TALES FROM LIBYA (AGHOGHO)
The smell of burning cigarette mixed with sweat filled the air. It was a cold January morning and Leticia laid semi naked in bed. Beside her a young man wearing only boxer briefs with cigarette in his mouth, stared into the empty space quietly brooding.
The man, dark and lanky, with lots of facial hair stood up from the bed after some time and picked up his trouser. He steadily wore his faded rumpled clothes, then his old boots before he hastily turned to toss some crumpled notes at her. Cigarette still in his mouth, he walked out. No word said between them. Leticia was exhausted after four rounds of rough sex the night before. She tried to close her eyes to sleep before Madam Kofi would come in to shoo her out, but her mind like a pendulum swung back and forth, in between it all she let loose tears she had been holding back.
It was May 2001 when Leticia was brought in to Libya. She had just turned 16. Eyes shining with dreams too big for her small body frame, and laughter always lurking by the corner of her mouth she was a bright teenager. Her mother had called her “Aghọghọ” her native name that meant “happiness” because she was a jovial child. At 16 she had been brought to Libya from her small village in Delta state with the hope of being smuggled to Europe where she had been promised a better life. Aunty Kefya had been the one filling her head with tales of how Europe was a beautiful place and how life was so easy, – a sharp contrast to the difficult life she was used to in the Niger Delta. Aunty Kefya had told her stories of how people rode expensive cars, and lived in mansions with white servants. Starry eyed, she had believed every word she heard and dreamt of traveling to Europe. What Aunty Kefya failed to tell her was that most of the young girls smuggled to Libya, never made it to Europe. Alive too.
19 years old Leticia tossed and turned on the ragged thin mattress that was her bed. She had finally managed to stop the tears, but her head was spinning and her body was sore. She tried to sit up but she slumped back on the bed. Any moment from now madam Kofi would come pounding her door and demanding for her money. Leticia let out a deep sigh and gathered the little energy in her to sit up on the bed. She looked around her tiny room. The smell of cigarette still hung up in the air. There was the rancid smell from the trash can in the far corner of the room. Several empty liquor bottles were tossed carelessly on the floor. Her clothes were littered around the room. Slowly she got up and wore her clothes. Then she picked up the notes her client from the night before had tossed her and counted it. It was complete 8 dinar for 4 rounds of sex. Madam Kofi would be pleased she thought.
Quickly she made for the bottles lying around, an attempt at cleaning up the room. One of the liquor had poured out on the floor and made the faded rug wet. She dashed to the bathroom to get a clean rag. There was a knock at the door. Then the voice from behind the door.
“Letty, open up”.
The only person that called her Letty was her colleague and friend Candy. Candy was a Cameroonian. She, just like Leticia and the other girls who worked as sex slaves for Madam Kofi were on their way to Europe and had planned to be smuggled there through Libya, but ended up being traded for sex. Leticia quickly mopped the wet rug with an old rag then she opened the door. Candy a tall skinny girl with an ebony skin that shone when she oiled it with coconut oil walked in and flung herself on the bed.
“What’s up? “ Leticia asked.
Candy said and put her palm on her face. She began to sob. Leticia froze on the spot.
“What… wha… what happened? “ she asked.
“Madam Kofi asked Ahmed to deal with her when she refused to please a client. Oh my poor baby sister was shot in the head” Candy said in between sob.
Leticia gasped and burst into tears, quickly she flung her arm around Candy.