FROM MILE 2, WITH LOVE

FROM MILE 2, WITH LOVE

It was a Monday morning and it was the day I was set to return to school. I got up early and made my way to the bathroom, had my bath and soon I was leaving the house for the park. You should know I have a terrible case of motion sickness, even if it’s just a short distance – as long as I’m in a bus, the nausea is triggered. So I boarded a bus heading to Mile 2; the traffic was mild and soon I was coming down from the bus and making my way to the park. I was still searching for a park where the buses bound for Bayelsa have reasonably cheap fare, when I was accosted by some guys who rushed to help me with my luggage. They were park aides who also managed to convince me to travel with their bus as it was cheaper than most other transport.

While waiting for the bus to fill up, I stood near the rear end of the bus with my earphones on, mouthing the lyrics of the song I was listening to. I don’t like smiling and chatting with strangers, so when I’m in a public place, I do my best to avoid conversations (thank God for earphones).

So I was there, listening to music and generally minding my business, when I noticed him. He approached the bus, with a backpack slung over his shoulder and alomo bitters in his hand. He was in the company of a friend; they both looked like touts although he was better-looking than his friend. Their eyes were reddened, probably from weed or some other hard drug, their lips blackened from a smoking habit, and their dentition discoloured by drug use. He was a short guy, and despite his general dishevelment, had this cuteness about him that could make you overlook the other unappealing characteristics about him.

He and the guy who was with him spoke briefly before his friend made his way out of the park, probably to go catch another bus. I figured they were both headed to different places. He walked up to where I was. I stepped away from him, pulling on a frown as well to discourage him from attempting to strike up any conversation with me.

It would seem my vibes got lost in translation, because after peering at glancing at the front seat, he looked at me and spoke.

Upon hearing his voice, I have to admit, I was stunned. Amazed even. How do I describe his voice? OK, I’ll try. His voice sounded like butter on bread. The phonetics was just out of this world. He didn’t speak Pidgin; he spoke English, and the way the words rolled out of his mouth would put my English lecturer to shame. For such a rugged-looking character, his voice had no gruffness; there was this feminine lilt to his voice that he appeared to be working hard to suppress.

He asked me if I there was any one at the front seat. I acted like I hadn’t heard him. Honestly, I still did not want anything to do with him. But then, he tapped me on the shoulder and repeated his question. I turned to look at him with a raised eyebrow. He stepped back, finally perceiving my hostility. I told him I didn’t know if the seats were taken. He said “Thank you”, and made to sit at the front seat, when the driver hurried over, almost shouting that the front seats were already taken. He climbed down and glanced over at the seats arranged behind, finally settling for the first row, which was where I’d already planned on sitting. I sighed as I thought to myself how long this journey was going to be.

He left after putting his bag on the seat to secure his place. A few minutes later, he was back holding two bottles of alomo and a bottle of black jack, with a cigarette tucked between his lips. He dropped the bottles on the seat close to me and made to light his cigarette when I asked him to move the bottles as they made me uncomfortable. He said he was sorry and in response, I rolled my eyes. I watched him inhale and blow out smoke, and in a few minutes, he had smoked the entire stick. He flirted with the girls in the park, smiling and lightly touching their hands.

A man selling books came over with his wares. He approached me and asked if I was interested in any of his books. I told him no. And he moved on to my rugged co-passenger (let’s start calling him X). X used his fingers to flit through the books, and then asked the vendor if he reads. The man said no. X asked him why. The man laughed and shrugged while simultaneously saying he doesn’t know. X frowned, and then told the man that he was a Science student, but he still read other books besides his textbooks, books like novels and such. Then he dipped his hand into his pocket and brought out a thousand naira and handed it to the man, asking him to get a book for himself. As I watched them, I snorted to myself: that 1000 naira was certainly not going to the purchase of a book.

We were now settling in our seats, with X at my side. One of the bus boys started loading the remaining bags into the bus and at a point, took my bags down to rearrange the loads. Naturally, I was worried he might forget to put my bags back on the bus, so I reminded him. I kept at it, asking him not to forget my bags. He quickly got irritated and snapped at me to leave him alone. I retorted in a loud voice, asking him never to speak to me like that again.

