By Captain Lamin Saine
“I need support too, in these hard times that everyone refers to as ‘Economic Crunch’. Nowadays, nothing seems to be coming from Europe and America through Western Union and other money transfer systems, why?”
Covid-19 or Russian Ukraine conflict?
“Naffie, you can ask any question you wish, but don’t ask about how we are going to manage with the Tobaski feast, Idl Adha which is fast approaching! Rams! Clothing, shoes, furniture! Youssou N’Dour and others the feast day evening entertainment!” Then she suggested that the two of them should go somewhere like a nightclub where some good guy might come Naffie’s way by chance.
After a short debate on the place to go to, they were picked up by an old gentleman driving a black Volvo sedan. They did not even stop him. There was only an exchange of looks and the middle- aged man, who interpreted the eye language, slowed down and then stopped. They knew it was for them so they opened the doors and boarded the vehicle. Naffie, who was literally on sale sat in the front passenger seat smiling broadly to the man at the steering wheel.
Without discussing it, they were already being driven towards the Paltan Mari beach.
“Good evening, uncle,” she said looking straight into uncle’s half-closed eyes.
“Uncle! Why call me uncle? My name is Jack but all those who are acquainted with me call me J Boy,” Uncle Jack hastened to interject.
“Sorry, then, Boy J,” Naffie mistakenly said, before her friend Amie quickly corrected her mistake.
Uncle Jack then turned and said, “That’s right, sweetheart, you are very clever, and what’s your name?”
Looking into Naffie’s eyes and winking, Amie told Uncle what her name was. Naturally, out of jealousy, Naffie then told Uncle,”my name is Naffie but I spoke to you first and even greeted you but you did not ask what my name is. Why? Are you so much impressed by this correction of my mistake? Amie is my elder but I used to perform better than her in class. Even my skin is lighter than hers. She looks like one of those Serer women from Njaffat, doesn’t she, Uncle?”
“You see, beauty is relative and the darker someone’s skin, the more appealing it is for a particular person’s taste. This may not be the case this time around, though!” Uncle added.
Naffie, still looking uncomfortable with the trend the conversation was taking, changed her facial expression and said:
“The use of ‘Maybe’ shows that the speaker may either be undecided or is not ready to speak the truth. Anyway, the choice is yours to make.”
Amie then said, “Lucky J Boy, Naffie is sitting by you, and I take it that this is not accidental but that the hands of destiny have planned it this way. Through your friendship or other relationship with her, I shall benefit in one way or another. So I am OK, So enjoy every bit of the evening!”
“Let us all go and have fun on the beach. Naffie, from now on you are J Girl and your sister is J Sis. A nous 3, La Soiree!”
It was a cold and windy Sunday evening. Despite warnings and advice given by parents, law enforcement agents and even the threat by senior government authorities to deploy elements of Operation No Compromise to the beaches in question, young students and others spent Sunday evenings on beaches till late in the night. There were laws enacted to protect the rights of children. It was for those same reasons that the Tourism Offences Act was enacted in 2003 and the Children’s Act in 2005. Other actions were planned to prohibit free access by unaccompanied children. Notwithstanding all thess, enthusiasts of these Sunday Beach programmes always spent their Sunday evenings on the sands around Paltan Mari Beach. Some girls dressed almost half naked with their navels showing while boys in shorts or dangling baggy trousers tried a hand at sniffing drugs or smoking cannabis.
It was even reported that some sugar daddies frequently went in under the cover of darkness and picked partners among girls in their late teens or early twenties. From eight in the evening to the early hours of Monday morning, moral limits dissipated and licences to do anything were self-granted. The consequences of Sunday beach picnics had not always been the most desirable ones. Some girls got impregnated, without being able to tell their parents who is responsible, due to the indiscriminate fashion in which they went about their sexual relationships and activities. Some learned to smoke cigarettes and other stuff while others even started drinking alcohol. It was a definite source of concern and, indeed anxiety, for parents and teachers who saw some of their most brilliant students drop out of school and never to make it again in life. On some occasions there were violent scenes and the security servicemen were drawn in, either to prevent intoxicated youths from stabbing each other with knives or broken bottles, or to arrest individuals for affray, possession of illicit drugs and similar offences.
