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[STORY] 45 DAYS (Episode 9)



Effe is amazed. The JAMAICA RESORT is bigger than she originally envisaged. There are supermarkets, restaurants, a spa, beautiful gardens, bars, sports complex and recreation spots. There is even a little zoo where she spends some time admiring a dancing flamingo and some proud peacocks. She sees that most of the lodgers are Rastafarians and foreigners. In the afternoon, she eats some delicious Jamaican dishes, and then she takes a stroll near a beautiful pond where geese and ducks float gracefully on the serene water. On the edge of the pond is a big green field with benches shaded by cute little slate structures. She sits under one and watches Chris feeding the ducks and geese from a pouch he has taken from one of the keepers. Soon some pigeons and doves also float down from the sky and settle around him, also eating the crumbs he throws on the grass. She watches him, and she smiles and laughs as the birds settle all over him. Twice or more he calls her to come and join, but she shakes her head and just watches him. Finally, the pouch is empty, and Chris hands it to the Keeper and chats with him for a while, and then Chris approaches her. He sits down beside her, stretches his long legs, and then he takes out a cigarette pack from his top pocket and sticks one in his mouth. Effe leans across and removes the cigarette from his mouth, and then she picks the pack and puts it into her bag. He looks at her. CHRIS Wetin dat? EFFE You’re going to stop smoking. He shakes his head, and his eyes looks confused. CHRIS I can’t. EFFE Yes, you can. I’m a doctor, a very good one at that. I’ll help you. CHRIS E be my life, abi. Why you wan do these things to me, la? EFFE (She turns to him halfway, and stares at him.) Smoking is bad for you, Chris. And yes, one other thing. Why do you speak this pidgin English like that? Surely you can speak good English? CHRIS The way I speak too be matter now? Aaaba, Madam. EFFE (looking serious) Are we friends, Chris? CHRIS (He smiles and chuckles.) You be my customer, abi? EFFE Okay, good. And whilst I’m paying you, I don’t want you to smoke, and I don’t want us to speak in that pidgin thing. It is kind of irritating, unless that’s the only language you can speak, then fine. But I’m pretty sure you can string together a cohesive piece of English. CHRIS You dey go too far, Madam. Wetin too dat? She touches his arm, and looks at him EFFE You went to JSS, SHS, maybe? His face clouds for a moment. He turns from her, and looks down. When he speaks his voice is low, and the pidgin English is gone, and his voice is so well-modulated that for a moment she feels like she is listening to someone else, and the amazement registers on her face. CHRIS Yes. I completed Senior High. Wanted to continue to the University, to do something in Computer Technology. Didn’t get any help, and here I am. She smiles and leans back, still looking at him in amazement. EFFE (gently) That’s better. You can speak good English. I like that. This wetin wetin thing was beginning to drive me mad. They laugh together, and their eyes lock. He is the first to look away. CHRIS You know this period is dangerous for you, right? She raises her eyebrows. EFFE Dangerous. How? CHRIS You’re hurt. Badly hurt. You need to deal with it properly. Otherwise if you allow the pain to control you, you might do something you’ll regret later. She leans towards him, teasingly. EFFE Like what, Chris? Like throw myself at you? Beg you to make love to me? Something like that? He turns towards her. She can see he is getting angry. CHRIS Well, yes. It is possible, isn’t it? Women do a whole lot of strange stuff when they’re hurt. EFFE (mockingly) Oh, an expert in women emotional affairs, huh! He leans towards her, and his face is definitely angry now. CHRIS (almost hissing) Yes, an EXPERT in women! A very good expert, Madam! I started sleeping with women when I was just fifteen years old! And I’ve slept with a lot of women, at very high places in society! I was a gigolo, Madam. A male prostitute! And most of the women I was with had marriage problems like you’re having now! So believe me when I tell you I know stuff like that! He gets up quickly and begins to walk away. Effe stares after him, shocked. She sees that she has touched a very raw nerve, and as he walks away she is aware that she is feeling something alien inside, an emotion