The Immigrant’s Journey – The Prostitute

prostituteBased on a true story, this is the fate of Nneka and others, who leave home for beyond, hoping for greener pastures. To some like her, the green comes with a price tag. Names and places were changed to protect the identity of the protagonists.

My name is Nneka and I am a prostitute. Don’t look at me with those eyes, don’t pity me, don’t feel sorry for me, don’t hate me. I have lived a hard life, thorns and rocks filled my path. You see, I was 20 when my parents managed to scratch the money to send me to Switzerland. My friend Amaka who was already in Zürich, made all the connections and arrangements with the guy who processed my migrating. Oh, how excited I was. Finally, I was going to Europe. My mother was a petty market trader and my dad was working as a driver to a very rich chief, a kind man. Yes, we were poor. Europe was something I could only dream of, never expecting to see it. So when Amaka wrote that she had arranged everything, that this guy was coming to see me for my passport and other documentation to travel to Switzerland, I couldn’t believe my luck. But there was a catch; I had to come up with the flight ticket myself. When I talked to mama and papa, they were devastated. Where were they going to come up with that kind of money. Papa talked to his boss and he promised to give us the ticket money, on condition that I paid back within six months of my stay in Europe. Done deal. Two months later, I was on the plane, heading to meet my best friend Amaka. She was the sister I never had. You see, I was the first of six children and the only girl. I had always been the one to look after my junior brothers when mama went to the market and papa to work. I started being a mother and father to them at the tender age of nine. I even had to stop regular school to attend evening school so that I could take care of my junior ones after my parents went to work. Coming to Europe was going to relieve our poverty. I was going to build my parents a house. I was going to expand mama’s business, possibly buy her a shop, so she can stop the back wrenching trade in dry fish and palm oil she was doing. As for papa, I was going to buy him his own car, and buses, so he can have them on the road and be his own boss. All my brothers would go to school without problem. I was going to lift up my family. All these plans and more I made in the air while crossing the Atlantic to Switzerland.

And then I arrived; Amaka was there waiting for me. Oh what joy. My sister, bonded again in friendship and in gratitude. Yes, I owed her this, this turning of my life around. When Amaka travelled, she promised she was going to send for me. I didn’t believe her. I thought she was going to forget me. And now I felt ashamed, for not trusting her, my sister, my friend. We hugged, screamed, cried, hugged again, held hands, laughed and smiled. Then she took me to her car and we drove to her apartment. She had a lovely home. Wow, only two years and she had accomplished all these. Her car was new and beautiful, her home the best I had ever been too. Everything was so clean and new. It was a one bedroom apartment, a bit small but very pretty. And it smelled good too, so did Amaka. After unpacking and having my shower, we ate, I gave her all I brought for her, gifts from her parents, my parents and some of our friends. She was very happy and read some of her letters laughing out loud. We stayed up all night talking, mostly I telling her stories of home. In the two years she has been in Switzerland, she has not yet visited. She wanted to know everything and I told her. It was into the wee hours of morning before we could sleep. The next day, she took me shopping. We bought some very nice clothes for myself, all paid for by Amaka. When I tried to refuse, she insisted, “you are my sister, if I do not do it for you, who will I do it for, hmm?” She laughed and pushed my head. So we shopped, I forever grateful for ever meeting her. At night that day, Amaka dressed up and told me she was going to work and will only come back in the morning. She was very scantily dressed. “What kind of work is it that you are dressed like that?” I asked, suspicion rousing in me. She only laughed and didn’t answer. She left. The next day and the day after and for the next two weeks, the same pattern. My suspicions strengthened, but I prayed that I was wrong. I prayed and hoped that what I was thinking was not true.

I called my parents and they told me Sunday, one of my brothers had been admitted in the hospital and since they used all their money for my trip, they didn’t have any money for his medication. Amaka met me crying that morning, when I told her what was going on, she gave me the money to send. I couldn’t thank her enough. I promised to pay her every cent when I started work. She smiled and told me it was ok.

One month after my arrival, I told Amaka I needed to start work. I told her I had only five months left to pay back my father’s debts. She looked me deep in the eyes and then she said no problem, I could come with her tonight and start working.

