I was informed that I should complete the ENGLISHMAN IN BENIN CITY series before moving on to the next series, THE RETURN.
I will therefore return to the ENGLISHMAN IN BENIN CITY, and continue with Part Thirty-six. To refresh the memory of our readers, I have placed parts Thirty-five and Thirty-four at the end of Part Thirty-six.
ENGLISHMAN IN BENIN CITY, 1982: (Part Thirty-Six)
Obaseki sat up. He screamed “Osanobua!”
Then he ran to Gina and knelt by her, sobbing, unable to speak.
All the words seemed to rush to his lips and tongues at the same time.
It was too overwhelming for him and he could say nothing, no sound came out, as his mouth kept opening and shutting.
I looked at him with pity and pity. I felt no pity or kindness toward him. “You always do the wrong things, Obaseki.”
He looked up, his terrified eyes staring at me, crushed, and he desperately tried to say something, but no words came out of his lips.
“You just killed the child of your own brother, stupid” I spat out. “Joshua would really like to hear what you just did.”
“No—no—no—don’t—don’t—don’t say that,” Obaseki said. “It’s not yet—yet—yet—yet—dead. Pri—pri—pri—vate, private, hos—hos—hos—hospital.”
“Private hospital,” I asked? “What private hospital?”
“My—my—my—my—friend’s” Obaseki replied. “Jude. Jude-Jude’s Hos-hos-hops-hos-pital. Not far—far—far—from here. Just along—long—long the highway. I mean—mean—mean—just off—off the express—press-press way.”
Gina looked confused. She seemed unaware of what was going on, and why we were all staring at her, and why Obaseki was on his knees crying.
“Why?” Gina finally asked. “What is going on? Obas? What….?”
“Gina, you are bleeding,” I said as calmly as I could.
“No,” she said, smiling, embarrassed, “I’m not.”
“Yes, Miss,” Monday raised his voice. “You dey bleed menstruation.”
“Na true, madam,” Mary confirmed. She touched the back of Gina’s white dress.
For a moment Gina turned white. It gave me enough time to lunge forward to catch her as she fainted and fell. We all ended on the floor, on top of Obaseki.
“Obaseki,” I said, “quickly, go and get your car ready. Off to Jude’s Hospital immediately.”
Mary said, “Jude’s Hospital? I know where it is too.”
“Obaseki knows,” I told Mary. “Obaseki, back your car up here to the entrance, quickly!”
Obaseki didn’t wait. He ran out to get the car.
I gently laid Gina on the floor. She was breathing, but her eyes were closed.
In a moment, I heard Obaseki shouting, “Moyo, let’s—let’s—let’s go.”
I heaved Gina up. She was heavy. I moved her quickly out and found Obaseki’s car waiting, the back door open.
I placed her on the back seat, laid out on her back. She looked fine, still with her eyes closed.
“You go, Obaseki,” I said. “I’ll follow you in my car.”
I closed the door and ran back to bar. Mary and Monday looked worried.
“I know the place,” Mary said. “I know Jude’s Hospital.”
“How far is it from here?” I asked Mary.
“Not too far,” Mary said. “As soon as you turn off the expressway from the Oluku Junction. You will drive for about ten minutes. It’s a little tricky to describe from that point. But I know it. It’s a popular place. For pregnant girls.”
“Sir,” Monday said, “before you go sir. You never pay for the….”
“How much is everything?”
“Make I add it up sir,” Monday said. He grabbed a piece of paper and started preparing a receipt.
“I feel for Miss, sir,” Mary said. “I like her. She has been coming here frequently with Mr. Joshua.”
“You know Joshua?” I asked, surprised.
“Yes, sir,” Mary said. “The prince. Everybody knows the prince. Both of them have been coming here lately.”
“I see,” I said.
Monday called, “Hey, Mary, come here and help arrange things!”
“I can take you to Jude Hospital,” Mary continued. “Are you her brother?”
“I can see the resemblance,” Mary responded. Monday yelled, “Mary!!!!”
