Shadows of the past


( At about 9.35pm in front of Eno’s apartment. She is inside the car with Olu)
OLU: frankly, holding Eno’s hand It is not as if I don’t want to get married to you. But I am not ready yet. Marriage is a lifelong thing and I must prepare my mind to keep up with that.
ENO: There you go again. We have been dating for three years now, three years. Look, Olu, we are not getting any younger.
OLU : I know. There are many things I need to put in place first before marriage.
ENO: she forces her hand out of Olu’s You have always been putting things in place ever since we started dating. And the last time I checked, getting married to me is not one of those things.
OLU : Just give me time, Eno. Of course, you won’t want us to get married and then live from hand to mouth.
ENO: See who is talking about living from hand to mouth. You have a good job, a nice car and an exquisite apartment. What more do you need to get married to me?
OLU: The time to really prepare myself to be a good father to our unborn children and also a good husband to you my dear.
ENO: Perhaps you want another man to take me away from you.
OLU: That cannot happen.
ENO: If you don’t want that to happen, you must be quick in walking me down the aisle. (she comes out of the car) Good night.
OLU: (surprised) Just like that?
ENO: (going away) Just like that. (she goes away as Olu rests his head on the steering. Two minutes later, a lady runs along and jumps inside the car beside Olu before he could say anything)
OLU :(shocked) Who are you?
AMAKA: (impatiently) That is unimportant now. Some people are after me.
OLU : What people?
AMAKA :(fidgeting) I don’t know. I just want you to please drive me out of this neighbourhood.
OLU : Okay. (he starts the car and drives away as Eno turns back and watches in amazement before entering her apartment)
(Few minutes later)
AMAKA: Thank you.
OLU: nods slightly I don’t know the type of wahala you got yourself into at this time of the night.
AMAKA : My house is still far from here. You may increase the speed.
OLU : I am sorry I can’t drive faster than this.
AMAKA : Okay. You are such a nice guy anyway. Some other guys would have pushed me away.
OLU : That is true. (hands her a coat) Put this on to keep off the cold.
AMAKA : (she smiles as their eyes meet) Thank you.
OLU: And next time, you should dress better than this when you are going out at night. The way you are dressed might have been what landed you in trouble in the first place.
AMAKA: (apparently offended) My grandfather lived for over a hundred years. He was able to live that long because he always mind his own business.
OLU: (turns to look at her) As long as you are in this car, you are my business.
AMAKA : rudely What do you know? There are many things about me that you can’t know or understand. Besides, you shouldn’t judge people by their dressing.
OLU : I have no such power as to judge you. I don’t know you and we may never meet again after this night.
AMAKA: You really think so? Let us wait and see.
OLU : Alright. (He drives on without looking at her)
AMAKA : You have a nice car though.
OLU : People say that too. I love cars like this.
AMAKA : That means you have better ones than this?
OLU : Not at all.
AMAKA : Okay. It is really so nice of you saving my sorry ass.
OLU : Well, I am just doing my job as a gentleman.
AMAKA : Most gentlemen don’t care about women. They always play on women’s emotions.
OLU : You should blame that on the women too. Most of you don’t know what you want from a relationship.
AMAKA : No, men are to be blamed for playing games with women’s heart.
OLU : You seem to be talking from experience.
AMAKA : I have never had a boyfriend before.
OLU : And you think I would believe that about a beautiful woman like yourself?
AMAKA : Do you believe I would lie to an handsome guy like yourself too? For now, I don’t see any reason why I should be dating a guy. You guys are predators if you know what that means.
OLU : grins Yet you are not talking from personal experience?
AMAKA : I am a very complicated woman. It is better we end the conversation here and now. What I do with my life is personal to me.
OLU : I have no problem with that except if you are one of those women that hate men.
AMAKA : Men are good, but I have my reservations about them. I will advise you wait till you find that out.
OLU : No problem.
AMAKA : I will stop at the end of this street.
(in front of Amaka’s apartment)
AMAKA : Thanks for the ride.
OLU : You are welcome.
AMAKA: Good night (she goes away and then walks back to the car almost immediately)
OLU: Did you forget anything in the car?
AMAKA : (she smiles broadly) Don’t mind my stupidity. I forgot to tell you my name. I am Amaka.
OLU: That is a fine name to match your ravaging beauty. (checks his wristwatch) This is eleven thirty seven already. You must go inside now before those guys show up again.
AMAKA: (looks at him and smile) Yeah.( she hands him the coat) Thanks for the coat. (chuckles) I almost take it away.
OLU: It is okay. I have forgotten about it so quickly myself.
AMAKA: I suppose you have a name.
OLU : Does it really matter? I have been able to drive you home safe, that is for me what matters.
AMAKA : It’s alright. But you can come in for a drink or two before going if you wouldn’t mind.
OLU : You save your drink for your friends. He winks at her as he starts the engine Good night. (he drives away as Amaka watches on, smiles, and then goes inside the house)

( The next day at Olu’s office. He is sitting down with Hassan, a much older colleague and friend)
OLU: laughing Hassan, we both know I am not ready for marriage yet. Do you know what it means to spend the rest of your life with a woman?
HASSAN : That has always been your fear. But Eno is not someone you don’t know. I see no reason why should not be getting married to her anytime soon.
OLU : And then sentence myself to a lifelong commitment I am not ready for? See, marriage is for me a kind of life imprisonment. This is my prime and I must enjoy it to the fullest.
HASSAN : By philandering?
OLU : You know I don’t do that. I am not just ready for marriage yet. She should understand that and stop worrying herself over nothing.
HASSAN : She is in her late twenties. I believe you don’t want to marry her when she is getting close to her menopausal age.
OLU : I can’t be that wicked.
HASAN : Then do the needful.
OLU: Marriage is not in my plans for now. I have a career to pursue and I can’t jeopardise that by getting married soon.
HASSAN : Career, career, career, that’s all you have always been pursuing all your life. Other career guys are married. I am an example.
OLU : he laughs You are a bad example. You are pursuing Blessing, Halimat, Joyce and the rest of them alongside your so called career.
HASSAN : he plays with his wedding ring That is a lie, Olu. I have changed to a better man ever since I have this ring on my finger. For better or worse, I am only for my wife now.
OLU: Well, Mr Changed Man, if you talk incessantly from today till the end of the year, I am not getting married anytime soon.
HASSAN : Perhaps you have forgotten that you are one of the few unmarried guys in this office.
OLU : Thank God I am not the only unmarried man here. You really have nothing to worry about, really.
HASSAN : Except you want to make me believe you are seeing someone else.
OLU: You know I wouldn’t double date.
HASSAN : Your actions of late are beginning to say otherwise.
OLU : We have been together enough for you to know the type of lies I can tell.
HASSAN : Well, that is true. I just feel for the young woman. Eno is a good woman.
OLU: Hassan, whenever I am ready you are the first person that would know.
HASSAN : I know. And that time must not be not be too long from now(he stands up) I have some paperworks to attend to. Say me well to Eno when next she calls(they shake hands and then he goes out as Olu brings out some papers from his drawer and starts typing on his laptop)

( That evening at Eno’s apartment. She is with Olu in the living room. They are sitting apart)
ENO : coldly I know you would surely come around.
OLU : Was that why you refused to pick my calls? You got me so worried about you.
ENO: (scoffs) You? Worried? I thought you no longer care about me.
OLU: (disappointed) This is unbelievable. How could you say such a thing? Eno, you are my wife-to-be.
ENO: You are beginning to make me feel like I am a side chick.
OLU : This is not you talking. Have I done something to offend you?
ENO: It all happened right in front of me, Olu. I saw it all.
OLU: You are confusing me here, Eno. Why not stop beating around the bush and come to the open?
ENO : Olu, who is that girl I saw you with last night?
OLU : What girl?
ENO: (raising her voice) Oh! Don’t even act as if you don’t know what I am talking about. Olu, even if you want to spite me by seeing someone else, does it have to be in front of my house?
OLU: (sighs deeply) That lady you saw with me yesterday was in danger and she begged me to save her from some God forsaken guys.
ENO: You never told me you are now the saviour of the world. Try again, Olu, try again. I am not a fool and I am not blind either. I can still recognise a love expression if I see one.
OLU: Sometimes, one may be with his eyes wide open and still cannot understand what he or she is seeing. Frankly Eno, you left me angrily and if anyone is to be blamed for what happened last night, it is you.
ENO : (raises her shoulder in anger) Oh! So it is now my fault that I saw a strange girl in my fiance’s car and then decide to ask some questions? Ugh? Now I know why you don’t want to get married to me.
OLU : You are the reason I don’t want to get married to you. Sometimes you get unreasonably jealous and suspicious about nothing.
ENO: (tears forming in her eyes) So I am being unreasonable to cope with now! I know it. You no longer love me.
OLU: Stop being too difficult here, Eno. All I am saying is that you should learn how to trust me. You always want us to get married. Is this how you would be suspecting me of having an affair with every lady you see me with?
ENO: You always give me reasons to suspect you. Besides, no good woman would see her man with a strange woman in the night and keep mute. Many ladies would stop at nothing to have you.
OLU: I know that and I am being careful too. As for that lady, she needed my help. I am sorry that had to happen in front of your apartment.
ENO: Just be careful. I won’t like to see you around girls that dress the way she did.
OLU: That must be the reason she was in trouble in the first place.
ENO: Anyway, that one is gone. I just need you to be careful with us women.
OLU : Is that why you want to cry?
ENO: Don’t mind me. You know I can be too emotional sometimes.
OLU : I know. And you also know how much I hate to see you cry.
ENO : Yeah. I am sorry for leaving you in such a rude manner last night.
OLU : What I need now is a massage and not an apology that has been accepted long ago.
ENO: Promise me the massage will be massage and not something else.
OLU: Something else like what my dear?
ENO: You know my problem with you? You pretend a lot.
OLU: (smiling) Okay. I promise.
ENO: Give me a minute. I will join you soon. (she goes to the kitchen while Olu brings out his phone to make a call)

