I saw her in heels, walking unsteadily towards the gate just as I was heading out of Federal Palace, where I’d gone to change some money. Her light skin, exposed mid riff and slim body made me eager to see her face. There’s something about seeing a face, even if you end up not knowing the person. I decided I’ll ask where she was headed and if it was ok to drop her off if she was going my way. As I slowed down beside her, she turned to look at me.
“Hello, where are you going?”
“Hi” she said with a smile, “oction view”
“Yes, on Eko Hotel road”
“Oh! Ocean View. Ok, come in I’ll take you”
She entered the car, saying thank you over and over again with a pretty smile. It was quiet for about 2 minutes. I’m sure she was wondering why another girl was being nice to her and then again, maybe she was just enjoying the music. Meanwhile I’d already reached my conclusion the moment she said Oction View.
I broke the silence by asking what her name was. “Mary”, she replied. I told her my name and she pronounced it wrongly. After about two attempts at correcting her, I let it go.
“You’re Yoruba right?” she asked me
“Yes” I replied “Where are you from?”
“Ibo”, she replied
“Oh ok, what state?”
She told me.
All this while, I was smiling. I thought of my next question. Contemplated within myself whether to ask or not and decided to go ahead.
“What do you do? Do you work?”
“Emm… Not really”
I was still smiling when I asked my next question.
“Do you do runs*?”
She smiled. Actually, she may have giggled but I’m not sure now.
“Yes, I do.” She replied
“Do you save the money you get?” not missing a beat.
“Well… Not really. You know for you to be expensive, you have to dress well”
“So you spend all your money on clothes” (More of a statement than a question)
“Not all but I spend a lot on clothes”
“Do you send money home, to the East”
“Ok that’s good”
I went on to tell her that she was in a business that wouldn’t last forever and that I wasn’t going to judge her but she had to be wise. Prettier, younger girls were going to enter “the market” and business may not do as well as it was doing now.
I asked if she had thought of acquiring any skill say sewing, and she told me she had actually learned hair dressing but had left the salon she was working at cos the woman (I’m guessing the owner) was annoying her. I told her that working for people taught us how to treat our own workers in future. She seemed to agree with me. I also told her that God loved her and she should basically be wise about what she was doing and then I dropped her off. Not before she called me God-sent though. I don’t think she called me that because of all I’d been saying cos she said that just after I agreed to drop her off at the exact side of the road she was going to. Ocean view was just the landmark. She was going somewhere on the other side of the road.
I hope she remembers me one day for good. I hope she decides to quit the business for something more honourable. I did not and still do not feel superior to her in any way. I was happy for the opportunity to talk to her and be a blessing, even if it’s by saving her the few hundreds of naira she would have had to spend on a taxi.
I want to make a positive impact on lives this year and beyond. I want to show love and be compassionate (tautology?). Like Riri sang, “We all want the same thing, we all want love”.
*Runs: Literal meaning- Prostitution