“Yes! Monday!!!!” Mary yelled back. “I am speaking with Oga. He wants me to take him to Jude Hospital. We’ll be back soon. Afterall, it is one of our customers who fainted!”
Monday brought a piece of paper with the items of what we bought. I paid and asked him to keep the change.
Mary followed me to the car. “We’ll be back soon,” she told Monday, who stared after us with amusement mixed with annoyance. “We hardly get any visitor this time of the day. In the evening is when work is heavy, especially the weekends. He’ll be fine. I did my evening shift last month.”
I opened the car and we both jumped in. I really needed Mary at this point, because Obaseki had disappeared ahead of us with Gina.
“Just followed the way you took here, till we reach the expressway,” Mary said. I nodded.
It took almost no time before we got to the expressway. That was when I remembered that I had been drinking and might be somewhat tipsy.
“Uncle,” Mary said, “are your eyes clear? That bottled palm wine is very strong. If I finish a bottle I will get very drunk.”
“I’m good,” I responded. “I need to pay more attention to the road bumps.”
“You will make a right turn at the junction,” she instructed me.
I made a right turn. The road was clear of traffic. Lots of giant trailers plied the road, bringing imported materials from Lagos to the east. Many of the drivers of those huge trucks are notorious for being drunk on the road.
“I pray for Miss o,” Mary said. “I hope she is fine.”
“I hope so too,” I responded.
“Was she menstruating?” she asked.
“No, a miscarriage,” I said. It was too late. It was out of my mouth before I realized that I didn’t even know this person I was sharing intimate information with.
“Strange,” Mary responded. “She has been coming here with Joshua regularly. He would pretend he didn’t know me as I served them.”
“Joshua,” Mary said. “He would look at me like he had never even seen me before.”
“You know him?” I asked, keeping the car from getting entangled with two huge trailers, one trying to overtake the other at a hilly part of the road.
I had witnessed this situation lots of times, and was once sandwiched between two of them along this same road.
It was on that occasion that I learned that when two trailer drivers tango like that, they could easily lure tiny cars off the road, if one was not careful.
A friend who plied that road told me that the trailer vehicle drivers regularly ran people off the road for sport.
Two trailers heading for Port Hartcourt from Lagos would play between themselves throughout the journey, seeing how many tiny cars they could run off the road without a scratch.
I was not paying attention to what Mary was saying very much as I kept my eyes on the two trailer drivers flirting with their vehicles at a high speed, just yards ahead of me.
But she certainly caught my attention when I heard her say, “…fell for him. I did too. I was serving at a restaurant at Ugheli. That was where I met him.”
“Ugheli?” I asked, couple of hours from here?
“That was where I lived before I moved here about two years ago,” Mary said. “I moved here to join my sister who has a hair saloon.”
“You are a native of Ughelli?”
“Yes,” Mary replied. “Both my parents are still there. After form two, my parents stopped paying for my school fees because they have no money. So, I decided to work for the restaurant. That was where Joshua met me.”
I decided to slow down the car and allow the two trailers to go drive ahead off me, to enable me to listen more properly to Mary’s story.
“He was actually our Oga’s boyfriend,” Mary said. “Our oga, our madam, is a married woman. But she was dating Joshua. He would drive from Benin here to Ughelli to be with her on weekends when her husband was away on business to Lagos.”
“Cheating on the poor man,” I said.
“Listen first,” Mary said. “Then one weekend, when madam’s husband was away on business to Lagos, our madam and Joshua decided to travel to Warri to spend time together. They went to the most expensive hotel in Warri, where the rich oil executives stay, very expensive hotel.”
“So, in the evening, they dressed in their expensive evening clothes,” Mary said. “They came to the expensive hotel dining room. They ordered a very expensive menu. And just as they wanted to start eating, guess who entered the expensive hotel dining room?”
“No!” I said, slowing down the car even further.
“Yes!” Mary said. “Both of them! Madam’s husband with the wife of their pastor, giggling and pecking like secondary school kids.”
