‘Don’t even try to play dumb with me’ I retorted.
‘Play dumb?’ What do you mean? Who’s playing dumb here? Weren’t you supposed to be out with Chang?’
‘Of course I was’ I retorted again. ‘And this is where he brought me out to. And you? I heard that this place is an organization for a group of people called PRADA. From what I gathered, they don’t take in female members. The females’ only come here to satisfy the sexual appetites of the PRADAS. Amazingly here you are’
‘What are you insinuating?’ she asked angrily.
‘I’m insinuating the obvious’ I retorted the third time.
Before I could say another word, Cynthia landed a slap on my face. The impact wasn’t that much anyway because her palm was as soft as that of someone I know. But I got furious and we started a quarrel. As we exchanged words, I got to know that Lin, Chang’s daughter was the one who brought her there without her knowledge of what happened there, just like Chang had done to me.
I also narrated to her how I got there, but I could sense doubt in her eyes. I didn’t have a problem with that because I didn’t believe her either when she told me Lin brought her there. I asked her to bring in Lin for questioning and she did. Lin explained to us that her father watches over her strictly to make sure she doesn’t indulge herself in sexual activities until she was married.
According to her, her father had sent word to his friends and loyalists to keep a close watch on her to keep her from trying to do it secretly. So the only opportunity she had to do so was in the PRADA meetings where everyone was masked and she couldn’t be seen. She was 25 years of age and she confessed she started going for the PRADA meetings secretly from the age of 22. I asked how she managed to bypass the password and she said she had a godmother who her father didn’t know of.
Her godmother was there for the same purpose as the other females. She confessed a whole lot to us. Then Cynthia busted out in anger. ‘Why didn’t you tell me all these before bringing me here? Is this how you treat your friends?’ She was asking so many questions at a time and almost called to the attention of some people who could be hearing her voice from a distance. I stepped in and separated them from each other as Cynthia almost started a fight with Lin.
I took Lin away to another chamber and questioned her all the more. I was more concerned about my initiation to the PRADAS than anything else. I asked Lin if she was aware of her father’s plan to get us married. She said she was but was afraid of what might become of Cynthia if it pulled through. Lin told me that Cynthia had always been referring to me as her fiancé and had said a lot of good things about me. Since all the men around her either came for the money or fame, her father decided to secretly arrange for us to marry each other without Cynthia’s knowledge, and this was supposed to take place after my birthday.
She explained everything to my understanding except the part where Cynthia said I was her fiancé. I inquired more about that and she kept talking. At a point, she noticed the look on my face and suspected that what Cynthia said about me being her fiancé may have been a lie. She asked; why is your face like that? Isn’t she your fiancée? If I said she wasn’t, Lin won’t see any wrong in getting married to me. And if I got married to her, I would certainly end up as a PRADA, which I didn’t want to be a part of.
Throughout school days, I never belonged to a common campus cult, not to talk of full blown OCCULTISM. So I answered immediately; she is! ‘We are set to marry next summer’ I said. That’s why we need to leave immediately so that we can begin preparations. As you know, summer is here already.
‘Next summer? That’s just around the corner. How come she never mentioned it to me?’ Lin asked.
‘I wouldn’t know’ I replied innocently. The next thing she said was; ‘I need to talk to that so called Cynthia’. I held her back as she stood up from the couch we sat on.
‘You know you just had a little fight with Cynthia. I bet she’s still upset with you for bringing her here. Just give her some time to cool off, and then you can go talk to her’. She saw reasons with me and left to have the fun she came there for.
I went to Cynthia and briefed her on the situation of things. Even Cynthia was afraid and couldn’t believe that Lin and Chang could do that to her. From then, she lost trust for all except me, and that was a problem. We planned to keep our calm and act as though we knew nothing while arranging to leave the next day without anyone’s knowledge. She and Lin reconciled. Lin never knew I had told Cynthia everything and because of that she doubled her regard for me.
The whole pleasure thing came to an end. Lin excitedly came in to meet us. Apparently, she had taken a dose or two of what she went there for.
‘Cynthia hurry! We have to leave before my father gets to know we were here’ said Lin
‘Alright’ Cynthia replied and they left. I went to find Chang so we could leave as well. I found Chang discussing with a group of people on a round table. He quickly saw me and signaled me with his hands to come join them. That caught the attention of everyone on the table and they turned to see who he was signaling. All eyes were on me. I put away all my fears and joined them on the table.
‘This is my daughter’s husband to be’ Chang said.
‘Is he good enough for her?’ one of the men on the table asked.
‘He couldn’t be any better?’
‘In that case he’s already one of us’ another man said. You’re welcome son.
‘Thank you’ I replied.