of resentment that both baffles and unsettles her. She stands up and follows him. He walks from the pond area through a gate into a garden, and finally he stops and slowly sits down on a garden bench. He lowers his head and regards his sneakers bleakly. She sits down very close to him, and then she links her arm through his and puts her head on his shoulder. She speaks softly. EFFE I’m sorry, okay? Didn’t mean to offend you. It’s okay. I didn’t mean to get angry. I guess I’m a little touchy, and too defensive around you. She is quiet for a while. She realizes there is something going on in his life that is giving him pain, much like her situation. EFFE What you said. This gigolo part of you. Is it true, Chris? He nods slowly, and when he speaks his voice is almost muffled. CHRIS I grew up in an orphanage. I’ve never known my parents, or whether I have siblings somewhere. Nothing! I have no history. The woman that run the Orphanage told me I was found on a rubbish dump! Some homeless people were rummaging through rubbish, and heard a baby crying in a dirty wrapper. They took the wrapper, opened it, and there I was! My mother, whoever she was, threw me away like rubbish! EFFE (totally shocked) Oh my God! That’s cruel. Oh dear! I’m sorry, Chris! He leans back and closes his eyes. There is deep pain on his face. It is obvious that a very raw nerve has been touched within him. CHRIS They took me to the police station, and a judge ordered that I should be sent to the Hopelife Orphanage. That’s where I grew up. In hunger, and under a lot of strife. The Governess of the Orphanage was a very wicked woman. She treated us badly, whipped us. Tortured us. As I grew up many couples came to the orphanage, wanting to adopt me, but she never let them. Later, when couples came around she would hide me, and wouldn’t let me be a part of the parade of children. NGOs sponsored our education, and so I got a little education. When I was fourteen years a lady came to the Orphanage. She was a very rich lady. We all gathered around her car, I remember. She had a private chat with Miss Ida Broohm for a long time. EFFE Ida Broohm? CHRIS Yes, the Governess of the orphanage. Late in the night she introduced me to the lady with the car, whose name was Sweet Ama Baby. That’s all I ever knew about her. I was elated at first, because I thought finally I was going to be adopted by a rich family, but Miss Ida told me that if I were nice to this lady, I would be given a lot of money, and clothes, and food and would even go the University. He falls silent. Effe’s heart is beating. She senses what is coming, and she dreads it. Somehow she knows a gate has been opened, and that he needs to pour out his soul. She suspects it is something he has kept bottled up for a long time, and knows true healing will only come when he pours out the debris in his soul. EFFE (gently) And? What happened, Chris? CHRIS Oh, nothing much. This woman, Sweet Ama Baby, left. A week later she came back. They made me take a bath and dressed me in good clothes, and then they took me in the car to someplace. I was left in a room with a woman I didn’t know, a middle-aged woman who was very naked. She did a lot of things to me. Effe is shocked. She feels him trembling, and she sees the sweat that is suddenly pouring all over his face. EFFE Jesus. She seduced you? Sexually? He nods, and sighs. He tries to draw his arm away, but she holds on tightly. CHRIS That was how it began. Sweet Ama Baby took me to a lot of women after that. It was… horrible for me. At first she gave me some money, and I was thrilled. Sometimes she took me to places far from the orphanage and I spent time having sex with strange older women. But soon I began to get very depressed. I wanted it to stop, but they told me if I stopped they would hurt my friends. EFFE Your friends? In the Orphanage? CHRIS Yes. There was a girl, a little girl. Her name was Janet. They told me if I stopped sleeping with the older women they would send Janet to horrible men who would do horrible things to her. I was scared for Janet, and so I continued. One night Sweet Ama sent me to the city. I was alone with her. You know, she used to touch me sometimes, kissing me, fondling me all the time, but she never tried to make love to me. But I began to hate her, you know, very fiercely. But the night she took me to the city, she told me she loved me, and wanted to be only with me. She said she would