“The girl who served them, Chinwe, told me this story personally,” Mary confirmed. “She said they had never witnessed anything like that before in all the years she had been working there. Joshua and my madam both held chicken thighs in their hands, their lips open, when they saw the gorgeously dressed couple entering the dining hall. The couple also saw them at the same time. Chinwe said before she could bait an eyelid, the men were entangled and the women entangled, in the most free-for-all tango she had ever witnessed.”
“Chinwe said they called security,” Mary said. “But before security came, both women had already stripped each other naked, with their wigs already yanked off.”
“That must have caused total social collapse in town,” I said. “I mean, the rumor and everything….”
“No,” Mary said. “Nothing happened. If Chinwe had not told me, I wouldn’t have known. My madam and her husband continued as before, but Joshua was banned from coming to our restaurant. Oooops!” Mary said.
“We have passes the road junction where we should have turned left,” she said, looking guilty.
“No worries,” I assured her. I was enjoying her story too. “About a mile down, there is a place to turn make a U-turn. So, what happened to the pastor’s wife?”
“I don’t know,” Mary. “Nothing again about them. Except one day, I ran into Joshua at a supermarket in Ughelli. He paid for everything I bought and offered me a ride home. That was how it started. Before I knew it, it became a weekly thing.”
“What did you do?”
“Almost every Friday, I told my parents I was spending the weekend with my friend, Ojuh,” Mary said. “But I met Joshua at a hotel in Ughelli. It continued for months until I found out that another girl serving at the restaurant was also seeing Joshua.”
I took the U-turn. “Let’s keep our eyes on the road now so we don’t miss the turn again,” I said. “But keep talking. I’m listening.”
“Nothing again,” Mary said. “I was depressed when I found out. I left Ughelli and moved to Benin to learn hairdressing from my sister. I serve here just to make some money to buy my instruments one by one.”
“I guess I should take a right turn here, not so?” I asked when, suddenly, I saw a major junction ahead.
“Yes, you should,” Mary said. “Sorry, I got carried away. I like it here. It is quiet. It is totally away from the city. Just a few drunk researchers come regularly to patronize us. You can imagine my surprise when, one evening, Joshua appeared here with your sister!”
“That must have jolted you,” I responded.
“Barely,” she said. “He was making no fuss of it and I wasn’t. Everything went on fine.”
“You are not hurt that he is now dating my sister?”
“She is not your sister,” Mary said. “She is your lover. I could see by the way you two looked at each other. That’s not the way she looks at Joshua when they come here to our restaurant. But I’m sorry she lost her pregnancy.”
“I hope she still hasn’t lost the baby,” I said. “A lot is riding on that baby.”
“It is your baby, isn’t it,” Mary asked, looking at me.
The question shocked me.
“No,” I said, instantly, “not mine.”
“Because I know it’s not his,” Mary continued.
“Why are you so sure?” I was getting confused.
“Because I dated him for a couple of months,” Mary said, “and I was with him for entire weekends.”
“And, so?” I asked.
“He can’t,” Mary said. “Oh, we are there now.”
We were in front of a modern-looking building with nothing marking it. Then I looked near the gate, and saw what used to be the signboard leaning against the night watchman’s cage. It was empty.
“He can’t what?”
“We are at Jude Hospital now,” Mary informed me. “I don’t see your friend’s car parked here in the lot. Could they have missed the way?”
“The way here is a bit tricky,” I responded. “But Obaseki said he knew his way very well. What do you mean by he can’t? You refer to Joshua, right?
“I know the pregnancy is yours because Joshua can’t make a woman pregnant,” Mary said. “Period.”
I looked at her shocked.
“You two are trying to push the pregnancy on Joshua,” Mary chuckled. “Serves him right.”
TO BE CONTINUED
The story before
ENGLISHMAN IN BENIN CITY, 1982 (Part Thirty-five)
How could I have missed Obaseki’s car as he followed us from the campus? I prided myself in being careful on the road, paying attention to the vehicles around me, and particularly in making sure that I was aware of my environment.
But as a Yoruba proverb says, one cannot be as clever as the sneak who is observing one’s activities.
The situation was critical. Obaseki was in attack mode and was no longer in full control.
Any careless statement from Gina or me could escalate the delicate matter into a full-blown crisis.
