Lambedusa I swing the crying chick around my head. Prince’s eyes are on my naked body like the day the psychiatric doctor pressed my breasts on night duty and Matron walked in. “Doctor Igbinovia are you aware Itohan is my daughter so?” was all she said and Dr. Igbinovia shrunk like a wool sweater dropped in hot water. I hope Matron’s eyes are on Prince now. The bats are clouding the sky, all black against the morning sun. The chick is screaming loudly. I swing for the third time, counting as if I am in primary one and learning my 1-2-3 all over again. At the seventh time, I let go the chick and it cries all the way to the middle of the river. I am dizzy and tears are crowding my eyes like the day my mother died. Even when I kept yelling — “Prince, Prince o! Abeg stop and talk to this people na, help me tell them say na school I dey go na!” He just kept walking as if we did not sit in the plane and ate that miserable concoction they call food together. That day I promised myself that if I ever get to a phone I will call Matron and tell her how Prince deserted me. And also what happened in his house in Benin. How he gave me brandy and Fanta the day I went to collect my traveling documents and took me to his huge bedroom upstairs to teach me how to treat white men right. Even though I was crying he pinned me down with one hand and covered my mouth with the other: “Is this how you will be behaving like a village girl in Europe when you find a good oyinbo boyfriend? Don’t go and disgrace me there or do you want me to cancel your journey and tell Matron you are not ready for Italy yet!” And he kept pushing himself inside me and breathing as if he was pounding yam. Even the blade Ohenlen used to cut my back at Ipoba River was not as painful as his big thing inside me. And how he teased me and said he has “opened the door for me” when he saw the blood stains on his white bed sheet. I am trying hard to sleep but Gina’s voice is getting louder too. Everybody now knows that Gina has gone completely mad but the tall security officer still takes her to the usual corner as if everything was ok. We can hear Gina’s moans which will soon end up in cry or song because the security officers can be merciless. But yesterday she came out laughing, boasting and hitting open palms on her hips: “Work don start for me. I be fine girl, dem nor fit wait make I comot for here before dem begin fuck me.” Her laughter was like the cry of a dying dog. Because I am the only one who speaks to Gina, she directed her talk at me all the time. “You better start learning how to fuck white people, abi how you wan take pay your debt wey you leave for Benin?” I was no longer angry at her; I looked at her with pity although I wondered which debt she was referring to. Did her madness tell her I borrowed money to come to this place? Since I came here I have not been able to sleep well at night, it is one madness or the other. My mother keeps coming and asking me “Itohan where are you going? Itohan I did not send you this journey o! Itohan, where are you.” Every night and I would wake sweating. So I finally asked a security man what was the name of this place and he said it was Lambedusa. Where in Jesus name is Lambedusa — how far from Italy? The man started laughing like a goat as he walked of the cell. Lambedusa is where they treat us as animals; is how I see this place. There is one lady that looks like wooden spoon who keeps coming to me with stupid questions: “What is the name of the madam? Who is sending you to Italy? How much did you pay her? Did you swear joojoo and how much did you pay the joojoo man?” Half of the time I don’t even understand what she is talking about, with her joojoo mouth. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE “Swing the chick round your head seven times and give it to the river,” Ohenlen instructs. My mind is full, I can’t sleep. I don’t understand why these security people keep coming to me with questions about my “Madam” in Nigeria, in such angry way. I am not afraid of them anymore, since the day I begged them at the airport and they refused to let me go. Why didn’t they stop Prince too? Stupid Prince that Matron begged to take care of me abandoned me in the hands of immigration officers as soon as he heard “Ma’am, we have some problems with these documents.” 9 But it was Matron’s bus that Juliana’s parents used in bringing her coffin from the airport, when her body was flown in from Italy after she was stabbed to death by an unknown person in a dark street. Matron has a good heart, and I will never forget her.