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Taste Of Your Own Blood After Strange Journeys

(By Daphne Chiedozie Duruoha) – He said ‘I will use you pari-passu’ and you smiled, not because you wanted to but because you had to.
You thought to yourself ‘this is indeed bad business’, although unfortunately, you were already there; trapped on the floor of his government mansion. From where you lay, his belly looked like overripe mango; waiting patiently for the slightest puncture to spill out. And worse of it all, he said you couldn’t use his bed; according to him, it was matrimonial. You just cannot remember the last time you did it on the floor, bare floor! In fact these ministers always offer you luxurious suits; they say your dark and oleaginous skin reminds them of Nchekwu… expressionless on the outside, sweet on the inside-very addictive.
Well, his pay seems good so you have to endure. He slips money between your breasts after each kiss and for every of your smile, he includes an extra thousand to your pay, hence you find ‘I will use you pari-passu’ as a joke, a reason to smile, an opportunity to include an extra thousand to your pay-not an insult, like it actually is.
Your story is pathetic. Usually, these stories go like this;
The first daughter of a poor man or a widow, sells her body to see herself or her younger siblings through school; or better still, to pay for a loved one’s hospital bill-although after everything, she ends up with a disease or the sick person for whom she traded herself, ends up dead.
But no, you happen to be the last daughter of Professor Nwans. He was recently appointed the deputy vice chancellor of the University. Money is not your problem. Your two older brothers are well-to-do, your older sister Mary is studying for her PhD in the United Kingdom and you had a carryover or else you would have been a third year student of Business Management in a Nigerian University-since your father said sending you overseas will make them cry-although according to your mother ‘Is it not better to sleep with white men than these old, pot-bellied lecturers and ministers?’
Your father saw her point, but he said he wanted to have his eyes on you; now all he does is act like you shame him, but what else is expected of a father who doesn’t have to introduce his daughter to his colleagues because even if they didn’t know her name, they knew the colour of her underpants.
The last time you both had a tête-à-tête he told you he loved you, but you can’t describe what he feels for you these days. He walked into your room-which he does once in ‘ten blue moons’-and spat on you. He said you smell like Ozu- dead body. Maybe it’s just him or maybe the whole family, in fact maybe the whole world thinks you smell like dead body.
One would say you are not to blame. You always find yourself with these strange men; you, wearing little or nothing(including your heels of course; the ones Mohammed Aliyu said makes you look like the Statue of Liberty) and when they drop you from their cars, you find it hard to walk back home. You feel strange, like all of a sudden someone else shared your body with you. So you would go to a hotel, spend the night and once you’re ready to go back home, you feel empty; well better this empty feeling than the other.
Mother thinks you do it for free because you never return with anything. How do you tell her that you wake up in the morning and it’s all gone, all of it!
With the dawn of a new day, you become a totally different person; the person you call your real self. Your innocence lights up your face and you feel pure, like a day old baby. The other time, you exchanged your gold earrings for a befitting dress; a bra wouldn’t suit you to walk on the streets of Port Harcourt. Then you get back home and your father spits at your feet, you remember vividly the only time he spat on your face. He had found you in Odiegwu’s bed, naked. He said he barely manages to overlook your affairs with lecturers but his driver -‘common driver’, is the worst insult you could bring to his name. The way they classify these men is the only thing you find funny; better white man than minister, better minister than lecturer, better lecturer than driver-‘common driver’. They make it look as if being educated or rich made them more qualified, but who are you to judge their shame?
Your only friend is the help, Efe. Whenever you get back from those strange journeys, you remedy to a warm bath. You would soak your empty body in a tub filled with roses-and warm water of course-and before you know what’s happening your roses will disappear in the cold shade of blood-your blood, and your white bath tub would automatically look like red mud swamp. The first time it happened, you screamed and Efe ran to you; the next time, you just cried silently. So also the third and fourth time, but now you just sigh and immerse yourself even deeper-open your mouth and have a taste of your own blood. This blood that runs through your confused veins and stays calm even when you turn into a complete stranger, this loyal blood.
Efe would wash it all up and mop out the traces of blood that drop from your body as you walk to your bed, and this is the moment you bond with her-the moment you reassure yourself that someone really understands.
Now, one gloomy Friday evening, you wake up from a deep sleep; only to find yourself on the floor with lit candle sticks lined up around you. You smiled because you knew freedom was on its way, father will now visit your room often and kiss your forehead like he did Nnena’s. As for mother, she will now willingly take you to the market without fear that her pepper seller’s boy will be making out with you when she goes to park her car properly. Nnena will no longer tell the salesperson at the mall that she wanted longer skirts, she would buy you high heels without muttering ‘ah chukwu! Is it not this type they say makes her look like the statue of liberty?’
You are not sure this is it though, so many other things have been done; you’ve been bathed at bank of the River Niger, you’ve also slept at the mortuary in Orlu. Prophets have made promises, so have pastors, all to no avail.
But this time, you feel this hard strike of hope, you can see the big feet of freedom walking towards you, such manly feet, could this be death?
You didn’t want mother to know you were awake so you shut your eyes pretentiously, then a man roughly dressed in a red garment and a beaded dreadlock wig mockingly fixed on his head; picked up an egg and broke it at your feet. The white man would call him a witch-doctor but mother said ‘yes Obodo’ in response to all his commands. He stood to check if you were asleep and when he was sure you were, he turned and whispered to mother- Ogadinma, It shall be well.

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