My heart did a somersault. I asked her what kind of work it was.

She looked at me again and said softly “Nne, you know what kind of work it is.”

“No, Ada, no, I can’t do that.”

“Yes, Nne, you can. You can do it. It is the only thing you can do.”

“No, there should be other jobs. Cleaning, cooking, anything. Just not that. I can’t do it.”

“There are no other jobs Nne, this is the only job we can do.”

Tears were running down my eyes and hers too.

She told me how without legal papers, there were no other jobs for us. Every other girl was doing the same thing. Her aunt who brought her here owned a brothel and she worked there. No one cared about you there, no one controlled whether you had papers or not. It was the easiest way to make money; it was the only way to make money, for them. At first, she thought she could never do it. She would die before she gave herself to a man for money. But after several months of nothing, not even money to buy a card to call home, she knew she had no choice. And when news came that her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she knew she was hooked. She needed to work to send them money. So she started. She could not go back home because what was she going to tell her parents. She will stay here, work and send them the money. She had no choice. And now, she was used to it. Prostitution was part of her life. It was just a job, like any other job. They called them sex workers, making it posh and nice. But it was the same thing. It was prostitution and it was what she did. She didn’t need to go beg anyone, she could take care of herself. Maybe I might look on it as dirty, she said, as she also did in the beginning, but now, she sees it differently. Sure, if she had the choice, she wouldn’t have chosen prostitution, but it is her life now. It was just a job like any other. It paid the bills, it put food on the table and it took care of the family back home. She knew it was hard, but she promised me I was going to see it differently one day. She is here for me. She will help me and together we were going to go through it. One day at a time. That night, I put on one of her outfits and we drove to her aunt’s brothel together.

It is ten years now and I am still a prostitute. Why? Because I know no other life. I have enough money now that I can stop and start a business. But do I want to do that? No. I have come to like my job. It is hard, but it pays well. My mother now has her store, my father two taxis and a bus. My brothers are all in school, two in the university and they look up to me. I am responsible for their tuition and school needs. Yes, you might frown on me, look at me with scorn, but Prostitution is what I do. What I had to do. It is going to build my parents and siblings a house, it is going to get my father more cars and it keep stuffing my mother’s store with more goods. Maybe one day I might stop, maybe one day I will do something else, but for now, it is what I do. It takes care of the family back home. It takes care of me.

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About The Last Immigrant

The Last Immigrant is about writing - writing all about journeys, passion, perception(s). It is about leaving home and travelling beyond, over the seas and above the horizons; of experiences in the foreign and the unknown. Of my view, her view, their view, our views. An enthusiast reader of books, fiction and non-fiction alike, books and stories have been an integral part of my life from the time I was about 8 years old. My passion for literature accompanied me all my life through school and university. With me, you can discuss books from all eras and genres, be it the classics, post-colonial, Victorian, Comedy, Tragedy, Contemporary etc. I don’t limit myself in the world of books. My preferences are the Novel and Short story, but bring on Drama or poetry and I will give it a go. I will be sharing a lot about books in this blog. Books I have read, my take on them, recommendations from me, friends etc. You can follow me on Book Read to see what I am currently reading. I sometimes write short stories and poetry. I will be sharing some of my stories on this blog. Being a mom of 2 teenagers, it is difficult to delve full time into writing; but I try as best as I can to create time for this alongside juggling family and work life. Hope you enjoy the stories. Sports, oh boy, don’t I love sports. I am an avid lover of tennis, football and Formula 1. My favourite tennis players happen to be Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal. I will go sleepless nights singing praises for my beloved FC Bayern München. In car racing, no one drives a car like Lewis Hamilton. You will be getting my take on these great athletes and many others on these pages. Travelling happen to be one of my hobbies as well. I will try and share with you some of the interesting places I go to with a literary twist to it. All in all, you will be getting just about anything that ticks Mbole. I hope you enjoy the blog and please leave comments and notes. Have a pleasant ride in The Last Immigrant’s world and thoughts. Thank you for passing by. Mbole D Nnane The Last Immigrant.

