By Deen Ameen
THE Kano sun blazed fiercely and old car windshields suffered. The
arriving and departing buses raised red dust which almost everyone swallowed in the busy motor station. Music played, hawkers advertised their goods on top of their voices. The screaming of conductors made my eardrum stirred. The smell of urine and dirty bodies hurt my nostril, my breath was coming in gasps like that of an asthmatic patient.The
swirl of people and wheelbarrows and buses blurred my vision. After
standing for so long I remembered myself. I began walking without
destination in mind. Then I felt something running down my legs. Warm
and sticky. Blood. My period. I quickened my steps to a food joint made
of reddish zinc. The owner, whose name I later learnt to be Magajiya, was a woman with the biggest bossom I’ve ever seen, with faded skin that explained excessive use of bleaching creams. She was kind to me. She took me to a toilet and helped me cleaned up. She later took me to her house when she learned I was an IDP.
Her old house was small with a door opening to four rooms each on
a wall. she took me to one of the rooms.
Magajiya was so full of praise for my beauty. What a perfect skin! What
silky, kinky, shiny hair! Wow your curves are rare! I would look at her
neck that was so full of fat it made her pant when she talked. I knew
she was the type of person I will never have liked but made my heart
like her, my survivor. She always liked to attribute everything to her
stay in Makkah. When I told her my name, she screamed and said,’ah
Lubna! I have a friend in Medina with the same name! And smiled,
obviously happy at the opportunity to tell me about her stay in Makkah
I rarely ate. There were dry still mucus lying in my throat making
swallowing hard, even of saliva. My mouth was always bitter as though
I had malaria fever. Every time I wept for my family and thought of what the
future had for me , surviving alone with no one to point to as a
relative. Sadness made me lethargic. I hated sitting idle, in the
company of loneliness and hopelessness so I told Magajiya I would
join her in the joint.
My work was to scrub the old tiles and clean and arrange the plastic
chairs and tables. I thought it may preoccupy my mind but it
didn’t. Most of the time, while working , I would feel an urge
to cry and would rush to the toilet and weep not minding the stench therein. Or
sometimes I would become almost blind and stumble upon things or people.
When I broke Magajiya’s ‘two china’ , I thought she would tie her veil
around her waist and gather my collar, throwing insults at me as she
did to the customers that lost her spoons or fail to pay their debts. But she
shrugged it off.
The other girls that work in Magajiya’s joint looked at me as though I
were insane. They used bleaching creams, wore cheap perfumes and cheap wigs as
they walked with seductive gait, swaying their hips, chewing gum. I was not
surprised by the clothes they wore: skin-hugging trousers or skirts that outlined their shapely waists, giving them the look they desired–coca-cola shape.
I had worked with Magajiya for two weeks when she eventually exhausted her patience and called me in private, “Lubna”.
I held my breath, from tightness of her cheeks, I knew she was about
to raise a serious issue. “You see this joint?” It was not a
question and even if it was, she wouldn’t wait for an answer.
“It is also a brothel”. Just like that or perhaps she didn’t consider me
worthy of using a euphemism with her or simply she was stating the
Magajiya didn’t need to persuade me to become like one of those
girls. For I was frustrated with life, what respect would I crave for
in life? By the way , that was how many refugees in Kano ended up.
So that day, as the sun turned red in the western horizon and the moon too
eager to appear already in the sky, I dressed to become what I had
never dreamt of becoming–a prostitute, filthy as the word sounds.
HE turned out to be a young handsome man with a tall lanky, well
muscled body. I chose him because he reminded me of my brother Kamal.
The gap, the moustache, thick and curvy, all gave him a look like
Kamal. Magajiya had told me how to begin. I just have to tell the man
whether he would like me to keep his company tonight. They all know
anyway, she said. She had offered to bring me a customer but I just
I stammered as I talked to the young man,my body tense. He was sitting
on a table, wearing blue denim trousers, a black short sleeve T-shirt with a
black peak cap. He seemed amused with my offer but then said I should
follow him to the car.
We were both silent in the car. My head was bent down, my hands
caressing the edge of my scarf. I wished I would disappear with the
wind. There was a warm, pleasant smell in the car, a Honda brand. He broke the silence,
surprising me. “I know you are not a whore. Why do you want to
become a whore?”
Whore. The word rung in my head, stung my heart. WHORE. Dirty word.
Dirty as a pig. Ugly word. Ugly as a baboon.I broke into a spasm
of tears. He gave me his handkerchief that smelled of Black Man. I wiped
my tears and told him my tale. After he sympathized with me, he asked quickly:
“Will you marry me?”
My jaw dropped. Here was a sexy handsome guy, my type of guy,
courting me , about to save me from the dangerous life I was about to fall
into. When I said yes shyly, he smiled a smile that appeared to light up the car.
Then he told me about himself. He did it as though he were filling
a form: Name: Suleiman, Tribe: Fulani, State of Origin: Adamawa, Age:
27 School: BUK, Course: Law. I forced out a laugh.
He asked me to tell him about myself more. I told him my father was a
medical doctor, my mother a teacher. I told him my brother and I were always
arguing on which was better between literary work of art or commercial novel.
I told him I was in the art, wishing to study literature.
” Don’t worry” he said smiling.
” You will study literature when you marry me. We will live in a
bungalow and I pray our kids will have your fair kind of skin. You will be reading
them your poems and stories, not so?”
My heart was enlarging, filling my chest . The car was smelling of
dreams. He drove us away. Tomorrow we would go to Adamawa for his
parents to arrange our marriage. For the second time, my fate twisted, hopefully for the better.
Mujahyd Ameen Lilo,also writing by the pen name Deen Ameen was born in 2003. He’s currently an SS2 student of Sunshine International College, Kano. He was once a Poet of the Week of Daily Trust. He had presented many of his poems in ANA Creative Writer’s Forum. He hopes to publish his book next year.