“Obaseki,” I said, “there is a misunderstanding. You are not reading things correctly.”
“Don’t try to con—con—con–confuse me. I have—have—have eyes,” Obaseki insisted. “Some—some—something told me—me—me that you were take—take—taking her to a ho—ho—hotel. So—so—so I followed you. I know—know—know you very well. You—you—you can—can—cannot be trust—trust—trusted with women.”
Gina was covering her mouth with her palms, shocked. She finally recovered after a couple of minutes.
“Obaseki,” Gina said, “you are jumping into a wrong conclu—.”
“I trust—trust—trusted you,” Obaseki turned to Gina. “Joshua is—is—is my blood. I told him—him—him that you are depen—depen—dable. But—but—but you are not.”
“Obaseki,” I replied, “you met us having a drink.”
“Is your—your—your plan not to take—take—take her home la—la—later after your—your—your drink?”
“Oh no,” I corrected him. “We just came here to talk. That is all. I hadn’t seen her in months, and just wanted to—.”
Monday and Mary were at the bar watching the drama. Monday came out, turned to Obaseki and said, “Sir, please keep down the noise. We don’t like—.”
“Shurrup, you,” Obaseki yelled at Monday. “Or I will—will-will dish you—you—you a dirty slap. Am I talk—talk—talking to you? Who—who—who is your—your—your—rank!”
“Obaseki,” I said, “have you been smoking that thing again? Madam Ngu said that’s your problem. It sets you off. You can’t handle it. Your mom too said—.”
“You—you—you have been gossi—goss—goss—gossi—gossiping about me with that—that—that—witch?”
“Which witch?” I asked. “Iya Ngu or your mother?”
“You—you—you calling my—my—my—mother a wit—wit—wit—wit—witch!”
I was not prepared for what happened next.
Before I could get up from the chair, Obaseki launched at me with a head butt, knocking me to the floor. Gina was also on the floor next to me. As I tried to get up, Obaseki was on top of me, head butting me, and raining blows on me. He grabbed my head and pounded it against the floor.
Monday and Mary were begging him and trying to pry him off my top. But he was not yielding. He kept throwing combinations of blows on me.
He grabbed my neck and began to choke me. I knew I had to do something to save my life because Obaseki was going to seriously injure me. I was choking from the pressure of his hands around my neck.
Then Obaseki screamed, “You bit—bit—bit me, you—you—you this bitch!”
The pressure of his grip eased around my neck. Then he launched at Gina, who was still on the floor, and began to rain blows on her.
I scrambled up. Seeing him pounding Gina made me snap.
I was not the fighting type. I would do about anything to avoid a physical confrontation. The only time I was in a fight was when I was thirteen, as a secondary school student at the Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo.
I remember that secondary school fight as clearly as if it was yesterday. We were all in a boarding house, caged together like poultry chicken, all boys between the ages of twelve and seventeen.
The school had more than a thousand students in four hostels, Odetayo, Lockett, Pinnock and Atanda, named after Baptist missionaries who contributed to the establishment of the school.
I was in Odetayo House, which, as the other houses, was structured as a series of small rooms, with two long rooms.
I was in one of the two long rooms, Room Beta, together with other students of about my age, numbering about twenty students in all crammed in the room.
We were one big family, sleeping on double bunks separated by stacked wooden lockers.
Everything was shared—toothpaste, footwear, combs, clothes—we held all of them in common.
We knew who had pubic hair, and who didn’t.
As soon as your first pubic hair sprouted, you screamed and called everybody to see your accomplishment. We would count the number of the pubic hair and enter it in a log, keeping a tab on your progress.
And once you started producing sperm, you announced the news to everybody in Room Beta. And of course, we would gather and inspect your body, and would determine whether it was “solid” sperm, or just “water-sperm.”
Hunger was what we most held in common. We were always hungry. The school fed us three times a day, but it was never enough for our fast-developing bodies.
We were allowed to bring “provision” from home. The “provision” consisted of snacks, mostly biscuits and loaves of bread most of which we consumed during the first week after resumption from the vacations in-between the three-month terms.