On this particular Sunday, after listening to some nice music in the black sedan Volvo car over a couple of cold drinks, the sugar daddy asked Naffie if she fancied taking a walk along the beach towards Lovers’ Cliff. This was a set of rocks blocking the passage along the beach but providing something that looked like a room the size of a Paris-Bordeaux passenger train wagon. It was fit accommodation for couples who loved open air romance, although it also served as a resort for first time dating couples. Over time, it had become infamous as an out-of-public view den for sugar daddies and rapists who abused innocent teenagers and unsuspecting adult victims. Unconfirmed rumours even had it, sometime ago, that a beautiful 19 -year- old blind girl, who was given a ride on her way back from school, was very close to being a victim of rape in that devil’s den.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the den was located at a spot out of reach for immediate help when this was urgently needed.
Naffie, who at first hesitated, accepted the offer to go on a stroll along the pitch-dark beach with her gentle old daddy when the latter displayed bunches of notes in different currencies. As they walked, the cold wind blew and it seemed to be biting. Uncle Jack then drew Naffie close to himself suggesting that he needed to provide her with bodily warmth in that chilling weather. Naffie, though, almost trembling did not resist. She kept quiet and kisses, caresses and other intimate touches followed. Highly experienced Uncle Jack’s practised finger of the left hand started exploration of all the erogenous points of the inexperienced girl’s soft body.
The walk continued and the finger went on caressing, stroking and rubbing. Naffie, who was not even aware that they had penetrated the den, did not utter a word until, like someone jolting out of a dream into reality, she realised they were walking out of Lovers’ Cliff. Then she said, “You know, Uncle, I have never been through this type of experience before and really don’t know what to tell my mother.” She then wept as more currency notes were pressed into her bra.
Amie, who had been so impatiently waiting for Naffie’s return, sprang up and ran towards her as soon as she sighted them. She then asked her if she enjoyed the stroll. Uncle Jack then hastened to shout out, “Yes, she did enjoy every second of it and she is in fact requesting that we come back here next Sunday. Amie, thank you for your patience. I see that you are a very good sister to Naffie’.”
As the sentence ended, he gave a sheaf of notes to Amie who smiled, expressed gratitude and prayed for the sugar daddy. She also promised that she would ensure Naffie remained a faithful Sugar Baby to uncle. Though she did not say what happened at the Cliff, Naffie’s facial expression showed she was worried. Even when Amie asked her if she was happy with Uncle, she only nodded and looked right into Uncle’s eyes. Some guilt could be read in that pair of eyes almost buried into a mixture of bushy grey and black lashes.
Uncle started getting a bit more uncomfortable when a boy approached from nowhere and asked Naffie what on earth she was doing on the beach at that ungodly hour when she was supposed to have returned home after studies at the University library with friends. The boy looked at Uncle Jack and his facial expression changed. In his fury, he asked his cousin,
“Did the faculty administrator not address to you a letter, warning you that the university will not maintain any idle student, much more one of low morality like you? What hurts me most is the fact that you are not even capable of making a decent choice. What are you doing with this old reptile with his bald head resembling that of the actor Fumanchu?”
“Oh! No! You can’t’ say that, my brother; he is not as bald as that, it is just that the middle does not have too much hair. If you say it is like that of a certain Amats, then I may not disagree but Fumanchu! That’s too much.”
“Talking about too much, this old lizard’s hairline is receding like the Sahara Desert or even faster. This is a process that neither halts nor slows down. I say, sister, disappear before I split this old crow’s oblong skull.”
By the time he pronounced the L sound in skull, Uncle Jack was already at his car door missing the key hole because all his attention was on every movement of the boy. When he saw that Amie had cooled the enraged boy down, he then called her aside and gave her one thousand, three hundred dalasis for her to take a taxi and go home with Naffie. He then left without speaking to Naffie again. He was never to be seen again by Naffie and Amie until the morning they met at the Criminal Intelligence and National central Bureau of Interpol Gambia in Banjul.