Yesterday she woke up at 2:30PM. It was still a little early for her but there was no point staying in bed. She prefers waking up at 3:00PM. She washed her face, lit a cigarette and dragged herself to a nearby kiosk. A close observer would notice that she wore nothing under her ‘night gown’. It is not really a night gown, its a purple satin dress she wore as a brides maid at her sister’s wedding.
She lives in a small rented house, its a bed sitter. Door number 306. Its not self contained. The washrooms are ‘outside’. They are communal. The houses are closely squeezed together. She has numerous neighbours- fellow tenants. Surprisingly her house is always tidy. She mops the floor everyday. Her clothes are neatly folded in a suitcase at one corner. Her bed is always made and a mosquito net knotted above it. There ain’t much in her house but she is comfortable.
At the kiosk, she topped up her stock of cigarettes(SM), airtime, a litre of soda -Fanta- and some mints. All on credit, she is credit worthy, she keeps her word.
Several of her neighbours- all ladies- were holding court outside house number 298. its the order of the day. They were huddled around a radio from which rhythms and blues emanated. They were not really listening to the music, they were making small talk, much of it gossip. They are a happy lot. There is always a lot to talk about. Never enough time. Some were helping their friends make their hair, others were knitting. She joined the gathering, tales and gossip continued to flow. Puffing her smokes and sipping her soda, she joined the tale telling. She came alive. They analyzed their new/latest neighbours- two young men, They concluded that the girl who lives on the second door on the left must be pregnant; she has gained lots of weight. It was also concluded that the fries at the nearby cafe are no longer as tasty as they used to be and they smell of smoke.
At around 5:00PM, the gathering began to slowly break. Some had to go to work, some had to heat bathing water for their husbands, others went to prepare dinner. She went to tidy up her house. She mopped the floor, made her bed, washed some of her clothes and ironed others.
She called her mother who resides in the country side. In her best good -girl voice she checked on her mother, lied that she just left work. She promised to send her some money come end month. Like any loving mother, her mother wished her God’s blessings and reminded her to stay worm.
She prefers taking a bath at around 7:00PM. Its usually dark, the communal bathrooms less occupied and its not very cold. Yesterday before taking a bath she lit a blunt (weed) and took a few generous puffs. With the puffs , the water was no longer cold, the demons in her head were hushed. Everything seemed easier,everything seemed okay. The puffs locked out thoughts of her mother. The ”keep warm” advice. The puffs locked out reality.
The less tasty and smoky fries were consumed at around Eight O’clock. She sat in the cafe downing the fries and what she assumed to be chicken.(it could be any flying bird.)
By her side was her handbag , in it her ‘work’ clothes, cigarettes, half smoked blunt, condoms and K Y Jelly, amongst her other possessions. She was going to work. In search of bread and a better day.
At some point in the night, she arrived at her ‘work station’ changed into more ‘appealing’ outfits. Outfits that exposed acres of her thighs, outfits which did not conceal her cleavage. Outfits which showed she was at work. Outfits which would make a grown man walk into a pillar.
Together with her colleagues , they occasionally pay protection fee. Protection fees ensure that they do not get bundled into law enforcement trucks. protection fees guarantee her safety from hooligans and harassment. Protection fees make her feel safe even when she knows she is not. Its more of paying for a peace of mind. It keeps her going. Keeps her in business.
Last night she walked up and down their street numerous times with her colleagues. It bore them no fruits. The temperatures got lower, Their hope too but not their spirits. They have old souls. Puffs of weed and cigarettes kept the cold at bay.
Its the midnight drizzle that caused them to disperse. They scattered to different bars. Mostly dark and noisy ones. Stuffy ones with dark alleys. That’s the only place they are likely to find potential clients. She sat at the counter making small talk with the bartender, eying patrons, assessing her probabilities.
At some point before the bar closed, a fat, pot bellied, hairy patron offered her a drink, before they climbed the stairs to a small stuffy lodging. He was a truck driver. Not because he said so. She can tell most people’s occupation just by watching them. Just by talking to them. The bed was creaky, the blankets torn and smelly but they served purpose. He was an ‘honest’ client. Paid his bills and even tipped her. She left him in bed naked. He was kind enough to offer her a few smokes to beat the morning cold. Dressed in less ‘appealing’ outfits she left for her house after earning her bread. She was weary. She was going to bed. Soon she will be opening a salon or a cafe. She is yet to make up her mind. In the meantime, she is raising capital. Her neighbours think she is a bartender, her mother knows she is a waitress. Watching her leave leaves you in a mystery. Confused. Confused because you do not know what to think of her. Lady of the night.
sound track: i want my tears back– Nightwish