A few months after my NYSC service year, I got my first job with a multinational company, and soon had to leave mama’s nest. To me, this was an opportunity to see how wild I would or could go, knowing I was now without any monitoring or restrictions, seeing as I was one of these kids who grew up in the care of very strict parents.
Living in a new state however was pretty boring, way more boring than I’d anticipated, but I told myself that I just had to acclimatize to the North and then things would pick up. Twelve months went by in a flash and it basically comprised of me carrying on with the same routine over and over. Wake up, bath, work, home, watch a movie on my laptop if there was any new one to watch, sleep. And the next day, repeat the cycle. I found myself fervently praying for an adventure or even an interesting experience worth relishing.
By the time my leave was due, I was determined to use the opportunity to travel to as many places as time and chance could permit me. I wasn’t about to veg out at home, doing nothing but eat and pile on the weight.
When my leave was finally approved, I started by first travelling to Asaba, for a friend’s birthday. After that, I moved on to the popular city of Lagos. That was fun, with trips to the beach and the malls and the cinemas.
One of the significant moments I had while I was in Lagos was on a Saturday evening, when I went to the mall in Lekki with Eric, the sugar daddy I was staying with in Lagos. As we emerged from his car, I happened upon my ex-boyfriend, Abuchi. The first guy to break my heart. A pain that was so devastating, it had me playing Adele’s Someone Like You on repeat. And here he was, walking with his friends seemingly toward where they parked their car. Our gazes caught and held, and a rush of memories coursed through me.
You see, Abuchi was my first love. He was just starting out in exploring his sexuality when we met, and so, I thought I thought I had found the perfect boyfriend. The one who would stay because of how green he was in the ways of the gay scene. However, I didn’t reckon with the fact that Abuchi wanted to explore. He wanted to know the world of gay men beyond being with me.
And so, one morning, he sent me a text saying: I’m sorry, Nimdee, but this relationship can’t work. Let’s just part ways and be like we never got together.
And just like that, my heart was ripped apart for the first time. That was the last time we communicated. And so, seeing him now for the first time since that breakup had me feeling some type of way. I didn’t know the code of conduct for how to behave when you suddenly run into th ex that broke your heart. I didn’t know if I should smile at him. Would that be a wrong thing to do? Should I wave? What if he doesn’t wave back, wouldn’t that make me look stupid? Besides, wouldn’t that make me have to explain to Eric who he was? I could simply look away and act like I didn’t know him, but then, he might think I was being a bitch simply because I was coming out of a fancy car in the company of a man.
In the end, while I was torn over what to do, I ended up maintaining the stare with Abuchi until Eric and I walked past him and his friends.
My stay in Lagos was really pleasant, but I wasn’t finished traveling. I’d decided to spend the last days of my leave in Abuja. On the day I was to leave for Abuja, I was dropped off at the bus terminal by Eric’s driver. After getting my ticket, I decided to take a walk around the park seeing as the bus was yet to be filled. A few steps away from the ticketing room stood a tall, dark and extremely attractive man. He was so good looking, I found myself just standing there and staring unabashedly at him. And when he moved, he moved with the unselfconsciousness of one who isn’t aware of his sex appeal.
I was instantly drawn to him. For a long time, all I did was find a seat that gave me an unlimited and uninterrupted view of this gorgeous human specimen. My joy heightened when I discovered that he was also traveling to Abuja and that we would be travelling in the same bus. The bummer however came when we both had to sit at extreme ends in the bus; my seat was in front, next to the driver, while he sat somewhere in the back.
As the journey progressed, I sat in my seat sulking and wishing I was back there next to Mr. Sexy Anonymous. I didn’t even know if I would ever get a chance to speak to him. To make his acquaintance.
Fate was on my side though as an opportunity presented itself when the driver made a pitstop for us passengers to ease and refresh ourselves. I was neither hungry nor pressed, so I chose to stretch my legs by idly walking about the bus. When I got to the back of the bus, my heart caught when I saw my Him standing there by his gorgeous lonesome. I stopped a few feet away from him, thinking of a way to initiate a conversation with him. If not for anything, just for the joy that I got to talk to him.
I noticed that in his hands was a Sidney Sheldon novel, If Tomorrow Comes. A book I had read several times.
Now, that’s my opening, I thought.
I moved closer to him and in my best radio personality voice, I said, “Hi, may I see your book?” Acting like I had never even seen the book before.