At this point, X turned smilingly to me and said cajolingly, “Relax. I’m sure he won’t forget your luggage.”

I was already pissed and I turned to him and as calmly as I could manage, I told him to mind his business.

He looked away. A few minutes later, the bus was fully loaded and everybody had taken their seats. Seated closest to the window was a young woman and between me and this young woman was X. As the bus made its way out of the park and out of Lagos, my motion sickness started to kick in. I unwrapped a tom-tom and tossed it into my mouth; menthol was the one thing that can calm my motion sickness. We weren’t even out of Lagos before X engaged the young woman in a conversation. I didn’t pay much attention to them, and my earphone made sure I was kept out of their conversation.

We got to Ore by 2 pm, and like all the other buses, we made a pitstop for rest and refreshment. In about an hour, we were done. It was at this time that we hit a major holdup on the road, and that combined with the heat made me very exhausted and irritable. I looked through my playlist, searching for a song to help calm myself with. Finally, I settled on Lorde’s Pure Heroine album. immediately I clicked on it, the album cover art flashed across my phone screen. I noticed X staring moments before he gasped, “Oh my God! Is that Lorde’s album?”

I looked at him and said yes. He was now looking at me and smiling. “May I share your earpiece with you?” he asked.

I surprisingly didn’t feel any irritation at his request. I simply nodded and gave him one end of the earpiece, the other end tucked in my ear. As the song played, I watched him. He was matching Lorde lyric for lyric. He knew it all. As though he sensed me appreciating his knowledge of Lorde’s music, he turned to me and said, “I love Lorde.”

I nodded in response.

“I just love her,” he continued. “But you see ehn, I can’t play her songs out loud or any other female songs out loud.”

I looked at him, puzzled, and asked why.

He smiled and said, “My friends would make fun of me. They will laugh at me if they hear me play such music. So I listen to these music with my earpiece or watch their music videos when I’m alone.”

I was astonished. “Why would you do that? What you play on your phone or do with your life should be nobody’s business. You should care less what other people say about you.”

In response to me, he gave me this odd look I can’t quite describe. It felt like the look you give to someone when you want to say: Can’t you see I’ve been beaten by life? Can’t you see I can’t do anything about it?

He smiled then and turned away to face the window, like I didn’t understand what he was saying to me. I immediately felt bad. Bad for the way I’d behaved toward him earlier. I wondered what his story was: probably a boy who, while growing up, was effeminate. A boy who was probably ridiculed by friends and family for acting like a girl. A boy who was probably flogged by his father or mother or teachers for being not being “boy” enough. A boy who, in trying to get rid of the “girl” in him, got mixed up with the wrong crowd. A boy who hung out with the miscreants, the touts, joined them in smoking weed, doing drugs and getting high on cheap booze, all in a bid to man up and prove that he is not the “girl” he’d grown up being taunted with. A boy who, in these acts of survival, had himself been defeated by society.

I smiled at him when he turned to ask if I had Beyoncé albums in my phone and I said yes. He asked for me to play them, and I did. We listened to many other female albums on my phone, and the smile and happiness that stayed on his face was something I’ll never forget. We talked for a while. He told me he was a student of NDU, studying microbiology or something related to that field. He told me his family was based in Delta but he moved out a long time ago. He had a sad look on his face as he talked about his family. He said he lives in Ghana now but only comes back to Delta and stays in his family house when school resumes. We talked some more about life, about the crises going on in NDU, and he said some really funny things that had me laughing.

When we got to his stop, it felt like the termination of our acquaintanceship had come too soon. I wasn’t ready to let go of his company. He turned to me and said, “This is where I get off.” And I smiled and said okay. He alighted and waved at me. I waved back. As our bus moved on, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I wished I could help him be more comfortable with himself. I wished I hadn’t lost precious time being so cold toward him at the beginning. Then I hoped – I hoped – he would find his happy ending, accept whatever his truth was, and conquer his demons. The guy I met at that park on that fateful day touched my heart in those few hours we conversed. And if by chance he ever reads this, I hope he has gotten to a point in his life where people and what they think do not matter to him anymore. A place he can truly be happy and proud of who he is.

