On one blissful day, the sun was shinning as though it wasn’t going to set, and everyone at home seemed to be exploiting their point of interest, that’s when I realized I should exploit mine. So, I called Dan to come pick me up to a treat. As usual, he showed up within the twinkle of an eye. I often wondered if he had nothing doing each time I called (which was too much of a coincidence, or the affection he had for me seemed to hypnotize him each time a notification came from me. Well, what mattered is that he was there, someone was there before him, but then he came along with everything I craved for – luxury, status, the network (which most girls could do anything to belong to), and I had it all to my disposal. Yes! We went out, and the day turned out just as I anticipated – a little shopping, hook up with his friends and their girlfriends, so I thought (as I cared less about them, as long as I was having my dream time), and off we went to our favorite snack.
Oh! Permit me give a brief resume of us. Dan was in his mid forties, a flourishing entrepreneur, had just returned from the UAE and was getting settled back home. I was about 18years old when we met, repeating my GCE advanced level for the second time (which I eventually wrote the 3rd and last time), pursuing an acting career, possessed a very popular social status, was never at school, and barely knew my tutors nor classmates. I wanted all the expensive goodies, while Dan didn’t mind buying, as long as I had to get dressed in them, accompany about, while he gets the glory. Being a beautiful woman, I was more of an accessory to his car than the car was to me. Some feared, others envied, being respected by the average naïve youth, many wished to be like me.
Ohhh! My parents toiled tirelessly and endlessly, making sure my siblings and I had all our basic necessities. Never a day was I driven away for tuition, or study material. My kid sister – Emma, yearned to study with me, as I’m believed to be the smarter one, but I was never there, so she helplessly studied alone. I always returned home to disappear the next minute, never lacking a tangible excuse, and always had my way. In my opinion, as long as they didn’t know this side of me, they won’t have to worry, so I felt relieved that my gear was good.
Well back to my evening spree with my elite class boyfriend and crew. All was going well, everyone minding their business, getting drowned in liquor, other passing out from excessive smoking, others puking in the toilets, officially branded prostitutes busy scouting for clients, and the bombarding sound from the speakers made the night ethereal. Just like the other regular evenings, it was also characterized with violent arguments, people getting assaulted, sometimes badly tortured, and others emerging victims to sexual violence and drug overdose. As my consolation, I wasn’t with the broke young guy who gives all such troubles, I was with the man of that caliber most girls could do anything to be with.
As we were busy experiencing Sodom, Dan was at another table relating with some pals of his ( those ones I didn’t know and didn’t care to), something caught my attention though. From where I was seated, directly across me, I spotted this girl with a visibly sick left eye. It had a very thick clot of blood in it, and it’s environs looked something in between black and purplish red. Even though her seemingly expensive weave – on tried to play is role as facial shade, I could still see her bruised cheek right down to her jawline. Now she caught my full attention, as the man next to her was conversing unpleasantly, from his gestures. I was convinced he was treating her. In no time, he emptied the glass of whisky on her face. As she screamed, I shuddered! That’s when Dan speedily walked back to me, convinced I was fine, he then turned to the violator (who was just about 3feets away from us with the girl too), and was addressing him fiercely. Lost in thought imagining the pain she could be feeling, I didn’t even notice when Dan had returned. I excused myself from his company into the toilet, as though I intended to ease myself.
Staring intensely at the mirror, it was like I was looking at another image who wasn’t me. It was as though another ‘me' started speaking to me. “Is this how you were raised?, you’re a teenager, what are you doing with this ‘old' man?, if you were to die here won’t your family feel so much pain?, you have a chance at getting educated, and be above all these, live this life responsibly and at your convenience, what are you doing here?, where is your security?, who is your security?, how could you expose yourself to this much violence?, are you at peace after seeing what just happened to your fellow woman?, have you even though for a second what could have led to her being assaulted?, maybe she needs help?, could the man be a pimp?..., the questioning seemed unending. I shut my eyes tight for a second then opened them to reality.
In an instant, I realized how much time I had wasted being an actor in others futures, doing nothing to build mine. I promised myself never to put my family in a state of managing an assaulted me. Retreating from the toilet, fate had done it right, Dan wasn’t on his seat (the seat next to the one I was never going to sit on again till I left this world, the seat that was plagued with all kinds of insecurities, even death, the seat I should never have known if I hadn’t given in to misplaced priorities over self discipline). I left for home and that was it.
I crossed that bridge and emerged a strong personality. Fate winded me to a hospitality career, precisely in a hotel. I found myself working in the same hotel I had patronized countless times before with the wrong company and for the wrong motives. Having understood this dark side which every other industry has, reality hit me, that bright futures get lost once they walk in pass the entrance door. I wondered how many had turned out as teenage mothers, single parents, drug addicts, how many got assaulted but for some reason stay mute?. I knew fate had brought me back there for a reason. It dawned on me, that I had to be able to intercept a young girl like me with misplaced priorities and counsel her back to order. At this juncture, I was convinced that I didn’t survive for myself, but to protect and give meaning to others lives. I was left with the burden of helping many like me reconcile their past with the present, and start finding ways to build inner peace within themselves, so as to combat resorting to drugs or depression. I got involved with a couple of social media platforms (precisely WhatsApp groups) and began the advocacy the self realization of the need for peace, abstaining from violence, and violence related environments and company, focusing on managing the aftermath as an assaulted or affected.
Now that my country is faced with the situation of having to resettle internally displaced people and refugees as well, it’s obvious that a lot of bright futures are already being haunted by these misplaced priorities and will plunge many to violence, abuse, and depression. I look forward to being able to afford to run seminars in their camps and shelter homes, to help them face life wisely, and for the victims, help them manage erase the memories of violence and how to escape the dungeon of trauma.
I humbly call upon all others like me, who have gotten the call, to obey the voice from within, trust their instincts and start saving other young people especially girls from the web of irresponsible juvenescence, and produce advocates for peace and security. All in all, the experiences have been worth it, and I’m glad I’m making up now for the wasted time by preaching the gospel of not letting misplaced priorities expose us to a nightmare of insecurity and unrest.