What usually remained long after the first week of school resumption was garri—some sort of cooked cassava, pulped and ground into small particles. We would simply soak it in water—and if lucky, we would have a cube or two of sugar to sweeten it.
During the first week of resumption, which we call ọ̀sẹ̀ ìgbéraga (week of pomposity), we even added supplements such as Bournvita, Ovatine and milk to our garri snacks, nicknamed “garium sulphate.”
We were an uncontrollable bunch—and yours truly appeared to be totally out of order. I obeyed no school rules. They were made for mortals, not cuties like me.
We played hard.
Fighting was totally taboo.
But if, for one reason or another, two “in-mates” insisted on fighting, we would not discourage them. In fact, we would encourage them.
We would demand that the fight be made formal.
We would announce the fight. I, as the artist, would make the poster for the fight, indicating the names of the two fighters, the time of the fight, and the venue, which was the scout camp, a small clearing in the bushes at the fringes of the school campus.
Somebody would “print” the tickets—all handmade—which we would distribute free of charge.
Once the fight was announced, there was no backing out.
Each fighter would be given a coach, and a referee would be appointed.
The two fighters would take the lead, and all the rest of us would file behind them, yelling “Ticket, ticket, ticket….” As we filed off to the scout camp, others interested in the fight would join us. And since there was not much to do, we would have a good crowd to watch the fight.
I was always careful not to provoke anyone to the point of getting into a ticketed fight.
Until one day, when I was not so lucky.
There was a short student, Adenrele Adeniran, who I assumed I could easily destroy in a fight. We called him Ade Panko. Little did I know that being shorter than me did not mean that the guy couldn’t beat the daylight out of me in a fight.
He said he could beat me up.
I thought that statement was disrespectful. We began to argue.
And, oh my, they ticketed us for a scout camp battle.
I was not afraid. I actually thought that it was a mistake that Ade Panko wanted to take me on.
We marched ahead of the cheering crowd to the scout camp, some ten minutes from our room.
At the scout camp, they placed us in the middle, and formed a ring around us.
It was a free-fight. You could use any part of your body.
The rule of engagement was simple. You fought until you were tired, and the fight would be halted to give you some time to rest, after which the fight would resume.
The loser was whoever said he was tired of fighting.
So, we clashed, Ade Panko and I.
We fought hard, and when we got tired, they halted the fight. My trainer asked me to sit down, fanned my body with an exercise book, and instructed me on what I was doing right, and how I could improve.
“Your real strength is your leg kick,” he said. “You give deadly kicks. Draw him in, and deliver him some bad-ass kicks.”
We must have fought for more than one hour. We were both so exhausted, we could hardly lift our arms. But the audience was not satisfied. They wanted more.
“Fight!” the referee shouted.
But there was no energy in either of us. The referee propped us up and pushed us against one another, but we could not find the strength to deliver a blow or a kick.
“Why bring us to the scout camp to waste our time,” someone complained.
“This is like two lazy chicken fighting,” another said.
“Give them some water,” another suggested.
But we could not fight again.
They declared the encounter a draw. The referee said he would have to book a rematch.
I said, no, I was not interested in a rematch. Ade Panko agreed with me.
And we were both carried back to the hostel as champions, drained, and much wiser.
Ade Panko and I became the best of friends.
I learned that shorter did not imply weaker than me.
More importantly, I learned never to fight again. Why entertain these fools for nothing, and also get pummeled in addition!
As I watched Obaseki hitting Gina, I knew I had to break my oath of not fighting.
I grabbed a chair and crashed it on his back.
A leg of the chair broke, and he fell off Gina.
Gina got up from the floor.
Obaseki was still sprawled on the floor, but he looked fine.
I turned and went to give Gina a hug.
That was when Mary said, “Madam, you are bleeding!”
I was bleeding too and my mouth tasted salty. Somehow, I got a tiny cut on my lower lip.
I inspected Gina.
“She is not bleeding,” I said.
“At the back, sir,” Mary confirmed.
I turned her around.
And saw that the back of her white wrapper was soaked in blood.
