Many believe a man is a product of his actions while some believe actions are just results of man’s decisions and decisions are just the consequences of our circumstances. Therefore a man is nothing but a mere victim of circumstances. But these theories do not matter much to an illiterate girl child who only sees herself as a misfit in a world of perfectly round holes which she happens to be a square peg. Considered a rebel in her family because she is crazy enough to see things differently and wants a change.
I wish I could tell you that this is one of those stories in which the rebels, troublemakers, and misfits had it good, but sadly it is only a story that highlights the struggles of a girl child in a so-called man’s world.
Sitting behind the police counter waiting for her mother Amina to come to bail her, she reflects on how she lost her way as an innocent girl child and became a disappointment to her mother and the family.
Sophie and her siblings raised by a widowed mother started hawking at a tender age in order to support the family. Exposed to the dangers that come with street-hawking for a girl child, Sophie was taken advantage of by a man she considered to be her father or senior brother. She was taught by the streets that one has to do what one has to do in order to make ends meet. So in order to increase sales, she gave her body to big customers who were willing to pay.
Sophie always knew that hawking was not the end but merely a means to an end for her. So at age 19, she had graduated from selling the goods and commodities apportioned to her by her mother to sell to selling her own goodie. After all, at such a ripe age, her goodie was in high demand by men both young, old, and married ranging from far and wide. And she didn’t have to stand or walk around tattered under the sun or rain begging for customers to patronize her. It was a cash and carry business venture only sold to the highest bidder at any particular time.
Amina noticed the changes in her daughter’s attitude and dressing. She tried beating her but when you are aging, your strength begins to fail you. And beating Sophie only brought about resentment and not positive change. At some point, she had to resort to just words and advice. She tried warning her daughter against prostitution and its dangers but how can she convince her daughter that prostitution is wrong when she herself has nothing to show for being good?
In fact, one might say that her respect for her parents and family values above her own personal goal and ambition kept her in poverty struggling and begging to eat. This led to her making the decision of exposing her children to street hawking at a tender age without considering the possible dangers. But what other choice did she have? It was either everybody hawks or they starve to death. The truth is, the world is not an easy place for a girl child.
Now watching helplessly as Sophie goes astray, she has nobody but herself to blame.
To Sophie, her body was hers to do as she pleases and her mother or those around her who were contented with being poor and blaming it on life not being fair to their kind cannot tell her otherwise. She knew she was a misfit in a family and she didn’t mind because conforming only meant she will be in abject poverty begging to eat like her mother.
She was first introduced to the lifestyle by a customer, a married man who told her he would do anything to have her even if it meant marrying her as a second wife and spoiling her with the finest things of life money can buy. At first, it sounded noble to her. Besides where she is from, there is nothing wrong with being a second wife to a prominent and wealthy man.
She told herself that she was doing it for her family in order to change their story for the better. But deep down she knew she was in it for her selfish interest because her mother wouldn’t take money from her without knowing if its source was good and trusted. And the story of Sophie marrying a wealthy man as a second wife wasn’t convincing enough to the mother considering the fact that she has never seen the man or heard of the man’s intentions from the man himself.
Sadly all good things do come to an end and so the hope and aspiration of being a wealthy man’s second wife also did come to an end for Sophie. Being accustomed to the good life she was introduced to by the man, she couldn’t afford to go back to the level she came from. One thing she thanked the man for was exposure. While with the man, she was exposed to new connections and friends including the man’s friends. Many of whom had on several occasions proposed one night stand with her for monetary gain. She had turned them down in the past but now she was single again and knew the game. It was a game of buying and selling she was used to while hawking for her mother. The only difference is that now, her body was the goods, and it had more monetary value than whatever she was selling in the past for her mother.
Learning from her disappointments of promise and failure from a man, she was only about cash for a good time with no commitment. And with her new circle of like-minded friends, it was easy to drain her conscience and cope with the fast pace lifestyle of money for pleasure.
Even though she knew her mother did not approve of her lifestyle, she felt good whenever she had the opportunity to stop by and see her mother and the people around her treated her with respect. The type of respect she never would have gotten as an average girl child by conforming to their poverty mindset. To her, it was a testimony of how far one can go if one has the courage to challenge the norm.
At one of her usual nights out with her girls in which they got to hang out with a group of young boys who supposedly are rich and well-to-do, she met Uche. Uche was cool, calm, and collected. He was not as wild and loud as his peers and she took a liking to him. After the night, she and Uche exchanged contacts and kept in touch.
Learning more about each other, she came to know about Uche’s story and how he was struggling to make a way for his family. It was a story she could relate with very well and she found it easy to open up to Uche also as a source of motivation to him. Uche knowing her story never judged her. He was understanding and she loved him for it. She knew he was an internet fraudster just doing what he had to do to make ends meet for his family. He reminded her that she had a conscience and was only doing what she was doing because she had to.
Things became intimate between her and Uche that they threw caution to the wind a couple of times. She was 3 weeks late on her monthly menstruation (period) and she feared that maybe she was pregnant. She loved Uche and if she was going to have anybody’s child at this time of her life, there was nobody better than him for her. She wanted to let him know and at least give him the opportunity to do right by her which she believed he would because he was a good-hearted young man.
She met up with Uche at his friend’s place, a venue they usually meet, and she let the cat out of the bag. Uche was confused as any boy his age would be. He thought of the implications having a child would have on his struggling family but he was determined to do right by her if she chooses to keep the child. To him, it was her decision but whatever the case, he would be a man. He knew he had to double his efforts and hustle to give his unborn child and the mother the life he believed they deserve.
Just as they were contemplating their next line of action, the place was raided by the authorities who have been tracking Uche’s friends for fraud cases for a while now. Uche was also identified as a fraudster and everybody including her were taken to the station. She was to be granted bail after it was established that she only came to see a friend and she was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
She was granted one phone call. She thought of who to call. She wasn’t sure her friends would come to her aid because it was a friendship of lies and fake life but she wasn’t about to find out with just a phone call. She had to make a sure call.
Amina’s phone rings, she picks up, she hears “mummy it is me, Sophie, I am in a police station. Can you please come and bail me”?
She broke down in tears. She didn’t only fail herself, she also failed her daughter and she blamed herself for all of it.
Borrowing the words of Rob Siltanen, you can quote Sophie, disagree with her, glorify or vilify her, but you can not dispute the fact that she only played the hand she was dealt.