In the dark bowels of a dark Nairobi discotheque, I dance under the glare of multi colored bulbs. I dance not for passion, but for money, cold impersonal cash. They gape at me, these lustful men. They watch every inch of my body which moves every so beautifully, oiled by the sweat of a difficult womanhood. I am naked; every part of my woman hood exposed to the scrutiny of these intoxicated levelers. Life has robbed me of all decency and has not spared me the privilege of feeling shame. For shame is a preserve of those with means, for in the abyss of despair, shame is cast out and exiled forever. Here, only strife exists; strife which knows neither boundaries nor choice. For a man or woman must do whatever it takes to survive, whether that path is moral or not?
“I want a lap dance.” Shouts one of the patrons.
An ugly man, this one. Completely bald with a body thick as that of a dirty swine. His clothes look drab, dirty and reeking of a dirty odor. His eyes look intoxicated with a blend of cheap liquor and insatiable lust. His hands look course as sand paper, hands waiting to paw my silky skin with impatience and greed. Hands reminiscent of evil, an evil visited upon me for so long it has become a bearable necessity. There is drool at the corner of his mouth, drool borne of over intoxication and the prospect of mauling a brown young and nubile beauty.
I can feel the disgust rising from the depth of my bowel. I take a deep breath to settle my stomach and stifle down the revulsion that threatens to overpower my determination. I close my eyes momentarily, not to pray, but to find the strength within me to do what I must. Even though I’ve been down this path so many times, it never becomes easier. How can it? How can it? I can feel a lone tear sliding past my beautifully decorated eye lashes, past my flushed cheeks to fall on the tainted floor. A floor where so much innocence has died, killed by the chains of poverty and the lust of uncouth men. I open my eyes, eyes cold as the breeze of Siberia. All warmth drained by exhaustion and disgust, replaced by pain, horror and unfathomable melancholy.
“Nice titties.” Shouts another patron as I pass by him, his mouth remaining open after uttering those accustomed words.
“No cash, no touch.” My usual reply struggles with the loud music to become audible to the silly man, silly because words won’t be enough to dissuade his intents.
“I have money, I can pay.”
“Hey, I get my lap dance first.” Intones the original bidder, agitated by the prospect that his longings might have to wait a moment longer for gratification.
“No arguments, there is enough for every one.” Shouts another as he spreads his arms round to demonstrate the several naked ladies around.
“But this one is mine tonight.” Laughs the ugly bald man as he spreads his legs in anticipation for the dance.
I cast my eyes down to his lap and stare with disinterest at the huge bulge between his dirty thighs. I have seen so many of those, bulges which characterize the brutality of unmannered manhood. I turn around, standing between his parted legs. I can feel his glare on my naked bottom, so surreal is the situation that I could feel his breath catch at the sight of such perfection. Before he can break his trance and reach for me, I sink down to his lap to do what is the trademark of our profession. Well, at least the one carried out at the gloom of seedy strip clubs
“Let me see the cash.”
Like a slave, he reaches within his drab coat and hands me a two hundred shilling note. A meager two hundred, such a low price to let down all my God given dignity. Yet such is the way of this world, a world where pain and suffering must afflict the people begot by love and care. I hold the note tight within my fist, hold it since that’s the only place life allows me to.
“For another hundred you can touch my breasts.”
“Fifty, take it or leave it.”
“Okay.” I stretch my hand to receive this offering, a treaty to give away the sanctity of my woman hood.
I move my buttocks in slow gyrating motions, motions on top of a lap bridled by lust and untempered desire. Some times I move front and back, motions which are more characteristic of coitus than dance. But this is not a venue for dance; this is a venue where sinful men partake of bought pleasures. A place where a man’s sick desires can be satisfied for a measly few notes. I can feel his manhood harden even farther if such a feat is humanly possible. But is it really manhood, when a man results to pay for sex when the same should be a result of courtship. What does it say about such a man? Hasn’t he failed and therefore doesn’t deserve to be seen as one? But what else would he be called? A looser maybe, a pervert of the highest order.
His dirty rough hands creep towards my small perfect breasts. They touch them without care or gentleness, only pawing them roughly like the sick animal he is. I can feel his other hand creeping downwards, exploring how farther he can be allowed to reach before being halted. But this month has been worse than others, and responsibilities have piled up that needs cash urgently. My small girl just reminded me that she needs fees for the next term or face the indignity of being sent back home. The landlady raised the rent and expects it promptly or throw us out like rats or dogs. So I’ll let his rough hand explore the very center of my woman hood, a woman hood fraught with misery and indecency. A womanhood shrouded by hypocrisy of striving for moral mother hood against the immorality of livelihood.
