I know Anu said not to look for her, but in his one thing, I can’t respect her wishes.
The thing is, after she left me, Anu went back to her old ways, standing in street corners and getting picked by strange men. I always went after her but somehow, someway, just as I got there, she’d be gone.
But I never gave up.
Even now, I’m still after her. The thing is, life is hard as a prostitute. It’s no easy life, the life they lead. And Anu found a terrible vice which she clung to with the desperation of a man drowning. Drugs.
And now she’s in serious debt to the biggest drug pusher in this country. His real name, nobody knows, or perhaps those who know would rather not attract his attention by showing it.
Irregardless, he’s known as ‘the dark one.’ People whisper it and look at you sideways if you ask about him. Those who offend him have a habit of going missing. Government officials, policemen, even soldiers.
Mysterious deaths trail his rise to power and his location is rarely ever known beforehand. He simply pops up somewhere and vanishes again.
But today, I know where he’ll be. At exactly 5:45pm.
And that brings me to the reason why I’m been chaffeured into the seediest part of town in a taxi.
There’s a small hotel not to far away, named ‘birds of paradise’ and that’s where I need to be by 5:45pm sharp.
The taxi pulls up and I alight. Quickly I pay the driver and glance at my rolex- 5:42pm. I’m just in time. Quickly I cross the street and enter into the building.
It’s dimly lit, with smoke clouding the ceiling, everywhere is hazy and strobe lights are flashing. It’s not the kind of place I would frequent, but I’m a man on a mission and as such, I’ll do what has to be done.
Anu is in trouble. Big trouble. Her supplier works for the dark one, and she owed him a whole lot of money. So he told his boss what happened and then he came for her. He licked Anu off the streets and initially planned to do away with her. But then he had an idea and decided to have an auction instead. So he’sgoing to sell her off to the highest bidder.
She’s a pretty woman, well versed in pleasuring men. For any of the crime lords that show up, she’ll be a good catch. All they have to do is simply bid high enough.
I have also come to bid.
Just as I get a seat, a bright light comes on and Anu walks onstage. As she walks towards us, seated in a ring at the end of the stage, the spotlight follows, showing everything. My breath catches in my throat and I have to struggle a bit to breathe again.
That’s my wife, dressed in nothing but a short dress and makeup. The dress is tight and clingy and it’s obvious she’s not wearing anything underneath. Her hair is all made up to look pretty but her eyes tell the truth. Even from way over there I can see the pain in them. She knows what she has gotten into.
Someone comes on stage after her. He’s of medium height, a vague dark shadow only distinguishable by being darker than the other shadows that form the background.
“Gentlemen, this is the moment we have all been waiting for. I’m giving out this young, delectable sweetheart for a price. But only if it’s reasonable. If you want her, then let your money speak for you.”
There’s abiut thirty seconds of silence while the men take it in. Then a voice rings out.
“I’m willing to pay fifty thousand naira.”
Quickly I speak up “One hundred thousand naira”
“Two hundred!” Someone from the back.
Soon the price goes up to a million and gradually people drop off till I’m left with the gentleman from the back. He shouts “I’ll pay one million, five hundred thousand naira for her.”
Fairly desperate, I reply “I’ll pay three million naira for her and I’ll pay now!” The room goes quiet. We don’t know exactly how much she owes him, but we all know it can’t be that much.
I hear whispers
“He’s mad. Three million for a woman?”
“I hear she’s even a prostitute. I could get another one on the street for far less.”
“Yes, but you can’t keep her can you? This one is for keeps.”
“Why does he want her so bad? He’s not even one of us.”
“She means something to him, I can tell.”
There’s a satisfied chuckle and then the dark one speaks up for the first time since he made the introduction
“Any other offers?” I hold my breath. No one talks.
“Three million it is then. Sold. Please come with me.” I release the breath I’ve been holding and follow him. He leads me into a small room. Then he sits and offers me a seat. There’s better lighting here, and I can see him clearly. He’s nothing spectacular, an easily forgotten face. Just one among thousands, but this man has the one thing I want most in this world.
He extracts a pack of cigars from his suit pocket. He offers me one. I decline. I don’t smoke. The door opens and Anu comes in followed by a thug.
“Here it is” says the drug pusher. “Now make good on your bid.”
“Can I have an account number?”
“Of course. Tade?”
The thug gives me a piece of paper. Quickly, I get my phone out and make the transfer. A few seconds later, a phone beeps. The thug produces a small phone, looks at the message and nods.
” Oga the alert just came in.”
The dark one nods and says “You can have her.”
Fifteen minutes later, I’m flagging down a taxi.
A year later…
It hasn’t been easy. I had to check Anu into a rehabilitation center. She cried everytime for a whole week and her eyes were red each time I came to visit. Soon she was clean and drug free. I also had her checked and treated for a few STDs. Luckily enough she didn’t catch anything that couldn’t be gotten rid off.
When she was through with everything, she looked like her old self again. And I asked her if she would mind coming back to me.
On hearing that I intended to still keep her as a wife, she fell to my feet and cried a whole lot, begging for forgiveness. I was moved to tears too and soon joined her on the floor where we hugged and cried and hugged some more.
But a last, she’s back home, once again in charge of her business- I had someone manage it in her absence and proud mother to my two wonderful kids.