A stolen promise

2013-07-04 00:00

IN his home, they call him a father. His wife knows him as a caring man. But on his hunting turf, he is an old man who targets young, innocent girls for his selfish pleasure.

“If you don’t have your own sugar daddy, you will never feel what life is like,” some would say. “It’s fashionable these days.”

And some believe this, often with harmful consequences.

So it came to pass that the old man went on his usual hunt. In his posh car and pricey clothing, he resembled a caring father figure. He drove with ease and purpose to find his next target. And soon one of the schoolgirls fell into his trap.

Promise was a young woman with many prospects, according to her community. She was withdrawn, perhaps due to her trying past. Her innocence was matched only by her inexperience. This is what aroused the cunning old fox.

All she ever wanted was to become a supermodel and she was always dreaming of being featured on the centrefold of a top-selling magazine. She dreamt, even though her mother had left her in foster care before she succumbed to a chronic illness. Before she died, her mother held her hand and said: “I wish I could be there for you, but I will be gone soon. Grow up and be brave, even when I am not there. I will always look upon you. You will make it because you are beautiful.”

After her mother’s death, Promise never cried. She was too young to know the meaning of death. Then one day, the old man hooted for her attention. “Can I offer you a lift, my dear? You look tired,” he said, launching his attack. He seemed too sweet to reject. She smiled and nodded timidly. She was brought up to respect the elderly, even strangers. This is how the two became an item, as they say.

Soon he found his chance. He promised her everything that she had dreamt of. She responded with eagerness and the old man knew that he finally had his catch. He chronicled how she could change her lonely miserable life to something more beautiful. But he never told her that all this came with a big, painful price: a price of life and death. If only she knew.

Over the months, their new friendship developed into something special, so he said when he went to visit. He always got what he demanded and she got what she asked for. With the constant presents and sweet messages, there was little time to think of the past or the present.

“Enjoy life while you still can. You are one of the lucky girls to have someone who can spoil you every time you need him.” This came from a friend who had experience in the trade. She had to trust her.

“That’s what friends are for,” the sugar daddy always reminded her before he drove off.

In the following months, she became suspicious of her condition, with morning sickness and a bulging waistline. She did not worry much as she had someone to lean on, her sugar daddy. She phoned him to tell him of her complications. Suddenly his tone was furious. “I am away on business. I will return only in a few weeks and take care of the problem. In the meantime, just find something to treat the aliment. I’m sure it’s not something very serious.”

He hung up before she could say goodbye. The conversation made her uneasy. In the background, she had heard female voices, giggling and enjoying themselves.

“They are probably work mates,” she told herself.

Soon days became months. Her tummy was now fully grown. She could not hide it from anyone anymore. People began to talk. Still he never called, nor did he arrive, as he had promised. When he finally returned, he had other opinions.

“So, you decided to get pregnant so you could get money out of me. Whoever told you that plan never advised you correctly. I will teach you a lesson that you will never forget. You will never get a cent from me. What I gave you was more than enough. Make a plan. The child is yours, not mine, and you must know what to do with it.”

He drove off and never returned. She had no one to cry to. There had to be a way to save her dream modelling career. And it had to be soon.

The man she phoned said he could help her for a token fee. She made the short trip during the night. “Just do as I say and everything will be fine,” he said.

She nodded. She took the pill to her room and closed the door behind her. She did exactly as the man had directed. Within hours it was working. She endured the pain alone. Later, when the pain became unbearable, she shouted for help. The ambulance came. They said she had lost too much blood, but they would try their best.

• Derick Matsengarwodzi is a freelance journalist from Zimbabwe and he lives in Pietermaritzburg.

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