( Amaka’s apartment. She is with Banke)
BANKE: So you have really found love. This is you that is always saying there is nothing like love in your lexicon.
AMAKA : I never said I love him. I only said I would love to see him again.
BANKE : It usually starts from a place of attraction. But you have to be careful what you wish for though.
AMAKA : Don’t make it seems as if being attracted to someone is a crime of some sort.
BANKE : That’s why I am telling you to be careful with the type of guys you are attracted to.
(Princess comes in and throws herself on the settee)
PRINCESS : (with a tired voice) Hi girls!
BANKE : Girlfriend of the honourables, how was it with honourable Jayeola?
AMAKA: Can’t you see it was a fight to finish? I am sure she must have given it to him big time.
PRINCESS : Babes, I made a fool of myself with that honourable. After the night long affair, he gave me just 150k. I looked so cheap afterwards.
BANKE : That honourable Jayeola is too stingy.
AMAKA : Really? Princess, why didn’t you reject the money because it is too small?
PRINCESS : That would have been a total loss nah.
BANKE : That Honourable Jayeola is heartless. See how he used my friend as if the world is coming to an end for that little money. Men are so wicked.
AMAKA : Wicked? We are the ones that always carry ourselves to them. They see us no better than some cheap sluts with no hope at all. They use us to satisfy their sexual pleasure and then give us crumbles of the money they have stolen from the national treasury.
PRINCESS : They are wicked because they believe that being under such a hefty man for hours is an easy thing to endure. My dear, it is no child’s play.
AMAKA: I don’t know about you girls, but my days are numbered in this dirty work. I am well educated and well trained too. Anytime I look at myself in the mirror, I always see myself as a disgrace to womanhood.
BANKE : Haven’t you heard that you use what you have to get what you want?
AMAKA : Not in this context.
BANKE : Come and show me that man that is ready to give you a good job without first asking you to grace his bed.
PRINCESS : Listen, Amaka. Many of our mates working in the office are not privileged to have these things that we have. We all have our own cars, coupled with this nice apartment over our head and some good connections too. What more do you want?
AMAKA :(sharply) A better life.
BANKE : (turns to look at Princess and then at Amaka) What life can be better than this one that you have all what you need without too much stress?
AMAKA : I am an African woman brought up in the Christian faith to be a virtuous woman. Over time, I have realised that I am not doing the best for myself by sleeping around with men, many of which I don’t even know. I have since see the need for me to have a husband and children I could call my own.
PRINCESS : (laughs hysterically) You have never really disappointed me until today. emphatically Amaka, you are a prostitute for crying out loud. No man, I repeat, no man will ever marry someone like you. No husband would be happy to know that the best of his wife had been used by other men.
BANKE : Imagine you go out with your husband and then people like Chief Johnson sees you together and then starts describing how good you are on bed with some of his friends right in front of your husband. Do you think any man will want that for himself?
AMAKA : You may be right. But you see, being a prostitute does not mean I am not a good person. Some people are doing worse things than this and people still celebrate them.
BANKE : Amaka, it is now obvious that the thought of that guy is really getting into your head.
PRINCESS : What guy?
BANKE : The same guy that drove her home the other night.
PRINCESS : I know she is in love with the way she has been talking about that guy as if he is the prince of Dubai.
BANKE : You better be careful.
AMAKA : I want out of this prostitution of a thing. I can’t even tell people what I do for a living. I am such a mess.
PRINCESS : You won’t be a mess until you decide to live as if you have never been a prostitute.
BANKE : And if I see that guy again, I will cut out his heart for doing this to you. He is the cause of this madness you are displaying right now.
AMAKA : You two can never change. By the time nemesis catches up with you, you will know you are on the wrong path.

( Eno’s office. She is with Sade, her colleague at the office)
SADE : (smiling) My friend, I am so happy for you. This is really a good thing.
ENO : Yeah, I know. Thank you.
SADE : Your persuasion has really paid off after all. Finally, you guys will be getting married in the new year.
ENO : See the way you are saying it as if the new year is a long time from now. New year is just about four months from now.
SADE : And by that time, your dream of becoming Mrs Eno Akinola would be realised. I am so jealous of you right now.
ENO : My dear, you need not be. You really have to take things easy with Dozie. He is a nice man and you will never regret it if you are patient enough to get married to him.
SADE : He should act fast. I am not the ugliest of women around here. He shouldn’t wait till someone else takes me away from him.
ENO : I hope you are not planning on leaving him. You guys have come a long way together. If you opt out at this stage, it won’t be good for either of you.
SADE : He should propose then. I am getting old every day by day. My sisters are all married and I seem to be the only one with a bad luck when it comes to men that are serious about marriage.
ENO : Marriage is not something you rush into. Dozie is a man that is full of surprises. He will put a ring on your finger when you least expect it.
SADE : You have told me this about a million times now. Eno, we both met our boyfriends about the same time. While yours is getting married to you next year, mine is still contemplating as if unsure if we will ever have a future together.
ENO : Dozie cares so much about you. I can see that in his eye. If you let him slip away because of pressurising him to get married to you, you will have yourself to blame.
SADE : You can now say this because by this time next year, you would have added Akinola to your name.
ENO : Just take things easy with him. He will get married to you when he is ready. (pats her back)
SADE : (pushing her hand away) Go joor, Ms Adviser!
ENO : I am going out already. I have a meeting at the head office in ten minutes.
SADE : You are supposed to be on your way already. Why are you still here?
ENo : Because I am Eno Maxwell. It is a privilege to have me around here. (Sade cast an askance at her) You don’t think so?
SADE : No man or woman here is indispensable.
ENO : I know.
SADE : Then you should be on your way to the meeting. I will see you later.
(Later that day at Dozie’s apartment. Sade is with Dozie in the living room)
DOZIE : (rather frankly) I have always told you not to compare our relationship with those of your friends. We are not them. The clock they are working with is totally different from ours.
SADE : And I am telling you that we don’t even have a clock at all. If we do, it would have shown that by this time next year Eno and Olu would be Mr and Mrs.
DOZIE : Sade, I don’t care. You should not be in a hurry to make us get married.
SADE : I am the only unmarried woman in my house.
DOZIE : How is that a problem.
SADE : Because it now looks as if I have a bad luck.
DOZIE : You know I just landed a good job after eights months of searching. I need to gather enough money for our future together. You don’t want us to get married and then we and the children will feed on ourselves.
SADE : I understand. I just wanted to know when you will be ready.
DOZIE : I will be ready for marriage when I have a better apartment, a good car, a flourishing business and a considerable success on other things I am working on. You know how much you have always loved the idea of our honeymoon being at the Caribbean, that will be possible by then.
SADE : And how many years are we looking at?
DOZIE : Just three to four years from now.
SADE : Now I know you are not really serious about us. In four years time, you would be thirty-four and I would be thirty-one.
DOZIE : The age we got married does not matter. What matter is the type of family we are going to build together.
SADE : Dozie, if I knew you would be reluctant in getting married to me, I would have reconsidered my options three years ago.
DOZIE : That is not too late to do since you are the only one that is in a hurry to get married. I am just beginning to enjoy my bachelor life and I can’t jeopardise that with a marriage plan.
SADE : Your brother that is getting married next month is only twenty-seven. If you don’t know, we are getting old and people are looking at us.
DOZIE : That is their problem not ours.
SADE : Eno and Olu will get married in the new year and we will remain the only unmarried people in that circle.
DOZIE : Wait until they get married. She must have been pressurising him just like you are doing now.
SADE : And that has worked for her now. She is unlike me that is waiting till eternity to get you to make up your mind.
DOZIE : Four years is not eternity my dear. You only have to be patient with me, please.
SADE : I am in this already. I don’t have any other choice than to be patient with you.
DOZIE : (kisses her forehead) That’s my girl.
SADE : I still don’t know why I love you this much. I have never thought of breaking up with you.
DOZIE : You know I am the only man that can make you happy.
SADE : (smiling as Dozie tickles her) Don’t even start that now. I am too tired for any rough play.
DOZIE : Can’t someone tickle his girlfriend again?
SADE : That has always been your way of getting me.
DOZIE : Sade!
SADE :(pushes his head lightly) That is the only thing you are ever serious about. (going away from him) Let me get something for us to eat.
DOZIE : I was about saying that. (loudly) Make it fast, please.

