Gbemi encountered her first disappointment when she got to Esther’s temporary apartment in the village that Friday morning with her luggage for the city heavily packed in a big bag, and met five other ladies there. They were familiar faces and the way they dressed showed that they were also going to the city. What irritated Gbemi really was the imagination that Esther must have also done a rigorous follow-up with these other ladies too, in ensuring that their parents’ consented with them going with her to Kano. Esther was suddenly no more the kindhearted sister Gbemi thought her to be, she was rather a public philanthropist, who was helping ladies – like herself – get a better life. But what was wrong in helping young girls out out of the village into a better life in the city? With that question in her mind, Gbemi realized that her disappointment was actually sheer jealousy. She buried it safely, especially because she didn’t have a good chance to condemn Esther personally.
“Listen up ladies!” Esther called out, her makeup and mascara had resumed on her face, in an even heavier application. Gbemi preferred Esther’s natural look, she felt it was more beautiful. Esther wore a black jean with a beautiful top, – Gbemi thought the top was initially an underwear, because of the way it revealed a large portion of her breasts, but Esther made no attempt to change it. “So, we are on our way to Kano. Kano is a far far away place, so none of you should be thinking of coming back home anytime soon.
Meanwhile don’t be bothered about communicating with your parents. There is something in the city called G.S.M, it is a small handy telephone and a faster form of communication and once network masts are erected in this village, – and let’s hope that would be soon, – you can speak with your parents through it every day!”
The girls listened with rapt attention as instructions cascaded out of Esther’s mouth and made way into their ears. Gbemi listened too, and hoped she had made a right decision.
The six ladies were the last to enter into the back shaft of the mammy wagon that transported them to another village, where they then took a bus to the city bus park. The ladies were excited, except Gbemi who nursed reservations about her decision. They talked about village life and boys. They all attended the only available primary school in their village – even Esther, although at different years. Those who attended college, like Gbemi, also went to the same school. Gbemi was entirely uninterested in the boring talks, she wished she could grab life’s remote and forward the entire occasion to see the next phase.
They arrived at Kano around 11:00pm, Esther led them into a mighty but dark apartment, most of them were too sleepy to admire the gigantic building. Since it was their new home, they were certain they would be seeing more of it in the brightness of the next day, so they yearned for their sleeping beds until Esther turned on her big standby generator and illuminated the house, their sleeps vanished and they spent the sleepless night checking out the big duplex – in it was everything they thought only existed in heaven!
The girls spent the weekend enjoying the life of freedom. They ate whatever, watched whatever they wanted on television, strolled out and visited anywhere they wanted. It turned out to be an exciting decision for Gbemi after all, until Monday came and work started. There were no initial briefings, everything came that same Monday morning.
“Listen up ladies,” Esther said after they had all taken their baths and were sited at the large living room downstairs, she tossed some new wears on the cushion, the girls rushed at the wears and selected whichever they loved. “We are starting business today. Real business! Put on these clothes and show that you are lovely angels. These wears would transform you into proper city babes.” Before she finished talking, those who had worn their dresses could see what she was talking about. Their features were deliciously projected.
The piece that Gbemi grabbed was a blue jean skirt, she thought it was a napkin at first because it was the size of a handkerchief, but when she saw the way the others also looked like baby dolls in their skimpy wears, she knew she was to put it on. Very intense reluctance pierced her heart, but she had no choice. When she wore hers, the others couldn’t help staring jealously. They all looked like princesses except Gbemi who rather looked like an Angel, so if anyone looked at them together, one would consider that Gbemi was the Princess while the others were her servants.
Esther had to teach them how to walk comfortably in their new outfits. Most of them couldn’t learn, they kept tripping in an hope that they’d soon get used to it. In everything, Esther didn’t explain what they were actually going to do.
“Aunty Esther, I feel extremely uncomfortable in this outfit,” the other girls laughed hysterically when Gbemi’s soft voice protested. “You said it is city outfit, but most of the people we’ve come across are not dressed like us, in fact, people have been staring at us strangely.” They had visited the boutique and now, they were in Esther’s green space bus – on their way to a make up artist.
“Gbemi angel, first of all, please don’t call me Esther here, My name is Star Lady, and please be calm, those staring at you are only jealous of you. You look ravishing.” She leaned on Gbemi’s shoulder and whispered in her ears; “especially you.” Gbemi smiled, she felt a need to stop looking naive.
The girls left the makeup artist looking like beautiful masquerades. The artist applied several stuffs on their faces and almost turned it to plastic. Gbemi preferred her natural face but she wasn’t given a choice, and she chose not to protest.
The ‘real business’ started in the night, around 9:00pm. There was no real orientation about what the business was, just preparations. Star Lady took special attention to Gbemi, and even though the others could understand why, they still felt deeply jealous.
They arrived at an enormous KGold hotel around Yimba Estate in Star Lady’s green space bus, she led them through the beautiful compound into the restaurant where they ate whatever they wanted, but she warned them not to eat to their fill because of the business they were set to do. There, they met several other ladies dressed like themselves, standing in a queue at the entrance, the ladies seemed to be waiting for someone. When they were done eating, Star Lady called out to Folashade and Aromoke, they followed her promptly, towards the direction of a man who smiled happily at receiving them. He took them away to the car park.
From where she was sited observing, Gbemi doubted if the girls would be back that night. One by one, Star Lady called all her girls and made them follow different men. Gbemisola wished she knew where they were going or what Star Lady whispered into their ears as they followed those men. Gbemi wondered what she would do, if she was called to follow any man. Inside her heart, fear was starting to pound.
‘What if these men are paying Star Lady to sleep with her girls? Why is Star Lady not calling me? Could it be because I have told her that I am a virgin, and so Star Lady is keeping me as a big fish for a very rich man?’
Questions took over her soft heart and her beautifully costumed body sweated heavily, wondering why she had not thought about these possibilities all along.
To be continued…