This is a story about a woman who is into the business of peddling her flesh for a living. Somewhere between her trade and my living quarters, our paths cross. The ex and the dash of pornography are just sideshows. Try to focus on the prostitute or as some might choose to call her, the Whore.
At the start of this story, the woman is a prostitute. She remains a prostitute throughout the duration of the story. Not once does she deny the fact that she is in fact, a whore.
My soon-to-be ex was at my place (You will see why I was going to dump him in a while. I know you will agree with my decision to dump him.) We’re watching movies just like a normal couple when he unleashes a collection of movies that my neighbor had given him (Nothing says ‘cohabitation’ like a boyfriend who is friends with your neighbor.)
He makes a selection out of the collection and proceeds to play it. As the CD loads, he says something to suggest that it could be a blue movie.
“Wait, you’re gonna slot that in without asking if I’m okay with it?” (That pun just popped out of nowhere, I swear!)
He was about to load a blue movie as if it was something we did all the time! Here is the deal, guys, if you are dating a chick and you don’t know if blue movies are her thing, you ask. If you are chicken, you start a conversation about Porn. Say, how your friend loves to watch them. Ask what she thinks of it – add that you’re asking for a friend if you must. Gauge her reaction. Somewhere during the conversation, a sentence, a word, a facial expression will slip out of her that will let you know her position in matters pornography.
He SHOULD have said something. Something like: “Si I just paid your neighbor a courtesy call…” of course I would have cut him short with laughter. Courtesy call…psssh! I would go ahead and advice him that as long as they are paying each other ‘courtesy calls’ then they should just slice me out of the equation and concede that they are buddies.
He would not smile. He never did get my sense of humor that guy.
“Sorry. You were saying …” I would give up.
“As I was saying, I paid the guy – YOUR NEIGHBOUR – a visit then…”
“Why won’t you just admit that he is your friend though?”
“Can you please focus? PLEASE?”
“Imagine I asked him to lend me some movies to watch and …” This guy is spending too much time at my place. “…I think he gave me porn”
That would be my mind drifting. I would not catch the whole sentence. “Sorry…what? What was that?”
He can’t believe me. His eyes would say so.
“Are you not listening?” his mouth would ask.
“Never mind” I would say. I would then proceed to put the kibosh on the whole ‘pornography night’ deal. I mean, this is me. The lady who freaked out just because some guy touched her shoulder after a successful blind date. Porn is too…too… wild? Then again, how would I know?
So yeah. He did not ask and I was not amused. The two of us; disappointed him and not amused me are in my house definitely not watching pornography, when we hear a woman screaming.
Did I tell you it was dead of night? Yes it was. Like 2am – ish.
We knew that my neighbor, the porn-lending guy also known as Sam, had female company. We had heard them walking drunkenly along the corridor a while ago. The lady’s shoes were clanking unevenly to march her equally uneven steps.
Now the woman was screaming. It appeared that Sam was beating her up.
I tell the boyfriend (since he is here, he might as well be useful right? You would think!) I tell him: “Si you go and see what’s up with your buddy?”
“Buddy? He is not my buddy. Si he is your neighbor? I don’t live here”
The irony of a guy telling you he doesn’t live at your place while sitting on your bed at the wee hours of the morning. The smack-you-in-the-face irony!
“You are exchanging porn movies. I think you have crossed the ’strangers’ threshold amigo!”
He looks at me, lost for words. He eventually finds them.
“Ok. If you don’t watch porn that is fine. Really. But you don’t have to be so cynical”
Where is the cynicism guys? Show me the cynicism because I don’t see it. Is it a wonder our relationship died? If anybody should ask what happened to our relationship, would it be wrong for me to say that it was killed by Nonexistent Cynicism? Like, NC? (I think acronyms add authenticity)
Ok. Sometimes I cannot help myself.
There is a woman screaming herself hoarse. There is some shouting. Punching and slapping. Furniture moves. A wooden table, cupboard, bed or something. Just something wooden.
I insist that soon-to-be ex should go over and check what the problem is. He doesn’t want to get into ‘other people’s personal business’, is the reason he gives why he won’t do as I suggest. You would think he would have been my entry number one in the “Men not to date” list, but no. I dated the guy for a while longer. I know. Shut up!
I am tempted to go and ask Sam “What’s the deal? Do you really have to hit her?” Or go all street on him “WTF! Fight someone your size b*tch!”
We sit. Soon-to-be ex continues watching a movie unperturbed.
I am unsettled. I am very uneasy about men hitting women. Something boils inside me. It goes back to my childhood. Bad memories.
“Get out of my house!” Sam yells.
“Give me my money!” she yells back.
“GET. Out. Of…my…house” he is struggling to push her while she clings to the door.
I opened my door and stood at the doorway looking at them. Not saying a word.
“Give me my money” she insists, her foot blocks the door.
“I am not giving you any money, stupid whore!” Sam says
“I am not leaving until you give me my money” the woman says as she uses her sizeable posterior to keep the door open. Her foot is steady on the doorway. Sam might have to get a bulldozer to uproot her from the door.
The attack comes when we least expect it. She is shoved so hard that she pours into the corridor and falls face down.
I gasp “SAM!”
“Stupid whore!” he spits before going inside and shutting the door with a bang.
“Give me my money. I am not leaving until you give me my money” she shouts after him while touching her face to feel for wounds.
I look on. She sees me and looks away. She makes no indication of standing up. She sits upright and moves to lean on the wall.
Prostitute sits on the corridor. I stand at my doorstep.
She brings her knees up and hugs them with both her hands. She is silent but I can see the tears running down her face. She is texting someone on her phone.
I am not sure whether to go back inside or stay in case Sam decides to come back out.
My indecision is nulled when I see a woman running through the gate after a short exchange with the watchman. She yells out a name for the benefit of the entire neighborhood; “Schola! Schola uko wapi?” Prostitute responds and the woman runs towards us. Now if there was a heavy-sleeper who had slept through the scuffle, they were surely wide awake now courtesy of Schola’s friend and the yelling.
She is dressed just like Schola with too little fabric to cover her body. She finds Schola and sits with her on the floor. She looks my way and says hi. I say hi back.
She takes her friends face between her hands and asks her if she is okay. Schola nods with tears still in her eyes.
“He’s refused to pay kabisa?”
They sit together in silence.
It is getting awkward now and I decide to go back inside. I see faces peeping through the windows before disappearing inside and switching the lights back off. Nobody cares about nobody.
Before I close my door, I spy Schola’s friend giving Sam’s door a good kick. Schola joins her as they unleash their anger at the door before retreating into the night.
I thought about Schola for a long time after that. I have always believed that a part of you has to be dead before you can sleep with multiple men for money. I also think that if she is good enough for you to seek her services, then it is prudent for you to keep the end of your bargain and pay for them.
The prostitute knows exactly what her business entails. She knows the different names you have coined for her. I am sure she thinks about her choices every breaking dawn and she still sticks with them anyway. I want to believe that one day she will be compelled to make better choices.
But until she does…
You might want to believe that because you buy and she sells, because you give and she takes, because you are strong and she is weak, that you are better than her. I want you to remember that you are not. You’re both in the flesh business.
Call her by all her names; prostitute, whore, harlot, slut… but if you solicit her services, then go ahead and just pay her. Yes, pay the whore.
It’s only fair, don’t you think?
This article was first published on the Storymoja Festival Blog
Illustration by Elsardt Kigen. Elsardt is a talented artist and a senior student of The Arts and Design at The University of Nairobi. He has won several Art Competitions including ‘Experiencing Kenyan Heritage Through Art’ (2013) where he was accorded a visit to the UK.