do good things for me. I was eighteen years old then. She was naked, and she started touching me. I fled from the room. I ran and ran and ran! I stayed in the city to hustle. I hid from her. Later I learnt the orphanage burnt down. Janet died in the fire. Effe rubs his hand gently. EFFE And you never forgave yourself. He looks at her. His face is haunted. She can see tears glistening in his eyes. CHRIS Maybe, if I had not fled, Janet wouldn’t have died. She might’ve lived! EFFE No, Chris. Maybe it would’ve been worse for her. We can never explain what happens in our lives, and we can’t live in regrets. You had a terrible teenage period! These women exploited you, and you reacted in the only way you could. You have done well to make it this far. You have to live free. You never met Ida and this terrible woman again? He shakes his head. CHRIS No, never saw either of them again. I had saved some of the money Sweet Ama Baby used to give me. I always carried it with me just in case I had a chance to escape. I went back to school, completed, and started hustling. I did all kind of jobs. Later I enrolled as an Auto Mechanic, learnt how to drive. When I passed out from the mechanic’s shop I started driving, and five months ago I was lucky to meet an old customer from the fitting shop who introduced me to the owner of this taxi, and now I’m working for her. When I finish paying it off it would be mine, and life would be a bit better from there, I guess. So believe me, Madam, I know a lot about women. She stares at him for a long time, and when a tear rolls down his right cheek she reaches out and brushes it away. EFFE (gently) You might know a lot about depressed women who sleep with teenagers, Chris, but you don’t know a lot about women, believe me. He smiles and shakes his head. CHRIS I believe I do. It’s because of these depressed women that I’ve never been able to fall in love and have any meaningful relationship. It’s because of those women that I feel so dirty, and I know that no woman would ever love me if she found out what I did in the past. EFFE Love doesn’t care about the past, Chris. It’s only concerned with the present, and the future. You don’t have to feel dirty. Any woman who genuinely falls for you wouldn’t hold that against you, believe me. CHRIS (softly) I hope so. I pray so. She stands up and holds out her hand. He puts his hand in hers, and she pulls him to his feet. EFFE Call me Effe. He smiles. His expression is sad, but she can see relief on his face. CHRIS I’m Chris. EFFE People know about your story, Chris? You told others? He shakes his head. CHRIS Nope. It makes me feel dirty and repulsive. I told you,. I’ve always been afraid that if people knew they would shun my company. Emotionally and psychologically, it has scarred me for life. You’re the only person I’ve told ever since I fled from Sweet Ama Baby. EFFE Why? Why me, Chris? Their hands are still linked. He looks down at their hands, and he looks at her. At that moment all the hardness leaves him, and the look on his face is that of a boy. It is sweet, and innocent, and vulnerable. CHRIS I don’t know, Effe. All I know is that a certain woman entered my car one night without invitation… and I feel like I’ve known her all my life! She smiles up at him. He smiles down at her. She thinks his smile is probably the best she has ever seen, and she thinks she understands why frustrated women have paid to be with him, and that no man has the right to look so handsome. She thinks that if he shaves off his massive dreadlocks and gets properly pruned he would be a most irresistible man. He thinks that he has never seen a lovelier woman like her. He thinks that she looks just like an angel. The tone of her skin, her incredible figure, her smile, her eyes, her legs, her lips… she is so fabulous, so perfect, so beautiful. He thinks that for an obviously rich and well-educated girl, she is yet so humble and chaste. He thinks that not many women in the world, with that level of education, will ever come near a man who came from an orphanage, has basically no education and drives a taxi. He thinks that she is indeed a most amazing woman. And as the sun casts its last glows in the horizon and silhouettes them in the background, neither of them knows just how beautiful they look as a couple as they stand there gazing and smiling into each other’s eyes.

To Be Continued…

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