( One sunny Saturday evening. Olu and Hassan are inside the car)
HASSAN : (he looks around as he drives the car ) Olu, this place is too quiet for my liking. It is like a graveyard.
OLU : Even a graveyard is noisier than this place.
HASSAN : I don’t think I can ever live in a place like this.
OLU : Me too. This is more like a reserved area for the government people.
HASSAN : All these government people that are always far from the people they claim to represent! I hate them like hell.
OLU : They are only representing themselves, not the people. All these houses were built with stolen funds.
HASSAN : And they do rarely live in them. (he stops the car in front of a house and turns to face Olu) Are you sure this is the house? This house is too big for only one girl.
OLU : If this is house number 15, then this is where I dropped her off that night.
HASSAN : Olu, why do you want to see her again? You have helped her and it should end there.
OLU : I know. But something about the lady is not just right.
HASSAN : You are now engaged. You should not be visiting a lady alone. Anything can happen. This could be an arrangement by rival companies to bring you down.
OLU : (he comes out of the car) Hassan, I can handle this without getting into any trouble.
HASSAN : Good luck. But remember to play safe with her.
OLU : Alright. ( Hassan drives off as Olu shakes his head and then enters the compound. He walks round the house and then stops in front of a door. He knocks gently)
AMAKA : (from inside) Ijeoma, come inside. The door is not locked.
OLU :(loudly) This is not Ijeoma.
AMAKA : (surprised) Who are you?(coming towards the door, her towel tied to her waist. Olu opens the door before she gets there)
OLU : (smiling awkwardly) Hi, Amaka!
AMAKA : (surprised) You? I know you shall surely come back. (she steps aside for him to come into the room)
OLU : But I have done that at the wrong time. Why don’t I wait outside while you dress up?
AMAKA : Really?
OLU : Really. But I must add that you have a nice apartment though.
AMAKA : I know. And you have also seen something more obscene than watching a woman dress herself.
OLU : Very true.(he sits down)
AMAKA : Besides, the living room is not for me to dress in. There are other rooms in the apartment.
OLU : I know. But you have to do that very fast because I have a little time to spend here.
AMAKA : If that is the case, then I take that to mean you want me to dress right here in front of you.
OLU : No, Amaka. I never said that.
AMAKA : What are you scared off? Your girlfriend? Only God knows what she is doing right now. (coming towards Olu) You can do anything you want with me. Nobody will ever find out.
OLU : (becoming uncomfortable with the closeness) I am not here for this. I came to see a friend down the road and I only stop by here to say hello to you. I think I should leave now.
AMAKA : (surprised) Are you serious?
OLU : More than you think.
AMAKA : Since you refuse to tell me your name that night, I thought you never wanted to see me again.
OLU : Yes. But I changed my mind.
AMAKA : Perfect. You have done that for the right reason. You can have me for the whole evening. (she switches off the television) That is a distraction. (she starts caressing Olu, but he quickly stands up to hold her hand)
OLU : (uneasily) I can’t do this. If this is how you welcome people into your house, then something is terribly wrong with you.
AMAKA :(kisses him) Really?
OLU : ( he gently lifts her off his body) Yes.
AMAKA : (disappointed, she goes away from Olu) Many men are ready to pay big money just to get me laid, and you are here rejecting my body?
OLU : (shocked) You mean this is how you seduce every man that comes your way and then ask them for money?
AMAKA : Yes and I have no apology at all about it. Or do you think I am one of those women that work in offices? My body is my office.
OLU : (shocked) What?
AMAKA : Mr no name, I am a prostitute and that is who I am.
OLU : Why?!
AMAKA : Why is because I chose to be one.
OLU : Thank God I was able to hold my defence. I would have slept with a prostitute without knowing it.
AMAKA : Don’t call me a prostitute. My name is Amaka. Besides, prostitutes are humans and they are better behaved than many of those ladies you propose marriage to.
OLU : Is that what you tell yourself?
AMAKA : You all see prostitutes as some very morally delinquent girls. That’s so untrue.
OLU : I didn’t mean to call you a prostitute. That night I picked you, I knew something is not right about you.
AMAKA : Even though prostitution might seem very bad to you, it has been paying my bills for years now. A politician friend gave me and my friends this house. You can see how beautiful it is.
OLU : I can see it. That is the power of woman at work.
AMAKA : I don’t like your type of men that will come and be preaching to me about living a moral life as if you are a saint yourself.
OLU : I may not be a good Christian, but my Bible tells me that our body is the temple of God and my dear, we cannot afford to live our lives the way we want it.
AMAKA : The same Bible says whatever you lay your hands on, you should do it diligently. And while being diligent at what I do, I landed this big house.
OLU : You are supposed to respect your body.
AMAKA : (tears forming in her eyes) And what should you do when that body was disrespected by men close to you? Do you know what it means to be raped by an uncle at age fifteen and your brother-in-law at age nineteen? Do you know? You should not judge me in my house.
OLU : Amaka, I know it is hard for you to cope with those rape issues. But you should have reported to the authorities the first time it happened.
AMAKA : I was too ashamed to mention it to anybody.
OLU : Even your own mother?
AMAKA : My parents died when I was only seven.
OLU : And there is no adult you could confide in?
AMAKA : Nobody would believe my story. Besides, I love my sister so much I wouldn’t risk breaking her home not to talk of shaming my uncle that has been helping me ever since my parents died. My uncle and my sister are the only family I have then.
OLU: See what that has done to you now.
AMAKA : This is the best way to take my mind off all the past.
OLU : Those politicians could have used you for rituals. You shouldn’t trust your life into such hands.
AMAKA : I have nobody now. If I die, it will be a complete break from this world where the only people you call your own are the ones that hurt you the most.
OLU : And I am sure you can tell everybody you are a prostitute because of what those monsters did to you.
AMAKA : Sure. I just told you now. I will gladly tell many more people that care to know my story.
OLU : This is not the best you can do for yourself. You are a good woman and you deserve a better life.
AMAKA : Maybe. But you see, nobody would want to be associated with a prostitute, a bloody prostitute at that.
OLU : That is if the prostitute is not ready to change. If you are ready to change, good men will associate with you. You can always move on from your past, instead of letting it control you.
AMAKA : You see, I don’t need any sermon here. You are saying it as if it is easy to move on. I have been doing this for six years now. And even if I stop today, nobody will see me any better than one.
OLU : Change first and then you will see you owe nobody an explanation. You have made a mistake by thinking you can go into prostitution to offset your anger. But that doesn’t mean you should remain so forever.
AMAKA : I will try and put an end to this.(with a watery smile) I have always wanted to get married and have a family before I was defiled.
OLU : We both know you are a good woman. If you don’t have any reason to change, do it because of me. (he hands her a complimentary card as he stands up to go) You can always be in touch with me only when you have truly changed.
AMAKA : (with a broad smile) Alright, Olu.
OLU : You have not been permitted to say my name.
AMAKA : (she chuckles) I know and I am sorry. (they both exchange glances and then smile)
OLU : I have to go now. But make sure you stay in touch.
AMAKA : I will dear. Thank you.
OLU : (going towards the door) You are welcome.
AMAKA : Let me get my dress and see you off.
OLU : Don’t worry. I know my way around here. (he closes the door gently as he goes out with Amaka reading aloud his name)

