When Chinedu Okafor discovered, as a thirteen-year-old, that he enjoyed looking at the bodies of boys, it bothered him a lot as he knew this was not a normal thing for him to feel. Growing up in a very religious family like his did not make this realization any easier for him; his father was a pastor in church and his mother led the women’s group. So he became rebellious as a means of coping with everything he was feeling. His parents tried as much as they could to tame his excesses, but he was too volatile. However, he excelled academically as he graduated from class to class. His polarized personality – that of a studious, academically-bright student who got into fights and got more punished than anybody around – earned him the nickname ‘Naughty Professor’. The head pastor his parents took him to declared that the spirit of rascality in him was trying to railroad his bright future, while the school counselor his teacher took him to deduced that he was battling teenage demons that was usual for boys his age.
The counselor also predicted that in time, he would outgrow his willfulness and become calmer. Chinedu did calm down, but not because he outgrew anything.
It was because he met someone.
It was in his penultimate year of high school, and Matthew Ajayi had just transferred to Merrywood High at the start of second term in SS2. Matthew arrived this late in the school year because his father had just moved back to Nigeria from Abidjan, after divorcing his wife at the time, and to also begin a new job as one of the resident doctors in Alacante Hospital. Matthew quickly became the darling of teachers and students because of his French accent and his academic brilliance. He was in Chinedu’s class and bested Chinedu, claiming the top position, something that was unheard of and an occurrence that fueled Chinedu’s resentment of him. He already didn’t like Matthew’s French affectations, and now this!
Matthew caught on to Chinedu’s resentment and the two of them wouldn’t become friends all through the rest of the school year. Altercations frequently burst out between them, fiery spats that just barely resulted into physical fights. This however changed when they resumed for SS3. While they were both honors students overall, they failed to perform well in certain subjects. Chinedu was an excellent Mathematics and Physics student, but struggled with Geography. Stalactites and stalagmites, rock and water formation and topography – these were not things he felt were worth his time and therefore he never really paid close attention in class. Matthew on the other hand was an excellent Geography student because he wanted to study Geology in the university, but he struggled with Mathematics, finding the values of cos X and sin Y unbearable and drawing a parabola graph afterwards much too daunting. So when the time came for the preparation of the O-Level exams, recognizing how useful they could both be to each other, they set aside their animosity and a truce was called to enable them tutor each other.
They began spending a lot of time with each other in school, a development that startled all those who knew of their former enmity. The exams came and passed, and the boys graduated from high school, and continued to be friends, hanging out often and doing things together. They went to the movies and played video games in Matthew’s house. Chinedu’s parents were so relieved by the calmer turn their son’s personality had taken that they rarely objected whenever he asked to spend sleepovers at Matthew’s place; Matthew Ajayi was after all the angel God sent to cure their son of his spirits of rascality. When they prayed, they prayed for Matthew to continue to be a positive influence on their only child.
Then came the Friday night when Matthew’s father was working a night shift at the hospital, and Matthew, as he usually did, asked Chinedu over for a sleepover. They played video games on Matthew’s X-Box for most of the evening, and as the night progressed, at Chinedu’s insistence, they indulged by drinking two bottles of Mr. Ajayi’s beer. They had the house to themselves and could do whatever they pleased. That was the night that changed their lives as they went to bed and started an exploration of pleasures and sensations they never knew – perhaps suspected – they’d always harboured for each other. The wink of dawn the next day found both boys luxuriating in each other’s arms, safe and secure in the discovery of this new kind of love they had for each other.
The security was short-lived, the love ending devastatingly. Matthew was involved in an accident just a few weeks to the start of his freshman year in the university. While driving home late one night with his father, after he had stopped by the hospital to pick him up, an SUV ran into their car. Matthew was killed instantly, while his father survived with some bruises and broken bones.
Chinedu was devastated by the loss of Matthew; he’d fallen in love with his best friend and was inconsolable over the reality that he would never see him again, never touch or listen to or kiss Matthew again. He turned reclusive, a very drastic behavioural pattern that worried his parents more than when he was rebellious.
