Ada almost collapsed when she locked eyes with Moses. She felt her body go numb. The only thing that stopped her from running out of the house was the fact she wanted to go to America more than she was scared of this huge scary looking man. He looked like his stare could melt ice or make you confess all your sins. She heard herself muttering a greeting to him, even though she greeted him less than minute ago.
“So are you girls Julie’s classmates?” He said while he sat down back on the couch.
“Yes we are” Precious replied.
Ada still could not bring herself to say anything, her lips seem to be glued together and she was shaking so bad, she had to pinch herself. This was it. Hopefully, if Moses tells her all she needs to know about going overseas then she will start making plans.
Julie walked in with a tray of beans and garri and placed them on the table before them.
“Two of you can start eating, my mum sent me to buy her something… Don’t finish the food o” she said as she grabbed one of her ears as a sign of warning.
Picking up the spoons that were in the plate, they began to eat.
“Oops sorry, we did not invite you. Please join us” she heard Precious say while she just nodded her head in agreement and kept on eating.
Because of how tensed she was, she had not realise how hungry she was until Julie brought the food and her stomach did a somersault, right now she was more interested in filling her stomach than any other thing.
“No thank you. I have already eaten” he replied as he kept staring at Ada. “Okay, if you say so” Precious continued while eating.
“We heard you came from America, so we wanted to come greet you and also ask how you traveled out. My friend here…“ Pointing at Ada.
“Will like to travel overseas, we were wondering, if you might help us out by telling us some things that we need to do or have before she can travel out.”
The food in Ada’s mouth turned bitter after that. She knew they came to discuss how she will travel out but couldn’t Precious wait until they were through eating before she bombarded the man with all that. She turned and faced Precious who was still eating like she hadn’t just dropped an atomic bomb. She decided to remedy the situation by denying but before she could say anything he replied.
“If you really want to leave this country, then I will advise you to start saving because you will need a lot of money.”
“How much are we looking at?” She asked in a voice that did not sound like hers.
“A lot of money, plus you will need to get a international passport. There are a lot of things involved.”
“Oh” she said feeling low.
She really didn’t know what to expect but it definitely wasn’t what he said. Where on earth was she supposed to get that kind of money? Well, she still had a long time to gather the money after all she was just twelve Years old, so what if she spends more time in Nigeria than she thought. She needed to start saving and if she could get a job that should also help. She felt a sharp pain on lap, she looked down to see Precious pinching her. She glared at her.
“What!” she whispered.
“Answer him!” Precious whispered back.
“Huh!?” she said more confused. She turned to look at Moses who graciously repeated his question.
“How old are you?” He asked.
“Am twelve years old sir” she replied.
“Okay, that’s nice” he said more to himself than her.
Julie walked back in at that moment.
“Eyah, shei I told you people not to finish the food?” She demanded angrily.
Both Ada and Precious looked at themselves and started laughing. “we are so sorry….the food was really sweet, we could not help ourselves” Ada said.
“Seriously we are very sorry” Precious chipped in.
“Instead of being angry with your friends why don’t you go and fetch another plate for yourself” Moses added and then stood up and walked out of the room.
“What is that thing in your hand?” Ada said pointing at a bag Julie was holding.
“It’s called none of your business” she replied and stomped out of the room.
Both girls looked at each other again and burst into another round of laughter.
“Let’s be going home before we get into trouble” Precious said.
“True talk” Ada replied as they both got up and left the house.
“Ada, come out. There is one man looking for you outside” said a kid who also lives in the same compound like her.
“Who is that?” She asked.
“I don’t know him, he is under the tree.”
“Okay, thank you” but the child didn’t hear that since he had already dashed off.
Who could it be? She wondered. Maybe it’s one of her seniors in school. A lot of them have been asking her out for a while now. She rearranged her clothes and reapplied powder on her face before stepping out. She looked at the tree but no one was there, she decided to check behind the tree and she found Moses sitting on a chair.
“Hello, how are you?”
“Am fine” she replied and sat on the bench that was in front of him.
“How desperately do you want to travel out?”
The directness of his question threw her back for a bit but she recovered quickly “very desperate sir, like I really want to leave” she replied quickly.
“Hmmmm, okay. Is your mother aware of your plans?”
“No. She is not.”
“That’s good. Don’t tell her and also don’t say anything to that friend of yours you came with the other day”.
“Okay sir, I won’t”.
“Are you a virgin?”
She was speechless for a bit and then she shook her head.
Looking at her like she was a child who just committed a big offence he said.
“Is that a yes or no… I don’t speak gestures”.
“No sir…no no” she whispered.
“So no, you are not a virgin?”
She nodded her head but before he could reprehend her she added “yes, you are correct sir”.
He looked at her while his left hand was playing with his moustache. He seem to be analysing her answer.
“Okay that will do” he said after a while.
“I can’t come to your house again, so from henceforth after you close from school wait for me by that uncompleted building at the end of my street, I will come pick you up.”
“Should I pack my bags too?” She asked hopefully.
“Why will you pack your bags?”
“So we can travel.”
“Who said anything about travelling?”
“I thought it was to help travel that’s why you are…” She cut short what she was about to say as she saw the stern look on his face.
“I will be there tomorrow sir.”
“No one must know about this, not even your best friend.” he said then stood up and walked away.
Ada had no idea what the whole discussion had been about. Usually she never hid anything from Precious who was her closet friend but she knew within her she couldn’t say anything about this. She was going to have to come up with a plan seeing how they were always together. She needs to cook up some story that will explain her whereabouts. Lost in her thoughts she didn’t hear the footsteps behind her until she was tickled on her stomach. Giggling she pushed Precious’ hands away.
