360 Degrees (Part 3)

360 Degrees (Part 3)

This is an update on the story I told last year September, about my sexy barber.

We called him Frank. An engineer with a side hustle as a barber. A pastime he indulged, not because he was broke, but because of some demons he’d been fighting for quite some time.

One evening – several weeks into my, well, whatever it was I was doing with Frank – he called me. we hadn’t spoken in a long time, and I was more than a little startled by the question he asked me.

“Are you Peaches on Kito Diaries?”

Two things happened to me. My heart stopped. And when I blurted “What?” and he repeated his question, I listened to his voice, but he sounded neither annoyed nor pleased.

“Yes,” I replied, unsure what to expect.

“OK,” he simply said. Then he said he wanted to see me, asking me to take a cab to his house that evening.

I said OK, but circumstances ended up causing me not to make it to his place. I didn’t call him either. I was busy thinking about how he’d discovered my KD pseudonym, and how it most likely meant he also now knew of the stories I’d written about him. So I spent that evening reading and rereading the two-part story I wrote, wondering if there was anything in it that he’d find very displeasing, and wishing I hadn’t started something I possibly couldn’t finish.

He called on Friday evening before his routine check-up on his salon, insisting that I see him at his place. And the tone of voice this time was coming from a man who would not tolerate any failure to do as instructed. Thankfully my father was not home, so I took permission from my mother to stay out that night, and began getting ready, since he was coming to fetch me from the junction closest to my house.

We did not go to his place straightaway. It was going on to 7 pm, and our first stop was the market where he got some stuff for his house. The next stop was the mall, where he shopped for more supplies. With each stop, he would ask me if I wanted to come in with him, but the steady pounding in my chest felt like it would crack my ribcage if I tried to get out of the plush leather seat of his car. And every time he returned with his purchases, I watched him tip the assistants who helped him carry the bags to his trunk with nothing less than mint-clean three thousand naira in five hundred-naira bills. Just for carrying bags! I could obsess about his generosity but I couldn’t get my mind to think about anything else other than the fact that he was possibly a reader of Kito Diaries and had most likely read the story I wrote about him.

“You did not tell me you were a writer,” he said – finally touching on the subject that had me sitting in his car – as we cruised through the slightly busy evening traffic, heading to his house.

“I am not yet a writer. But a storyteller is not too far from the truth,” I told him, checking his features for a hint to whatever he was feeling from the corner of my eye.

“Not bad,” he said simply.

“Really?” I asked, genuinely surprised.

“Hmm,” he said.

By this time, I couldn’t bear the suspense any longer. I had to know.

“So how did you figure me out? You read KD entries?” I asked.

The question went unanswered as he tried maneuvering a busy bend, and we both fell silent as I looked out of the window till we got to his gate.

Frank lived with his younger brother, who was basically a more jovial person. The moment we were in, his brother, Baron, was with me, easing my tension with conversation and the showing of a family drama on DSTV.

The parlour was still that tastefully furnished living room I walked into the last time I was here. The seats were a blend of leather and upholstery, exuding a premium look, and the floor were white ceramic tiles, with a lush rug centred in the room, in which I sank my feet into as I sat down. Covering the windows were blinds with the strings rather than curtains, and the 55-inch Hisense television was not hung tackily on the wall as is the norm in most affluent Nigerian homes. It was perched on a state-of-the-art mantelpiece with fake fiery lighting that gave the illusion that it was a fireplace.

Frank went in to change into casual clothes and soon came to say he’d be making dinner, leaving me with Baron to entertain me. As we gisted, I observed Baron. He could easily pass for queer, or at most bisexual like his elder brother, with his interests in drama, glam and the E! Entertainment channel. I noticed his hand gestures too and the dramatic neck movements. Like his brother, he was thickly built and hairy chested. He must have had a very good education on how to tuck in his junk, as there were no observable dick prints on his black-and-neon-green shorts. However, the god of nyash had been unsparingly generous to him as I observed his well-curved derriere every time he stood up to fetch something.

Dinner was silent, after which it was just me and Frank in the living room. He was reading through Kito Diaries on his phone, not commenting, not smiling, just opening a link, reading, then opening the next. The silence was killing me; I had to text my friend where I was, in case I emerge the next morning dead, with my head bashed in or my body parts missing.

When he was done, finally he looked at me and began talking to me.

He told me about the roommate he had when he was in Cyprus. The roommate he’d once told me I reminded him very much of. Let us call the roommate Nengi.

Nengi was African, not Nigerian. Frank was older than him by a couple of years, and they roomed together, splitting the rent. He was initially disturbed when he learned that Nengi was gay and had the hots for him, but then they somehow eased to the point where they fucked very occasionally whenever he (Frank) was horny at night and could not bring a girl over.

Nengi was a gifted barber. He was studying for an aeronautical engineering degree, but intended to operate his own salon someday. Frank never had to pay to get a haircut, as Nengi did that for him. He also learned to cut hair from Nengi. Even though they had a friends-with-benefits thing going on, Frank said that there’d seemed to be some unspoken kind of connection between them.

Nengi got some money from his mother, who was living with his stepfather in the US – funds for him to use to come over to America for a visit. This happened a few days after Frank got the bad news that his father had passed away. And since Frank’s father was the sole breadwinner, his family was already facing some difficulty. The news wore Frank down mentally and emotionally. He began to get quick-tempered, and one day, he lashed out at Nengi. They had a fight over something silly he could no longer remember, and since Frank was stringer, he beat Nengi badly. Feeling too raw after the altercation, he left the house.