He handed the book over to me, smiled and said, “This is a very good one, you know? You should read it, if you’re into books.”
I turned to the back of the book and read its blurb as though I was seeing it for the first time. And then, I asked him a few questions about the storyline. From there, a conversation began to flow between us. We talked a bit about work and why we were traveling. Turns out that he was a banker who was also on leave and wanted to go spend some time with his family in Abuja.
We didn’t get the chance to talk as much, before the driver returned and we all had to get back into the bus and resume our journey.
I’d told the driver the name of the bus-stop my friend had asked me to stop at, and when we got there, he pulled up. A few other passengers were dropping as well. In the bustle of people alighting from the bus and claiming their luggage, Mr. Sexy Anonymous (we hadn’t introduced ourselves earlier at the pitstop) also came down – to stretch his legs, I guessed. He saw me picking up my bag and asked if I was dropping here. I told him I was, and as though it was the most natural thing in the world to do, we both handed each other our phones to exchange contacts.
“It was nice meeting you,” he said as he gave me back my phone with his number dialed on it. “I’m Mark.”
“I’m Nimdee,” I said with a smile as I handed him back his phone as well.
We said goodbye to each other and then I proceeded to cross to the other side of the road to meet my friend, who had already come out to pick me to his place, where I would be staying for my visit in Abuja.
“Hmmm, who be that fine bobo wey you give phone to, eh?!” he burst out as we got into his car. “This geh! Biko start spilling!”
When I woke up the next morning, I checked my phone for the time. And just then, a text message beeped in. It was from Mark, and it read: Hi, hope you got home safe. It was nice to meet you.
Feeling a surge of excitement, I typed back: Good morning. Yes, I got home safely. Thanks for checking in. Hope you did not get home too late yourself. It was nice meeting you too.
And then, I hit the send button. I wasn’t expecting a reply; I was simply just satisfied that I’d gotten so acquainted with this gorgeous man, enough for him to even text me.
But then, my phone beeped again, and when I checked to see who the message was from, I almost jumped with glee when I saw it was from Mark.
I was home just in time. 🙂 Hope you’re enjoying your stay in Abuja.
And that was how we kept texting back and forth. Till I requested for his WhatsApp contact, and we moved the conversation there. As the chat kept on going, he mentioned that he was going to go get his brother’s car fixed and I mentioned that if he was chanced, maybe he could stop by where I was staying.
“I’ll only stop if you have something to give me,” he said.
I took this as cue to take things to a different level, as I simply wanted to know there and then if he was into men.
So, I typed back: Very well. I have a box of chocolates and a kiss for you.
As soon as I sent the message, I was flooded with doubt and regret and mortification, a condensation of feelings with heightened when he didn’t text a response back to me.
It was around 4:30 PM that evening when I got a call from Mark. He said that he was already where I had earlier told him I would meet him – well before I shamelessly typed that I had a kiss waiting for him.
I got dressed and set out to meet him. He had parked his car in front of where I had described and was waiting for me. As soon as I spotted him, I walked over to where he was. He motioned for me to get in and he drove off, not saying where it was that he was taking me to. As he pulled into the traffic on the expressway, he suggested us going to a bar to get some drinks and gist a bit. I acquiesced.
I was starting to feel a bit relieved that he wasn’t going to say anything about the kiss, when the Orishas decided to do their thing.
He was navigating his way through a turn when he said, as though he’d suddenly remembered, “Oya na, bros, where’s my chocolate? And about the kiss, you were joking, right?”
My heart jumped as I looked at him. His face was scrubbed clean of any expression.
He appeared to be waiting for my answer, and when I didn’t give any but simply gave a shy chuckle, he said, “You’re not gay, are you?” Without waiting for my response, he went on, “Oh Jeez! Why would you want to kiss a guy? Why would you want to kiss me?”
At this time, he had pulled up somewhere and turned off the ignition. I had no idea if we had gotten to the bar or if he had parked because he was about to throw me out of his car. My heart had started palpitating, and for a few minutes, I thought I had lost my voice. I could not even bring myself to look at his face.
“Erm…well…I, erm…” I stuttered when I finally found my voice. “I don’t know what to say.”
He was watching me closely, an intensity to his stare that was starting to make me feel hot and bothered, and not in a good way. Then he said, “You know this gay thing is very wrong, right? The bible and humanity condemn it. Why do you engage in it?” And just like that, he turned from the sexy stranger I’d imagined kissing to an impromptu man of God preaching about the evils of homosexuality.
