© Serah Iyare 2017
Alhaji Musa stood outside the flat venting. He had his reasons for always giving out his apartments to salary earners. People without jobs tend to delay house rent payments and collecting other bills from them was always a herculean task. When it came to salary earners, there was hope that when they were paid, they would off-set their debts, but, jobless tenants on the other hand, their promises and excuses was like pouring water into a basket. He faced the door and banged his fist on it. No response. Was she sleeping? It was eight in the morning. She should be awake. He knocked again. He heard the creaking sound of the hinges of the door. He took a step back and crossed his arms against his chest.
The fair skinned woman came out in a white sleeveless tee-shirt and a wrapper tied around her chest. Her dark brown shoulder length hair was in tangles all over her face and head.
“Good morning Alhaji.”
“Don’t make me wish you a bad morning,” his stern stare sized her up.
She groaned inwardly and scratched a spot on her itchy scalp.
“How many months are you owing me?”
“Four,” she cleared her throat.
“Including the electricity, security, water and refuse bills, that is about thirty thousand naira.”
She sighed in despair, “I will pay.”
“When?” he eyed her, “There are people interested in this apartment and they are ready to give me a full year rent. I don’t deal with jobless people like you. If you know you cannot afford this kind of place, you should have gone elsewhere.”
His words stung her. She never intended to owe him. She wasn’t happy about her situation either. One of her younger sisters promised to send her some cash at the end of the month. She hoped it would be enough to clear her debts.
“Please give me some time. I am expecting some money at the end of the month.”
“Please, please, please. I am tired of your fruitless promises. I want my money.”
She shifted her weight to the door post and adjusted the loose wrapper.
His eyes fell on her busty bosom, lingered, then slid to her curvy hips and abundant backside.
He licked his lips hungrily and scratched his bushy beards.
Adesua noticed his intense stare and frowned. She folded her arms across her bosom and eyed him.
“Em… em… we…. We can come to a form of arrangement,” he lifted his lustful eyes to meet her frowning ones, “I can forego at least six months’ rent, including other bills,” he licked his lips again.
She raised an eyebrow, “In return for what?”
He smiled and cleared his throat, “You are a very beautiful woman.”
It dawned on her what he wanted in return. She felt infuriated. The old pig had been lusting after her since the day she moved in. He must have been looking for the opportunity to express his desires. She felt enraged that he was using her debts to solicit for a romp in the hay. The very thought disgusted her.
“One hour, that’s all I ask for,” he grinned at her.
She felt like spitting into his face. His suggestion irritated her beyond words. She had not been with any man since her late husband passed away. She had been asked out more often than she could count, but, she wasn’t ready to plunge into any relationship. Even if she wanted to have sexual intimacy with anyone, the old pig called her landlord was the last person she would ever want to be with.
“Alhaji, I will pay your money at the end of the month. I am not running away.”
His smiles faded, he shook his head vigorously, “I want my money this week, if not, prepare to move out!”
The seriousness in his voice alarmed her. What sort of dilemma was she in? Who was she going to ask for help? No one was ready to assist her financially. Her sisters had been a great support to her, her parents inclusive. At times, she didn’t feel like calling upon them. But, there was no one else. She looked him up and down. She found him repulsive. She could barely stand around him for less than a minute. The thought of him touching her made her feel nauseous. What was she going to do now? If she moved out, she had nowhere else to go except her father’s house. She didn’t want to go back to Benin.
“Just give me one hour and your debts will be cleared instantly,” he smiled at her.
She swallowed hard. She was owing four months’ rent. He was willing to forego two months extra if she slept with him. Maybe just this once. She could endure him for a few minutes. She closed her eyes and opened them. She mustn’t allow herself to get into such situation ever again.
He sighed with relief. He had been hoping that she wouldn’t turn the offer down. He had imagined eating her up countless times. He had been praying for the opportunity to accomplish his desires.
“No, no. I want to enjoy every part of you. Thirty minutes.”
She hissed and eyed him, “Twenty minutes, and that’s final.”
“Okay, you win,” he winked at her.
She hissed again. She wished she had money to pay the man. The thought of sleeping with him made the feeling of disgust crawl all over her.
“We will see in the evening.”
“No,” he began to shake his head. He didn’t trust her. “Let’s do it now!”
She looked back into the room. Her daughter was still sleeping.
Alhaji Musa pulled out his receipt booklet from his pocket. He signed the six months’ rent payment and gave it to her.
Adesua collected it and sighed heavily. He brushed past her and walked into the room. He was impressed with the way she maximized the space.
“Wake her up,” he eyed the girl on the bed, “She can wait outside till we are done.”
She stared at the receipt and scratched her scalp. She could still back out. She could tell him to get the hell out of her apartment. She could tell him a good number of things, but, she had no idea where she would come up with the money she needed to clear her debts by the end of the week.
Edua stirred and opened her eyes. She saw the landlord seated on the chair. She sat up immediately and looked around for her mother. She found her standing by the doorway, starring at a small piece of cream coloured paper.
She lifted her eyes and met her daughter’s inquisitive stare, “Go and sit outside.”
A puzzled look took over the girl’s drowsy face.
“Your mother said you should go and sit outside!” the landlord barked at the girl. His patience was beginning to run thin.
Mother and daughter eyed him. The nine-year-old got up slowly and stretched out. She climbed down from the mattress, picked up a wrapper and headed out. The Alhaji’s eyes followed her till she shut the door behind her. Her growing bosom and curvy buttocks were too ripe for her age. The girl was turning into a woman physically, regardless of her child-like mind.
Adesua locked the door and leaned against it.