“What are you doing here, all by yourself?” She asked as she sat on the chair Moses just vacated.
“You heard that guy. I need plenty money to even start making plans. So I am just here wondering where I can get a job from.”
“Oh… So you are still interested in travelling out and here I was thinking that —”
She stopped her sentence halfway when she saw the anger in Ada’s eyes “You know what? Just forget what I said. Am sure you can get a job if you apply anywhere.”
“Yes and that’s what am going to do. Tomorrow after school, I will check with some saloons to see if they need an extra hand”
“Yeah that’s true, you are like the best hairdresser in the world”
“Stop flattering me joor”
“Come let’s go to the riverside, there is one guy who is liking me over there. Hopefully he will give us some of his catch for the day”
Grinning she asked “do I know him?”
“When we get there you will know”
The past few weeks has been hectic for Ada. She had been seeing Moses in private and trying her best not to get caught by her mum or Precious. The odd thing about her meetings with Moses is that he always took her to a hotel that’s not in their area but instead of touching her like other men would do, he had been giving her different items to swallow. He started with little things and as she successfully swallowed and excreted them, he increased the size of the objects. Currently a big size kola nut can pass through her throat with ease. She doesn’t understand how her having a wide throat will help her get abroad but she was too scared to ask him any questions before he got mad at her and stopped helping her.
Some few days, he had taken pictures of her and when she asked what they were for, he told her it was for her passport. In her excitement, she had asked for the date they will be travelling but all she got in return was a glare that made her shrink to one corner of the room. Last week he had travelled to Gboko and left her with instructions to meet him in a week’s time at a school along Naka road by four pm. He had also instructed her to make her luggage very light and that a bag is enough.
Ada sat on the floor arranging her meager belongings. She didn’t have many things to select from so she only picked the necessary clothing she thought she might need. If matters come to worse she will buy new clothes over there. She placed her clothes in her little cute box that one of her mum’s customers had given her as a birthday present last year. She looked at the clock, she still had two hours to spare, she decided to do her chores for the last time. She did not know when next she will see her mum so it will be a nice parting gift if she made their little room tidy.
When she was done with her job, she glanced at the clock and saw she had forty five minutes left, she winced and hurriedly dashed outside to the bathroom to take her bath. She was through bathing and had worn her clothes which she had earlier set aside on her bed in record time. She swept her hair up in a bun and then sprayed her mum’s perfume. Looking round the small room she shared with her mother, she wiped a tear from the side of eye and pick up her box. A quick look at the clock told her she still had twenty minutes. She knew there was no chance her mother will catch her since her mum had travelled outside the state with one of her lovers, she wouldn’t be back until three days. She locked the door and hid the key under the flower vase beside the door, the way her mum had taught her. Taking deep breaths, she took careful steps as walked out of the compound.
“Ada this one you are dressed beautiful like this where are you going to?” She heard Ebuka say.
“Somewhere” she replied
“Precious come and see your friend looking so fine and she won’t say where she is going to.”
Her heart skipped a beat as she saw Precious appear from inside their room.
“Oh my, see my friend looking like a superstar. Babe what’s up, where to?” She asked as she walked closer to her.
“Am supposed to spend the next few days with my aunty at D division” she lied.
“Hmmmm… But usually your mum leave you alone at home, why is this time different?” She asked as if she felt something fishy was going on.
“I don’t know for her, you know how she behaves. She does whatever she wants”
“Yeah that’s true, oya lemme walk you till you get a bike”
They walked together to the road and stopped a bike and after Ada had negotiated the price with the bike man, she dropped her box and the floor and hugged Precious.
“Am going to miss you so much” she said.
“Me too. Make sure you bring something back for me” she replied.
“I will” she said and stepped back from her friend. She climbed the bike while Precious helped her balance the box on her laps.
“Stop talking like we won’t see ourselves again. I will see your big head in three days’ time” Precious said with a smile on her face.
The bike man sped off and she waved at her friend like her life depended on it.
Once her friend turned and walked away, she said to the bike man “oga don’t stop at D division, take me to that primary school at industrial layout.”
“You will pay me double the amount we agreed on if am dropping you there”
“This is how you little girls will be spoiling your future. Am sure it’s your boyfriend you are going to see”
“Oga how that one take concern you ehnn. If you like no mind your business” she hissed.
Once she reached the school, she settled the bike man and went to stand under the tree like Moses had earlier instructed her. There was no one around and she was scared she had missed them. She had not expected to see Precious and that had eaten deep into her time. She circled the tree looking for any oncoming vehicle but could not see any. The minutes slipped by as she stood there waiting and though she was not with a watch she could have sworn that an hour had passed. She sat on her box miserably still waiting not because she was still expecting to see him but because she was trying to figure out her next step, she wondered how she was going to explain to her friends what brought her back home.
At that moment, a car stopped by the road side and was horning at her, she stood up and she almost screamed for joy as she saw Moses in the passenger seat waving at her. She picked her box and walked up to him. He pointed at the backseat and as she about to open the door, a man stepped out from the car, collected her box and motioned for her to enter. She was startled for a bit.
Moses never said anything about travelling with others but then again who cares, she had not come this far for an extra passenger to be the reason why she won’t leave Nigeria. She entered the car and found another man seating inside, she sat beside him while the other man entered after her and shut the door and the driver started the car…
To Be Continued