Daylight: an unwelcome transition after a heavy night of drinking. Jasmine sneered and cursed at the rays of the sun like a vampire. She looked haggard in her tiny clothes and couldn’t wait to get home. The cab she had requested was waiting at the entrance of the club she had been partying at.
“Jasmine?” The cab driver asked.
“Yes,” she confirmed and then sat in the passenger’s seat.
Her destination was about an hour’s drive. The driver reduced the volume of the car radio that was playing music.
“A lovely night out, huh?” Asked the cab driver.
“Yes. I need to get some sleep,” Jasmine responded.
“So, do you go out regularly?” The driver asked.
“As often as I can. This is the age to do such things,” said Jasmine.
“True. It’s important to have fun when you’re young before you get more responsibilities,” replied the cab driver.
They engaged in more small talk and listened to more music.
“You know in my line of work I meet a lot of people. Some of them have very interesting proposals ad you can do business with them,” said the cab driver.
“Oh really? What kind of business?” Jasmine asked curiously.
“You look like a smart girl,” he replied.
“In Nairobi, you have to be street smart to survive given the costly expenses,” Jasmine responded.
“Now you’re speaking in my language,” said the cab driver as he looked at her and smiled.
“So what kind of business is this?” Jasmine asked.
“These clients are always looking for beautiful girls like you to have a good time with and they pay well for it,” replied the cab driver. He said it slowly as though giving her a moment to read between the lines.
“You could also introduce a friend or two to them and you would also make something out of it,” added the cab driver.
“How much are we talking about?” Jasmine asked him.
“About forty thousand,” he responded.
“How much would your cut be?” Jasmine asked him.
“Just ten thousand,” the cab driver replied.
Jasmine smiled. She had a look in her eyes that indicated she found the proposal fascinating. They were almost at her destination, so there wasn’t more time to talk. He told her to think about it and give him a call if she was interested in the business proposal. Jasmine went home and spoke to nobody about it.
A few days later, a friend of hers, Alice, texted her. They were catching up when Alice mentioned she was going through a rough patch. At first, it sounded like usual financial troubles, nothing too serious, so she also joined the bandwagon of complaining about finances. “Life is hard out here,” she said, like a typical Kenyan. However, Alice’s situation sounded dire.
She explained how she had urgent bills to sort out and nowhere to find the money. Alice asked for a soft loan from Jasmine.
“I can’t help you out like that at the moment but I was given a rather interesting proposal,” Jasmine told Alice.
“How much would I make?” Alice asked.
“More than ten thousand in one night,” Jasmine replied.
“What would I need to do?”
“Just show some clients a good time,” Jasmine responded, quoting the cab driver.
They left the conversation hanging for a while. It wasn’t the kind of thing one quickly agreed to. Alice needed to decide how badly she needed the cash and what lengths she’d go to get it. Jasmine waited with bated breath as she wanted the cut from connecting Alice to the cab driver’s clients. Two days later, Alice was in. Jasmine called the cab driver and told him that she had someone for the ‘deal’.
That was on a Thursday. They set the meeting for the Saturday. The plan was for Alice to meet the cab driver’s client at a popular club, and then they would agree on where to ‘take the party’. Alice was to go to Jasmine’s place, where she would spend the weekend after the deal was done.
On Saturday, Jasmine helped Alice prepare. She dolled up and went to the meeting place. They were to meet at eight o’clock, but she got there thirty minutes earlier. She was nervous, but she needed the money. It was a one-time thing, she told herself. You’ve got to survive in the city, one way or another. A few tequila shots came in handy to calm her nerves down.
The client hadn’t shown up by ten o’clock. She called Jasmine.
“Did your guy change his mind?” Alice asked.
“Not that I know of, why?” Jasmine asked.
“It’s two hours later and he hasn’t yet arrived.”
“Let me check in with the driver,” said Jasmine.
She called the cab driver to inquire if there was a problem. The cab driver said that he had just talked to the client and he’d requested him to take Alice to a different location. Jasmine relayed the information to Alice. The cab driver picked Alice up in less than twenty minutes.
“Come sit at the front,” said the cab driver to Alice when she tried to sit in the back.
“I have been waiting for over two hours,” said Alice.
“You know how these things go sometimes,” said the cab driver.
“Anyway, how’s the client like?” Alice asked.
“You’ll get along with him,” the cab driver reassured Alice.
After driving for about thirty minutes, Alice got restless.
“How far is it from here?” She asked.
“Not too far, don’t worry,” said the cab driver.
Then, he stopped the car at a somewhat secluded path. It happened so fast that Alice only remembered seeing a gun in his hands and ordering her to remove her pants. The sight of the gun numbed her, and she couldn’t scream. He did as he pleased with her, and when he was done, he kicked her out of the car with her belongings. A lip gloss had fallen out of her sling bag when she was hurrying out of the car, and when the cab driver saw it shortly after she left, he rolled down the passenger’s side window and threw it at her.
Alice had no idea where she was. The idea of calling another rider sent shivers up her spine, but walking in the darkness in an unknown location seemed like a worse idea. She decided to request a motorbike and told the rider to follow the map to figure out her location. She couldn’t go home in that state, so she went to Jasmine’s place.
“I need to shower,” she told Jasmine.
She spent about an hour in the shower crying. When she took more than twenty minutes in the shower, Jasmine was a bit worried but assumed she hated the experience, so she didn’t bother her. When Alice came out of the shower, her eyes were puffy.
“Are you okay, babe?” Jasmine asked her.
Alice didn’t respond. The question made her cry a bit.
“Well, at least you got money from it,” Jasmine tried to console her.
“There’s no money,” Alice said.
“What do you mean? The client refused to pay you?” Jasmine asked angrily.
Alice narrated the horrible ordeal to Jasmine. She tried calling the cab driver, but he had blocked their numbers already. After racking their brains for a way forward, they decided, given the situation, Alice couldn’t report it to the authorities. Alice stayed with Jasmine for two more days before going home and also blocked her because she got her into a mess. She tried to block the incident out of her mind, but it took a while to move past it.
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