( Dozie’s apartment. He is sitting with Joy, both watching a television show)
JOY : (turns to look at Dozie) You have been saying that for ages now. See, that girl is not in anyway better than I am. If you really love me, you will make our relationship public.
DOZIE : My dear, there is time for everything. By the time she realises she is being preyed on, you will be in my house.
JOY : Dozie, I still want people to know about us. Play the man here. Tell her she is only needed for her money and not in anyway a part of your future plans.
DOZIE : Very soon, I will let her know you are the only woman I want to get married to. Right now, she is paying her dues for being too ignorant and naive.
JOY : (rests her head on his shoulder) Bad boy.
DOZIE : When the Bible says God will send help to his children from above, it surely meant Sade and I. She is meeting my needs physically and most especially monetarily.
JOY : (slaps him lightly on the back) I am a woman. You know this is actually a systematic cheating.
DOZIE : If you think I am cheating on you, you can opt out. It is never too late.
JOY : We have come a long way together and I can’t possibly call things off now. I know we will till eternity to spend together once she is off the scene.
DOZIE : Very true.
JOY : But we have to be careful or she will know about us.
DOZIE : That is only possible if I stopped being Dozie. But even if she finds out, she will only cry for a few days.
JOY : It has always been like this since the creation of the world for human beings to use one another as means to an end.
DOZIE : Human beings will always take advantage of one another’s ignorance and naivety till eternity.
JOY : I just pray you are not doing that to me too.
DOZIE : Are you suspecting me now?
JOY : No. I am only saying that if you can be this wicked to Sade that has been so faithful to you, you can do it to any woman.
DOZIE : Thank God you said any woman. You are not any woman. You are my Joy.
JOY : Sometimes, I put myself in her shoes and think about what might happen by the time our relationship goes public.
DOZIE : I love her, she loves me. But the fact is I love you more.
JOY : Nobody is saying you don’t.
DOZIE : I was a player when I met you. Then Sade came to the scene. But if you are not comfortable with her being a means to an end as you said, I can cut ties with her.
JOY : We have plans already. You will scatter that plan by breaking up with her.
DOZIE : It is good you know. She has just been promoted at work. That comes with a pay rise.
JOY : Very good. We will allow her collect her new salary for about six months and then you can call things off.
DOZIE : This is one of the reasons I prefer you to Sade. You are a smart partner.
JOY : I take that not as a compliment.
DOZIE : Sure. And to prove that she is an intelligent fool, our wedding will hold at about the same time as that of her friend in the new year.
JOY : She will just kill herself.
DOZIE : And that will remove every threat to our marriage.
JOY : Nobody will blame us for using her. The world will be a better place if we have many ladies of her type, rich but foolish.
DOZIE : You are a smart girl.
JOY : Smart enough to watch her man sleep with another woman for money.
DOZIE : I am doing that for us.
JOY : Whatever. I pray I don’t regret this in the long run. (she turns away from Dozie)

( Late one evening, Olu and Eno are in a restaurant, sitting and facing each other.)
ENO : Olu, you have been dodging my question.
OLU : What question?
ENO : What are you still doing with that girl after you promised never to see her again?
OLU : Eno, I owe you no explanation as to whom I can to talk in the society.
ENO : That list of people does not include a prostitute.
OLU : She is not a prostitute but a victim of circumstances.
ENO : Go ahead and defend her. I know I can’t trust you when it comes to women matter.
OLU : If there is anybody that cannot be trusted here, it is you. After warning you never to see Michael again, you are still seeing him.
ENO : I have stopped seeing him since you said we would get married in the new year.
OLU : Eno, you must learn how to trust me. If you don’t, this relationship will fail.
ENO : How do you want me to trust you in the company of a prostitute?
OLU : The same way I trusted you that you can never cheat on me with Michael. And I don’t want you to call Amaka a prostitute again.
ENO : You even know her name. It looked as if I am being fooled here.
OLU : Knowing her name hasn’t changed anything between us, Eno. I still love you the same way I did that night I met you at the park.
ENO : I am beginning to doubt that. If you do, you will listen to me and stop being too close to a prostitute.
OLU : Eno, she is not a prostitute. Good or bad, we all have our past.
ENO : And in our past, neither of us was a prostitute.
OLU : That doesn’t mean we should crucify her for being one.
ENO : (angrily) Senior Advocate of the Prostitutes, I think it would be better you choose between me and that prostitute friend of yours. (she hits the table lightly with her fist) And you must make that choice now.
OLU : Fine. I want to be with neither of you.
ENO : (lightly) Are you serious?
OLU : Very serious. You have always wanted that and you have it now. Eno, this relationship is officially on break.
ENO : Olu!
OLU : We still stop seeing each other until you come back to your senses and stop being unreasonably jealous.
ENO : Can you see what that prostitute girl has done to you now? You have totally lost your mind.(she stands up angrily and picks her bag. She bends over the table) You can go and have her for all I care.(she goes out angrily. Olu shrugs and continues with his drink)
( At the other end of the restaurant is Amaka and her friend, Banke, oblivious of Olu’s presence)
BANKE : If not for you, I would have slapped that idiot. We may be prostitutes, but we have taste.
AMAKA : It is no longer we. Banke, you are alone in this.
BANKE : Stop deceiving yourself my friend. You are a prostitute and that’s not going to change.
AMAKA : It has changed already. I want to be a better person for the rest of my life.
BANKE : No man in his right senses will marry a repentant prostitute.
AMAKA : If I cannot get a man to marry me, I can have a love child or two with any man that comes my way. All I want is something that will take my mind off this hell of a life.
BANKE : (scoffs) You want a child? What will you tell them if they ask about what you do in your twenties? Let me guess. You will say something like I was a prostitute, but it wasn’t my fault. I was a prostitute so as to punish myself for being too careless.
AMAKA : That is your problem not mine. When that time comes, I will know what to do. Right now, I need a glass of beer to cool my nerves down. You are a killjoy.
BANKE : (snaps her finger)That is what I am talking about. You can never change.
AMAKA : You watch me change.( she turns around to see if a waiter is coming along and then sees Olu going out. She turns to Banke) Girlfriend, you have to excuse me. I need to see someone. (she rushes away as Banke looks on in surprise. She stops Olu as he is about to enter his car) Hey, Olu! Good evening.
OLU : (turns to look at her) Amaka, what are you doing here? It is getting late.
AMAKA : I was with a friend when I saw you going out and then I rushed down to meet you.
OLU : OK. But I really think you should stop coming to places like this in the night.
AMAKA : You are right.
OLU : Any of the old guys might show up and convince you to grace his bed no matter the type of resistance you put up.
AMAKA : Have I told you I have not been with any man in four weeks?
OLU : Yes. You just did that now.
AMAKA : It feels so good. I am beginning to build a good self image, all thanks to you.
OLU : The only thing you cannot do is that which you set your mind not to do.
AMAKA : Yeah.
OLU : My fianceé just left me angrily now. If not, I would have loved to drop you guys off.
AMAKA : You don’t worry. We came with our cars.
OLU : She is really angry with me and I must see her before going home.
AMAKA : I hope it is not because of me though.
OLU : (chuckles) Not at all.
AMAKA : I was just joking. Tell her I said she is so lucky to have a man like you beside her.
OLU : (whispers under his breath) Only if she knows.
AMAKA : You mean?
OLU : Never mind. I will set a date for you guys to meet.
AMAKA : You can just bring her to my birthday party this weekend then. It is holding at my apartment.
OLU : I will discuss that with her. I guess I should be going now. Good night.(he enters the car and then drives off as Amaka goes back to meet Banke)
BANKE : Leave that guy alone. He is way out of your league.
AMAKA : What guy?
BANKE : My eyes were all over you as you go out to meet him. Stop acting like a teenage girl that has just fallen in love around this guy. It is unsafe for you.
AMAKA : (she stands up and pick her bag) I am going home.(she starts going away) When you are ready, you come to the house.
BANKE: (stands up to follow her) Really? You have truly changed. But this is about the time that our night friends usually come around.
AMAKA : (she turns to face her) Your night customers. There is nothing like us here.
BANKE : (stands up) Whatever. (she pushes Amaka out of the way and goes out angrily. Amaka walks briskly after her, smiling broadly)

( The next day. Eno is at Sade’s apartment after work. They are both sitting on a couch next to each other)
ENO : So it is now bad for me to stop my boyfriend from getting too close to a prostitute? You always have a way of defending him.
SADE : Don’t get me wrong. All I am saying is that you should give him the benefit of a doubt. He has never cheated on you and he can’t start now.
ENO : Is that enough for him to say our relationship is on break?
SADE : He called it a break. Olu can’t leave you like that. Maybe he wants you to see things his own way.
ENO : Sade, there are now two ways to this. Tell me, what will you do if you discover Dozie is seeing another woman?
SADE : My Dozie can never do that. But if he does, it means the end of the road for us both.
ENO : He knows how to talk his way out of any trouble, remember?
SADE : Not in a cheating case my dear. I have put so much in that relationship physically, monetarily, and materially.
ENO : Dozie is a man and you shouldn’t dare him. I used to dare Olu until I saw him going after that prostitute girl.
SADE : Olu is a good guy.
ENO : I know. Good guys always marry bad girls.
SADE : Meaning?
ENO : I won’t watch that prostitute take my husband before I stop her.
SADE : You should take things easy with Olu and the girl. That is the reason your relationship is on a break. That might be a roundabout way of saying you guys are done.
ENO : If he should leave me for that prostitute girl, then he is a coward. Do you know how many men she would have slept with?
SADE : That’s her problem not yours.
ENO : She is my problem now that she is coming between me and my fiancé.
SADE : You are disturbing yourself over nothing. It is not as if you have an outstanding past. No one, not even Olu, has crucified you for that.
ENO : The last time I checked, my profile is cleaner than yours.
SADE : You really think so? Do you know how many lecturers you slept with just so you could get good grades in school? What about other top managers that you have slept with in this organization before getting to your current position here? If you want to tell anyone that you have a clean profile, it shouldn’t be me.
ENO : See kettle calling pot black. You must have forgotten that I used to arrange men for you in our undergraduate days. We both know that you also slept with the CEO before being promoted this past month.
SADE : Go and tell everybody in the office that I slept with their CEO so that I could be promoted.
ENO : (derisively) Are you angry now? You started it. I only set the records straight.
SADE : Eno, the walls don’t only hear, but can also see now.
ENO : And since when did you start showing concerns for what the walls can see or hear?
SADE : Your voice is getting unusually loud.
ENO : It is always like that anytime I get defensive. (pauses) Sade, we should not be the ones talking about ourselves like this.
SADE : I know. All I am just saying is that we should not crucify the lady for being a prostitute. People like that always have a story to tell.
ENO : She shouldn’t just come between me and my fiancé. Our wedding is in the new year.
SADE : And we should stop cheating on our boyfriends with our managers. If they find out, it will be too bad for us.
ENO : What about promotion at the office?
SADE : Man shall not live by that alone. I believe we can get promoted when we work hard.
ENO : You are right. Besides, it won’t be good for a woman to get richer than her husband, even though it is not a sin.
SADE : Yes. In this part of the world, men call the shot. They are not comfortable with women that are richer than they are.
ENO : Very true. (checking her wristwatch) It is time for me to go. I will see you at the office tomorrow. (she picks her bag and heads for the door)
SADE : Let me see you off.

