Click HERE for Down Low (Episode 1)

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“I hope you turned down her silly offer,” said Ayo Akande, Siji’s boyfriend of almost two years, as he washed off the dishes they had used for dinner in the kitchen of the small but tasteful one-bedroom apartment they both shared in Surulere. Siji had just been telling him of the conversation that he and Liliana had had, several hours ago on their day out at the mall.

“It’s not a silly offer,” Siji replied, idly admiring the slice of his boyfriend’s derriere that was visible from his vantage point on their L-shaped couch in the living room.

“I really don’t care about what adjective we use to describe her offer, as long as your answer was ‘NO’” Ayo rejoined, as he rinsed of a rather sharp butcher’s knife.

Siji waited for Ayo to drop the knife before responding. “I told her that being her boyfriend sounds interesting, and her idea is worth considering.”

Ayo froze, cold dread and a white hot rage coursing through his slender frame simultaneously. He took several deep breaths and gently placed the last soiled china plate in the sink. The plate was one of several dishwares given to him by his mother as part of the things he would need for a comfortable life outside the nest. It would be a shame if it shattered, just like his heart was threatening to do.

Siji couldn’t see all of Ayo’s body from where he was sitting, but the part of him he could see seemed frozen in time, and the only sound from the kitchen was the sound of running water.

“Ayo, baby, you aren’t saying anything,” Siji said before rising slowly to his feet. His boyfriend was a very high-strung and sensitive individual, a trait that many people ran away from in both straight and gay relationships, but one that Siji had come to accept and love as part of the complex package that was Ayo.

Siji slowly walked into the kitchen and saw Ayo staring down into the sink, breathing heavily, with suspicious moisture glistening on his face.

“Jesus Christ, are you crying?” he exclaimed, rushing over to Ayo’s side and beginning to embrace him.

Ayo recoiled and shot him a look of intense anger, magnified by the moisture on his face.

“Get away from me!” he hissed, his body vibrating with barely-retrained emotions. “Everyone keeps saying that gay relationships never last, but I never listen. Ekene always says that it’s either the man cheats or he marries a woman, or both, but every gay relationship has expiry date. I have always refused to believe him. My own is different, I tell both him and myself. You are different! But you aren’t! You are not different from all the lying gay bastards out there!”

Siji forcefully grabbed Ayo by his slender waist and dragged him into a tight embrace.

“Don’t fucking touch me!” Ayo shrieked.

“Shut up! Shut the entire fuck up!” Siji barked. “I don’t understand how you can doubt me so much after almost two years together! Haven’t I shown you how much I love you? How much I need you? Fucking hell, Ayo! Why are you like this?” He released Ayo suddenly from the embrace and stomped out into the living room.

A still quivering Ayo hurried after him. “How won’t I doubt you when you want to leave me for a woman?” he hissed.

“Nobody said anything about leaving you, for God’s sake!” Siji roared back.

“So I’m supposed to share you with her? Really?” Ayo shot back, still not placated.

“You aren’t sharing me, goddamnit! Liliana will be nothing more than a showpiece! A beard! For God’s sake, you know Liliana! You know me! There’s absolutely nothing between us!” Siji could feel a slight throbbing begin in his right temple.

Ayo chewed his bottom lip, unsure whether to believe his boyfriend or not. “Liliana is very beautiful. And you are gorgeous as well…” he whispered.

“Thanks, bae, but Liliana is a certified lesbian. I’m sure she won’t suddenly be tempted to rip my clothes off now, if she hasn’t attempted to do so in the past.”

“But…you have had sex with women in your past,” Ayo continued, doubt refusing to release its talons from his mind.

“Yes. I have, when I was still unsure of myself and my sexuality. Years ago! See ehn, I am tired of this and I’m dropping this conversation. If my being with Liliana as her figurehead boyfriend bothers you so much, I won’t do it, OK?” Siji turned and prepared to stalk off towards the bedroom, but Ayo suddenly threw himself on his retreating back and wrapped his arms around him.

“I’m sorry, my love,” he whispered, kissing the back of Siji’s neck. “I’m sorry. It’s just that…I am afraid of losing you. I love you too much.”

Siji sighed, his heart swelling as he turned in his boyfriend’s embrace to look into his eyes. He gripped the side of Ayo’s face, so that he wouldn’t be able to look away.

“I have told you several times, you don’t have to be afraid of anything. I love you, and only you. And I will never hurt you. Your heart is safe with me,” Siji said, kissing Ayo’s lips lightly.

Ayo closed his eyes, reveling in the feeling of Siji’s soft lips and scratchy moustache. However, his mind wandered with trepidation. That’s what you say now, my love. But nobody knows the future. Somehow, someday, you will hurt me. I’ve been through this before…

Written by Santa Diaba

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