Ferry Guide: “Oh girl, where you dey go” the ferry guide stopped Adaku, as she made to board the ferry when it was her turn on the queue.
Madam: “Leave am, she is with me” she said and pushed Adaku forward and into the ferry.
When the ferry started, Adaku could not believe that she was really free and going to Lagos. It had seemed so impossible before, when she came to Ogwashi-Uku led by the masked man, she had thought that she would forever be in bonds.
Adaku: “I am free!” she screamed, before she realized that everyone was looking at her. The passengers around her, kept covering their nose, because she stank of urine. She became ashamed of herself, so she shrunk into herself as much as she could. It was like she could become invisible because of the stares she was getting from the passengers.
The journey to Lagos was not easy on Adaku who had never been on a long journey. Soon she was throwing up into the nylon bag the woman who helped her, had given her. The journey was tiring, and it took hours on water before they got to Lagos. The Ferry banked at the Apapa port, and her passengers deboarded.
Madam: “Do you have somebody in Lagos?” she asked, as her cargo was being loaded into a truck.
Adaku: “No, I don’t have” Adaku replied, with sad eyes. Looking around her, she felt so lost. Lagos didn’t look like Igbundu or Ogwashi-Uku, it was big and vast.
Adaku: “Mother, I am in the Federal capital city, it is so big, I think I will get lost” she whispered to herself, seeing the sea of heads around the port. Madam saw the way she looked lost, and it broke her heart to leave her there. Perhaps the girl could be a maid, she told herself, anything was better than leaving her here; her conscience would not allow her rest afterwards.
Madam: “Will you come with me, you will have roof over your head, and food to eat, but you will work for it” she said. Adaku thought for a while, trying to decide whether to go with the woman. She just met her at the Ferry port at Ogwashi-Uku, what if she was a kidnapper? She pondered. The woman saw the change of emotions on her face and knew she was pondering the idea, because the girl didn’t trust her.
Madam: “Never mind, I am sure you can manage on your own” she said and made to go, but Adaku was not ready to let go of an opportunity like this;
Adaku: “No, no, I will come with you” she said and hurried after the woman.
Adaku’s madam was known as Madam Biliki, she owned a big supermarket in Tejuosho. Her husband, Raja an Indian man who had become ‘Nigerianised’, was a very wealthy man with a chain of stores across Lagos. Their daughters were all abroad studying. It was with these people Adaku came to live with.
Madam Biliki: “Honey, I brought this girl home from my trip to the Delta. She will be our house girl” she explained to her husband Raja.
Raja: “If you don’t have a problem with her, I don’t. Welcome to our home” he replied in his accented English.
Every day, she woke up at six, cleaned the house, assisted Madam Biliki in preparing breakfast, washed a big pile of clothes and then followed Madam Biliki to her supermarket where she worked with the other sales girls.
Adaku was a hardworking girl, and she was able to endear herself to her madam. But the condition of her bed wetting was still a problem. Madam Biliki had no choice but to stop her from coming to the supermarket because customers were already complaining. So when Madam Biliki went to the supermarket, Adaku was left in the house all alone and that was the beginning of her woes.
One day, Adaku had finished all her morning chores; she had to change her clothes many times because of the leaking urine. She sat in the kitchen eating the food her madam had kept for her, and pondering on her good fortune.
She told herself to be patient; just a little while and Madam Biliki would send her to school. Then, she would be able to keep her promise to her mother and be great. She was jolted out of her thoughts by a tap on her shoulder. She jumped off the long stool she was sitting on and stared at the owner of the hand- Raja, Madam Biliki’s husband.
Adaku: “Sir, do you need anything, maybe food or water or juice?” she asked
Raja: “Give me iced tea and bring it to my room” he said and left the kitchen. Adaku smiled, her madam’s husband had never looked at her in an inappropriate way, therefore she did not think twice before setting out to do as she was told. It never occurred to her that her madam’s husband had never asked her to come to his bedroom when madam was present. She abandoned her food and went to the refrigerator, to get the transparent jug of iced tea. She also got a jug and then went upstairs to the master bedroom. She had never been in the master bedroom because her madam had her own room which was opposite her husband’s room. She didn’t like this about them; she told herself that if she was married, she would stay with her husband in one room. Thinking of marriage, she remembered Chike, she would have loved to be married to him, but she guessed they weren’t made for each other. She shrugged off the sad feelings that enveloped her, and told herself to focus on her dreams. She had already closed her heart to men; she was not good enough for any of them.
She realized she was in front of the door, so she knocked, and opened the door. When she went in, the room was dimly lit, and Raja was lying on the bed with only his boxer shorts.
Raja: “Keep the tray on that table and come over here. I want a massage” he said nonchalantly. Adaku’s heart skipped a beat. Massage, why would her madam’s husband ask her to massage him? Alarm bells began to go off in her head, was this Ejike all over again? No, it couldn’t be, her mind refused to accept the possibility.
Raja: “Why are you still standing there like a statue?” he barked. Adaku walked over to the bed, wondering what to do.
Raja: “Make it snappy, I cannot bear the smell of you” he said and laid on his stomach. Adaku climbed up the bed tentatively, and began to knead her madam’s husband’s back. Her madam’s husband began to make moaning sounds that further made her hear afraid. Then he turned and Adaku jumped away from him, but he stretched his hand and pulled her to him, she fell flat on his chest.
Adaku: “Please sir, I beg you, don’t do this to me”
Raja: “What am I doing to you? Don’t be afraid, I am not doing anything to you, I am only thanking you for the massage with a hug” he said and pushed her away gently. Adaku quickly came down from the bed. She made to run out the door, but Raja’s voice stopped her.
Raja: “I am not done” he said and also came down from the bed. He walked to a cabinet and brought out some crisp pound notes. “Take, this is my appreciation” he said. Adaku was unsure why her madam’s husband was giving her money for a few minutes massage that she did not do well, when her madam had not given her a dime for all the chores she did in the house. But she accepted anyways, she had no other choice.
When she got back to her room, at the far end of the hall, she breathed a sigh of relief, she chided herself for thinking her madam’s husband was like Ejike, she concluded that he was just weird as he was a foreigner. After all her teacher in Igbundu had told her that across the Atlantic Ocean, people did things differently.
She counted the money; it was a lot of money, more than she had seen in her life. She put it in the cabinet that was in her room, and told herself that perhaps it was not too bad to be massaging Madam’s husband every day, so she could be getting this kind of money. So that when she had enough money, she could go away to school, she was not going to be a maid all her life.
Question: Does Raja, have bad plans for Adaku, or is he just being a foreigner?
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