Uncle China was waiting for me on the edge of his big bed. In my mind I walked up to him, stood in front of him and let him grab my bum in both his arms and suck my boobs through my Boubou. But in real life I stood at the door, looked at him waiting to devour me and I burst into tears.
“Amaka? Kilode?” He said.
He was on his feet in an instant and by my side in another instant. He led my back to his bed and made me sit next to him on the edge.
“Kilode? What is wrong? Talk to me.”
I just kept crying. When I came out and looked at him, and saw his deep tribal marks, and his shiny contoured bald head, and his protruding belly, I knew I couldn’t sleep with him no matter what, so I changed my strategy.
The ability to cry on demand is probably one of a girl’s best tricks; that, and the ability to fake an orgasm. This man who a minute ago had been stroking his ageing cock in anticipation of fucking me was now thoroughly deflated both in intent and physically. He was tending to my distress to the detriment of his plan and I was not going to stop until he had sobered up enough to want me to just go home – for today at least.
He asked what was wrong and I poured out my heart, and a few lies. About my kidnapped friend, he knew, but he didn’t know that Johnny was also like the only brother I ever had and that I blamed myself for what happened to him that night. He also learnt from me that ‘we’ were trying to raise the ransom money. He asked me how much and I told him ten million – a sum I felt he would feel comfortable contributing ten percent of, or thereabouts.
I left out stories of the poor mother or the ailing father; he had probably heard those too often. I didn’t know how to bring up the London boy, or if I should, so I pulled out the joker that was sure to make him place me way outside his desires and at the same time earn me all the pity he could have for a girl he really didn’t know. I told him how the policeman raped me repeatedly at the police station.
He listened quietly then when I was done he calmly asked me, “Have you seen a doctor?”
I told him I went to a clinic to get my face looked after but that wasn’t what he meant.
“You have to check yourself,” he said.
He got up and walked into his bathroom leaving me to deal with the gravity of my situation. I hadn’t thought of that. What was wrong with me? I started crying again, this time for real.
He returned with some pills that he gave to me. He explained to me that he buys them from an Indian doctor and that they will ‘wash’ anything out of me, but I must see a doctor and get a check-up, he stressed.
I didn’t have to worry about sleeping with him now – or anyone he knew.
He got bottled water from his mini-fridge and gave it to me. I knew better than to believe there was any medicine one could take to protect against HIV after being exposed to it, but I took the medicine he gave me all the same.
“My sister did not tell me you were raped.” He said.
I still didn’t get why he referred to Mama as his sister.
“I didn’t tell her. I didn’t tell anyone. I don’t want anyone to know.”
“I understand. But you should still have gotten yourself checked out. My friend, doctor, is downstairs. I will tell him to take care of you and we will speak to the Commissioner of Police.”
“I don’t want any more trouble. The officer will deny what he did to me and then I won’t be safe again.”
“In this Lagos? You will be safe. And your friend that they kidnapped, what are they saying about him?”
“His people said they don’t want to involve the police.”
“Yes, you told me that already, but what are his people saying? Are they sure they will release the man after they pay the money?”
“I don’t know.”
“What about his friends, the Americans they kidnapped with him? How much are they asking for those ones?”
An alarm went off. I didn’t tell him about the Americans. He saw the look on my face.
“Your friend told me everything. I have already told the Commissioner and he is following the case. That is why he wants to see you. I also have people working on things.”
“The money is for all of them.”
“Do you think they have that kind of money?”
“They are still trying to raise it.”
“They have it. They are only playing tricks on the kidnappers. Kora people will not just throw money away like that. They will get their son back and they will deal with the hooligans. They have their own way of dealing with things like this.”
“I just hope they find him soon.”
“Don’t worry, they will. You are staying here tonight. You and my sister will sleep in my room. My friends are using the other rooms.”
He got up from the bed.
“I will not tell my sister what you told me, but you have to talk to doctor today. Come, I will introduce you to him.”
We left his room and we didn’t speak all the way till we got to the poolside. He exchanged greetings with people, all the time holding my arm as we negotiated the crowd.
Mama was dutifully at his table where he had told her to wait. The ashewo grinned and winked when she saw me. We had been gone a long while. Obviously, the same thought that had formed in her mind was in the minds of the other guests at the table. I avoided their eyes.