“Is she having her period?” Monday asked Mary, as we all stared at Gina.
TO BE CONTINUED
Just before that.
ENGLISHMAN IN BENIN CITY 1982: (Part Thirty-four)
I could not believe my ears.
“You got pregnant from the rape?”
“How did that happen?” I was making no sense with the question, but the situation was hardly making any sense either.
My throat felt dry. The bottles of palm wine on the table were still unopened.
I had to drink something immediately, I was thinking, or I would suffocate. This Gina was going to kill me.
I looked for the opener on the table. There was none.
I yelled, “Mr. Man, where is the opener,” in the direction of the bar.
He came running with the opener, apologizing: “I thought Mary left an opener on the table when she brought the food. Come, let me open for you.”
He opened the bottle of palm wine. It was exactly the same as the bottles used for selling the local beers, such as Star, Top, and Trophy. Only the label indicated that the content was palm wine.
He grabbed my cup and began to pour the palm wine into it.
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Monday, sir,” he said, pouring the wine.
“Thanks, Monday,” I said. “Please pour for the lady first, before me.”
“Yessir,” he said. When he filled my cup, he simply placed it in front of her. Then he took her cup, filled it up, and handed it to me.
I took a deep gulp. It felt light and a bit clingy to the tongue. At the same time, it had a creamy aftertaste that contrasts, strangely, with the light feeling. It is this contradiction that keeps the drinker’s curiosity going, as I end up finishing the entire cup in just a couple of gulps.
I refilled my cup. I glanced over at Gina. She simply took a tiny sip.
“You don’t seem to like it very much,” I said. “You are hardly touching the palm wine.”
“I love it,” Gina said. “I could finish an entire bottle without a pause. It’s so sweet. I like sweet things. But I must be careful. The alcoholic content is way high up there.”
“Really” I responded. “Who would have guessed!”
“Yes, be careful,” she continued. “Don’t be deceived by the sweetness. It is not Coca-Cola. Last time we were here—only last week actually—Joshua had two bottles and was behaving drunk.”
“You guys come here frequently?” I asked, jealous.
“Wouldn’t call it frequently,” she responded. “But we’ve been here a couple of times. Last time I didn’t drink anything. Because of my condition.” She looked down and touched her stomach tenderly.
I took a closer look at her. She was without blemish. But I noticed she seemed to have added about five pounds to her weight, which seemed to make her look even more womanly, though she really was a girl.
She smiled as she watched me looking at her. She seemed to read my mind and said, “Yes, I’m fat now. Not as pretty as before.”
“No,” I said quickly. “You look stunning, on the contrary.”
“That’s why I now wear the wrapper instead of pants and dresses,” Gina continued. “I feel more comfortable in the native wears. In a couple of months, I won’t be able to wear my dresses and pants.”
“That’s an expensive change of wardrobe,” I interjected.
“Joshua has been generous,” Gina said. “He gave me money to shop for maternity clothes. I have enough for two pregnancies.” She giggled. “I kept telling him that it was enough, but he didn’t stop bringing me clothes. All white. Some are very expensive fabrics.”
“Did you tell him about the rape?” I probed, gently.
“No,” Gina explained. “As soon as I found that I was pregnant, I decided not to abort. I was not going to tell anybody about what happened. But I could not hold it all to myself. So I told you that night.”
“Even your mother doesn’t know?”
“Oh, no,” she said, covering her mouth. “Especially her. She would die. Or kill him. Or both. But it’s certainly wasn’t going to be pretty. She never directly mentioned it, but….”
“I’m pretty sure she was raped,” Gina said, “by my own father. Before she became pregnant with me.”
I called out, “Monday, please bring me another bottle of palm wine.” My cup was drained and the bottle was empty.
“No,” Gina said. “Just finish my drink for me. I can’t drink more. It’s bad for my baby. Monday, please get me a cup of water. Not cold. Just room temperature.”
I grabbed her glass of palm wine, filled it to the brim from her bottle and downed it. Nothing was making any sense again.
“You knew you were pregnant when you met Joshua, and you are sure it’s not his child.”