The years passed, and Chinedu, now in his mid-twenties, had graduated from the university. At some point in the university, he’d struggled to convince himself that what he felt for Matthew wasn’t real, and that all they did was part of the learning curve as a teenager and raging hormones associated with adult year formation. It didn’t matter that that one time in his second year, there’d been that one drunken encounter with his roommate’s friend, or that in his third year, he’d gotten frisky with some handsome stranger in the bathroom of a club he’d been at. However, every now and then, he wondered if perhaps his rationalizations were the result of the guilt he felt over forsaking Matthew each time he thought about another man or yearned for the sensual touch of another guy.
After his graduation and subsequent NYSC stint, he got a job in the office of a senator, who was a member of the Senate Committee on Power. Chinedu’s position on the senator’s team tasked him with researching issues and developing legislation that would help improve the quality of life for Nigerians when it came to energy production, distribution and pricing. It also required him to do a lot of traveling in order to meet, interview and interact with people living in different states as well as power distribution offices and renewable energy providers.
On a particular trip, feeling overcome by his unfulfilled desires, Chinedu ventured online and made the acquaintance of a man. During the nights when he developed the overwhelming urge to release, he got with this man who’d introduced himself to him as Richard Okorie. Richard was in his forties, with wholesome looks and a dusting of grey on his hair that seemed to add refinement to his good looks. Through the cam-2-cam service the website they’d met on provided, both men moaned their desires to each other and masturbated to their climaxes.
Chinedu and Richard grew close over time and inevitably began talking about the possibility of meeting whenever Chinedu would be in Lagos for work. Richard held great appeal to Chinedu, because the older man reminded him so much of Matthew. From his quiet reserve to the twinkle of a love for life in his eyes, Richard made Chinedu wonder sometimes if he was what Matthew would look like had he had the chance to grow old.
The day came when Chinedu traveled to Lagos for a long weekend, from Thursday to Tuesday. Richard had insisted on meeting him at the airport upon his arrival and taking him to his place. When they set their eyes on each other at the airport, it was with a sheer sense of will and awareness of airport bustle around them that they refrained from falling into each other’s arms. Richard’s place was a nice duplex in a small gated estate in Ikoyi. Ensconced inside, Richard served Chinedu a beer and told him to change into something more comfortable while he got dinner ready in a few minutes. Dinner turned out to be a fantastic affair of good food and great conversation. After that, they retired to the balcony, where they nursed drinks and talked some more, while watching the city lights in the distance.
“Come closer,” Richard finally said. He’d noticed a reticence in the young man beside him which was absent in his online persona. Even as he gave the instruction, he feared Chinedu would not oblige him.
But Chinedu obeyed; he moved closer to him. Richard raised his hand to the side of his face, his fingers fluttering over his cheek before going down his neck to the middle of his chest. Chinedu’s pulse was racing as he sat there, still and waiting. Richard leaned closer to him and kissed him as he held the back of his neck. For the moment, Chinedu reveled in the thought that this – Richard’s lips touching his – was the most rapturous thing he’d ever experienced. For a moment, it felt to him like Matthew was the one kissing him. It was like time stopped, allowing for the convergence of the past and the present.
When they separated, Richard looked into his eyes and told him that he’d wanted to do that from the moment he saw Chinedu through the baggage area in the airport. Chinedu said he’d wanted to do the same thing too.
Both men moved in closer and deeper into each other’s embrace, cuddling and kissing. They were in that position for a long time, luxuriating in the very many sensations their kisses were evoking in them. Richard made no move to claim or ask for anything more from Chinedu. It was almost as if he felt it was important that this time be nonthreatening and comfortable for Chinedu. And it was. Chinedu’s inhibitions quietly slid away with each passion-riddled moment he shared a kiss with Richard. He was gradually starting to rediscover the safety and security he hadn’t felt in a long time – not since that first night he spent loving Matthew.
Written by JArch