When we left the guesthouse for our night of karaoke fun that evening, we were all in high spirits. We were dressed to kill, all hoochie shorts, cropped tops and skin-tight jeans. Some of us were doing vocal warm-ups as they practised which pop diva’s songs they’d sing at the club. There were a couple of lesbians among us, both of them showing skin, cleavages and looking fabulous. We were young gays who just wanted to have some fun.

When we got to the club, the hubbub of nightlife was high. There were club patrons seated outside, drinking and gisting loudly. Inside was even more alive, with someone already belting out the lyrics to Whitney Houston’s I Look To You into the microphone. Servers navigated their way through the tables, taking orders and delivering drinks. We took our seat at a high table.

“What are you people singing?” Chimaobi asked, his petite frame already humming with energy.

“Physical by Dua Lipa,” Miriam, one of the lesbians, said.

“What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes,” Precious answered.

“Pinky, today is the day we will know what a true fan of Beyoncé you are,” James said challengingly as he looked my way. “You better pick a Beyoncé song and give it the kind of attitude the Queen will approve of.”

The thing is, I am a rockstar singer – IN THE BATHROOM! I have won tons of Grammys from belting out my greatest hits to an audience of towels, sponges, buckets and soap.

“Are you going to sing Alien Superstar?” Henry asked me, pointing out my favorite from Beyoncé’s latest album, Renaissance.

I recoiled into my seat. That song is all about attitude and sass. It is a song that demands a performance just to show how you are “too classy for this world, too classy to be touched”.

I absolutely couldn’t pull it off.

“What am I going to sing o?” I wailed, as I mentally scrolled through Queen Bey’s vast discography.

“Otherside,” Des suggested.

“Too ballad-y.”

“Daddy Lessons,” Chimaobi supplied.

“Too country.”

“Partition,” Precious said.

I hesitated.

Driver, roll up the partition please… Oh he so horny, yeah he want to fuck… He popped all my buttons, he ripped my blouse… He Monica Lewinski’d all on my gown…

I was humming the lyrics under my breath, feeling the sultry groove of the music flow through my body. After all, I came out tonight with Henry, a guy I wanted to pop all my buttons, rip my top and Monica Lewinsky all over my body.

“Yes. OK, I will do that one,” I said.

The night wore on – fun, boozy and loud with music and laughter. Henry was seated beside me and we constantly stole smooches under the dim lights of the club’s interior. One time, when Nigeria happened and the electricity went out, in those few breathless moments before the generator kicked on, Henry pulled my head to his and dropped quick kisses on my lips.

It was all exhilarating. It was fun. We were having a good time.

But all good things must come to an end. And because we had work to do the next day, we had to get going by 10 PM. We had ordered Bolt rides, but the drivers were yet to arrive. We walked out to the front of the karaoke club’s gate, standing on the sidewalk and gisting as we waited.

There was another club next door to the karaoke club, and it wasn’t very long before it dawned on me that because of that, this was probably the sex worker district of Enugu. There was a constant traffic of cars pulling up before both clubs, and lined up on the kerb in front of the buildings were several young women in various degrees of skimpily-clad availability. A few cars stopped before them and some male clubbers walked over to them as transactions for the night were made.

I also noticed that standing next to these women was a gaggle of rough-looking young men. They were casually dressed in mostly T-shirts and sagging three-quarter shorts, with rough curls on their heads and just generally had on the bad-boy attitude that didn’t have the moneyed polish to make it appealing. Quite simply put, they looked basic and loutish.

They were standing on the other side of the road from us. I wondered initially if they were just roadside touts who were hanging around the club for patrons to make a quick buck off of. Then, when I observed a few women walk over to them to talk, I realised that they too were selling sex.

To women.

Which was why their behaviour after we’d been standing there for several minutes had me mildly baffled.

First, it started with the glares. They began shooting us ugly stares from across the road. Henry and I were chatting, hand in hand. Chimaobi and Miriam were next to us, giggling over somebody’s Instagram story. Precious was shimmying and singing along to the sound of Beyoncé’s Heated coming from his earphones. And everyone else was either on their phone or discussing with someone else in the group.

However, at this point, the glares from across the road had begun to register with us. We were starting to notice that we had their unwelcome attention.

Then their voices began to rise, their initial mumbling becoming loud and belligerent. Just then, one Bolt car arrived, and four of us – including the two girls – hastily got in. The rest of us stood, waiting for the next ride. At first, we tried to stay unaffected by their hostility. But Chimaobi, who was wearing a belly-showing cropped top and skintight jeans, had started to get agitated.

“Please, let us go inside,” he muttered, gesturing toward the karaoke club’s compound.

“Why?” Precious said, still swaying to the song he was listening to. “Why do we have to go in? Because of those riffraff making noise there? Let them come and try nonsense na!” He shot a glare back at them.

“Please, let’s just go in.”

Chimaobi’s anxiety was starting to bleed into the atmosphere around us, so much so that the rest of us – with the exception of Precious, who for some reason was still looking unbothered – started to get worked up. I felt a stab of fear as I watched three of those guys move forward, as though to break apart from their group to lunge at us. Their voices were raised, yelling obscenities at us. Terror stark on his face, Chimaobi was in a near-run as he fled into the relative safety of the compound. The rest of us, trying not to look like we were affected by the threat those touts posed, followed after him.

“I just want one of them to come and try me,” Precious fumed, even though he had joined us inside. “Ka anyi mara between the two of us, onye ka ibe ya ayi ala.”

That boy knows how to make anger sexy with Igbo.

“It’s better to play safe,” Henry reasoned. “Let’s just avoid trouble and get home safe.”

We stayed inside until the second Bolt arrived and the driver called. Des went out to confirm where he was parked before coming back inside to tell us. In a single dignified file, we walked out, doing our best to ignore the antagonism still coming from the other side, and piled into the cab. I was seated beside Chimaobi, and he was trembling. I could almost feel the thumping of his heartbeat as I clasped a hand over his shoulder to imbue a calm in him that I myself didn’t even feel.

We wanted desperately to get the fuck away from there. With each second that ticked by as the driver tried to ease into the crowded flow of traffic felt like the second that those aggressors would finally get the guts to come after us.

Eventually, the driver was on the road, and we were daring to breathe, to exhale, to let go of the terror that had chilled our bones, that had turned what was supposed to be a night of fun into something straight out of a horror film.

Written by Pink Panther

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  1. Zoar
    August 05, 10:01 Reply

    Since the boys are selling “sex”

    What will be the outcome if a guy approaches them to haggle about sex they are selling?

    Will they also be aggressive to the Men? After all they’re after the Money 💰 that comes after their services right?

    This just crossed my mind now.

    • Pink Panther
      August 05, 10:39 Reply

      Lol. This is an interesting point. I wonder what they’d do if such a situation arises in their market.

  2. Banjo
    August 05, 13:08 Reply

    Although I knew it would end well…ish.
    My heart had climbed up to my throat…

    That was a scary thing to witness… I still don’t know why people can just be as horrible as they are .

  3. Danté
    August 10, 13:10 Reply

    OMG I know this district 😂🤣…

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