ostentatiously before her. Her father coughed and she wiped the saliva and phlegm that exited his mouth and nose, respectively. “Take care of your siblings,” he repeated. A storm of pains ravaged him inside. His wife had died in an accident on her way back from Abakaliki some five years earlier.

Now, he lay on his sick bed, shrunken into a network of bones with a thin layer of skin on top. A malignant tumor had taken over his liver. The doctors had given him less than six months to live, but each day seemed like his last. He watched as his four children looked on, tears cascading down their depressed faces. Oluchi was nineteen, saddled with the imminent responsibility of raising her younger siblings should their father die. She had dropped out of school nearly a year earlier, selling anything she could lay her hands on to help feed her siblings and pay some of her father’s hospital bills.

“You are still a child, my daughter. It is best for me to go now…yes, it is best for me to go and be with your mother. My death will take one problem off your plate, my poor child. I am very sorry. I wish I could have lived longer to help you…all of you. Please forgive me.” “It is not your fault, papa. You are not a burden on us,” replied Obioma, his first son who was just fourteen. That night, they kept vigil, watching over their dying father. To their greatest surprise, albeit to their relief, he survived the night.

“Obi, I want you to keep this seven thousand naira. Manage it as much as you can. Do whatever you can until I get back. I will be back as soon as I can. I can’t watch papa die like this,” Oluchi told Obioma the next morning. “Where are you going?” “I am traveling to Lagos. I want to find Papa’s brother who has not been home in twelve years. Perhaps, I could persuade him to come home…to help us and see his brother while he still lives.” “Okay, I will do my best here, Olu.” “Thank you so much. If anything happens in my absence, please call me immediately, okay?” Obioma nodded affirmatively.

Oluchi packed a few clothes and hopped on a Young Shall Grow bus in Onitsha, heading for Lagos. As she sat by the window on the bus, she stared into the open fields and forest along the road. Every now and again, a torrent of tears descended from her face. She would wipe the tears quickly, praying quietly for their father’s survival. She texted Obioma by the hour as she sought to find out if there had been any developments with their father.

...

“Oluchi, this is where you will sleep. Get some rest, tonight, you start work,” Nneka explained to her. “Is there anything you need to tell me? Anything I need to know before I get out in the streets?” “Just be careful. If you don’t feel good about a man, then do not follow them home. Ideally, you want to bring them back in here for your own safety. Some men are ritual killers, so do not follow them home if you can afford it. Sometimes, it pays better to go home with them, but be careful. I’d rather earn less and stay alive than die trying to make a lot of money fast,” Nneka explained to her. Oluchi nodded her head. The thought of her father plagued her mind every second that went by. She wondered if her siblings had anything to eat.

She had lied to Obioma about finding their father’s long lost brother. No one knew where he was and she had no address to start with. Of late, she had contacted Nneka, a girl she grew up with, even though she was about five years older and she offered to help her in the streets of Lagos to hustle for money.

She stared at herself in the mirror as she readied for the night. “God, please, forgive me!” she said quietly, staring at herself in the mirror that stood in the corner of a tiny room occupied by three prostitutes in a brothel; now four with her arrival. There were three skinny mattresses in the room, each one was old, haggard and in dire need of disposal. Another train of tears trickled down her face and she applied makeup. She took a handkerchief, wiped her face and finished applying makeup. Then, she jumped into a skimpy mini skirt that Nneka had given her earlier and an equally skinny top that barely covered her bra.

“You are so hot! Men will be spinning their necks tonight!” Nneka and the other more experienced prostitutes shouted as she arrived in the lobby of the shanty brothel. “You think so?” she asked, her voice revealing her naivety. “Of course! Once they see your backside, they will be all over you. You will make a lot tonight. Come let’s go…sharp! Sharp!” Hesitantly, she followed her into the street. It was 10:00PM. They stood in a dark and dingy corner, flashing their endowments at cars that drove by. Soon, a Toyota Rav4 pulled over, slowly coming to a halt. “Baby, it looks like you have fresh meat!” A man in his fifties with a massive pot belly remarked. “It does not get any fresher than this! This is her first night. You want two of us?” Nneka asked.

She had lost her sense of dignity completely. Oluchi’s legs shook as she perched atop a pair of high-heeled shoes. She had never worn those in the past, so she felt uncomfortable on them. She tried to smile, but a pang of guilt pierced through her. Simultaneously, she wondered how her father was doing. “I think I will stick to the fresh meat for tonight, baby,” the man answered. “You and I have come a long way. Let me try something new tonight,” the man added, smiling maliciously. “Are you coming in to our place?” Nneka asked. “No, I wan carry this one go tonight (No, I want to take her home tonight).” “You can go with him. He is good. I have been to his house several times. I have the address in case anything happens,” she whispered to Oluchi.

“Are you sure?” “Yes, don’t worry, he is good. He pays well too.” “Is everything okay?” The man asked. “Yes, I am just trying to organize a few things for her. You know, it is her first time. You take care of her. I get your car and house number, so make sure she is back in the morning.” “You talk as though you did not know me. Not to worry, she will be home safely. Do you talk at all?” His question was directed at Oluchi. “Y-e-s…yes, I…I…talk, sir,” she said, her voice revealing the barrage of nervousness that was racing through her.

“Okay, hop in girl!” She walked slowly, maneuvering her way as she dangled on the high heeled shoes. “So, what is your name?” he asked her as they drove to his house. “Oluchi. And…and yours? Sorry, I guess I am not supposed to…to ask.” “It is okay. My name is…anyway, I will tell you some other time.” “Okay.” When they reached his house, he asked her to shower. He was a wealthy man whose wife died some two years earlier and his children were at university. A short while later, she reentered the massive bedroom with naivety and bashfulness scribbled all over her face. 

STORY CONTINUES...
               CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 2

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: JUDGE ME NOT - Episode 1
JUDGE ME NOT - Episode 1
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - her father, father, Lagos, prostitutes, other more experienced prostitutes, train of tears trickled down, brothel, girls, tonight, you start work, malignant tumor had taken over his left liver.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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