For a while, I must have blanked out, because I wasn’t recording what was happening. The unceremonious turn of events caused a scrambling of my mind. However, when I came to, to hear him still going on and on with his sermon, I thought to myself: I haven’t even admitted to him that I am gay and he is already preaching all this.
And then, my flustered feelings were short-circuited to annoyance. Who did this guy think he was anyway, to be lecturing me based on the next to nothing he knew about me?
I cut him short when I started speaking. “I’m sorry, but you have no right to speak to me this way, because you don’t know me?” I snapped, suddenly feeling an evaporation of my attraction for him. “Do you think I grew up wanting to be gay? Do you know how long I’ve had these feelings and how long I’ve had to deal with them and fight them and fight myself? Do you know how long I’ve had to pray, fast and isolate myself because I thought I was abnormal and didn’t deserve to live? Do you know how many times I came close to committing suicide because of how depressed I got at some point in my life? Please, don’t you ever preach to me or judge me like you have any idea what my life is about. Just don’t.”
And because I wasn’t in a situation where I could get the satisfaction of storming off and slamming a door in his face, I looked away from him, a clear indication that I was done with him.
I was also feeling many types of ways. I felt like a light weight had been lifted briefly from my chest and then replaced with a heavier one. I was feeling crushed by my crush. I wished I had never mentioned anything about a kiss at all. I was this close to wishing I had never even met him.
There’s just not going to be any chance of a friendship between me and this guy now, I kept thinking as I stared resolutely out the window, not even aware that the silence was stretching between us.
Finally, he broke the silence.
“Was there anyway I led you into thinking I was gay or into this kinda of stuff?” he asked, cutting into my thoughts.
“Oh, yes you did,” I said, nodding.
“How?” he asked with a raised brow.
“You know, with the endless chatting and text messages. I mean, what straight guy has that time to be doing long texts with someone who’s basically his travel acquaintance?” I asked and waited for his reply.
He sat there, saying nothing. He seemed to be replaying the whole thing in his head, about how we chatted on nonstop from morning till 1 pm, chatting about nothing and everything.
Finally, he said, “So, a guy can’t be nice to another guy without being seen as gay?”
At this, I’d had enough. “Look, Mark, let’s not make this anymore awkward than it already is. I’m really sorry for hitting on you the way I did. We don’t have to go have any drinks. Please just drop me at home and let’s forget this episode ever happened.”
And I waited for him to start the car and start driving.
When he didn’t do that, I opened the door, stepped out of the car, turned and said goodbye to him. I would have to find my way home.
I was walking down the street where he’d parked toward the main road, a street which I noticed was really quite deserted, when his car drew up beside me.
“Get in, Nimdee. I will drop you at home.” As he said this, he was smiling at me from inside the car.
“No thanks, I’ll be fine.”
“Come on. Na me bring you come this side na. At least, let me take you back.”
I stopped walking and pondered a bit. Then I sighed and got back into the car, with a promise to myself not to say anything to him till I get down from his car. When I shut the door and had buckled the seat belt, I kept my gaze on the window and waited to hear the sound of the car engine fire on.
Instead, what I heard was Mark’s voice.
“Oya, you wanted to give me a kiss, right? You can give it now.”
To say I was shocked by that would be an understatement. I was reeling as I turned to him, stupefaction stamped on my face. I quickly squashed the feeling of elation that jumped into my heart, that feeling that suddenly began noticing how kissable his lips were. The same lips that had been mouthing off the antigay sermon minutes ago.
“Have you done this before?” I blurted out. “Because if you haven’t, then don’t even try this thing you’re doing.”
“Hey, just do it, okay?” he said, getting this puppy-eyed look on his face that was heart melting.
And my initial annoyance, my resentment of him, everything that had just happened in the past few minutes were discarded from my mind as, with my heart beating, I leaned forward and kissed him on the lips. It was more of a peck really, partly because I was acutely aware of how outside we were. And partly because I wasn’t sure what this guy’s deal was.
And he was like, “Is that the best you can do?”
And so, I kissed him again. This time, it was a deep kiss. I really sank into it, with the meshing of our lips and tongues. When I pulled back a minute later, he was smiling.
Without a word, he turned the ignition and began driving. All through the ride home, he didn’t say anything to me. neither I to him. We just sat in this comfortable silence of possibilities.
And when I slept that night, I dreamed of kissing Mark over and over again.
TO BE CONTINUED
Written by Nimdee