“Onome, is that you?”
“Ada, you’re here too?”
They both burst out in tears.
“How did you end up here? What happened?” Ada asked.
Ada is a sixteen year old enthusiast who wanted to be a soloist with one of the big Nigerian record labels. She often gathered the other children together and make everyone join in on her singing competitions, knowing full well that none of the other children had the kind of sensational talents that she had. Onome, though a year younger than Ada, had her unique talent too which often confused even her parents. Onome is a good actress. She often dramatized her way out of any unwanted situation she found herself and her parents couldn’t tell it was all an act for years.
A conman had approached them individually, having watched them from afar for months. Different in talent they may be but they both had the same trait which is common to his other victims – desperate for fame.
“A man came to me as I was returning from an errand the other night”, Onome narrated in between sobs. “He said his academy was running a talent hunt show and I could come and audition. He warned me not to tell my parents or anyone else because people often don’t encourage young ones to pursue their art desires. I was excited. I didn’t want anyone to kill the joy I thought was within my grasps. I would audition and be a big Nollywood actress, I thought”, her voice trailed away as her voice broke into a loud cry again.
Ada looked away from her, trying to cover the scares and bruises on her body. Her clothes were torn and they were barely enough now to cover her body. “I wish I could comfort you Onome”, she started, trying to hide her tears. “But I am in a worse state than you. I definitely fell for the same trick. I was desperate to be a musician and I was ready to run away from home to return months later to be the next singing sensation in Nigeria but this man had other plans for me. I saw other young girls in the big room when I walked in. I was confident that they were no match for me. All of a sudden, some hefty men surrounded the room. We thought they were security to protect us. But alas, it was the start of this . . . this slavery they have subjected us to every day, at will, to different men”.
They cried together, having been thrown in the same shadowy room.
“I just want to go home”, Onome cried some more.
“I wish I could go home but I don’t know why I could face my mother again after this. My mother . . . I wonder what state she must be by now not seeing me for weeks now. I often imagined the police busting in here to rescue me a few times. I even imagine growing a thick skin to the different men but the horror and trauma is never as I imagined every time”, Ada sniffed.
“I am shamed by the defiling of my body but I would rather be cleansed and be united again with those who will cover my shame, accept me for who I am and help me recover from this deathly time”, Onome said, looking into what seemed to be a ray of light shining in through the key hole.