FORTITUDE

Cynthia is not your average girl. Abused by foster parents at 8, molested continuously by a series of “uncles” from the onset of puberty, and eventually raped in her last year in a quiet little university, she has suffered through a lot.

The afternoon the rape occurred, she attempted to report the rapist. But the sergeant’s harsh bark of “Wetin you dey find for here?” reduced her enthusiasm to seek redress somewhat.
After timidly explaining what happened to her, the sergeant looked her up and down, not even bothering to hide his leer. Then he cleared his throat and pointed to her skirt, which was a bit tight and form fitting.

Why you sef dress like that?”
That was not what she was expecting. She knew she wouldn’t get any help there so she turned on her heel and left the police station. Roommates at home on hearing of her plight quickly ran a bath and got some food into her. Then they gave her postinor two to take and the incident was never mentioned again.

Now she had finally gotten out of that institution, head held high with a near-perfect result and prepared for a somewhat brighter future. One thing she knew, and this from experience, was just how easy it was to fall into the trap of letting go.

She had a few friends, girls she grew up with, who had similar backgrounds. Among her friends, she knew two girls who had given in to the continuous pressure for looseness and sexual perversion. They had given up and opened their legs. Now gifts poured in like water from open floodgates. Connections were easily made. Everything was at the snap of a finger. For them, they had learnt the fundamental truth.

Use what you have to get what you want.”

And so life was good to them. Or was it? Cynthia was a voracious reader and thanks to informative pamphlets and novels knew of the possibilities of STDs, ritual killings, and all other risks associated with the fast lifestyle. She then made her choice. She would not sell her body for anything.

Arriving at the office, she knocked and waited till she heard the softly uttered reply. “Come in.”

So in she goes, to submit her file to Mr. Adeyanju who sent her a message for a private interview yesterday.
“Miss Cynthia Adams?”
“Yes sir.” He smiles and leans back to study her files, and Cynthia steals the opportunity to study her possible employer.

Mr Adeyanju, a slim soft-spoken fellow wears a pair of tortoise shell glasses with a demure blue dress shirt covered up with a stylishly tailored midnight black suit. He grunts and sniffs as his eyes rove all over the page, marking off items in a mental checklist. Finally he shuffles the papers and clears his throat.
“Cynthia, may I call you Cynthia?” A quick nod of assent “Your credentials are quite good. Personally I approve. Work experience is a little bit low, but then, you did finish school recently.
So I guess it’s all well and good except for one thing.” He closes the file and removes his glasses. Pockets them and produces a handkerchief in one fluid movement. With this, he cleans his brow and steeples his fingers, considering something.

“If you want this job, you have to give something. Is there any particular hotel you prefer?”

“Sir?”

“You know what I mean. Sex. Intercourse. You’re brilliant, I can see that. But you have no money.” A sigh
“Your hand bag has a few years on it. Same with your shoes. The suit is nice. But it’s not really expensive. I know the work of designers when I see them.
I believe you know of the starting salary here. 300,000 naira. More to come with the bonuses and allowances your performance here would attract. An official car after two years. This can change your life. And I decide whether or not you are hired. I have a lot of offers left and right and I’m giving you a chance. But don’t waste my time. Make your decisions and leave my office.”

Cynthia just cannot believe it. After all these years, thinking she had finally gotten a chance at freedom, she is confronted with it again. Her bag drops to the clean tiled floor and objects spill out of it. But Cynthia doesn’t notice it. Her mind is in a turmoil and she seems to not exist in the same world as we do. Eventually a little cough brings her back to reality. Mr Adeyanju is looking at her squarely.

“What will it be? Ball or no ball?”
With tears in her eyes, she gathers herself together, stands a bit straighter and looks her tormentor in the eye.

“No sir. I won’t do this.”

“Good. You’re hired. Resume tomorrow by 8 in the morning.”

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