I moan slowly, seductively even. But it’s not a moan of pleasure or desire. It is a ruse, a trap to ensnare the wallet of this vile creature. A strategy to separate this fool from his money; a fool who clearly does not appreciate the opportunities thrown to him by unpredictable fate. So I moan, not for pleasure but pain, not desire but despair and not for love but indifference. I moan for the dreams of old which died never to rise again. I moan for my kid who struggles every day to keep her dreams alive amidst so much struggle and uncertainties. I moan for my lost decency which my parents tried so hard to foster into my tender mind when life was full of happiness and love. I moan for all the ladies out there whose life is one night mare after another. I am just a small pebble in a river of misery, flooded by the tears of a suffering people.
It was only inevitable that I would go home with one of the men, I’m just sad it had to be this dirty bald excuse of a man. He offered me a 500 note to agree to sell my body to quench the thirst of his groin in some seedy lodging in down town Nairobi. Not even the decency of a comfortable room where a lady can freshen up before heading home to tend to one’s child. This man continues to blow his own horn with tales of how blessed he is where it matters and how talented life has made him in the bedroom department. I wish I can tell him to shut up, or better still, make him shut up. But my little girl needs a new uniform, new shoes and school fees for the term. My angel needs her dignity assured if only to avert the likelihood of becoming like me. A whore. A prostitute. A call girl. Malaya in our national language, a word full of shame and disgust. A profession fuelled by the lust of men and blamed on the helpless women who are used, abused and cast aside by society.
Haven Lodge was his lodge of choice. Haven in the English language means a place of escape and peace. But, this was a slaughter house, not for animals but for the humanity of both lady and man. A lady who would sell her body for the basics necessary for survival. For men who would pay a few measly coins to buy flesh of women driven to this recourse by poverty and bad judgment. Here the sheets look dirty probably due to over use by others before us in this same night. The blanket is old and smelly, a testament to the nocturnal activities of the people who frequent this den of iniquity. The bed is infirm and makes ugly loud squeaks like an animal tormented by a predator and denied the mercy of a quick death. The mattress seems non existent after countless nights of over use as man and woman dance in that perpetual dance of passion and pleasure. Only here, pleasure and passion belongs to one party while the other just feels disgust and obligation.
The ugly one sits down on the bed and stares at my young body. A body so tender with age it could be that of one of his daughters. A body kept shapely not by choice but due to the rigor of a difficult life and the stress of humane reflections of the path I have taken. I can see his eyes linger at my beautiful lips, lips whose ability to smile was stolen so long ago by the irony of a mean life. They drop down to a neck so shapely it’s the product of a master sculpture. I can see the fire glow in his glassy eyes as they stare at those twin towers standing proud at a bosom devoid of love or attraction. A fire which burns brighter as they lower to hips broad and African, hips of royalty, when our continent was full of grace, decency and valor. I am a beautiful woman, that, there can be no doubt. I am a queen amidst a nation where women are beautiful and blessed with impressive womanhood. Yet my beauty is also my curse, a beauty which brings men to me like the song of a siren. Men whose intents are never courtship but the quick fulfillment of desire, not from within them but from the loins which guide their every move.
I remove my clothes slowly, not for his sake but due to the revulsion which lingers even now. I look up to find him frantically getting out of his oversized clothes revealing a body which is unattractive and neglected. A body which holds nothing but repulsion and its not surprising that he must result to this kind of action to satisfy his unending lust. A lust fuelled by rejection and hurt; rejection borne of neglect and the continuation of glutton tendencies. His efforts to kiss me are met by experienced evasion, for such a foul mouth can never be granted permission to defile divinity. So he chooses to explore the rest of my body, a sacred body which should be cherished and loved and treated with respect as by the provisions of both bible and Quran. When his done pawing me he lays me on the bed and smolders me with the immensity of his bloated body. Needless to say there is neither subtleness nor care when he enters me, just brute force and the indifference of evil. Thankfully, his boast was just that, boasting. No sooner is he inside me than he releases his seeds of greed inside me. How sad to be such a man, sad even that the plight of a lady like me.
Confused by alcohol and soothed by his bodily release, he falls asleep immediately. Like a dog goes back to its vomit so does a fool repeat his folly. I dress up leisurely, a faint smile finally playing on my sweet lips. I stare at the naked flesh snoring loudly on the burdened bed. I should feel hate for this man who with a few coins uses my body for his own self amusement. But I can feel the despair that emanates from his tired soul. I can feel the depression that threatens to topple him from a high ledge onto the pavement of death and humiliation. He is a defeated man and all that remains is a pitiful shell waiting for merciful death. No, this man already hates himself enough. This is a man without much to live, so best to let fate deal with him as it sees fit. For me all I’ll take from him is the money in his wallet, the phone in his pocket and anything valuable he carries with him. Why? Because I am Aisha. A destitute mother and a prostitute, for such is the way of our trade.