Posted on February 24, 2015, in The Immigrant's Journey and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Wow…these are the struggles that foreigners go through that people don’t know about. This is why it upsets me when African men make stupid comments about how “African women are gold diggers”. Do they have to prostitute themselves to make a living if that was the only way out? Men tend to have it better in society in general!

    My only thing with this story is that the prostitute said that she now has enough money to start a business. So my question is why hasn’t she started a business that will set a good example to her siblings? Does she tell them that she prostitutes to send them to school? I know that initially it was a survival mode but now that she is established she can get a decent living not selling herself! To each their own lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly Mbols… I think it’s more the fact that the family is still expecting so much from her. In business, she might start reaping profit some years later meanwhile as a sex worker, the cash is now. Na really, each to their own.

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  2. Wow! What a story! Lord have Mercy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. While I feel for her, the way she gets introduced into prostitution , I dont buy the “”It is ten years now and I am still a prostitute. Why? Because I know no other life” . You could have stopped if you really wanted to. Prostitution could be the means to an end but you alone choose to make it ‘the end’.

    I am glad though that she assumes her responsibilities and accepts it for what it is.

    I dont know how they do it but they do it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly Braun.. In the beginning it was more of a “i have no choice.” But at the end, it was a conscious decision. And that is exactly the state of most prostitutes from Africa and the Eastern Europeans here. They get so caught up in the lifestyle, it becomes a norm!

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  4. Bouh, sorry The last Immigrant, we’ll narrated. This is the life many a sister do out here in Europe. Brothers would be willing to do thesame job if they had a way or say if men too could prostitute.
    Having lived in Europe and in Brussels which has a special business area for legal sex workers (Rue Astrid at Gare du Nord), prostitution is just another job. It maybe nasty but it pays her bills and feeds her family back home. She may not love it but she’s now a “professional”.
    It’s a difficult situation to find yourself in but then you have to survive.
    I’ve been witness to this, sisters go at lengths to survive, do I blame them? No way cos I can’t help them.
    They have to use what to have to survive.
    It’s a legal business in Holland, Belgium, Swiss and I think Germany. Eastern European woman thrive in the trade. Not too sure if they love it, but they have to survive. Their families have to survive and that is life.

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  5. Mbole Ekaney,
    I get your point but don’t buy it. You try to set up a business in the West without having the appropriate contacts to do so. She was probably trying to sound decent, knowing perfectly well that she was likely going to be condemned by all who read her true-life story. She surely had to muster quite some courage to tell the truth. We who have grown up here in the West who who have moved here must know better that to lurch at our sisters who have found themselves here willy-nilly by dint of a ‘sisterly contact’ while initially remaining quite ignorant of the deeper implications. Simply stating that you could set up a business with what you have earned is probably a way of justifying that you have at least not shown up and turned out as a complete failure in the land of bright lights. To set up a business you need to be officially registered. How do you want to go there when you do not have any papers whatsoever? Please, let us reason out Nneka’s position and situation carefully.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Guy, I guessed she could go back home and start a business? that’s what most immigrants from Africa in Europe do, init? But in any case, I like your take of it. There is also that scenario where you need to lie to not appear as a failure, true! But after 10 years of prostitution? setting your mum and dad in business.. Sending your siblings to school, you should be making some cool money there 🙂

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  6. Franky Corleone

    It is the oldest profession there is and when done with class its becomes even more meaningful because prostitution just like other jobs have stratas, the prostitute standing by the roadside for $1 a pop is very different from a call girl or hostess for $3K a night.

    “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal” Earl Nightingale. Just like prostitution or nursing if you do it at the highest level you have accomplished a worthy ideal

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow…The reality of an immigrant lady…and some more!! What stroke me about this story was the end..She has enough money to start a business but doesn’t know what to do..She is being real because she doesn’t know anything else..It will take external help and support for her to work on improving herself, having the right contacts and knowledge to start a business..Is she willing to go out there and do that? May be get an education and be around the right people? .

    Have her parents have ever wondered what she does or asked? I guess some don’t care as long as she is footing the bills? It’s a hard knock life..and it pays the bills and her family is doing well.