Someone got me a chair and some people shifted for me. I sat silently and dreaded being introduced. He did exactly that. He introduced me as his girlfriend! Then he told everyone - they were all men apart from Mama - that if he caught any of them looking at me too much or trying to take my number he would make them swim fully clothed in his swimming pool. It was an ice breaker.
Thankfully I’d not been placed next to Mama. She was trying to catch my eyes but I was pretending to survey the party. I felt my phone vibrating in my purse and I looked up to find her holding hers. I just knew it was her. I ignored the phone.
I wondered which of the men at our table was the Commissioner of Police, then a terrible thought occurred to me: What if his brother was here as well?
Someone called my name. I turned to see Uncle China standing with a tall young man in blue jeans and a black Polo shirt. One of his boy-boys, no doubt, and he was the one who had called out my name.
I excused myself from the table and walked over to them.
“Amaka, this is my friend, Rotimi. He wants to talk to you.” And with that Uncle China left me alone with the guy.
“Hi. How are you?” He extended a handshake.
“Ok, this is embarrassing, I didn’t tell him I wanted to talk to you. He told me to help him call you and now this.”
What was he talking about?
“Let’s start again. Hi, I’m Rotimi.”
“Sis, I’m as out of place in this place as you are. I’ve been coming to his parties for years and I still haven’t managed to blend in with the crowd.”
“Amaka, right? It’s obvious I’m boring you. Do you want to return to your sit?”
What did he expect me to say to that? Who was he?
“Who are you?” It just dropped from my mouth.
“Rotimi. Who are you?”
We laughed at the same time.
“Amaka, what do you do?”
“What do you do?”
“I asked first.”
“I’m a student. And you?”
“What are you studying?”
“One question at a time. What do you do?”
“I’m a doctor.”
“Yes, he told me about your situation. Do you want to talk about it?”
“So why did you say you didn’t want to talk to me?”
“I didn’t. I mean, I didn’t mean to call you like that. He tricked me. We were talking about you, but I didn’t know who you were, then I asked him who that girl was, that’s you, and he said her name is Amaka. He told me to help him call you. Then he told me you were the one.”
“Do you feel like talking? About it?”
“Let’s find a quiet place.”
The only quiet place we could find was inside his car, a blue End-of-Discussion parked inside the compound.
When I closed the passenger door he ignited the engine and switched on the AC. His stereo started playing Michael Frank’s The lady wants to know. He switched it off.
“So, what happened?” he said.
“Someone raped me.”
“Do you know the person?”
“When did this happen?”
“A few days ago.”
“And you haven’t seen a doctor?”
“Are you concerned you may have been infected?”
“Ok. Was there bruising?”
“Uncle C said he gave you something?”
“Yes. But I know it won’t work, I just took it.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say so. In some cases, especially rape cases, we can give a patient post-exposure prophylaxis. But I’m sure that’s not what he gave you. Most likely some multivitamins or some herbal remedy that’ll keep you awake at night at the best.”
“So there is something I can take.”
“Yes, but it depends on your HIV status. When last did you do an HIV test?”
“How many months ago, roughly?”
“About six seven months.”
“And since then?”
“I haven’t done any.”
“No, I mean have you had unprotected sex since then?”
“Not until you were raped?”
“Ok. We have to get you tested tomorrow.”
“Doesn’t it take longer than that for it to be detectable?”
“With normal antibody tests, yes, but we can do a combination test, or a PCR tests. Basically, the other tests are able to detect infection a lot earlier but they are more expensive. But that’s not the point of the test I want to do now. I need to know your current status so I’ll know how to treat you starting from tomorrow.”
“I know you know your status, but I must still do the test, you understand?”
“Besides, Uncle C is paying so I’ll do all the tests and some more. I’ll even test you for asthma. His bill will be very big!”
It was a joke and I laughed.
We sat in silence for a moment then he switched on his stereo and Michael Frank’s voice filled the dark cabin.
“Sorry, I like old people’s music,” he said.
“I like it. I think Antonio’s song is his best song ever.”
He looked at me surprised. I smiled and we both stayed in his car listening to good music. He was handsome, and funny. And he was a doctor, my doctor.