The man pulled off his clothes in a hurry and jumped on the bed, “Come now, let me see what I paid for,” he patted the space beside him.
She hissed again and sauntered towards him.
Alhaji Musa sat outside his flat with his friend, Mustapha Banjoko. They drank from a bottle of whisky set on a stool in front of them.
“I saw your new tenant.”
“Ah… the Edo girl.”
“Is she from Edo state?”
He nodded, “Yes.”
“She is beautiful.”
“Fair, creamy and sumptuous.”
Both men laughed.
“But, her daughter is prettier,” Mustapha whispered.
Alhaji’s eyes grew large, “I know,” he responded quietly.
“How old do you think she is?”
He drained his glass of drink, “Hmmm….” He pondered, “I think she turned ten a few weeks ago.”
“Serious?” Mustapha stared at him in disbelief.
Alhaji laughed and refilled his glass.
“She looks thirteen.”
“She has the body of a woman.”
“I have a preposition to make.”
“I am ready to pay fifty thousand naira for at least, an hour with the girl.”
He looked back at his friend, “Have you gone mad?!”
“I am serious.”
He eyed him.
“I know that your crooked mind has been devising ways of devouring her too.”
Alhaji Musa laughed, “You know me well. The mother was paradise,” he winked at his friend.
Mustapha placed a hand on his bald head, “My goodness! You have been there.”
“You old cow. I don’t know how you do it.”
“A good business man always has a way when faced with difficult situations.”
Mustapha gave a shake of head. He envied his friend.
“Don’t worry. I will talk to her.”
“If she resists, I am ready to pay double.”
“Noted,” he downed his drink.
“Can you talk to her now?”
Alhaji Musa eyed his friend, “Why are you in haste?”
“Go and talk to her. I want to know my fate before I leave here today.”
He scratched his beards and staggered to his feet, “I will be right back.”
“Thank you,” he watched his friend walk away.
Alhaji Musa found Adesua behind her apartment washing clothes.
“Pretty woman…” he leaned against the wall.
“Good evening Alhaji,” she looked at him and returned her attention to the basin of clothes in front of her. Many times, she had tried to block the memory of her encounter with him from her mind. She wished she could erase it completely.
“My dear, I have a business transaction to discuss with you.”
She raised her head. What does he want now? If he was looking for a repeat of what happened that day, he better head to the brothel. Her body wasn’t for sale.
“A friend of mine is interested in your merchandise. He is ready to pay fifty thousand naira for an hour.”
She hissed and eyed him, “I am not interested. I am not a prostitute.”
He started to laugh.
Adesua covered her nose. The man reeked of alcohol.
“He will pay double if you agree to give him the little on for an hour.”
His request registered on her mind. She felt her brain explode with anger. She jumped to her feet and faced him.
“Now, I know that you are not just drunk, but you have gone mad too!”
He looked left then right, and turned to her, “Keep your voice down,” he whispered.
“You and your pedophile friend will rot in hell. Misfortune and calamity will continue to befall you and your household henceforth. You shall all die untimely deaths.”
Alhaji Musa backed away from the infuriated woman.
“I am warning you. Don’t make me show you the real stuff I was made of,” she pointed at him, eyes red. He hurried away without another word. Adesua sat back on the stool.
What sort of men are these? Give them a spoon and they will attempt to carry the whole pot. Shameless He-goats. She hissed and resumed her chores.
Ten minutes later, a tall dark skinned man approached her. She had seen him in the compound several times with the landlord.
“Good evening madam.”
“Evening,” she looked up at him. He was about her height, five feet eight inches.
He leaned against the wall, “The mother hen will always protect her chicks.” She looked him up and down.
“I will pay a hundred thousand naira.”
Her brows creased in a frown.”
“I am no longer asking for an hour. I need just thirty minutes with the beautiful one. I will not hurt her, I will…”
“If you don’t leave my line of sight this minute, I will empty this basin of dirty water on you,” she glared at him.
He smiled, “Relax, just think about what this money can do for you and your daughter.”
Adesua didn’t want to think. She would never agree to put her child through hell just because they needed to eat. She wasn’t one of those people who pimped out young girls to all sort of men for cash. Her daughter wasn’t a sexual object. Neither was she.
“Madam, I will pay you a hundred and fifty thousand naira,” Mustapha negotiated with her, hoping that she would succumb to his demands.
She jumped to her feet and lifted the basin.
Mustapha backed away, turned around and walked off.
Foolish man! Cursed straight from the womb!
She sat back on the stool and hissed several times. Tears began to slid from her sad eyes. If only her late husband was still alive. If only her in-laws had not been cruel to her. If only all the friends she called had supported her till she was able to stand on her feet. If only the pastor of the church, they attended had not abandoned her.
God where are you?!
The new school session was starting in September. She had promised her daughter that she would make sure she got admitted that year, but, she didn’t know where the money would come from. Her younger sisters were already growing weary of her constant demands and her parents were still hung on the idea of her return to Benin. What was she going to do?
Her heart missed a beat when she saw the landlord and his friend walking towards her. What was wrong with these men? Why couldn’t they take a no for an answer?
“There are two other people interested in your daughter,” Alhaji Musa said calmly.
“We will all pay two hundred thousand naira each,” Mustapha added.
“That is eight hundred thousand naira, cool cash,” Alhaji Musa winked at her.
“One person per day, we will spend maximum, twenty minutes each with her,” Mustapha grinned at her.
Adesua eyed both men, “Both of you are so drunk, the alcohol has fried your brains.”
“This is a lot of money… think, be wise,” the landlord met her sad gaze.
To be continued