Like I said, she drew nearer and nearer stylishly until she got to the edge of the bed I lay on, knelt on it and then like a tree that had been cut down from the root, she fell on the bed and became motionless.
I thought it was part of the process of whatever she was doing, so I said or did nothing until my heartbeat which had increased as though I just finished a 100 meter race reduced. Then I called on her and got no response. I tapped her, still no response. It was when I turned her face towards mine to find out what happened that I perceived the smell of alcohol, and then I knew she had been acting under the influence of alcohol. Or was she? Time will tell.
I woke up early enough the next morning to discover that Cynthia wasn’t there. She had woken up and left the room while I was still sleeping.
Three days passed and Cynthia and I were ready to leave for America but Chang urged us to stay. I knew why, but Cynthia didn’t. It appeared that Cynthia told Lin about me not knowing that Lin went ahead to tell her father, which made him admire and want me as a husband to her daughter. So Chang’s plan was to get rid of Cynthia while I stay back with Lin. Cynthia was really kept in the dark by Lin and her father, and now, they wanted to make me a part of it. Cynthia innocently agreed to spend a few more days in China because she couldn’t say no to a man like Chang. Chang and I had another conversation and I asked what Lin had to say about the arrangement. Chang told me his daughter will always do what he asks her to do because she’s young, vulnerable and unable to make the right choices. I made up a lot of excuses in order to escape but Chang always found ways to bastardize my excuses. When Chang saw that I wasn’t giving in easily, he admired me all the more.
One day he arranged for Lin and Cynthia to be taken sightseeing so that he could have enough time alone with me since Cynthia was almost always sticking to me like glue. Chang then told me he was going to take me somewhere to meet with the men who ran China and other countries of the world. I went with him. He and I entered into his snow white limousine and the driver took off. It took three hours to get to our destination, where we had to pass through eight gates before reaching the main building. The building was nothing like any buildings I had ever seen, even in the movies. At all the gates were men dressed in black suits. And before we could gain entrance into any gate a password had to be given verbally by Chang. None of the men in black said a word to us. They only stood there to make sure that nothing went wrong. Chang gave eight different passwords in Chinese language before we got to the building. Fear had already consumed me when he gave the third password, but by then I couldn’t go back, I could only go forward. As we reached the building, some other men, also dressed in black suit opened the door to the car for us and we came down. No one said a word of greeting to anybody, everyone there concentrated on their duties and minded their own businesses. There were no ladies there. We passed through three doors before getting to the sitting room of the house, which was as bigger than usual. Everyone there was in uniform and surrounded someone that couldn’t be seen. As soon as Chang and I stepped in, a voice from the midst of them, probable that of the unseen man echoed angrily,
‘You’re late Chang’.
‘I will make sure to pay the required fine’ replied Chang.
The unseen man echoed again, ‘Don’t be deluded by your wealth. It can be taken just as it was given’.
‘Forgive me’ said Chang meekly.
Next thing the unseen man said was ‘FI-FA-FO-FIM! I hear the smell of a little boy. Be he dead or be he alive, I must eat his body with my bread. FI-FA-FO-FIM!’ Chai!!! I don die!!! Wetin bring me come this place ooo??? I started panicking but Chang asked me to keep my calm. I couldn’t. How was I to keep calm after everything I had just seen and heard? I started begging Chang to forgive my errors. I said so many things to Chang and even promised to marry Lin if he let me live. I was convinced that Chang was going to do something bad to me there and then. So anything I could do to get myself out of that situation was done without hesitation. But then, all I could do was plead and make promises. My whispers were regarded as noise because the place was as silent as a grave yard even with the number of people in it. The meeting didn’t continue further because of me, and Chang was blamed for it. When the meeting ended, everyone took off their uniforms and then I discovered that some of those in uniform were ladies. Apparently, there were also ladies there.
Though they took off their uniforms, their faces were masked. Two masks were also brought for Chang and me. They all left the sitting room to unknown destinations in pairs just like in the case of Noah’s ark. While I was still trying to study what was really happening, two ladies walked up to Chang and me, held us by the hand and led us away from each other to different destinations. I wanted to object because I didn’t want Chang out of my sight, and I couldn’t wait to leave that place. There was so much horror there. But change said to me, ‘Don’t worry. Go with her. I’ll see you at the end of Pleasure Street’. After saying that, he left with one of the ladies. I turned to the one that held my hand, tried to recognize her but it was needless. We both had our masks on. So I followed her to quiet and secluded area of the house where everything in sight was made of pure gold. We sat on a couch and started discussing.
