She told me she was with child and from the corner of my eye I could see the shadows creeping about us in the dark room, lit only by the single candle I held in my hand.
“Are you sure?” I queried her
“What do you mean by that?” She twisted her face into a frown “I would know, wouldn’t I?” She got up from the seat across mine and with one hand on her hip and the other on her abdomen, began pacing the room.
“Sit please, take a seat” I got up too and went to guide her back into her chair
She flinched violently the moment I touched her and pulled back from me
“Please..don’t” she whispered fiercely and turned away
I stood looking at her, grievous for both her and the child
“How did it happen?” I asked finally
“what do you mean?” she turned sharply to glare angrily at me
“No I don’t mean…never mind” I cleared my throat and sat back in my chair
“they will take this one too” her voice was thick with sadness, permeating the air in the room. She rubbed her belly again
“Two now” she said bitterly “Two, they’ve taken from me”
We heard footsteps outside and she hurriedly ran to the mattress in the corner of the room.
Heavy footsteps stopped outside the door and the door was flung open
“ah! I thought I heard something” A short grisly looking man stood at the entrance, picking his teeth with a toothpick and rubbing his belly.
“You’re still working eh? old boy!” He laughed shrewdly “I just finished my own” He laughed and rubbed his hands together, “Finish quick o!”
I nodded at him as he stepped out and closed the door behind him.
I looked at her crumpled figure on the mattress “I have to go” I whispered urgently and left the room.
The main hall was filled with all the men, the ‘able workers’ as they called each other. I had been sent here to work undercover by a foreign government agency. It was supposed to be easy, these were my people, they said, I could blend in easily, they said. Yet I feel like burying bullets in each and every single one of them. They laughed and jested with one another like there weren’t women imprisoned in the walls of this building. I was especially angry because she had been assigned to me and someone went behind my back and betrayed me.
I heard my name being called and looked in the direction “Doctor wants to see you” The tall man holding his rifle told me. I headed to his office.
“sit down” the ‘doctor’ commanded, so I sat, playing my part.
“You were assigned one of my assets and yet you failed to bring back returns” He croaked, his throat so filled with cigarette ash he sounded like a frog “I’m beginning to think the problem is you because I have profited twice from that woman, until you came” He leaned towards me “Infact, I don’t even think you have ever touched her”
He leaned back “I have two deliveries coming in exactly nine months from now, one at a shrine in Onitcha” He smirked “the gods are thirsty for sacrifice. The other one will be going to a married couple in Abba, you have your work cut out for you. Don’t let me insult your manhood, so make sure it is a good one”
A boy will be sold for a minimum of $1,500, a girl will go for $500 and up. Twins together will be $2,000, I was informed on my first day. The day I walked in here, in the middle of nowhere, after an hours trip to the outskirts of town and watched a transaction in progress..a life for some money. A crying, squealing, innocent baby’s life exchanged for some change. His mother in tears, locked away in her room, and I, I was welcomed by the smiling doctor.
“Welcome boy, you must tired. Go through one of these doors and relieve yourself” He laughed heartily, pleased with himself.
I followed him. The only song playing in my head was too ironic for words, it went something like this,
“Arise o compatriots/Nigeria’s call obey/ to serve our fatherland/ With love and strength and faith….to build a nation where peace/ and justice shall reign”
I felt nauseous and spat on the ground.
Inspired by Nigeria’s famous baby factories – Look it up.