Again, he sits on that solid mahogany chair, staring leeringly at me. The dreaded evenings always take a routine. First, he peers through the sitting room window to see that Madam Catty’s red Mazda car was driving through the gate, straight for her evening prayers, and then he gives Bobo and Anna his phone to play games with.
With the twitch of his eyes, I know I should run up to his study.
Every evening for six months, I’ve cried through the sessions, bared myself to him, weak and fragile. Allowing my “Oga” have his way.
“All Ogas do that Amara” my friend Nonye said to me. “Atleast you get a good salary at the end of the month, your case is better than mine”.
And so I accepted that this is the price I have to pay, for my brothers Aaron and Jake to get through their education, a privilege I never had, for my mother to afford her frequent prescription drugs.
He always makes me sit on the red antique chair opposite him, while he leers at me. He said gazing at the curves of my breasts arouses him to start the love making.
“Love making” he calls it. What I used to have with Dozie back in the village, was love making. I remember how splendid it felt in those little dark corners. I’m happy I had that with Dozie. Because of him, I know that sex with the right person, sex with consent, wasn’t this miserable. It didn’t make you soak the bed with sad tears, tears of misfortune.
Too many times, I’ve played out scenes in my head, where I tell Madam Catty, but it never goes well. I’ve never seen a woman so heady, so in love with a man, the way my Madam loves her husband. The way she looks at him….I will lose my job at the instant.
Everyday, while he ogles at me, I sit here quivering, my palms sweaty, looking down at nothing really, dreading my existence and asking God questions.
But today, something is different. I can’t really tell. It feels like… anger. I lift my head up and for the first time in six months, I can’t hide my disgust of him. I know it’s written all over my face, but he can’t notice. He’s too busy imagining the sex in his head, to notice. He gets up, and I close my eyes, gripping my palms so tight, I know my veins protrude . Sometimes, he places me on the table, sometimes he plops me on that finely made mahogany chair. But he prefers to do it on the mini bed in his study. The thought of where he might defile me today, kills something within me.
As he stands right beside me, and cups my chin, the tears welled up in my eyes, finally drop. That sweaty masculine stench. I know it too well. I’ve always wondered whether Madam Catty was so blinded by love, that she lost her sense of smell, or maybe did not care. Somehow, I feel for her too.
Anger, disgust, fear, exhaustion; these are the things I feel. He brings me up, staring into my eyes. I can see the smug on his face. A man who is sure of getting what he wants, when he wants it. In my case, my body is what he craves, and what he is sure he will have.
He cups my breast, squeezing it. Everything within me cringes. The tears keep rolling and I know it’s not going to stop. It’s effusive. I stand there helpless, my mind drifts back to my first day here. When he broke it to me that the agreed sixty thousand naira, had been lifted to a hundred thousand, I screamed for joy.
“Wow babe, the last house help didn’t get half as much”. Madam Catty turned to him in surprised.
Ebere, that was her name. Brave Ebere. I heard she ran away. I realize Ebere had, had it. He was not just abusing her too, he was doing so and underpaying her. It’s the reason why when I came, he more than doubled the pay. It was a trap. He knew he had to put a price which a girl from my background will never run away from, no matter what he did.
He parts his lips to speak, and that familiar stale smell emits from his mouth. I can no longer take this. I back away, slapping his hand off, my eyes feral. I immediately take for the door. Never, will I forget the look he gave me when I backed away. “The Audacity”.
I run as fast as I can to my room, not minding his commands to get back, his constant reminder that he was my boss. Getting to the room that will no longer me mine after today, I slam the door, lean on it, and I cry. I cry. But it’s not pain that I feel, it’s not anger or regret.
It’s…relief. It’s… freedom. It feels like a breakthrough. I feel a peace I had not known in 6 months. I feel as brave as Ebere.