Dancing has forever been my deepest passion but good luck telling your African parents that you want to be a professional dancer. After making sure that I was posted far away from said parents for NYSC, I took up a teaching job with the hope that I could do my dance gig on the side but life had other plans. Teaching, (particularly where I did,) landed me an interesting six-figure salary, a roof over my head and a comfort that made me forget all my cares in the world. 2 years later, I woke up with an emptiness and a hunger so strong that I turned in my resignation letter with no savings and chose to chase my dancer dreams.
With no shock absorbers, no soft landing plans, life hit me hard. I thought all it took was to gain a few contacts, go for a few auditions and bam, I’d be able to resume my lifestyle once again but I had it all twisted.
Audition responses were either negative or the usual “We will get back to you”. My funds were dipping, my options were losing weight and my faith waned. On very occasional occasions, a gig would fall through and I’d be invited for a video shoot or a stage performance. On the best days, the pay would be around 25k -30k and on the worst days, we got only feeding and transportation allowance. The plan was to do as many jobs as possible, whether paid or not; as long as I was gaining experience and building a portfolio which I needed badly to land the bigger gigs. One time, I went as far as being a part of a troupe for one of those Onitsha-type gospel music videos for 5k… Despite beating myself up for being a part of a project that I felt I was overqualified for; I’d never been so happy to see 5k in my life.
There was no way my small freelance dancing business was ever going to pay my rent so every other day, I engaged in the routine of scrolling through my phone for which uncle or aunt or which old friend I could scope, beg or borrow money from.
I always, always scrolled past Mr Tunji’s name because there was no way in this life or in the afterlife that I was going to let a married man get on top of me. There’s one thing or another that we all feel too morally sophisticated for and this was mine. I’d rather go back to my village or starve to death before considering such an immoral and despicable act… Or so I thought.
We met 6 months ago at one of these stupid shows that want content for their event but no money to pay the acts. I chose to go because the brand was big and had the potential of adding some colour to my portfolio. I threw on my little black dress and my only pair of presentable shoes, hitched a ride with a friend with the intentions to put on my best performance at the show.
As I walked off the stage amidst the thundering applause, I had my widest smile while thinking to myself -Na clap I wan chop?
Before I reached my seat, someone tapped me.
“My boss wants to have a word with you”, said the young man.
Irritation was my go-to reaction but I had a rethink. Who knows what this “Boss” wants to tell me? There was no way in hell I was going to follow him at that moment in time, so I told him I’d be back. I went on to mix with the crowd and the moment one hottie started
telling me lies chatting me up, I forgot all about Mr Young Man and his Boss.
Long story short, Hottie promised to drop me at home, making me tell my friend who had to jet out urgently, to leave without me. The moment I went in to bid the people I knew goodbye, hottie was nowhere to be found.
There I was, stranded with no battery life and with no backup plan. Nearly drowning in my own frustration, I walked back into the venue, scouting the place one last time for a miracle. That was when I saw him seated in the nearly empty arena, pretending to finish his beer before leaving. His blue checkered shirt and grey pants hinted that he may have come to the show directly from work. He generally appeared to be in his mid-40s but his receding hairline screamed above 50.
When he beckoned, there was no shakara left in me. I sluggishly approached him and the “I won” smirk he had on his face made me sick to my stomach.
“I couldn’t get my eyes off your legs when you were on stage. That’s why I sent someone to you but you ignored me” he said, pulling out a chair for me to sit.
His slightly Yoruba accented voice was decent and courteous and even though I found his first words pervy, I responded to him in a respectful and friendly manner. He sucked in the dregs of his beer and asked if I was ready to leave. It was almost as though he knew of my predicament but he did not want to embarrass me. I told him anyway and he offered to drop me off.
He had no wedding band or a mark of one on his ring finger but there was no way I was taking chances. When I asked the obvious, I hoped to hear him say divorced or widowed so it would ease the tension that had built up in his sexy Landcruiser.
He laughed off my “are you married question” before asking if that was why I was uptight. As soon as he told me “there was nothing to worry about”, I became slightly irritated but acted normal until we pulled up at my gate. I thanked him for the ride and as I turned to open the door, he softly held on to my hand. ” No goodnight kiss?”
After snatching my hand back in my best “Lol-you-must-be-out-of-your-damn-mind” behaviour, he asked for my phone number which I gave just to compensate him for saving this damsel in distress.
Back to my reality…
I was out of options. My rent was overdue, dancing jobs were not forthcoming and I was already considering diving back into the 9-5 hustle. It was shameful that my mother who was also in need had to go out of her way to send what I had survived on, the week before. There was no way I was calling her. Let’s not even start with my father.
I scrolled back to Mr Tunji’s contact, stared at it for a while before making a decision that would change my life forever…
I dialled the number…
Me: Good afternoon sir.
Mr Tunji: Sexy legs, hope we are safe, this one that you’re calling me today.
Me: Lol, I just called to say thank you for the other day.
Mr Tunji: Na so. How many times have I called you since that day? Even Whatsapp, you will read and not reply.
Me: Emabinu Sir. (Please do not be offended sir)
Mr Tunji: Ahh, you understand Yoruba?
Me: Yes I do.
Mr Tunji: That’s nice. Where are you?
Me: I’m at home.
Mr Tunji: Okay, do you have plans for later?
Me: No sir.
Mr Tunji: Which one is this sir sir that you’re saying? Please my name is Tunji
Me: Okay sir. Lol, Sorry… Okay Tunji
Mr Tunji: Lol, you have wahala. So will I see you today?
Me: Let’s see how it goes. Are you at work?
Mr Tunji: Yes I am but I’ll be done by 4. Should I let you know when I’m home?
Me: Okay no problem…
To be continued…