( The hospital. Amaka is in the doctor’s office)
AMAKA : Doctor, you need to see how much I have dissuaded her from going out with men that she is not familiar with. But she wouldn’t listen. See what she has done to herself now.
BODE : We need to thank her stars that she was rushed here on time. She has been stabilised. I want her to rest before I ask her about what happened at the club.
AMAKA : She was probably drugged and raped.
BODE : You cannot be too sure about that even though she was brought in unconscious last night.
AMAKA : Banke, if anything should happen to you, it is your fault.
BODE : Nothing will happen to her. She just needs time to rest.
AMAKA : But I should be able to see her now.
BODE : Sure.
AMAKA : Good. I will see you before I leave. ( she runs into Olu just as she steps out of the doctor’s office. They hug each other) What are you doing here?
OLU : I should be asking you that. That naughty boy in there is a long time friend.
AMAKA : Okay.
OLU : I hope you are not on his radar. He is a wicked player that we are trying to change.
AMAKA : Banke was rushed in here last night. She was attacked by some good for nothing guys at the club.
OLU : I hope the attack wasn’t too serious.
AMAKA : Not at all. She is getting better, I suppose.
OLU : I will check her before going. She should get well soon so that you won’t be alone in the house, now that Princess has traveled.
AMAKA : Abi o. I was actually going to see her in the ward.
OLU : Okay. Let me quickly see this dirty doctor. You take care.( they hug again before he enters the doctor’s office and then Amaka goes to check Banke. As Olu enters the office, Bode leaves his seat to hug him)
BODE : It’s been a long while my man.
OLU : Sure.
BODE : (he sits on the table facing Olu as he sits on a chair) I am so happy to see you. I can see you know that girl.
OLU : It depends on what you term know. With this look on your face, you sure have a dirty mind.
BODE : Yours is even dirtier. Olu, the man for the ladies. ( they shake hands again before he goes over to his seat)
OLU : I have changed ever since I met Eno.
BODE : That reminds me. I heard you guys will be getting married in a couple of months from now.
OLU : I heard that too.
BODE : Who said so? Are you not the one getting married to her again?
OLU : Bode, we are on break. We have not seen each other for about four weeks now.
BODE : In my lexicon, break means over.
OLU : Maybe.
BODE : But why the sudden break? The girl loves you so much. You are supposed to be preparing for your wedding.
OLU : It all started because of that girl that just left your office. Eno is suspecting me of dating her.
BODE : Eno knows you, everybody knows you. She knows what you can do. No lady will feel safe when her man is getting too close to a lady that should be left for the likes of us that are still searching for a wife.
OLU : That lady is not someone I hope to date. Though she is nice, I just can’t date her.
BODE : You can connect me with her. I love ladies like her.
OLU : I can arrange for you guys to meet. She is a really nice lady, only if you can afford her.
BODE : It depends on what you termed afford, whether physical or otherwise.
OLU : Whatever. May God bless your dirty mind.
BODE : And yours too. But I am serious about the girl, Olu. Tell me some things about her.
OLU : If there’s anything you want to know about her, it should be from the horse’s mouth. But I can help with her address.
BODE : You are even close to her more than I think. Why are you then saying you guys are not… ( he makes a sign with his hand and they both laugh)
OLU : I swear. I have been a good boy for Eno, and she has not disappointed either. The only thing is that she gets unreasonably jealous some of the times.
BODE : Who would not be? What lady will not be bothered seeing her man around a beautiful lady like that? Keeping quiet is like playing with fire.
OLU : She should learn how to trust me as her future husband.
BODE : How will she learn that now that you two are on break from the relationship?
OLU : Your questions are too much. I am not here to be quizzed by you.
BODE : You should have known me for that by now.
OLU : When you see Eno, tell her she must learn how to trust me. If not, the break will mean over.
BODE : Even you, you always tell me you don’t trust anybody. She must have learnt that from you.
OLU : Bode, let me get going now. (he stands up)
BODE : Wait. (he hands him a small paper and a pen) The address. I can’t miss out on that.
OLU : (hisses as he collects the paper and pen) You can never change.
BODE : No arguments. Just give me the address. ( they both exchange knowing glances, Olu shakes his head as he returns the paper and pen to Bode. Thereafter, they go out of the office together)
( The hospital. Dozie is with the doctor in his office, both men looking serious)
DOZIE : ( he breathes deep) John, thank you.
JOHN: (he nods thoughtfully) I know what is going on in your mind right now. You see, contacting HIV is not the end of life.
DOZIE : Very true. I just feel so bad about myself. I know I have been philandering a lot, but I don’t deserve HIV.
JOHN : Nobody deserves it.
DOZIE : Only God knows how I got this.
JOHN : It must have been one of those nights you were getting down with some of your numerous girlfriends.
DOZIE : Sade and Joy don’t have it.
JOHN : You can’t say. Have you seen their test results?
DOZIE : I don’t need that before I know they don’t have.
JOHN : That means you are really seeing many other girls apart from Sade and Joy.
DOZIE : Not really. The fact is I used to have unprotected sex with a lot of random girls at the club.
JOHN : And one of those random girls has given you this. You see, Dozie, you are not careful enough. Many of these girls at the club have dangerous diseases in their body.
DOZIE : You are not incorrect. It is as if my world is coming to an end now.
JOHN : It is not.
DOZIE : My father was right when he said that what one knows how to do best often kills him.
JOHN : That is if you’re not careful. For some years now, sex is like a food to you. And you can see where that has led you. I can’t begin to imagine the number of other innocent girls you have infected with this now.
DOZIE : I don’t care. I will spread this disease like wildfire to every lady that comes my way.
JOHN : That will not change the fact that you have the infection. By now, you would have learnt that prevention is better than cure.
DOZIE : John, you will never understand. I tried protecting myself, but it just didn’t work. Some of the times, you would have done the thing before realizing you are unprotected..
JOHN : Anyway, this is not the end of the world for you. I will give you some drugs that will help battle the virus and prevent it from spreading quickly.
DOZIE : Thank you. But you must make sure that this remains between us. None of the things we are discussing here should go out of the door.
JOHN : You have nothing to worry about. I have rules I work by. That rule include doctor and patient confidentiality.
DOZIE : I know I can always trust you.
JOHN : Sure. I really do pity your girlfriend now. You have ruined her.
DOZIE : They ruined their lives themselves. They always want it unprotected.
JOHN : You know that last time I saw you at the club making out with the girls, I was surprised. This is you that always campaign for safe sex in our undergraduate days. You always tell us to be faithful to our girlfriends.
JOHN : You are right. But all that changed when Joy came my way. She enjoyed it and it will be as if I am not man enough if I shy away from it. Then Sade came. You need to see this girl. She is smoking hot and irresistible.
JOHN : And you have given them the disease too.
DOZIE : Well, I don’t know I have the infection until today. I hope you are not blaming me here. We are all at fault. They gave me free sex so that I could stay in the relationship with them. I gave them the virus because I don’t know my HIV status.
JOHN : I am sure they won’t forgive you for that.
DOZIE : The same way I am not going to forgive the girl that infected me at the club.
JOHN : This is really serious. I really do feel for you. Anyway, if you use the antiretroviral drugs that I will recommend for you, you can live with the disease for a long time. This does not mean you can no longer transmit the virus. So you must continuously take the drugs and adhere to other secondary preventive measures so you can maintain your health quality.
DOZIE : Thank you.
JOHN : And please don’t transmit the virus to to other people.
DOZIE : Okay. I will have to start writing my will now. I have met my waterloo. But if I see that girl that gave me this, I will cut off her head.
JOHN : Only if that would cure you of the infection.
DOZIE : You are now sounding like one good doctor! Don’t worry. Your own is coming.
JOHN : You know I am always careful. I have never for once loose my guard.
DOZIE : This is what I am going to live with for the rest of my life.
JOHN : You brought this on yourself. Just stick to your medications and you are good to go. Nobody will know about it.
DOZIE : Thank you. I have to go now. (they shake hands and then he goes out as John shakes his head in pity)

