“Fatima I can’t afford to send you to school anymore, you have to start helping me at the market.” That was the bomb mama dropped on me one fateful evening.

“No mama, I need to go to school to become a doctor and take care of you.” I protested.

“I know you want to take care of me but I can’t continue wasting money on your education. I need to start teaching you how to be the right woman for your future husband.” She said in a tone of finality.

That was how I let go of my dream and started selling mat with mama at Ukwa market. To appease me, mama bought lots of fancy clothes and make up but still the injury in my heart never heals.

I met Alhaji Danjuma on my fourth day at the market. He was this dark pot-bellied old man who cruised around in his fancy Jeep.

Since mama had informed me that Alhaji was her most valued customer and must be attended to with utmost enthusiasm, I did my best to satisfy him exceedingly and I was elated when he praised and even gave me tips in front of mama.

Alhaji’s visit to our shop became more often and each time, he drops something for me. I once asked mama what Alhaji does with the mats he bought every day but she snapped and promised me a slap the next time I ask such a stupid question.

The day I was robbed was just like any other day, mama left for market early but I stayed behind to finish the cooking and later brought mama’s food to the shop. By the time I got there, I met Alhaji and mama chatting and laughing. I didn’t suspect anything until she told me to get into Alhaji’s car to help him repair one of his mats at home.

“Why didn’t he bring the mat to our shop?” That was the question I would have asked if I hadn’t remembered Mama’s promise.

A smile revealing a set of decaying teeth appeared on his face the moment he saw me enter the car. He bade mama farewell and set the car in motion, little did I know that I was like a lamb being led to slaughter. After what seemed like an endless journey, the car eventually stopped at the gate to a beautiful mansion.

We rode inside the moment the gate was opened. Alhaji boosted his affluence as he led me into the house and I was already feeling uncomfortable by the time we got to the sitting room. He asked what I would like to eat and even when I told him I wanted nothing, he still ordered his maid to get me juice.

“Where is the mat, sir? I need to start working on it as soon as possible.” I explained.
“You have nothing to worry about, It’s really not that serious.” He said.

After about thirty minutes of gloating on his wealth, I begged him to allow me to take a look at the mat and he obliged. He unlocked the door to his beautiful and well-furnished bedroom and went inside. I waited outside thinking he would bring out the mat but he didn’t, instead, he invited me inside.

My heart beat faster with every step I took into the room. Deep down I knew to go in was a bad idea but I had no choice.
“There is no reason to be afraid, please come in.” He ushered, sitting on a king size bed grinning devilishly.

The mat I saw lying at the foot of the bed wasn’t as bad as he had pronounced, only a few of the shreds were loose. I picked it up and started tying the shreds back.

I was too focused on the mat to noticed that Alhaji had pulled off his clothes. It took me by surprise when he yanked me to bed and mount on top. I screamed and cried but no one came to my aid. Tried to fight him off but I couldn’t gain over him.

A few minutes later, I lay bereaved on the bed, deprived of my virtue. Something landed on the bed and when I looked, it was a wad of new naira notes.

“My driver will take you back to shop, give that money to your mother.” He spoke without an iota of remorse. I wanted to jump on him and tear him into pieces but I had not the strength. Battered and bruised I left the room, with the wad of cash lying exactly where he had dropped it.

The moment I got down from the car, I ran to mama’s bosom and wept out my pain.
“Wipe away your tears my daughter, today you have made me proud.” She said and I was stunned when she collected the cash I thought I left behind from Alhaji’s driver.

Read: A shot at love

Written by Oluwafunminiyi Komolafe


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