A Kind Of Itch
The smell of it clings to your nostrils despite the fresh night air flowing over you in cool draughts as you step into the street.
You cannot bring yourself to think in terms of its name.
Again, you reflexively brush at your shoulders, your chest – a vain attempt to get the stink of it off you. Again you try to ignore the arm weighing down across your shoulders, effectively draping them in guilt; the same feeling that tucked your chin in your chest, and had your eyes darting furtively across the street on your way out of the brothel eight streets away, that not-so-long-ago first time.
That familiar feeling.
You try to ignore it – as you’ve been ignoring the moustache-brushed lips whispering all sorts of nonsense in your ears all night. As you’ve been ignoring the persistent sting in your nether region. It isn’t a loud sting – but it is insistent and itchy. Still, it isn’t anything close to what the television and the movies and the magazines and websites and people said it would be like.
Not even close. But it hurts.
Mostly because it’s new.
“So – same time, next week?”
Your skin retracts like over-extended rubber band; crawling into itself as you vibrate all over, twice in rapid succession. The shawarma and Jack Daniels you had been plied with threatens to spill over – and you bend over quickly, one hand on your stomach, the other at your mouth – an attempt to hold dinner in.
When you straighten you’re alone. Never again, you tell yourself.
As you get your feet beneath you – and begin to head on home, a comfortable weight in your left trouser pocket makes itself known to you. A smile manifests on your too-thin lips and your left hand slips into your left pocket and caresses the edge of tightly-packed fresh 1000 naira notes.
It is worth it; you think.
You hobble on home, moving slowly but steadily, two words recurring steadily in your mind –
Over and over, till they are joined by two new words –