As soon as I walked into Iya Rosa’s kitchen, I told myself ‘Senorita! Dis place no be ya portion laiye…’
The kitchen was very big and quite messy too as the whole place was filled with flies, dirty bowls of finished soup and foods.
“Customer…” Shouted a very tiny looking woman who had a front gap-teeth. She walked over to meet us and smiled in welcome. “Wetin una wan chop? Abi na ya new gial be dis?”
Solo laughed and spoke to the woman.
“Iya Rosa…I wan talk serious talk with you today… I go chop but no be now.”
“Ahhh…hope say no problem?” Iya Rosa asked, sounding worried.
“At all. It’s my err…it’s this girl, her name is Senorita and I want you to give her a job in your kitchen.”
“Hmmm…. I see.” The woman replied as she stared at me from head to toe.
“I really want you to help her.”
“Na jolly just come?” The woman asked Solo.
“No…she is a confirmed Lagos babe but please I need you to teach her to be responsible.”
“Ahhh…she go response by force…” Iya Rosa said.
“I get vacancy for waitress, the one wey I get don carry belle follow one man. I hope say dis Seni wetin be her name sef?” The woman asked.
“Senorita.” Solo supplied,
“Okay… I hope say Senorita no go follow all dem men wey dey come chop for hia. Na fine gial she be and many men go pursue am.” Said Iya Rosa.
I silently rejoice at her words about my beauty and I smile at her.
“Senorita has a heavy debt to pay, she doesn't have time chasing after men. She owes me more than a hundred thousand naira and she must pay me or else she’ll leave my house.” Warned Solo.
I shiver in anger and fear. I didn’t want Solo to get angry with me for any reason at all.
“So we go discuss money wey I go dey pay am abi?”
“Yes…please give me all her salaries, I need to augment the sum of money that she took and return it to its owner.”
The woman smiled in understanding. Less than an hour later, I was given a pink checkered apron and my job began. The first three hours were stressful as I mixed up the orders every time and got disapproving looks from my new madam. However the best part was the glances I received from men who came to eat and my madam seemed to notice them too but made no comments.
My first three days at the kitchen were the best days in my life as many men couldn't tear their eyes off me. I was the center of attention and the fact that I hardly spoke to anyone had them all rushing to ask me to take their orders. Iya Rosa’s business boomed in those three days as she seemed to have stolen all her competitors customers.
One day, I wondered aloud why the place was crowded and one of the other waitresses told me that it was my beauty that attracted the men. I had long forgotten about my beauty as the tolls and stress of life had taken so much out of me but now at Iya Rosa’s kitchen, I can feel my beauty return.
It was almost eight pm and I was already closing up for the day with Jemima, the store keeper when one small boy of about ten years old walked up to and said;
“Aunty…e get one broda wey dey find you.”
I crane my neck in a bid to see who he was talking about but couldn’t see anyone as the street was dark and Jemima, had turned off the lights and was already closing up the shop. She seemed oblivious to our conversation as she stood quite far away from us.
“Who be dat?” I ask.
“He dey for dia…e talk say make I give you this…” The boy said and placed a note in my palm.
“Hummm…” I whisper and stare at the money with interest, it was a thousand naira.
The boy having delivered his message, hurried away from sight.
“Who be dat?” Jemima asked as she walked up to meet me.
“I nor know ooo…na one boy wey dey find him street.” I lied.
“Na wah for people ooo, how pesin go send pickin comot from house for dis kain time?” Jemima said.
I nodded stupidly.
“So… make we dey go house.” Jemima said.
I noticed something strange about Jemima since I started work at the kitchen. She persistently followed me home each evening and accompanied me to work every morning.
“I wan go buy something for dat side…” I lied.
“Oya make we go dia na…” Jemima said.
“Abeg dey go house jare…I wan buy private something for dia.” I say again.
“Which kain private something? No be de woman wey you be, I be so?” Jemima said.
“Shio! You don turn bodyguard ooo like play…”
“Dat one you dey talk na tori… wia you wan go?”
At that moment I knew that Iya Rosa had assigned Jemima on my case. It was a very competitive market and no one wanted their workers stolen by other kitchen owners in the area. Suddenly like a miraculous dream, my breakthrough came, it was Jemima’s phone. It rung.
“Helloo…wetin happen? I dey come back na…why you dey talk like dis? Wetin I do again? Na eight o’clock we dey close na.” Jemima spoke into the receiver.
As soon as Jemima ended her call she looked at me in desperation.
“Wetin happen?” I ask.
“Na my Oga for house ooo… e dey suspect say I dey do one man for kitchen hia. He dey hala me sake of say I neva reach house.”
“Carry ya leg dey go ya house na…wetin you still dey do for hia.”
“Abeg no tell madam say I no follow you waka reach house ooo…” Jemima begged me.
“No problem.” I say.
As soon as Jemima hurried off, I look around and walk towards the direction the boy had shown me. I walked for a while and when I had given up hope that there was anyone looking for me, I felt the crumpled naira note in my palms and moved on.
“Fine sisi…” Hissed a male voice.
“Ehn! Who be that?” I ask.
“I dey for hia.” Said the man as he turned on the torch light in his hand.
I walked towards the small empty stall beside the road. The road was not too bright as there was no light and there was hardly any generator on.
“How far, how you dey?” Said the man in the stall.
I couldn’t see his face but his voice sounded familiar.
“I dey fine…abeg who you be?” I asked.
“You nor remember me again?” Said the man as he turned the torch light towards his face.
I gasped as soon as I saw him.
“Benson!” I whispered.