The water splashed squarely on my face and I jumped.
“See am…e still dey sleep…abeg gerrup joor, the fire don off.” Screamed on of the women.
I stood on my feet and tried running out of the building but the whole place was packed with people, both onlookers and the police. There wer still signs of smoke and people still held buckets in their hands.
“Wia you dey go you dis anyhow gial? You think say dis na playground?” Asked one of the policemen.
“I wan go my house…ooo” I cried loudly as I tried letting myself out of the compound but was held back by some people.
“Abeg make una carry am go hospital…e fit be say, de fire don affect her brain.” Said one of the onlookers.
“Which kain hospital…it is now confirmed that this place is a brothel aka ashewo joint so every lady who resides in this house must be arrested. Atleast the fire has been doused so everyone can now return to their homes.” Said one of the policemen.
The man who held me in his grasp let me go and I fell to the ground, all of a sudden, everywhere emptied as everyone left the scene including Awero and the other ladies.
“Ah! Where dem dey?” Asked one of the policemen.
“Dey run comot? Chai…dis for be how we for take catch dese women ooo.” Another policeman said.
“Na only dis gial remain…wetin we go tell D.P.O?” Asked another policeman.
“We fit tell am say, all de ashewo don comot for night paroles and na only dis one remain for house.” Said the first.
“Good idea…oya, Akin, handcuff am, make we dey go station.”
Immediately I sensed that I was about to be arrested, I began to scream.
“Heeeeehhhh…I nor dey ooo…na today I waka come ooo.” I cry.
“Na you and who, waka come?” Asked a policeman.
“Na only me.” I replied, tears staining my cheeks.
“You nor suppose talk anything till you reach station so shut up!” Said one of the policemen.
“Chai…if I know, I for just lie down for ground, faint dey goo…” I cried.
The policemen dragged me outside and threw me into their van. As we left the scene, I saw Awero peep from the side of one of the houses and before I could scream and alert the police to her, she had disappeared.
I was left at the cell for three days, no one asked of me and no one cared for me, all I was given to eat was some food and water. On the third day, one of the policemen walked up to my cell and whispered.
“Pesin don pay for ya release…just cooperate…nor do like say I don tell you anything or oga fit suspect. By eight for night, I go open dis gate, make you comot.” Said the policeman.
“Ahhh…oga…taink you…God bless you sir.” I said, as I knelt down in thanks.
The woman that I shared the prison cell with, didn’t even flinch, she just sat down like a stone and kept staring at the wall. I heard that her husband locked her up because he caught her with another man but lied to the police that she stole his international passport. The lady wasn't much of a talker but whenever her family members came to pay her a visit, her lips moved fast as she told her story, over and over again.
The police officer left the cell and walked back to his duty post.
“You get wia you go fit go?” Asked the woman.
I was shocked, I turned to look at her and was more surprised because she was staring intently at me.
“I hear ya case for police mouth I even hear when you dey shout say, you nor be ashewo.” The woman said to me.
“God go bless you ma...na one chance I enter for dem Ashewo hand ooo.” I said, sounding relieved.
“Go number 17 Ajia street…you go see my pikin Rita, tell am say na her mama friend you be. Young girl like you nor fit waka anyhow for nite... atleast, make you slip till morning reach.”
I fall on my knee before her and thank her.
"Auntie e go better for ya generation...all ya pikin go prosper..." I continued showering blessings on her.
The woman nodded quietly and kept staring at the wall.
That night I was released and as soon as the night air kissed my face, I felt hands grab me. I yelped and struggled but was hushed by a familiar voice.
‘Shhh….na me Awero.” Said the woman.
“What? Awero…ahhh…Awero…wetin una do me nor good ooo…” I begin to cry.
“Abeg shat ya mouth.” Awero snapped. “Follow me, I wan carry you go my friend house.”
‘Ahh…I get place wia I dey goo…I wan go number 17….” I started but was cut short by a slap.
“You wan craze? Who pay for ya release? Na number 17?” Awero demanded.
I shook my head in fear. She tugged at my hand and I hurriedly followed her.
It was very late when we reached Awero’s friend’s house, we had to board a bus, take a bike and walk quite a mile because the bike rider refused to go further into the rough street. By the time we reached the house, I was fagged out. Awero knocked at the door and a very beautiful young lady opened the door for us, her dress was clingy and her lashes where so long it took me a lot of effort to see her eyes.
“What’s the password.” The girl asked Awero.
“Thunder and Fire.” Awero whispered.
We were ushered into a small sitting room and offered drinks. Immediately I saw the bottles of drinks on the stool the hunger I felt from the prison surfaced and I quickly grabbed one bottle of coke and corking it with my teeth, I spat out the cork and tipped the contents down my throat. By the time I finished the third bottle, I was belching louder than a pig. Awero ignored me throughout and was instead looking at the door leading to the inside of the house.
Suddenly the door opened and a very slim woman walked into the sitting room.
“Hmmm…you were the one sent by Jasmine right?” The lady asked Awero in a light voice.
“Yes ma…na me be Jasmine friend…she talk say…” Awero continued but the woman held up her hand.
“Is this the girl? Is she the one?”
“Yes na she…look am well, na fine girl I carry come so…”
“Who is she to you?” The woman asked.
“Na one girl wey come our place for ashewo joint, she be wan join us but I tell am say, dat place nor fit am at all.” Awero said.
I stared at Awero incredulously as she spoke.
“Hmmm…how much do you want?” The woman asked Awero.
“Madam…” Awero hailed, flashing her teeth, two of her teeth had broken, I hadn't noticed. “Na small money…scratch my back, I scratch ya own…give me two hundred…na virgin I bring come ya dormot ooo.”
“I’ll give you one hundred…” The woman said.
Awero shook her head. “Madam lai lai…I nor fit remove one kobo…na cost price we dey.”
“Are you new to this business?” The woman asked.
“Yes…na my first time but I fit bring you correct girls….dis one wey dey here don too suffer if not ehn, I fit no even sell am to you for five hundred thousand.” Awero boasted.
“I’ll give you one twenty…”
Awero stood up to leave. “Madam…talk like pesin abeg…see ya fine house…abi you nor want make I build my own? Scratch my back make I scratch ya own…I nor fit comot kobo from cost price.”
The woman rang a bell and a lady came out of the room, she whispered something to her and the lady went back into the room and came out again carrying a bundle of notes. She handed it to Awero who greedily grabbed the money and wetting the tip of her fingers with spittle, she proceeded to count.
Awero smiled as soon as she finished counting the money and turned to leave.
“Tank you ma…I go dey bring you plenty correct gials…” Awero said as she headed towards the door.
The woman rung the bell again and one hefty man walked out of the room and turning to the woman, he nodded while the woman tilted her head side ward.
Awero smiled and happily made her way to the door but gasped as the man walked up to her, grabbed her by the neck till he strangled her. I stood and stared in shock as a limp Awero fell to the ground and the two hundred thousand naira was retrieved from her palms and taken away by the young lady. The man swung a lifeless Awero over his shoulder and stormed out of the house.
I opened my mouth and threw up all the contents of the coke which I had drunk earlier on.