The baseline of the music pulsates through her body as she does her dance moves that
resemble a mating ritual. She leans back onto his chest and whispers something to him.
He leads her away down a dark corridor towards a crowded bar. She staggers onto her
chair and calls for shots. Her male suitor slides his hand up and down her thigh like he
is swiping his credit card for the transaction that is about to happen. It must have been
approved cause she takes him by the hand and leaves with him.
He zips up his pants and throws a few dirty notes at her. She is shocked into sobriety
because there seems to be a few notes short of the agreed amount. He raises his voice.
She screams at him like a banshee. She reaches for him and he flings her across the
room like an item of clothing. She lies there and sobs inconsolably. Wherever will she
find the missing $5 shortfall? She grabs her head in frustration and realises that she is
bleeding. Something is wrong.
“I can’t go to the hospital. I can’t afford it and I’m already $5 out of pocket. My papers
aren’t straight. I can’t afford to bring unnecessary attention towards me. I could report
him but the cops will never believe me. I’m a commercial sex worker, I probably
deserved it as far as they are concerned,” she thought to herself.
She arrives to her one-roomed home on time to rush her daughter Nozipho to school.
The other mothers judge her for being a teenage mum. She pays no mind to their stares
and hushed tones. She leaves Nozipho and heads back home to rest. She can feel the
insults of being a prostitute, home wrecker and harlot being hurled at her scorching
through the back of her neck. This is a daily struggle. Water off a duck’s back really.
She is woken from her nap by the purring of a fuel guzzler luxury car. He is here. She
doesn’t bother to get up. She literally knows how this conversation will play out and she
is over it at this moment. She let’s her soul vacate her body for this part of her day. She
opens the door and is greeted with a backhand slap. The kind that pull the spirit and
body asunder. Now she wishes her soul would really check out of her body for good.
She knows this aggression is about money. She recognizes this demon.
Back in the night club, she nibbles the rim of her water disguised as beer. She assumes
the position and plays the damsel in distress. They always fall for this vulnerability act.
She’s got him! Hook, line and sinker. He wastes no time and makes his offer. “All this
money!” She thinks to herself. “It would keep the troubles away for a while,” she
contemplates. She takes a swig of her brown-bottled water and goes in for the kill.
Its morning, she is woken up by her body shivering uncontrollably on the cold hard floor.
“When did I get a red carpet,” she wonders. “I don’t have a red carpet. Its my blood.”
She realizes she is drenched in her own blood. For the life of her she can’t remember
what went on last night. She tries to lift her head and its heavier than usual. She looks
across the room and sees a pile of cash. “That John!” He didn’t pay all that money for
sex that he can get at home. These clients have diabolic fetishes that they can only
soothe by paying somebody to do them. She crawls towards her phone and dials up a
friend. “I been through worse,” she mutters to herself.
She comes to and recognizes the walls of the hospital. She drifts in and out of it. She
clutches at straws and fights for her life. “I can’t go now. What about my daughter? We
have enough from this John to get away clean and start over somewhere else,” she
comforts herself. She feels a gentle nudge on her forearm and realizes she isn’t alone.
Its the do-gooders. Last time they visited her, they convinced her to leave her abuser
and she nearly paid for it with her life because they sold her dreams they couldn’t afford.
They sold her a mirage and fairy tales of freedom and liberation. Don’t they know
escaping takes money? There’s a price for salvation from certain demons. “If they tell
me one more time to get out while I still can, I’ll send them all home in match boxes,”
“You can’t continue this way Kudzi, this job will be the death of you. You have rights,”
they say to her.
“These jokers are crazy. What rights do women have? Worse commercial sexworkers?”
“When you recover, you need to get clean. Leave that dirty job and that woman-beater.
Go back to school. You are still young enough to salvage what’s left of your life. What
kind of example are you setting for Nozipho?”
That’s it! The anger rises up in her and gets the strength to sit up and tell these social
“My daughter is going to school so that she has a chance at a different life than I had.
I’m doing all it takes to take all the punches life throws just so that there are none left for
my daughter. You keep coming around here singing the redemption song but you have
nothing to offer me. If I step off this bed right now, you couldn’t possibly help me. Your
words will not buy me a new house, or feed my baby. Your rights have never protected
me. They are like a cheap condom that cowers at the first sign of action. Where were
you when my parents picked my brother over me to send to school? Where were you
when they married me off at the age of 14 to the village drunk that collected wives as a
sport? That was my out! And you weren’t there. You should have been there with
scholarships, with legal help, with a safe house or something. But its fine, I got out. I left
on my own and figured it out. I met a man that offered me a job. The money was good
considering I don’t have qualifications. That’s how I got here! I’m stuck in this human
trafficking ring because people like you back home can’t afford to bring girls like me
back home. I keep working so that I can pay off my debt to the people that brought us
here and then maybe they can give me my passport back. Money started this mess,
only money can fix it. So until you have something more helpful to me than words, I
strongly suggest you leave.”