“I’m positive,” Gina said. “That was exactly why I allowed him to touch me. I needed a father for my baby, and if possible—.”
Monday returned with Gina’s cup of water. She took it and smiled, then continued her sentence.
“And if possible, I was going to find one for the child,” she said. “When Joshua came to apologize, I went out of my way to entertain him and Obaseki at my place. I bought them drinks and quickly made food for them. You know, I played the wife material part. It worked.”
“Looks like it did.”
“The following day, he came to pick me up at the buka on campus and took me to a hotel,” Gina continued. “I allowed him to do anything but penetrate me.”
“That was a risk,” I said. “He could have raped you….”
“That would have been fine too,” said Gina, with a smile. “He would have thought that he was raping me, but I was actually setting him up for that.”
“It makes some sense now,” I said. I was already tipsy but kept drinking. I was also thinking that I had to bring Papa Ru and Steve out here to savor the drink.
“He kept coming daily to take me to the hotel,” Gina proceeded. “And everyday, I allowed him to go as far as he wanted, but stopped short of penetration, for about a month.”
“You were not swept off your feet?” I asked. “You did not lose control? How could you have stopped if you got carried away yourself?”
“I felt nothing for him,” Gina confessed. “I still don’t. I am hopeful that one day, I’ll be able to receive him and feel something. I’m hopeful, but doubtful too.”
“The day I was raped,” Gina said, ironically smiling and looking at me directly, “something died inside me. I have not been able to imagine myself being with a man again. That’s why I was so mad at you. I offered myself to you. You were afraid of commitment.”
“Commitment?” I was puzzled.
“Yes, commitment,” Gina said. “When you love someone, you must be ready to commit. I’m just a child, and I committed myself to you. But you failed.”
“It is wrong for me to be with a child like you because—” I wanted to explain.
“That’s the lie you told yourself so many times you believed it,” Gina said.
“I have to really think about this—”
“No longer necessary,” Gina concluded. “One day, Joshua sent Obaseki to me with lots of gifts. Jewelry, clothes, bags and a check for one hundred naira. Then he came the following evening, after I returned from the buka. He took me to the Hotel Plaza. That night I allowed him to have his way.”
I was technically drunk at that point.
Gina laughed, then said, “If I had not given in, he probably would have forced his way that night. I could see the determination in his eyes. You men are so stupid, sometimes. He felt so entitled. Something that didn’t belong to him! How does one feel so entitled to someone else’s thing!”
“You have taken gifts and money from him,” I said. “Perhaps that’s why he felt so entitled.”
“I am not a prostitute,” she affirmed. “I did not ask for his things. He brought them himself.”
“But you could have rejected them,” I shot back.
“It was my choice,” she retorted. “I chose to keep them. If he wanted a prostitute, he knows where to find them.”
“So the rumor is false that he is impotent?” I wanted to know.
“I’m a lady,” Gina said. “You have no respect for me.”
“I’m sorry,” I said quickly. “I think I’m drunk.”
“I was kidding,” Gina laughed. “He’s not a stud. Does that answer your question?”
“Before he finally got what he wanted, I told him I was a virgin,” Gina said. “He loved that. He promised to marry me. Then I allowed him. It was over in a matter of seconds. We kept repeating the same thing daily for about a month.”
“After about six weeks,” Gina said, “I told him I felt I was pregnant. He was ecstatic. He insisted we should go to the hospital to do a pregnancy test.”
“And the test came back positive.”
That was when the main door opened. I could see the entrance from where I sat. But Gina was backing the entrance.
At first it was just his silhouette. Then when I could see the figure more clearly, it was Obaseki entering the bar.
“Gina,” Obaseki said, marching straight to our table. “You—you—you are still date—date—dating Mo—Mo—Mo—yo! And you tell Jo—Jo—Jo—shua you love—love—love him. You can’t marry—marry—marry two—two—two men at the same—same—same time!”
“Obaseki, there is nothing—” I started saying.
“Shurrup Moyo!” Obaseki shouted. “I followed—followed—followed you all the way—way—way—from the Ekenwan cam—cam—cam—campus down—down–down here.”