Dugo grasped both plaques with firm hands. She felt their bumpy curves making dents on the insides of her sweaty palms. Her name had just been called again, nominated for the third time. There was applause, and with it murmurings of surprise from the audience. Everyone was shocked that she was getting this much accolades.
But why should they? Hadn’t she worked hard for this? Hadn’t she fought her way to the top, sold her soul, and seared her conscience to get here?
She deserved this. She deserved more, but…
“Und der Gewinner ist…” the tall, blonde woman on stage with massive breasts, an orange tan and a vagina dress announced in German. There was suspense. This was the big one. The award for the best international act. According to some, Dugo didn’t deserve this award. She was a German citizen already. No longer considered a Nigerian. The Venus Awards was a German thing. Why nominate her for the best international act?
“Deedee Holiday!” her name was called out.
More applause, more shock. Dugo herself couldn’t believe it. This wasn’t happening. Not now. Not when she wanted to quit and bring meaning to her life. She didn’t need this.
“Congratulations,” the French woman beside her who had smelled like Arabian incense all evening showed an envious smile. “You deserve it.”
“Yeah,” said the American on her right with nipples that wanted to tear through her gown. “Go get em’ Deedee.”
“Let me help you with that!” Her manager from the table next to hers came forward. She freed Dugo of her other awards and walked behind her as she hurried towards the stage. The lights followed her all the way. Grand music heralded her entrance. Her production team tagged along. A lot of people were genuinely happy for her. She had made them rich.
“Glückwünsche!” The blonde lady on the stage enclosed Dugo in a hug. “You deserve it.”
Dugo received her third award for the night. There was a smile on her face as she took her place behind the podium. The cheers died down and silence came upon the hall.
“Allow me do this in English,” she said with a little laughter. She couldn’t show them she would rather be elsewhere. She had to keep the act up. “I don’t know what to say. I want to thank my team, all the awesome people that have supported me. My manager, Mila, especially.”
Mila smiled, hands rubbing Dugo’s back.
“This is huge. Massive. I didn’t expect this at all. I am honored. Deeply. Thank you very much.”
She gave a pause.
“But before I leave the stage, I’d like to make an announcement.”
She gave a second pause as her eyes scanned the entire hall. It was an assortment of beautiful men and women. Many of them sculpted to perfection. Expensive clothes and jewelry, fancy hairdos, glittering faces, expressions of importance. It was a place of dreams for many. But not for Dugo. This was not her dream. Not the reality she wanted for herself. She had only desired to live a better life, to cross the shores of Nigeria to Europe to make her mom proud. Yet here she was, an acclaimed porn star, accepting the award of the best international act. She didn’t want to be here.
“Starting from this moment,” she declared, “I would be hanging my stilettos and retiring from the porn industry.”
There were gasps, the loudest being from her manager.
“I wish to return to my country, Nigeria, to pursue some personal projects there.”
Certain that she had gotten the attention of the crowd, Dugo continued. “I came into Europe, Italy precisely, as a young teenage girl with dreams for a better life, but unfortunately, I had fallen into the wrong hands without realizing it. I was thrown into sex slavery for five years and had to escape to find my freedom here. Without job skills or education and eventually becoming an expert on sexual pleasure, I signed up for an audition for an amateur role in a porn flick and was cast to participate in an orgy. That was how my career as a porn actor began. Eight years I struggled through all manner of cocks thrown in my face until Mila picked me and made me a shining star.”
Dugo smiled at Mila who was looking it her with moisture-filled eyes.
“Unfortunately, my story ends here today. I need to go home. I am desperate to go back home. There are girls back there in Nigeria who would be deceived by people of devious means and would be brought here and used as sex slaves. They will not have the freedom I had or get the chance to be where I am today. Some of them would die or end up ruined for life. I want to do my best to make sure none of that happens to them. This is my dream and I will not rest until I fulfil it. I will miss being here, no doubt, because Germany has become my home too. I apologize to everyone who would be adversely affected by my decision today. I don’t intend to hurt you. I just need to go to my other home.”
Dugo wiped a tear that had run down to her cheek.
There was heavy silence for the first few seconds as she made her way back, but soon the entire building was resonating with a standing ovation for her. The rest of the ceremony went on in a haze through her eyes. The bitter-sweetness the moment lingered until one of the organizers dragged her into a backroom.
“Deedee, that was a moving speech you gave out there,” he told her in German. “I never knew you had gone through so much. You’re a strong woman.”
“But I think you can continue what you do here and still help the girls.”
Dugo shook her head. “Nigeria is not a place where the good and the bad work hand in hand. To them, pornography is bad. A huge sin. They can only take me seriously if I’m repentant of it.”
At that moment, another man walked in. He was British, one of the gods of the porn industry in Europe. A proud gay man who was rumored to have dated Elton John at some point.
“Deedee!” His hands were spread out to her. “How do you say ‘you’re sexily beautiful’ in German?”
“My friends and I think it’d be a wonderful thing to support your cause. When you return home and start a foundation, we would be glad to be long-term grand patrons. What do you think, Klaus?”
The German nodded. “Good idea,” he replied in a thick accent. “We support from here, Deedee. No worry.”
Dugo was flushed. “Aww, thank you so much guys.”
“Iz nothing,” answered the German. “We are family, yes?”
Dugo received a hug from both them and followed them out to join the throng that was leaving the venue to attend an after-party.
Later that night, Dugo sat on her balcony and enjoyed the city lights. Mila and a few friends had promised to come see her the following evening, to try to persuade her to stay. They were not taking the news about her leaving lightly.
But Dugo had already planned this for months. Her bags were packed and her flight booked. She was going on a vacation first. She needed to drown out the noise, find herself and plan her life before returning to Nigeria. Her flight was leaving in the morning.
She sipped on her wine quietly. The edges of her silk robe caressed the floor as spotless long legs stretched out and her feet rested on the bannister of her balcony. She tried not to remember her journey to this side of the world and how far she had come. If there was a way to erase all she had done, she would. But the memories were going nowhere. The good and the damn right nasty. She felt no honor in what she had become. She wanted badly to have a new name and identity. To fall in love with an honest man and have kids and the joy of a family.
Her mother, having thought her dead a few years after she left, died of a broken heart. Dugo had no one in the world except a brother who had detested her the moment he came across one of her amateur movies. He disowned her over the phone, cursing the universe for making them share the same DNA. Dugo had been devastated, but promised herself to rise above her scarlet identity.
She downed her wine now, sighing nostalgically as she had one last look of Berlin at night before retiring to bed. When the morning came, she got on a plane heading to Zanzibar. The flight stopped at Istanbul where she spent the night and then proceeded to Tanzania. When she came to Zanzibar, a tour guide was waiting outside the airport, holding out a paper with her name ‘Adaugo’ written boldly on it.
For a second, she stopped and took the sight in. She was not Deedee Holiday or an award-winning European porn star anymore.
She was Adaugo, and the motherland had welcomed her home.