“My name is Bubbles. Your name is Carol, isn’t it? At least that’s what I heard,” the lady said.
I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to get over with eating because Mama Salma had forced me. I wanted to go back to bed. I didn’t want to have some small talk with this lady.
“Am so sorry. I’m bubbling that’s why I’m called Bubbles. I heard what happened to you? There are some sick men out there.”
Just then Natalie came back with some soup and small rolls of bread. I wondered is that all they were going to give me. I ate the food before me with gusto. I was really hungry. When I was done I thought Natalie would take me back to my room. She told me to wait for the second course. I didn’t know what that meant but I soon found out.
Natalie went off with my bowl and the plate. In the meantime bubbles who had gone to get a glass of wine took the opportunity to get back to where I was sitting. Frankly I did not want to talk to anyone but my parents had taught me not to be rude to grown-ups so I didn’t tell her I wanted to be alone.
“You know you are the first young girl under the age of eighteen to be brought here. The gals here,” she swept the room with her hand, well they usually come here when Mama Salma makes them a proposition they can’t refuse.” I didn’t know that word “proposition” and I didn’t want to talk so I just listened. “Many of the gals here came on their own. Mama Salma is pretty good at getting what she wants. She offers money, a good life and a life of luxury, now which gal would refuse a deal like that.” She laughed, yet when I looked at her she looked sad. I don’t know what was going on in her mind.
Bubbles said, “anyway Mama Salma decided that since there was demand she would start a new sideline of supplying young girls to willing buyers. It seems there are quite abit of men who wouldn’t mind paying a lot for under age girls. I guess you can say you were the experiment. She seems very happy with how it has gone.”
At that moment Natalie came back. She didn’t seem too happy with Bubbles talking to me. “Bubbles take your gossip somewhere else. And if you need to get drunk don’t do it in my presence.” She clicked her tongue at Bubbles. Bubbles stood up and left.
“Don’t associate with that one. She is a gossip and a drunk. Don’t listen to anything she says. She is just a bitter girl. Now eat. Mama Salma is coming in soon and I want her to find you haven’t eaten. What did I do to be rated a babysitter?”
I sat there and stared at the plate. It had some kind of pilau, some chicken, vegetables and some kind of coated brown food that I couldn’t tell what it was. I took a bite and realized it was fish. Now there was something I loved. I dug into the food and ate everything.
Natalie had by then gone to drink wine with some of the other ladies I had seen. They kept looking at me and then they would sneer or say something in hushed tones. I felt so alone. I wanted to go back to my room actually I wanted to get out of this place. I can’t believe when I came here I thought I would be safe. That someone would take care of me. To realise that I was just a pawn to be used was to me even at that tender age very painful.
After about half an hour Mama Salma came into the room with a tall, dark, handsome man. All the ladies hurried to chairs around the table and sat down. Mama Salma was dressed in a red satin dress that clung to her breasts, hips and thighs. It had a slit at the side that ran up to mid thigh. She was wearing red shoes and had a red big handbag to match. She had on some red lipstick and some blue eye shadow that made her look, in my opinion, very scary.
“I would like to thank you all for being available tonight. I will release you in a couple of minutes. As you can see am on my way out. I just wanted to have a formal welcome to our new housemate, Mama Salma said. “Stand up Carol.” I stood up, holding on to the table so as to balance.
“I want you all to treat carol nicely. Don’t bully her or play those tricks you usually play on each other. I will be very unhappy if I hear that you have done anything to her. Treat her like your beloved sister. Carol here will be making me a lot of money and I want her taken care of. From tomorrow carol you will start your lessons. I pride myself on having the most beautiful girls but they must also be intelligent and behave like ladies. I don’t want any of my girls to embarrass me. Tomorrow Carlos here will start teaching you how to speak proper English. He will also teach you some French, Spanish, Italian and German. Those are the languages our customers speak and so you need to learn some of that. That is all. Girls behave yourselves. Some of you are getting drunk on the job and I promise there will be some disciplinary action if you don’t stop.”
Mama Salma and Carlos went out. After a few minutes the atmosphere changed. The girls broke out dancing and laughing. Natalie came for me and escorted me to my room. She explained to me that the girls needed to get ready. Their clients were coming to pick them up. It seemed Mama Salma did not like the men to sleep inside her house so they came picked up their choice for the night and then left with them. Later on I heard this is what she did so that if by unfortunate chance the police raided her house they would not find any men there. The house was apparently called, “ladies of distinction modelling agency.” She had listed her house as a business which trained and acted as agents for models but that was just a front.
In my room I felt like I was in a jail with no bars. I hate this place but I couldn’t leave. Well at least on my own volition. I sat on my bed and wept. I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring but whatever it was I was scared to face it. And in the dark this is the poem I composed.
Big plastic smile on my face.
Inside am crying for my innocence.
Used to be happy but now happiness is just a word I hear.
I have everything material but nothing emotional.
Am dead inside.
I was a fragile flower.
But then I was cut and crushed by cruel hands.
I am broken inside yet outside I function.
I don’t believe in God because a loving God wouldn’t let this happen to me.
I hate men.
They are all pretenders.
They pretend that they are nice, loving and caring.
They are not, they are beasts that crush innocence,
and wear blood like it’s a trophy for sport.
One crushed my delicate flower.
Others waited in the wings to stomp out the good in me.
I hate, I hate with a passion what I have become but I am a prisoner.
I can’t escape my capturers they have conquered my mind.
Told me am nothing that they have made me sum thing of value.
Put a price tag on my flesh.
Invisible chains hold me to this place.
I am fragile, broken, and old in knowledge yet still a child.
Am a woman in experience but a child in mind.
Am fragile yet I haven’t broken.
Scattered yet held together by will
And a plastic smile.