(Amaka’s apartment. She is with Bode)
BODE : (surveying the living room) You have a really nice apartment here.
AMAKA : (she smiles broadly) Thank you. Make yourself comfortable while I get something for us to eat and drink.
BODE : That can wait. I am here for something serious.
AMAKA : Really? The way you objected to the idea of getting something for us to eat makes me feel like you don’t believe I can make good food.
BODE : Man shall not live by food alone but by recognising what and what he needs to do and doing them.
AMAKA : What can be so serious that you wouldn’t even eat the first time you are coming here to see me? You have been working all day.
BODE : Amaka, I am here for you. You are my interest and not the food.
AMAKA : Bode, I have told you we can never be more than friends. Don’t you love our friendship?
BODE : For how long am I going to be friends with the woman that my heart is longing for, the woman I want to walk down the aisle?
AMAKA : I feel the same way too. But you see, I have a complicated past.
BODE : That has always been your excuse. I know you are too good to be an armed robber or an assassin. What then is so complicated about your past that you wouldn’t want to date me?
AMAKA : Many things, Bode, many things. I don’t want to mention any of it to you because I value your friendship and I wouldn’t want to lose that.
BODE : You might as well lose the friendship if you wouldn’t tell me what is so complicated about your past.
AMAKA : You will never understand.
BODE : Make me understand. Amaka, there is no past you cannot move on from.
AMAKA : I have done that. The point is I am too bad for you. You deserve a better woman, a woman whose past can never come back to haunt her.
BODE : Amaka, don’t put me in the dark here.
AMAKA : I thought Olu has told you everything about me.
BODE : He only told me about how you both met and nothing more.
AMAKA : In that case, Bode, can you marry a prostitute?
BODE : What has that got to do with you and me dating ourselves?
AMAKA : Answer my question.
BODE : If I am paid a million dollars to do that, I won’t do it. There are far many decent women in the world.
AMAKA : That is the more reason you cannot marry me. I was a prostitute until I met Olu.
BODE : Amaka, I love you and I can marry you irrespective of what you are. But my people will never be able to put up with that. My father is an honourable. Imagine I introduce you to his friends and few of them have got you laid.
AMAKA : I know. But all that was in the past now.
BODE : There is truly no man without a past. But my dear, yours is a scandalous one. Amaka, don’t be discouraged. Perhaps I wasn’t meant for you.
AMAKA : You just said you love me.
BODE : With all of my being.
AMAKA : Do you have something else to say?
BODE : Sure. We can stay as friends with benefit now that your past has prevented me from getting serious with you.
AMAKA : No, Bode. I thought you would understand. But you don’t understand a bit.
BODE : I understand. That’s why I want to remain as friends with you.
AMAKA : Now get out of my house. You have ruined my day.
BODE : I know. You can go to Olu that understands everything about having a prostitute friend.
AMAKA : Just go. I never want to see you again.
BODE : Amaka, don’t be so hard on me. If you were me, you will say this same thing.
BODE : I know you care about me. Don’t let this change that.
AMAKA : Care about you? Not after this. Just go away.
BODE : I will. Say me well to Princess. ( he pecks her on the cheek and goes out gently as Amaka sits dejectedly on the floor)
(Later that day at Olu’s apartment. )
OLU : You saw Amaka and fell in love with her.
BODE : You should have told me she was a prostitute before I got too much involved with her.
OLU : Whether or not I told you she was, it wouldn’t change a thing. You are too good to marry a prostitute.
BODE : If I were your brother, will you be telling me to marry a prostitute?
OLU : If I were your brother, I will only tell you to follow your heart.
BODE : How can I marry a prostitute?
OLU : Because you love her, Bode. You always melt at the sight of her.
BODE : Who knows how many men she had slept with?!
OLU : And how many women have you slept with yourself?
BODE : Olu, she is a woman. Woman are supposed to be decent when it comes to their body.
OLU : And men should not be?
BODE : I always know you have feminist tendencies. See, Olu, this is a man’s world. We can do anything we want at anytime we want it. But women? They have no such power. They are ours to use for pleasure because that is what they have always been.
OLU : ( he shakes his head gently) Men like you belong to primitive societies. Now I see why you are unable to keep a relationship with a woman. You only want to be around women only for the pleasure and not who they are as helpmates.
BODE : These days women have proven themselves to be some shameless bitch.
OLU : Including Amaka your girlfriend?
BODE : Well, I don’t know what you are talking about. I just know that I have too many of them at my beck and call because my father is an honourable.
OLU : Why do you still want to add Amaka to the long list of women?
BODE : She is in a class of her own. What I feel for her is genuine love.
OLU : I know. It is showing all over you. But what about the other women?
BODE : There are no other women. I am only involved with Amaka now.
OLU : She was a prostitute, remember?
BODE : Does that change a thing?
OLU : You make it seems so. She needs to break away from prostitution.
BODE : For you, break does not mean over. That means she can still go back to it.
OLU : Only if you allow her do that. If you really love her as you said, then you will go back and tell her you are a fool for making her less a human because she once was a prostitute.
BODE : She never wants to see me again.
OLU : Women always say that. But they don’t mean it anytime they said that. What they are saying is that they need time to clear their head.
BODE : I will think about it.
OLU : Good. If you will excuse me, I have to see someone now.
BODE : Alright. I will see you in church tomorrow then.
OLU : Sure. You know I wouldn’t miss Sunday service for anything in this world.

( Amaka’s apartment. She is sitting on a settee, crying. She looks on as Princess comes to join her in the living room, also crying and dressed in black)
PRINCESS : (wiping off her tears as she sits down facing Amaka) So Banke is truly gone. This whole thing is still like a dream. We were all sitting down here when she got that call and……(she breaks down in fresh tears)
AMAKA : Going to a night club is now like the surest way to die. Last month, it was Moji and Ifeoma who were drugged, raped and killed. And this month it was our own Banke.
PRINCESS : God knows how many times I have warned her to stop going out with unknown guys. But she wouldn’t listen.
AMAKA : See where that has landed her now.
PRINCESS : If this is how people die without notifying their loved ones, then I really need to change. I could have been the one that got killed at the club. That would have been the end.
AMAKA : Exactly.
PRINCESS : I won’t allow that to happen to me. I am so afraid of death now.
AMAKA : Who is not afraid of the unsolicited visitor? Once it comes knocking on your door, you must follow it.
PRINCESS : Men are too wicked for my liking. I am glad that the police has nabbed the killers and they confessed to the crime.
AMAKA : But there is also needs for us to also be more careful with those we go out with. These days very few people can really be trusted.
PRINCESS : There is really nobody to be trusted. Oh, Banke! Your killers won’t go unpunished. I know you can see and hear all now. Say me well to my late mother. Tell her of my intention to change to a better person.
AMAKA : Everything that has happened in this past months are signs for me to embrace a more beautiful life.
PRINCESS : Amaka, you are very right. We really need to………. (she stops as she hears a knock on the door) Hold on, I am coming. (she goes to open the door and Olu comes in quietly)
OLU : ( he shakes hand with Princess and hugs Amaka) Bode just told me about Banke. I am very sorry.(he sits on a settee to Amaka’s right hand side) May her good soul rest in peace.
AMAKA : Thank you for stopping by to share in our sorrow.
PRINCESS : This is so good of you.
OLU : We are like family now. Whatever happens to any of you affects me too. Friendship is about sharing both good and bad times together.
PRINCESS : Many people don’t know that.
OLU : I am still surprised about her death. She was a vain girl. In fact, she was so lively the last time I saw her at the hospital.
AMAKA : She was always lively. But how she landed herself in the company of those guys is what I still don’t understand.
OLU : Evil communication not only corrupts good manner, but also kills.
PRINCESS : I don’t know how her mother would receive the news of her death. If she gets to know, she might die.
AMAKA : She is old already.
OLU : There is a way the family will break the news to her. Besides, as an old woman, she might have a premonition of the death already.
PRINCESS : The family will handle that part. They will determine who or not to tell about her death.
OLU : I know how hard it is for you to cope with her absence. Death has again robbed nature one of her good women.
AMAKA : We can only hope that we all live long enough to survive her. For now, our solace is in the fact that the guys that killed her are in the police custody.
PRINCESS : Such men don’t deserve to be around the rest of us. Her death will surely haunt them forever.
OLU : We can only pray for God’s protection at a time like this when death is everywhere.
AMAKA : Princess and I will be going to visit her family tomorrow. I hope you won’t mind coming with us.
OLU : I have a long schedule for tomorrow already. I am very sorry.
PRINCESS : You have nothing to worry about.
OLU : Keep me abreast of every arrangement for her burial. She must be given a befitting burial.
AMAKA : That is our duty.
OLU : But before then, I want you to remain strong for her. You both have to stop crying. If you cry from today till tomorrow, it won’t bring her back to us.
PRINCESS : You are right.
OLU : I have to see someone now. But you must first promise me that you won’t cry after I leave.
PRINCESS : We won’t.
AMAKA : Thank you Olu, for coming around.
OLU : Bode also sends her condolence.
AMAKA : Whatever. Let us see you off.
OLU : You don’t worry. Pull yourselves together.
PRINCESS : Where I come from, it is important for you to see people off when they pay a condolence visit.
OLU : It’s alright. ( they all go out)