‘What is this place’ was the first thing I asked.
‘If I were you I wouldn’t bother’ she replied.
‘I need to know because that man out there said he is going to eat my body with his bread’ I insisted fearfully.
‘Oh that?’ she asked. ‘Have no fear of that. It’s just a phrase used to announce the arrival of a new PRADA’
‘PRADA?’ I asked. ‘What does PRADA mean?’
‘Anyone who is a part of this organization is referred to as a PRADA’
‘But I’m not a part of this organization. I came here with a man named Chang, and he never said anything about any organization to me’
‘It doesn’t matter if he said anything or not. Once you’re here, you’re here. If not that you arrived late, your initiation would have taken place today. But that will now be postponed till next meeting’
‘When is the next meeting’ I asked with fright.
‘In three days’ she replied’
‘What about you miss? You’re a PRADA too?’
‘No. They don’t take women. We’re only here to give them a good time, like I’m supposed to give to you now. We better stop this talk and proceed to business’ she said with a grin.
‘What?’ I yelled. ‘My life is at stake and here you are talking trash?’
I got really pissed off by her and tried to take off her mask so I that I could see her face very well while yelling but she fought back with some of those tai chi stuff and got me off her. Our little combat caused some noise that called to the attention of two other masked girls who were passing by just at that time and they turned in to find out what was happening. ‘What going on here?’ they asked. I couldn’t say a word; neither could the girl I that was with me. Instead she left in anger. One of the two girls who came in went after her while the other one stayed back to inquire of me what happened. As was talked, her voice sounded familiar but I couldn’t tell if I knew her or not. Of course I won’t know her because I hadn’t made any acquaintances yet in China and wasn’t going to make any because I was going to leave China the very moment I met Cynthia. So I just concluded that she was a strange girl with a familiar voice. Due to my encounter with the previous girl I didn’t pay any attention to this very girl at all, not until her phone rang and she picked and started talking. ‘What?’ She was speaking Igbo with the caller. Igbo girl in China and in a PRADA territory? She noticed I was shocked at the dialect she spoke. When she dropped the call she asked why I was shocked at her dialect. She went ahead to make fun of Chinese language thinking I was a Chinese guy.
‘Who are you?’ I asked.
‘Listen man, if you don’t like ladies tell me and I’ll just get the hell out of here at ones. Stop making fun of me’ she retorted.
‘No miss, I don’t mean to insult you. I just want to know you’.
‘Is that necessary?’ she asked. ‘We probably won’t see each other again after today, so what’s the point?’
‘Okay, I agree with you’ but can you at least take off your mask?’
‘It’s a taboo here’
‘What do you know about PRADA?’ I asked.
‘Dude! What’s your problem?’ Why are you so inquisitive? Even I, who’s just coming here for the first time haven’t asked these much questions?’
‘This is your first time here?’ I asked.
‘Of course’ she replied. I came here with a friend of mine. I don’t even know what this place is. She just told me it’s a party, so I’m here to enjoy myself. I suggest you the same and stop all acting weird’
‘Well this is my first time here too’ a man named Chang brought me here to be initiated into the organization of the PRADAS without my consent’
‘Did you say Chang?’ she asked curiously.
‘Yes Chang’ I replied. ‘Do you know him?’
‘Wait a minute’ she said. Are you…,, are you…, ‘Take off your mask’ she said seriously
‘Why’ I asked. I demanded that first and you waved it away, now you want me to take mine off?’ ‘No way! If you want to see my face, I’ll have to see yours first’
She took off her mask; low and behold she was Cynthia. ‘What in the world are you doing here Cynthia?’ I screamed. ‘Is this what you do?’
‘Hey stop yelling’ she said. ‘How do you know my name? Who are you? Tell me, who are you!’ I grew weary at discovering that Cynthia, who was supposed to go site seeing ended up in the PRADA territory, not as a member but as a pleasure tool. I didn’t know whether or not to reveal myself to her but then, she brought me to China, and I needed her to leave. So I slowly took off my mask. She was so shocked on realizing it was me that she almost fainted. But she got a hold of herself and screamed; WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? Imagine question oo? ‘What am I doing here?’ Wasn’t she supposed to go sightseeing? Now she’s here, asking what I’m doing here. See this girl oo!
TO BE CONTINUED…