It was all over and we left. On our way home I couldn’t think of anything else than a means of escape from Chang. After a long while of trying to figure out what to do and couldn’t come up with something, I quit trying and slept off in the car. Next thing I heard were echoes of children’s voices. They seemed so happy that I envied and wished to be a child again. That way, I would be free from these troubles that follow me everywhere, especially that of Chang and the PRADAS.
Since it was impossible for me to be a child again, I decided to join them play for the last time before I journeyed to the land of no return which Chang was taking me to in three days. If Cynthia had not brought me to China, I wouldn’t have met Chang. If I had stayed back with Ogechi at the airport the day I traveled to America, I wouldn’t have met Cynthia. If Ogechi hadn’t let the whole superstar come between us, I wouldn’t have considered traveling. I was pursuing happiness but there I was, ready to be initiated into an organization I knew nothing about and marry a girl I haven’t dated before. But fact remains that I would be very wealthy. But what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul.
I was so happy playing with the kids, but a little distance away I saw some rich kids mocking a poor kid because he couldn’t afford candy but needed it. They would offer him candy, but when he stretches out his hand to get it they would draw back their hands and laugh at him. Then the poor kid would weep and weep while the rich kids would just keep laughing and having a good time. They loved to see the poor kid cry.
The poor kid secluded himself to an area short of people but could be seen by everyone. I watched carefully to observe the poor kid because I had taken pity on him. I wanted to go and console him and then buy him candy. Before I reached him I saw an old man in rags approach him and whisper into his ears. Whatever that old man said to that poor kid made him brighten up like he hadn’t been sad in two years. I really wished to know what that man told him so that I could tell it to the children I and Lin would have whenever they got depressed.
Immediately the poor boy jumped up and went in again to the rich kids. As soon as they saw him they offered him candy so that they could withhold it from him when he tries to get it like they had been doing. But amazingly, the poor kid wasn’t interested in the candy anymore. They offered and offered but the poor kid showed no interest in it. They thought maybe he needed more than candy so they went and brought chocolate, ice cream and all the things kids love, but the poor kid was not interested in any of them. Instead, he was interested in something as insignificant as doll.
The rich kids noticed that he was interested in their doll and they withheld it from him and gave him the former instead. When they had mocked him enough, they threw all their chocolate, candy, biscuit, and the rest they had on him, and then left the scene with their doll, just to let him have what he didn’t want while they starved him of what he really wanted. They were wrong! The kid only did what the old man told him to do in order to get what he wanted. When they were all gone, the poor kid found a large bag and packed all they threw on him into that bag and left. He ended up having more than he asked for. As he made away with the bag rejoicing, he saw the old man and thanked him for helping him acquire all those candy with his council. The old man waved him goodbye and turned to leave to where he came from.
I wanted to meet the old man to see if he could proffer a solution to my own problem, so I called out to him in a loud voice as I ran towards him. He saw me running towards him and also started running, thinking I wanted to harm him for helping the poor kid out. Wait! Wait! I kept screaming but he wouldn’t even look back. He kept running and I got so angry and screamed again to the top of my voice; WAIT!! Then I opened my eyes to see the driver struggling to keep the car on the right lane to avoid accident as other cars were horning ceaselessly while Chang was trying hard to hold onto something to avoid hitting himself against the window glass of the car.
‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ Chang asked furiously as he looked at me as though he was going to unleash hell upon me. ‘Why are you screaming?’ he continued. ‘You almost got us killed’
Then it dawned on me that I had been dreaming all along. We were still on our way from the PRADA meeting. All that stuff about the candy and the kids was just a dream. Oh s–t! I couldn’t say anything than sorry to Chang. He yelled at me for about a minute of two before letting it go.
When calmness returned, I leaned back and started thinking about the dream I just had. I couldn’t seem to find a suitable meaning to it. But then, I meditated a little more on the dream until I got an understanding of it, and then I smiled. Chang noticed my smile and asked;
‘What are you smiling about?’ I looked at him mischievously and said; I WANNA MARRY LIN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Can you make that happen?
Chang looked at me and tried to smile to what I said but couldn’t. He asked why the suddenness on that matter. Of all he said and asked, all replied him with was; I WANNA MARRY LIN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Can you make that happen? I had hoped that just like the rich kids in my dream, Chang would keep what I wanted from me and present me with what I didn’t want. He enquired again to know what brought about this sudden eagerness to marry Lin. Seeing that Chang was slowly falling for my antics, Intensified it by saying; I want to marry Lin, I want to base in China, and I want to join the PRADA. That was supposed to speed up the rate at which Chang was falling until he fell and crashed but immediately Chang heard the word PRADA, he leaped for so much joy. He gave a horrible smile and said; Lin shall you marry, China shall you base, and PRADA shall you join. Surely, PRADA shall you join! Omor See me oo! Na who send me dream?
To be continued.