While I laid in my bed weeping, I remembered the voice of my mother before I left for the city, “Ijeoma, city life is very hard, it swallows people and in most cases doesn’t bring them alive, make sure no matter what you do, you don’t get swallowed up, don’t forget your Christian background and the teachings you have learnt from me. It will be your help when you fall into trouble.”
It was like my mother knew I would be one of those to be swallowed up in the city. When I first came, the things I saw got me carried away, but I wanted to help my family out of poverty; being the first child of seven children with no father, the entire responsibility of my family rested on me only. Because I couldn’t find a place to say I begged to squat with some girls in a tiny small room with no window, kitchen or even a toilet. We eased ourselves in black leathers and throw it over the fence. The room always smelled. With the help of some girls I found in the city, I started selling sachet water, what most people called pure water. I trekked all the corners of the city and at the end of the day make a merger sum of money that was not even enough to take care of myself. Expenses were more than the income.
Some days I would go on without food, lying to the girls with whom I shared the room with that I was fasting when in truth I was dying in hunger. Things continued like this until I met a girl. She was the type of girl we called runs girl. I was walking along the area she stayed looking for who would buy the water I heard when I started feeling dazzle. Well when next I opened my eyes I was in a well furnished apartment. There I met the girl that turned my life around. She introduced me to the life of a real city girl and my doom…
The only sound I kept hearing was that of my steps ahead of me. I clutched by bag and held my shoes with the other hand. I walked briskly across the street to where I lodged, looking over my shoulders for my fellow ‘high class’ babes. My room was not more that my grandmother’s mud kitchen in the village. I had a foam about the size of the 250 agege bread mostly eaten by brick layers, often pressed down to the ground when laid; causing one to have severe back pain. A worn out carpet I got from the former occupant and a ‘joko’ popularly called kitchen stool.
Nothing of value in my room expects my okirika clothes I usually claim to have been sent over from abroad by my imaginary football fiancée. At first I found it difficult lying about who I was but as time went on, and living in the city became hard, lying became easy. I rehearsed my lines of lies every day before I stepped out to avoid been caught in the middle. The lies were my personal anthem. I was a hustler, I scammed men for money by creating some sort of relationship that never last, and I was also a pick pocket and an internet hacker which made it easy for me to access People’s Bank accounts by getting hold of their ATM cards. I was frequent visitor of the network providers stall that they named me ‘international’ because on monthly basis I changed my sim.
I told the client I met daily that I came from a wealthy home, schooled abroad, the only child of an aged but billionaire parents, even owned an estate of my own. It was easy to believe me, I had the perfect facial and body expression for every lie I told. After weeks of meeting them, it is either I steal their ATM cards and hack it or I organize a fake charity gathering to zap money out of them. When I think I have had enough or the client didn’t pay much I walk away, throwing every form of connection to them.
Everything went fine, I was living the life I dreamt off, wore the clothes I saw on instagram, lived in a mansion that came from people’s money through my lies. I changed my cars to the latest after every 6months. My life was perfect.
Just when I wanted expanding my hustling I met him; so beautiful to behold. His eyes were blue, my favorite color, he had the body I usually called ‘killer’, not very tall, but had the perfect walking steps. His smiles were enough to have swept me off my feet. I couldn’t help but stared at him when he jugged every day in the estate I lived. Because of him, I started the morning jugging I never needed. We became jugging partners and then karma started knocking at my door step. I thought I could handle this client like the rest.
Gradually I started missing my lies. I didn’t care because I was in love already. After months of dating he decided to take me to his family. There karma finally came in after months of knocking. I became a victim of my lies. I was shocked to see the faces staring surprise at me. Alas! They had been my clients earlier under different names. ‘Kate’!, ‘Lois’!, ‘Jay’!, his dad, and uncles called the names I had told them were mine. He looked at me more dumbfounded and said ‘Laurel, what’s happening? ‘ I started sweating whilst the air-condition was on. I have been caught in the middle.
Too shocked to say a word, I turned and left, my mind replaying the pictures of my life; Flashbacks of my life in the city. Then I realized that I couldn’t remember who I was before the lies I had been swallowed by the city.
SALOME NKECHINYERE MBAH