    Wish Nneka all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is all about exposure.We don’t get the right exposure back home and fall for whatever.The hardship is for real and these things do not only happen abroad.take for example the struggles that university girls go through away from their homes.They have to put on with pot belly men and all type of nasty things to make ends meet..He situation is worst because she goes to a foreign country without knowing too much of what to expect.She goes stretched with depth and have to bring down herself even lower to take off the pressure from her parents

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  9. Guy Thomas I hear what you are saying but I cannot assume that she still does not have papers now. I wish we had more detailed information on that. If she doesn’t then your explanation is valid (lol I sound like Lupita). But if she does have papers, then she has other alternatives (besides starting a business). To me she seems content with her job and that is all there is to it. There is no reason for her to sugar coat or lie about anything. If she is telling her story and assumes people would judge her then she shouldn’t tell it at all. But great points you all have here. But all in all this was a good knowledge share on how different people interpret the same thing read. 🙂
    http://www.thehotjem.com

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  10. Nneka’s story is reminiscent of the age old debate on whether prostitution is a freely chosen profession. Though thrust into it by circumstances, i don’t consider her a victim of this profession which has proven to be vicious and claimed the lives of many young women. Nneka is in my opinion a willful participant, albeit hesitantly in a lucrative profession that has enabled her to cater for her family. I strongly believe that she has grown to love her job and is comfortable with it but worries about how the rest of us see and judge her. On whether to leave or not to leave, Nneka has made a rational decision that maximizes her self interest just like we all do on a daily basis. e.g. degree holders dying in the Sahara desert on their way to europe, Masters and PhD holders working in factories in europe and N.Ame. They too just like Nneka see a need to explain their choices because of a feeling that the rest of us don’t understand their decision. So, Nneka is a prostitute by choice and should care less of what we think of her decision because she will never get everybody to understand her choices.

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  11. Interesting story. She has a choice now but has decided to remain a prostitute. That’s her cup of tea.

    Ngum

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  12. I have no problem at all with prostitution so long as it’s not child prostitution or forced (as in the gun-to-head kind) prostitution. As mentioned in the story, it is indeed one of many professions. Her choice. Only part I don’t get is why she wasn’t more ambituous. Why she didn’t upgrade herself after all these years. You know, move for instance, from a regular brothel prostitute to a a high-class escort. Just like how she made it possible for her Dad to move from being a driver to an “Oga at the top” himself or how her mother upgraded from petty trader to shop owner. Why didn’t she do the same for herself? She could have even snagged herself a wealthy husband from her extensive clientele. The possibilties are varied and many.

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  13. Reading Nneka’s story reminds me of a short story I once wrote. Even without seeing this first hand, I was told to enter a competition with the story because it depicts the life of many an Immigrant lady. It is indeed an eye opener.
    I can sympathize with her, because I guess she found it the hard way that life is not always green on the other side and she was forced to do something for survival. Still, I can’t get it round my head why she remained into it after 10 years? She has practically fulfilled all what she set out to do, upgrade her family. Like many are asking why didn’t she branch out and do something else after 10 years? The only conclusion I can reach is that, initial reasons not withstanding, she developed a lassitude and felt comfortable with her life that she lacked the courage to venture out of her comfort zone and start afresh. Could fear of failure be a paralysis effect on her?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. One of the struggles for foreigners. It’s a pity at times what some women go through trying to make a living. This is one of the reasons we have to keep thanking God.The question is why didn’t start the business after getting enough money. At first it was a means to survive, which after getting enough money she could now make a decision on what she wants.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A really interesting and thought provoking post. But this is something we don’t understand about those who migrate to here, Europe or any other western part of the world – why? It’s not easy and our people come here to struggle and struggle. And it is not always guaranteed success (no judgement on the career choice in this post as she seems to be enjoying what she does). Isn’t that the issue we have with our African countries. This brain drain? Meaning progress is that much more delayed?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Frederic Kansas

    It is very sad to see how our ladies from Africa suffer on the streets of Europe, I put the blame on our leaders back in Africa who have messed up entire continent which has resulted into mass immigration.

    Liked by 1 person

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