( Dozie’s apartment. He is sitting down on a settee while Joy rests her head on his shoulder)
JOY : I have told you not to mention her name anytime I am with you.
DOZIE : She is the reason I am in this apartment. She paid for everything here, all in the hope of getting me to marry her.
JOY : Little did she know that she has been fetching water in a basket. I really do pity her.
DOZIE : That is her reward for being too desperate to get married.
JOY : It is not her fault. She is old enough for marriage.
DOZIE : Do I look like someone that wants marriage?
JOY : And that means what?
DOZIE : I am saying I can’t marry her for anything. She is only wasting her time by thinking I am her fiancé or something.
JOY : By the time she realises that she has been a prey all along, she…….. (she stops as Sade walks in. She adjusts herself on the settee as Sade comes to the centre of the living room)
SADE : (tears forming in her eyes) So it is true.
DOZIE : What is true? You really don’t think I will marry you.
SADE : I thought you are someone I could trust. What do you want that I din’t give you? I gave you my money, my body, my time. Is this the best way to repay me? You are such an ingrate.
DOZIE : Sade, you had it with your CEO and I acted as if I don’t know about it. I know a day like this would come and finally it is here.
JOY : You mean she has added prostitution to her desperation? It is such a pity you have to find out about us this way.
DOZIE : Sade, I thought you are a decent girl I could marry until I showed your pictures to my friend in Calabar. He was the one that told me he had used the best of you in the university.
SADE : But you said whatever it is I have done in the past does not matter.
DOZIE : You never truly change. You still sleep with managers in your office.
SADE : Why do you make me believe we have a perfect relationship?
DOZIE : I was playing along. At a time, I decided that the best way to punish you for disappointing me was to use and dump you.
SADE : (she starts crying) You are a wicked soul.
JOY : (pitifully) My dear, you need not cry. You can’t eat your cake and have it. Your own man is waiting for you somewhere else. As for me and Dozie, we are together forever.
DOZIE : Joy, that is my problem with you. You always give yourself hope where there is none.
JOY : What are you talking about?
DOZIE : The doctor you contacted to abort my child told me everything. Joy, what authority do you have to abort my child?
JOY : I did that for us. I thought you are not ready to father a child yet. You always said you want to enjoy your bachelor’s life for some time.
DOZIE : And since when you have you started taking life decisions in my behalf?
JOY : Dozie, I am sorry. I actually did that for us. When we get married, we will give birth to fine children.
DOZIE : Nothing in this life can make me marry you. Even if there is afterlife, I still won’t marry you.
SADE : My dear, there is nothing like you and Dozie again. We are both played and preyed on by this guy that doesn’t forgive people.
JOY : Sade, if you don’t have anything good to say, please maintain your silence.
DOZIE : Let me tell you girls now. I am not ready for marriage anytime soon, not even in four years.
JOY : And you made us believe otherwise?
DOZIE : How would I have got two beautiful girls to grace my bed if not for that? You both want marriage at all cost. And me? I am player that knows how to play along.
SADE : Is it a sin for me to desire to get married?
DOZIE : It is a sin when you can’t see through lies men tell. I am a wrong guy to think of getting married to.
JOY : Only God will judge between us.
DOZIE : That cannot change the fact that I have used and dumped you. Next time, you should not make yourselves so vulnerable or you will forever remain a victim of lies and deception.
SADE : You are wicked.
DOZIE : Wicked? Have I told you I am HIV positive? The doctor confirmed that two months ago.
JOY : Dozie, why don’t you just kill me? How come you never told me you have such disease?
DOZIE : Because you are so eager to give out your body to keep me in the relationship. Besides, a woman like you gave me the disease.
SADE : I am finished. Dozie, you have finished me. Is this my reward for trusting you?
JOY : You used me and then gave me a deadly disease. This is too bad of you. The spirit of my late father will punish you.
DOZIE : I am sorry you guys have to find out this way. If you guys will excuse me, I am going to the hospital to get my drugs.
SADE : I paid for this apartment with my money.
DOZIE : And my name is on the receipt. That makes it my apartment. What more do you want to say, hmm?
JOY : (sobbing) You will surely pay for this. I promise you that.
SADE : (pitifully) So my years are numbered.
DOZIE : All of our days are numbered. You are not alone.
JOY : Go to hell. That is where men like you belong to.

( The following day at Eno’s apartment. She is sitting down on the floor, facing Sade who is sitting on a couch looking sad)
ENO : Sade, I cannot pretend to know how you feel. That Dozie is a beast.
SADE : That is my reward for being so foolishly and sheepishly in love with a man that doesn’t even have an iota of love for me.
ENO : No, you are not a fool. You only do what you have to do to keep your man.
SADE : And see what that has done to me now. (she breaks down in fresh tears) Eno, I am finished.
ENO : Sade, you are not finished. You would be finished when you take this infection as a death sentence.
SADE : It is surely a death sentence. My days are numbered.
ENO : Don’t say that again. The virus is still in the early stage of its development. There are drugs that can suppress its growth.
SADE : What about the stigma? Who would associate himself or herself with me?
ENO : Sade, I am here for you.
SADE : I know and I appreciate that. But what about other friends?
ENO : There is no way they will know once you take your medications regularly (pauses) Are you thinking I am going to tell them?
SADE : No.
ENO : You are my friend and I will do anything to protect your image in trying times like this.
SADE : What about my position at the office? The management might soon find out that I have the virus.
ENO : That is if we allow them to know.
SADE : How do you mean?
ENO : I am woman, and a powerful one at that.
SADE : Okay?
ENO : So when I say you have nothing to worry about, I really do mean you have nothing to worry about.
SADE : For how long am I going to keep my HIV status a secret?
ENO : You can go ahead and tell everybody about it. My dear, some things are better kept as secret and this is one of them.
SADE : The test was carried out at the company’s hospital. The doctor will surely tell the management about it.
ENO : The doctor is a good friend. Leave him to me. As for keeping everything a secret, It is already a secre. And this one that you are looking like the whole world is crashing down on you, I need you to wear good looks. That you have HIV does not mean you can’t have a good life.
SADE : That will be very hard.
ENO : It has happened already and you have to keep up with it. You just make sure you keep to your medications.
SADE : If the drugs will work.
ENO : You are in the most difficult period of your life now.
SADE : Nothing else can be more difficult than having to live with an incurable infection for the rest of your life.
ENO : I was the one that convinced you to go into a relationship with Dozie in the first place. This is the reason I am so bothered.
SADE : Stop saying that. There was no way you would have known he has such infection then.
ENO : I know. But I just feel bothered about this whole thing. First, he cheated on you and then he gave you the virus.
SADE : By choosing to go to bed with him, I infected myself. It was all my fault that I thought I could keep him in the relationship by sleeping with him.
ENO : I still wouldn’t blame you. Dozie is the wicked one here. He made you so attached to him that you realize too late he is so bad.
SADE : When it comes to being wicked, Dozie will give Satan a run for his wickedness. I have accepted this as my fate though.
ENO : But it doesn’t stop you from being the person you have always been, beautiful and charming.
SADE : You always know how to put a smile on my face.
ENO : That is my work as your best friend. And you know what you will do for me? Make sure you don’t let this gets too much into you.
SADE : You will make me happier when you call off your break with Olu.
ENO : I will work on that if it will make you happy.
SADE : I can’t wait to see you guys back together. You are so good together.