Only to return the next day to the news that Nengi had been killed in a hit and run the previous night. This hit him even harder, the fact that he had lost first his father and then his best friend in a week. It didn’t help his state of mind that he was the one the police asked over to identify the mangled body of his roommate in a body bag. The grief doubled into a sucker punch of guilt when he discovered that Nengi had tucked a wad of money in an envelope inside the bag where he (Frank) kept his travel documents, as though he’d wanted to surprise him. It must have been everything his mother had given him, or at least most of it.

His guilt and indebtedness to the kindness of the deceased had influenced some choices he made thereafter, doing things he felt would memorialize Nengi. Like opening the salon. Like his generosity with his money. Like the wall in his bedroom upon which were hung so many framed photographs of Nengi, it almost looks like a shrine. Like his closeness to me, the guy who reminds him so much of the friend he lost.

By the time Frank was done unburdening his soul to me, I felt overawed. That night, I could not bring myself to have sex with him. We tried, but it was as though my ass had clenched shut, resisting his attempts to push through with his dick. He eventually gave up and we retired. I could barely sleep either, not with Nengi peering at us from all those framed photos hanging on that wall.

I wasn’t going to tell any of this story here. This third chapter of this story about my sexy barber wasn’t going to happen. But then, recently, Frank texted me from Texas where he was vacationing after several months of not being in touch. And he said: It’s time for you to update your entry about 360 Degrees, don’t you think so?

I texted back: I’d rather not.

You should, he insisted. Except of course you are not the good storyteller that you say you are.

I can only imagine that this permission he has given me to share this story must mean he has finally begun to work through his pain of the loss of his friend. I’m sure he will read this. And when he does, I want him to see me telling him that it is OK for him to move on. For him to forgive himself. That he shouldn’t have to enshrine Nengi. He can start by taking down some – if not all – of the pictures he has up on his wall, and know that carrying Nengi in his heart wherever he goes is enough.

Written by Peaches

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15 Comments

  1. Houston Scholar
    December 27, 06:40 Reply

    Sigh! The story of Nengi is heart-rending. Frank, if you are reading this post, let me add the powerful quote of Maya Angelou to the advice Peaches gave you: “If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end, the real forgiveness is in one’s own self.” Thank you for sharing this story Peaches.

    • Peace
      December 27, 18:08 Reply

      I cried too! Dear Frank, you’ll be alright, sometimes we make mistakes and beat ourselves so hard for it, but then it sometimes heals with time. Nengi is in a better place and I’m sure he’ll want you to be okay too.. I don’t know what to say again ! This onions I’m slicing is disturbing me😭😭😭

  2. Patrick
    December 27, 18:56 Reply

    Waoh! Poor Nengi!

    Peaches, thanks for the story; Frank, I wish you more healing.

  3. Lmrn
    December 27, 20:03 Reply

    I empathize with the emotions Frank would be going through. I can only begin to imagine what they feel like. We all make mistakes, I hope you can learn to forgive yourself, Nengi would want you to.

  4. Law9
    December 27, 20:41 Reply

    Poor Nengi die for love sad one.

  5. Peaches
    December 27, 21:15 Reply

    Thank you all for your kind words. Thank you Pp for helping me share this. I hope he reads it. I hope he finds strength from the words of these good people. I hope he forgives himself and let go.

  6. Ace
    December 28, 01:54 Reply

    The body becomes heavy when it carries more than one soul and the footprints in the sands of time go deeper. It can be soothing to feel that anchoring when everything seems so unstable but that same extra depth of support can easily become a death trap slowly pulling you into the abyss where time becomes meaningless except as a reminder of where you once where.

    Nnegi is gone and it is beautiful that Frank has chosen to keep him alive through his own being but it feels like part of that is this hovering suffocating guilt. It’s hard to lose someone close to you, harder when it feels like it could have been prevented or didn’t have to happen, harder when you don’t get to say goodbye and hardest when you didn’t say what you now want them to know. The pain becomes a part of you one way or the other but you cannot let it define you.

    Frank is holding on to Nnegi’s life because he feels guilty for how it was taken but he has to remember that he doesn’t need to give his up to keep Nnegi alive. There is a saying that true death, second and final death happens when the last person forgets you or the last who remembers you dies. Our lives are basically our memories and Frank can hold on to those memories because they are his as much as they are Nnegi’s. The good ones, the bad ones, the ugly ones, and everything in between- those are the true treasures we leave behind.

    As for the memory of what transpired before Nnegi’s tragic death, Frank has to feel it not as he was then- angry and violent, but as he is now; Let the Nnegi in his head hear what he has to say now, maybe write it down even. That way Frank can have a life with Nnegi being a part of it in the purest form he can hope to get.

    In the words of Sia:

    Take her down from the wall
    Let yourself fall
    You can’t keep her frozen
    Dormant at your court
    You can try to move on
    Tripped by stitches, come undone

    Frank wherever you are, I hope you find peace and I hope you work your way through the pain and guilt and I hope there’s someone there with you for the times when the stitches come undone. You are a beautiful soul🙂

    Peaches, thank you for sharing this story.

  7. trystham
    December 28, 07:29 Reply

    Fight today, hit-and-run tomorrow, money in the passport…aswear, the Nigerian police will just close file.
    Dear Ace, I love your comment.

  8. Avid fan
    December 28, 16:36 Reply

    I just finished seeing A STAR IS BORN and came on here to read this and Ace’s comment. Oh… The waterworks! Thanks for sharing Peaches <3 And God bless the day you met Frank. Peace, love and light I wish you both. <3

  9. Yazz
    December 30, 14:14 Reply

    The rate at which African students get killed in Cyprus is scary.

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