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Jibowu, Lagos .
The smell of a decomposing fetus had greeted the neighbors for two days now. “Can these young girls not keep their business far from our wastebins?” Mama Caro asked. “If they chose to play the game, couldn’t they play by the rules?” another Sir Clem added.
They say it’s the oldest profession known to man. Maybe that’s why it’s so lucrative. It’s “street walking” or in more definite terms, prostitution. And Lagos truly has it’s fair share of the business. One of the traders in this business was Mercy. Let’s enter into the world of a Lagos-based professional hooker.
“Merciless” was her street name and she didn’t start out as a whore. She was a little girl who grew up in the wrong family.
Her dad, an unemployed drunkard was a total jerk. Lazy was the best word to describe Ben Okoli. He just never saw reason to commit himself to any job. The last job he had was as a mechanic apprentice for two weeks. He was a total failure and it sort of rubbed off on his only son, Michael.
But Mr. Ben Okoli was once a fine gentleman who just wanted to give his family the best. Gambling got the better part of him and one thing led to another. Soon he was stealing his wife’s money to buy booze.
Mrs. Chika Okoli wasn’t educated and she only learn to speak pidgin english after her husband brought her to Lagos to live the lagos-life. He had promised her parents that he would take care of their daughter and had money enough to pay her brideprice back in 1999 when they got married. She was already carrying his baby anyways so her parents had no choice. Rather than face the shame of their daughter’s pregnancy, why not allow her to marry her dream man. Chika’s father swore on his mother’s grave he never wanted to set his eyes on her if she chose to marry Ben. Love makes you do foolish things. And so Mr and Mrs Okoli started a family. Michael was born and soon Mercy too.
Dream family for Chika, but it comes with its price. The kids were growing up and it became obvious that she was a liability to her husband when he became irrational about the littlest of things. He wasn’t paying the bills on time and so Chika started job-hunting too. But without any school leaving certificate, her options were skewed to the left. The landlord was going to kick them out of the house and Ben had spent all his money on God knows what. Poor Chika did what she had to do with the landlord. Rumors leaked and Ben got torn apart. He then spiralled down emotionally rather than man-up and take care of his home. Alcohol was his easy way to get the thoughts off his head.
Chika would then realise that her man wasn’t ready to be supportive and since he didn’t confront her with the facts, it appeared that he consented to her actions. At least they had an understanding. She became bolder over the years and soon, she got the rewards for her hardwork. Her eyes turned yellow, skin became friable, urine turned dark and sadly enough, she was breastfeeding her third child. Chiamaka was only four months old when she first fell ill and doctors diagnosed her of hepatitis. She must have gotten it from somewhere, “maybe from her mother, or from one of her siblings” one of the doctors suggested. A family screening revealed that only Chika was positive. Ben may have been lazy, but he was smart enough to protect himself. Michael and Mercy were only fourteen and twelve years old when their mother passed on at the Teaching Hospital in 2013. Two months later, they watched their youngest sister die at home as they couldn’t afford money for antiviral medications the doctors had prescribed. Was Mr Okoli any shocked? Definitely not! Chiamaka wasn’t his daughter anyways.
Michael then figured out that he had to be a man. At age fourteen, he was wise enough to know that he had to fend for himself and Mercy, else they risked death by starvation. He was willing to do anything to save the day. But maybe he wasn’t smart enough about it. His gang got caught by the police for robbing a bank and voila, he was sent to jail. Two years passed and he was released and by the time he came back, Mercy knew that her brother wasn’t the same again. He would spend late nights outside the house and soon, he was back to jail. This time, with a life sentence for second degree murder.
Mercy had only one family member left; Her dad. And Mr Ben Okoli loved his only daughter beyond measure. He once tried to turn a new leaf so he could see her through school knowing she had potential. But booze got the better part of him one night and Mercy saw her loving father holding a knife at her. That night, innocent Mercy was broken to pieces.
She fled from home after the violation. How could he do that to her? He literally held a knife to her throat while she was sleeping and had his way with her. Mercy fled for her life after the incident and you could be sure she ran to her friend’s house at Jibowu, a bus-stop away from their house at Yaba. Tina was the only friend she knew would take her in at 3AM in the morning. Tina lived in a single room in one downtown ramshackle of a house and fortunately she didn’t have any customer that night. She quickly let Mercy in who was crying and had blood stains on her skirt. She knew what happened on seeing her friend before Mercy even uttered a word. Hadn’t Mercy begged her for money earlier in the day to buy sanitary pads? How could someone have done that to her on her period? Tina herself had been abused by her uncle a year back so she knew the drill quite well.
Tina provided food and shelter over the next few weeks; and some good financial advise too. “Use what you have to get what you want” she would always tell Mercy. She was quite persuasive and by the time the food rations started reducing, Mercy knew that she had to join in.
Soon, Tina introduced Mercy to the business. Mercy, new to the streets, found it difficult blending. She would often come back home crying to Tina on how the men didn’t want to use any protection and she had to oblige on some occasions. Tina knew the right guy to call when Mercy started having what seemed like morning sickness. The job had its risks and Mnet was always to the rescue. He was a medical student at LUTH and had some surgical skills. But everything in this world has a price. Mnet’s bill was just 10,000 naira and a round with his patient. Mercy didn’t have so much money at the time so had to bargain down to 6,000 naira and four rounds. By the time he was done with her, she felt empty. She want sure whether it was the heavy pounding or the forceps that caused the cramps she was having. He gave her the nylon bag to dispose of and that explained the smell that plagued the neighbors for days.
Tina got a complaint call from the landlord few days later and she had no choice but to yell at her pale friend. “O girl, you have to play by the rules o. I don’t want to get kicked out of here anytime soon o“. Mercy was too frail to answer her. She had lost so much blood from the procedure. She was ready to be street-smart and by the time she was back on her feet, Mercy adopted the name Merciless!
Oriental Hotel, Lekki Lagos.
“I saw a girl go in with him and come out all alone so quickly” the receptionist said to the police officers.
Senator I.P. Ibrahim was found dead in his hotel room and the Homicide Department of the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos command were already at the crime scene. It was a single bullet through his head. No signs of struggle, no murder weapon, no CCTV in the room and they could work with was an eyewitness account that the girl that was with Senator Ibrahim was about 5ft 10in tall and she wore a wig. The surveillance camera in the parking lot only showed her side view with sunglasses were big enough to conceal parts of her face the wig didn’t cover.
“So we’re dealing with a prostitute who comes in with a Senator, kills him and didn’t run with his money? The story doesn’t add up” CSP Okanlawon barked Detective James and John as they stood puzzled before him.
“J and J, you both had better cracked this case before weekend. The Commissioner is already on my neck and I want this case closed as soon as possible” he yelled as he dismissed both of them. Detective James gazed at his partner, John. They had work to do and they better start digging for evidence. CSP Okanlawon had a bad temper and they knew better than to flare it up.
Tina’s apartment in Jibowu, that same night
Merciless Mercy ran into the room as scared as a cat being pursued by a pack of dogs. Tina was a little under the weather that evening and couldn’t go with her to Senator’s place. She was shocked to see her friend in that state. “Talk to me Mercy, wetin happen, why are you back so early?”
What happened in that hotel room?
Did Merciless Mercy kill Senator Ibrahim?
Poverty pushes people to extremes. Would you say that Mercy was a victim of poverty from her background story?
Comment your views down below! And be on the lookout for the story’s continuation on Saturday. But tomorrow, we’d be loading this page with Poetry like never before.. See ya😀
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