(Amaka’s apartment. She sits on the dining, typing on her laptop and smiling to herself. Princess comes towards her, dressed in a blue jean and a red buttoned shirt)
AMAKA :(looking up) I thought you are out already.
PRINCESS : Not at all.(she closes Amaka’s laptop) Who have you been chatting with all day that you didn’t even know if I am out of the house or not?
AMAKA : chuckles Olu. He wants me to help him beg his girlfriend. They have not been on good terms because of me.
PRINCESS : And you agree to beg her for him? Amaka, I thought you are smarter than this. (she draws a chair and sits down) This is the Olu you have been fantasizing about. Now that he is not having it all good with his woman, you now want to act like a magistrate that settle disputes? Wake up girl!
AMAKA : Olu belongs to another woman. Yes, I had a crush on him the first day.
AMAKA : If going back to his woman will make him happy, I will gladly help out. My own man will come for me.
PRINCESS : (sniffs) You have been saying that since the days of Bode. That young man has been begging you to come back since.
AMAKA : He really offended me.
PRINCESS : Apart from Bode, no man has showed up here to woo you, so?
AMAKA : Princess, because you have a boyfriend that is cool with everything about you does not mean I will never have mine.
PRINCESS : Dream on beloved. But no matter how hard you try, you will never get a man that is as good as my Emmanuel. Even Bode cannot match him.
AMAKA : Don’t mention his name in my ears again.
PRINCESS : As if you don’t care about him any longer, even more than you do the almighty Olu.
AMAKA : You are right. But I can’t get myself to forgive him for everything he said to me.
PRINCESS : My dear, they are true. Truth is bitter you know, but it must be told.
AMAKA : It still doesn’t matter. If he truly loves me, he would never have hurt me with his words. Now I know every man cannot be like Olu.
PRINCESS : The same Olu that you would never agree to date.
AMAKA : The same Olu that is working his way back to his girlfriend.
PRINCESS : You let him.
AMAKA : How?
PRINCESS : We will talk about that when I get back from my date with Emmanuel. (she returns the chair, grabs her bag and goes out)
AMAKA : (talking to herself) This is the best moment of my life. I am now totally free from the past. I know…… (she stops as she hears footsteps approaching. She shakes visibly as she hears a knock on the door) Come in. The door is not locked. (the door opens and Bode comes in. She closes the laptop and moves to block him) I have told you never to come near here again. (frankly) Bode, what are you doing here?
BODE : (he smiles as he surveys the room) This place is still as beautiful as ever.
AMAKA : (feigning annoyance) That is not the answer to my question.
BODE 🙁 turns to look at her) Won’t you at least allow me to sit down?
AMAKA : And what if I don’t?
BODE : I will do myself the honour. (he goes over to sit down)
AMAKA : (she turns to face him) Bode, you really do think I am unserious about you not being welcomed in my house.
BODE : Amaka, this look on your face is saying something else. (he stands up to hold her hands but she pushes his hand away)
AMAKA : Don’t you dare touch me.
BODE : Tell me you no longer care about me.
AMAKA : I used to, but not anymore.
BODE : After saying those things to you, I felt like the most miserable man on earth. I am very sorry about the whole thing.
AMAKA : Sorry is a very cheap word. If indeed you are sorry about all what you said, you would have been here the next day to .
BODE : I know. All this while I was trying to convince myself that you are truly the woman for me.
AMAKA : You mean you are trying to convince yourself that a wretched prostitute like me is the best woman for you?
BODE : I was very wrong to have called you a prostitute. Olu has explained everything to me and I can see I am not in the best position to judge you by your past. I have come to understand that all of us have a past.
AMAKA : No, you don’t understand a thing. If you do, then you will know that this woman here is no longer interested in you.( she wants to walk away but he quickly hold her by the hand)
BODE : Amaka, I wouldn’t here if I am not sorry.
AMAKA : (she gently drops his hand) Bode, I know you are sorry. And I have forgiven you.
BODE : But it doesn’t look like it. I agreed that I allowed my holier-than-thou attitude to get the best of me.(he breathes deep) Amaka, can we be friends again?
AMAKA : We have never been enemies.
BODE : I do really want to be with you, again. I love you so much. I don’t know why you are not seeing that.
AMAKA : It is showing all over you. You are a good man. But I am serious when I said we should remain as friends.
BODE : I am not asking you to be my girlfriend. I just want to be close to you like we have always been.
AMAKA : Okay?
BODE : Now that you have forgiven me, I can be at peace with myself.
AMAKA : Who am I that I wouldn’t forgive?
BODE : Thank you for forgiving me. I have to be on my way now.
AMAKA : Not again. Let me quickly prepare something for you to eat.
BODE : You have forgiven me and that’s enough food for me.
AMAKA : I insist.
BODE : I will surely make it up to you. But right now, I have to be somewhere. ( he kisses her forehead and turns to go away)
AMAKA : (gently) Bode! ( he stops and then turns to face her)
BODE : What is it?
AMAKA : (she walks toward him) No man has made me so happy the way you do. Bode, I love you so much.
BODE : But why are you hiding it?
AMAKA : I never thought you would accept me with my past.
BODE : Well, I have.
AMAKA : Thank you.
BODE : Amaka, you are the most beautiful woman alive. Your past means nothing to me now. We both love ourselves, that’s the most important thing.
AMAKA : (she wraps her hand around his neck) I k…..( he stops her with a deep kiss)
BODE : Don’t say anything again.
AMAKA : Okay?
BODE : You go inside and dress very well. I am taking you out to celebrate this.
AMAKA : ( happily) Really? ( she kisses him and then goes inside while Bode throws himself on the settee)

( The restaurant. Olu is sitting down holding a glass of juice, facing Eno who look unhappy)
ENO : Olu, if you have anything to say to me, why not say it? I have only agreed to be here with you on the condition that you don’t waste my time.
OLU : You can leave then.
ENO : I thought you have changed.
OLU : Change?
ENO : Yes. You are too proud.
OLU : Will you listen to me or not?
ENO : (she drops her glass of juice on the table and grabs her bag) I am not under any obligation to listen to you. I am here because of the love we once shared.
OLU : Don’t tell me you are beginning to see someone else.
ENO : And what if I have been seeing another man?
OLU : So you have broken up with me?!
ENO : By putting our relationship on a long break, yes, I have broken up with you.
OLU : I am the man here. I should be the one to call things off with you.
ENO : You did that the moment you said we should give our relationship a break. I am a successful career woman. No man can treat me the way he wants.
OLU : That means you no longer love me?
ENO : (strongly) Yes, Mr Olu Akinola. I have stopped loving you the moment you chose that prostitute girl over me.
OLU : She is not a prostitute. Besides, I never chose her over you.
ENO : That is a roundabout way of saying I don’t know what I am saying.
OLU : Not at all. I thought I could live without you. But Eno, I couldn’t. You are the only woman I love.
ENO : And the prostitute girl that made you break up with me?( Olu breathes deep as Eno sniffs and turns her face away from him) You are still in love with her. Why are you here disturbing me?
OLU : I never loved her. I was close to her because I want her to change.
ENO : And now?
OLU : She has found love. She is engaged to a man now.
ENO : ( she turns to face him) I am beginning to understand this whole thing.( she pours herself a cup of juice and empty the glass in a gulp) You thought you could get her to replace me and then turn me to a side chick. Now that things are not working as you planned, you are running back to me? Olu, do you think I don’t have a choice than to accept you?
OLU : I have never thought about breaking up with you.
ENO : We had a good relationship going on until you said we should give ourselves a break.
OLU : I was very stupid for that. I was only trying to make you see things my own way.
ENO : There are better ways to do that without breaking up with me.
OLU : I never broke up with you. Don’t complicate things here.
ENO : Is that not what you did? For three months, we were not communicating as lovers should.
OLU : Eno, I know I have been so foolish about this whole break of a thing. I realized my mistake when I did not talk to you for two weeks. At that period, the words of my father that I always force people to do what I want hit me like a bullet.
ENO : Olu, what is the purpose of this meeting?
OLU : Very simple. I want us to… I want us to start all over again.
ENO : Well, that is not very simple because I am beginning to enjoy the break.
OLU : Why are you like this? Why is it so hard for you to forget everything about our past?
ENO : Because it was so easy for you to see me as being unreasonably jealous when I saw you getting too close to another woman. How am I sure there won’t be another prostitute that you want to talk out of prostitution?
OLU : This is not you talking. Eno, I know how bad I made you feel and I am very sorry.
ENO : You are always sorry about everything. When will you stop being sorry and do what you have to do?
OLU : I will stop being sorry when you decide to be my woman again. I have missed you so much.
ENO : ( she breathes deep) Olu!
OLU : I am not unserious about how much I have missed you.
ENO : I have also missed you too. I thought you would never come back after the break.
OLU : That would have been my end. You are my breath.
ENO : And you are my life. I am sorry for misunderstanding you about the girl and everything.
OLU : You have nothing to be sorry about. Every good woman will not be seeing her man with another woman and not raise an eyebrow.
ENO : But I overdid that.
OLU : It’s okay. That’s all in the past now. ( he holds her hands across the table) Your hands are still as warm as ever.
ENO : You don’t expect them to change so soon.
OLU : Yes.
ENO: I hope you have not forgotten about our wedding in the new year.
OLU : My dear, new year is in two days.
ENO : It still doesn’t matter.
OLU : Don’t worry. Now that we are back, I will never let you of my sight.
ENO : And I won’t let anything come in between us.
OLU : Like Amaka? Well, she is engaged to Bode my friend. They have both relocated to Sweden to start a new life together.
ENO : It is good that Bode is now finally off the market.
OLU : The same way you and I would be in the new year when we finally get married and you become Mrs Eno Akinola.
ENO : But first, you have to pay my bride price.
OLU : I know. I can’t wait to pay that to make you mine.
ENO : I can’t wait to be Mrs Akinola too.
OLU : By the time this period is over, we will go over to a new chapter of our lives.
ENO : I can’t wait to start that chapter with you.
OLU : Same here.
Lights out.

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