Philophobia is actually the fear of being or falling in love.
Chimzy smiled at UberFact #3 she was reading for the day.
“And what is the fear of never being or falling in love called?” She queried her blackberry torch. One hand swept aside a dark blue curtain to admit some retiring yellow sunlight into the office.
There had been no power since she returned from her mid day lunch break; that the Central Generating Unit hadn’t been switched on meant Rufai was again having a prolonged lunch break– one he’d probably not return from.
Yet she had to document, scan and email a 4-page report on a local HIV intervention to an assistant director for the Volunteer Service Organization where she put in part time work.
Work was often rigorous, and then without pay. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d appeared at work by 7am and then left before 6pm. However, the incessant organisational meetings and trips across Abuja frequently exposed her to various high profile clients for her massage therapy business, La Touch inc; the NGO directors met with the retired military officers, expatriates, CEOs, politicians, and other directors during the week. During weekends, she met with some of these same men. They subjected themselves to her wonder massage art.
With the clients came the cocktail parties; she’d never been one for wine goblets, affected accents, swirling evening gowns and stilettos but with the socialising came more clients and exposure. Sometimes the price to meet new clients didn’t come cheap. Not long in her line of business yet, and she was already resigned to the fact there would always be men, lots of men, who had more than just a rub down with fragrant oil on their minds.
The Bolaji Lawals of this world, she smiled wryly in memory of the man who’d introduced himself to her at an honorary golf course cocktail party. When she’d offered her hand, he’d closed in for an embrace instead.
“You know,” He said, his face so close to hers she was scared she’d be kissed. “You look like my daughter in Netherlands.”
“You’re a masseuse, yea?” Blood shot eyes darted about, appearing to be on every part of her body at once.
“This just concluded golf tournament has been very unkind to me” His face looked pained for a moment and then formed a leer: ” Will you be kind to me? This weekend?”
She opened her mouth to utter an objection when he added, as though on cue: “I promised my wife a masseuse this weekend, actually.
” And she would retain your services for each weekend if you’re as good as they say, I assure you.”
Her first mistake was fixing an evening appointment; the second was going unaccompanied.
Jide, a friend she’d met in VSO, was usually her escort whom she introduced as her assistant whenever she had to meet with men at their homes or in hotels. They arranged to meet together by 4pm and proceed to Aso Villa. By 4:30pm, Jide was nowhere to be seen. The time freak in her overrode a mental nudge of discretion, and she took a cab to Mr. Bolaji’s residence.
She knew she was in trouble when she got there and found Mr Bolaji home alone– clad in male thongs.
Two hours of business time were wasted avoiding groping hands, embraces and impassioned pleas to come to bed.
She left that evening silently furious and frustrated. Her only solace was the cheque of N50,000 he’d grudgingly signed.
That one lesson was enough.
La Touch couldn’t afford her a brand new 2008 Toyota Camry or pay the rent for an apartment in up scale Maitama within five months yet- no, not yet. But her business nicely managed her bills. Without sponsorship from some pot-bellied Alhaji or adulterer.
Kneading away stress, injury from tortured muscles, feeding relief and freedom into tendons through her fingers and hands was her one thing, her well of unreserved joy and passion.
It was something she’d really began to take notice of in secondary school.
They said, they all said that there was something about her hands; that it took away, repaired… everything; some claimed astma attacks or headaches ceased when she merely massaged the affected parts. She was nicknamed ‘La Touch.’
At a time when medicine, engineering and law were everyone’s first choices, she obtained a BSc. Anatomy at the University of Port Harcourt and travelled to the US after her service year to earn a certification as a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist (LMBT).
She returned to Nigeria 3 years later and applied as a volunteer in VSO. It was not so much for the crusade against HIV/AIDs, as for proximity, contact with suffering HIV children victims. Children, in turn, touched her heart. She had various opportunities to apply for job positions within the organisation but she preferred the flexibility volunteer work gave her so she could give more time to La Touch inc.
At the pace business was expanding, she could safely project renting a suite for a massage parlour and spa within a year.
Her phone rang, scudding away her thoughts. It was Lera, a nurse at the Abuja university hospital and a friend who often referred patients to her for massage therapy.
“Someone is specifically asking for you at the hospital.” Lera said, after a brief exchange of pleasantries.
“Really?” She grinned, picking at her leftover french fries.
Lera often ribbed her about some patients who feigned illness so they could come back to her for ‘special therapy’. “Who’s that?”