Toke: “Your what?” Toke asked anxiously.
Lady B: “you know what, never mind. So, where are you going to after going down? Do you have friends or family around?” she asked.
Toke: “no, I don’t have anyone in the world. My parents are dead and I don’t know any of our relations” she said sadly.
Lady B: “what do you mean by that? So why did you have to run away from a place where you have family to come to this place? Do you think Abuja is like your village?”
Toke: “I was told that Abuja is the capital of Nigeria and it is a place where endless opportunities abound”
“Listen, it doesn’t work that way. You are just a young lady and Abuja can be very unfair to strangers if you don’t have anyone to assist you. You can’t be roaming around the street with no place to lay your head; it could get dangerous you know”
Toke: “don’t worry, God is on my side” she said with faith.
Lady B: “God will not come down and protect you if you put yourself in harm’s way. I am taking you to my house; I cannot leave you on the streets like this”
Toke was afraid of following the lady to her house because of what her mother had told her about strangers.
Toke: “sorry, I cannot follow you because I don’t know you” she said.
Lady B: “I can see that you are very foolish. You cannot follow a stranger home but you can follow me all the way from the village to this place and you can walk the street of Abuja and sleep in unknown places. My friend will you put your seat belt back on and follow me home”
Toke shook her head and got out of the car.
Lady B: “I can see that you have made up your mind not to follow me home. Very well then, say me hi to your dead parents when ritualists finally send you to join them this night”
Toke: “ritualists?” she asked in shock.
“Of course, this is Abuja not your village” she said and turned the ignition to drive off but Toke quickly got into the car.
Lady B fed and clothed Toke for a month during which period Toke began to put on a lot of weight and her beauty and shine returned.
A month after the luxury in lady B’s house caused Toke to forget all the pain and abuse that she had gone through in her village and she prayed daily for God to bless her benefactor whom she regarded as an angel in human skin.
After a month, lady B came to her room holding a nylon bag containing new clothes and shoes and cosmetics.
Toke: “good afternoon, ma” she said sitting up from the bed that had served as her own ever since she got into the house.
Lady B: “I have told you not to call me ma again. I said I am your elder sister and there is no need attaching ma to my name. By the way, how old are you?” she said sitting beside her on the bed.
Toke: “I am 22 years old now” she said.
“Wow, you are a big girl now. Anyway, I got you some things, she said. Try them on”
Toke: “wow, for me again? You have been buying so many things for me and I don’t even know how to thank you. Thank you so much, I just wish I can get a job so that I can repay you for all that you have been doing to me” she said.
Lady B smiled. You want a job? What qualifications have you?”
Toke: “I stopped going to school after my junior WAEC but I can do any job, even house help or sales girl, any legitimate thing to earn some money and at least appreciate all that you have been doing to me. I really don’t know what I would have done without you. God bless you”
Lady B: “you are very funny, even people who have PhD’s are still searching for jobs in this country and you are here saying you want a job with your junior WAEC, no make me laugh abeg” she chuckled.
Toke: “hmmn, I wish I could go back to school. That has always been my mother’s wish for me” she said sadly.
Lady B: “You can join my friends and I in our business and still go to school” she said.
Toke: “really? I will be glad ma. I will do anything to see that I go back to school again. In fact, my mother died because she wanted to pay for my examination fees. I will do everything to keep that dream alive” she said, her eyes sparkling with hope for the future.
Lady B: “I am glad to know that you are interested. Anyway, there’s no need to hurry. Just take your time and use those cosmetics well. You will get to know more about our job very soon” she said, touched the girl on her shoulder and went out.
Toke: “Hey, thank God I ran away from the village o, look at what I have been missing all these while. This lady is so nice, she is the big sister I never had. May God bless her for me” she said.
Toke woke up and went to greet her benefactor in her room after she had finished cleaning up the house. She was however surprised to find her in tears.
Toke: “you are crying, ma. What could be the problem?” she asked after greeting Lady B who didn’t hear her talk more of responding.
Lady B: “I am fine” she said trying to clean her eyes because Toke had caught her unawares.
Toke: “no, you are not fine. You are shedding tears. Maybe you should share your problem. Experience has taught me that sharing a problem relieves one” she said.
Lady B: “where do I start from? Just like you, I lost my parents when I was only a little girl. I stayed with my grandmother who took care of me in the same village that you ran away from and I hawked for her so that we could have something to eat. One day, when I was about 18 years old, I went to hawk as usual and a man lured me into his room and defiled me” she paused and cleaned the tears that was streaming down her eyes and continued.
Lady B: “guess who that man is”
Toke: “who? She asked in disbelief, finding it difficult to believe that the lady whom she had come to love and admire so much was once a rape victim like her.
Lady B: “the man you killed. Mr Debo aka baba Gift!”
Toke: “it is a lie, she said taking a step back unconsciously.
Lady B: “yes. That is why I reacted the way I did that day after you told me that you killed him. After the rape, I told my grandmother all that had happened and she went to his house and reported the matter to the council of elders. The next thing was that we started receiving threats from Mr Debo who threatened to burn us alive if we don’t let the matter die, that is why we had to relocate to the next village and so we allowed the matter die so that we could live. I have always had it in mind that I will take my pound of flesh no matter how long it takes but thank God you have done that for me. Since then, I have detested men and have never had anything to do with them. He was the first man I have ever had and I after him, I swore that I will have nothing to do with any man. I don’t have a government job, neither do I do business” she said shocking Toke.
Toke: “But ma, how…how did you acquire all these and whenever you are going out, you tell me you are going to work. I don’t understand”
Lady B: “this is what I do…”
Question: what do you think Lady B does for survival? Is baba Gift dead? One thing is certain, Toke will make it in the city but how?
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