The world we live in is cruel; no need to mince words. People don’t see others as humans with feelings and blood flowing through their veins anymore. All they see is a bargaining chip, a loose end, a wild card, a target. But even if friends would betray us, our family should protect us from being preys, right? So who do we turn to when our own flesh and blood opts to sell us out for their benefit?
Vicky has finished senior high school awaiting her results. Knowing the family’s financial situation and the ever-increasing cost of tertiary education, she decided to find some work to do in order to gather some funds which could at least cover her living expenses. After sending out some applications and hearing no feedback from them, she decided to help out her sister at her retail store.
Janet her sister, was more than glad to have the extra pair of hands to assist her. She told Vicky how her two former assistants had all stolen from her countless times. She knew she could trust her sister with the sales and that she would be more selfless in her work. Vicky assured her she’d do her very best.
And that she did. She would wake up early in the morning, open the store, clean up and organize the space for business. Due to her amiable nature, she won over many new clients who later became frequent and loyal patrons. Janet showed her appreciation by upping her allowance regularly. Vicky was relieved that Janet wasn’t showing any signs of jealousy over the attention some clients paid her.
But there was this one ‘associate’ of Janet’s that Vicky felt uncomfortable around. He would always look at her in a funny way and when she told her sister about it, she brushed it aside saying he was silly like that. There was nothing to be worried about. It got to a time that this creepy man frequented the store more than usual. After one heated conversation, Vicky noticed Janet was moody. After probing her for a while, Janet confided in her about some money she owed him for some supplies lent to her. He was demanding the payback two weeks prior to their agreed date because he claimed he needed the money to clear some shipment from the port.
Vicky offered to lend her the money she had saved to help her pay him off but she said it would be less than enough. But he was requesting for something else to defray the cost. Okay, what was it? If Vicky would agree to spend a night with him, then he’d let her pay only half of what she owed him on their initially agreed date.
“Is he serious? Do I look like a prostitute to him? Isn’t he old enough to be my uncle? This shows he has no good intentions towards you, Janet. We’ll find the amount and cut all ties with him!” “But he’s the only one who supplies me the best product at the best price. I’ve worked with him for quite a while and his supplies are of good quality. Why don’t you consider this, Vick? He’ll slash my debt by half!”
Vicky couldn’t believe her ears. Was her sister actually considering his offer?
“Are you selling me out to pay off your debt?”
“This is family business, Vick. We do what we need to do to survive. If I hadn’t given you the opportunity to come work with me, you wouldn’t have earned what you’ve got right now. I promised to help you with your fees, didn’t I? Just do this one time and I promise I’ll see you through school. Just once.”
“Once? If I do this, there is no turning back. I’ll be your discount ticket.”
“I’d do it for you.”
“Why don’t you sleep with him instead? It’s your store, your debt.”
“It’s you he wants.”
“Did you even consider offering yourself in my place?” “You know I’m seeing someone.”
“I’m disappointed that you even entertained the thought. Mummy raised us better than that. I’m not playing prostitute not even for you.”
Janet’s attitude toward Vicky changed from that moment. She wouldn’t talk to her and started downsizing her allowance with the excuse that business was bad but they both knew sales had been very good. Vicky decided to let it go since she knew Janet had to gather funds to pay off her associate. Then it escalated to name-calling with the least provocation. She would even resort to misquoting Scripture to spite her.
“Jesus even said what you didn’t do for your neighbor, you didn’t do it for Me.” “My body is the temple of God and I won’t defile it for discount,” Vicky replied.
“Then go to the convent and be a nun!”
The situation grew worse and it ended with a sit-down session with their mother. She was a petty trader and she wasn’t earning much to support herself and their two younger siblings. Vicky reported the issue to her so she would settle the case once and for all.
“I know you go to church and you go to about evangelizing and all that but we also need to do whatever it takes to survive,” she started. What was she driving at?
“Normally I wouldn’t advise it but it’s your sister’s allowance that has been sustaining us since your father passed. I’m sure God will understand. You’re always telling me He’s merciful, right? Just go to church and pray for forgiveness after you’re done. You won’t go to hell.”
“What?!” Did some zombie bite their mother?
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell her, mama. It’s just once. It’s better to give it up for a good cause like your family’s welfare than to some useless guy you’ll meet at the university.”
“I plan to abstain till marriage.”
“Will your pastor give us the money to pay him off? If he does, we’ll all come to church and clean up the premises to say thank you.”
“I’m not going to stoop so low for a man like him. I’m better than that.”
“Then I hope your abstinence will sponsor your education,” Janet said. Ha, the threat was finally verbalized.
“After all the help I’ve given you at the store?”
“Which I’ve paid you for, haven’t I? Looking at him, I don’t think it will take more than ten minutes to seal the deal. Be considerate.”
“Ei, what sort of Christian are you, so hard-hearted?” Her mother asked.
Help a sister out. She doesn’t want to compromise on her moral standards and she really wants to continue her education so she can become the nurse she always dreamed to be. With her family ready to sell her out, who should she run to?
© Josephine Amoako 2016