Written by Duke

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19 Comments

  1. Colossus
    October 25, 13:15 Reply

    Why the earlier hostility? I don’t get it

    • Jay Armstrong
      October 26, 08:31 Reply

      Eez like you dunno homosezual can like to do plenty shakara

  2. Bhawscity
    October 25, 14:12 Reply

    For some reason I cried. Don’t ask me why? I don’t even know.

  3. Tristan
    October 25, 14:19 Reply

    WHY DIDN’T YOU COLLECT HIS PHONE NUMBER?

    This post just reminds me of the two opportunities I failed to avail myself yesterday. As I was stepping out of UBA, Marina, Lagos Island, I stumbled upon my childhood crush. This guy, I only get to see him at the end of the year when we travelled home for Christmas because we come from the same village. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him. He had grown to be a very handsome young man. I would stifle my feelings and snub him but this time I had grown up, so I made sure he recognised me. As he was about to walk past me I extended my hands for a handshake and smiled, at the same time staring at his beautiful eyes. His alluring response after I introduced myself was breathtaking. I wanted to collect his number but I was just too shy to ask him to give me his number so I expected he was going to ask for mine but he didn’t. I hurried past him to board a bus towards Oshodi and realized I’d made a big mistake. I should have asked for his number. In this bus I boarded was this soft spoken and very cute bloke sitting next to me. He looked at me and asked if the bus will pass Gbagada. “Ofcourse, if it’s heading towards Oshodi, it will pass Gbagada,” I replied, pleased that such a very fine bobo spoke to me but then, there was something about his voice. It had a lisp that activated my gaydar. We got into a conversation that was interrupted with pauses along it probably because we were unsure we were thinking the same thing. When the bus conductor announced we’d got to Gbagada junction, I realized I hadn’t done the needful, which was to collect his phone number so we can get to talk and perhaps meet more often. Poor me😭. He bid me goodbye and alighted.

    Damn! I missed another opportunity but I wasn’t going to give up o. I logged into my Facebook account and searched for the name of the guy I met in Marina. Lucky for me, he used his real name as his username and I didn’t hesitate to click on the “add-friend” button. We havent started a conversation yet on facebook messenger but very soon, I’ll hit him up😄😄😄

    • ayuto
      October 30, 16:30 Reply

      Hey Tristain, Maybe i should shoot my shot. i also stay in oshodi and have been very unsuccessful/afraid in meetng up other gs..

    • Delle
      October 30, 23:12 Reply

      This is me and a lot more 😂

  4. J
    October 25, 19:10 Reply

    Ice Queen oh King I mean 🤗

    It’s good to get to know someone well before giving them attitude, I bet you if I were the one, I wouldn’t have said a word to you… The boy seems to be matured enough

    • trystham
      October 25, 23:22 Reply

      It wasn’t particular to him. It is his GENERIC response to anyone and everyone in a public vehicle.

      • Francis
        October 26, 04:19 Reply

        In as much as I get it being a generic response to everyone in public response, you should work on it cause you never know what will happen in transit. Na that person wey you treat in a hostile manner go dey in position to help you. Just find a less hostile polite like way to dodge them.

    • Ebi
      October 26, 03:05 Reply

      Trystham has said it all.

  5. Patrick
    October 26, 02:47 Reply

    X still warmed up to you after you constantly dished him cold-shoulders. Three things are inferable;
    1. He obviously likes you
    2. He’s accustomed to been mistreated, and consequently
    3. He has become emotionally resilient.
    DAMN! You should have asked for his number.
    I want to berate you for being needlessly cold. We cannot possible know how our hostilities affect people, especially vulnerable gays; yet, even I have been guilty:

    Once upon a time I was travelling from Ibadan. The bus could only seat two people in its back. I took one and a guy took the other. I noticed that he was slightly effeminate, and when he took out his phone to receive a call, I heard the most girly voice ever. After the call, we looked at each other. He gave me a slight knowing look. I should have said something. But I didn’t want to talk to him. And I shamefully admit that I didn’t want to talk to him because of his very girly voice. I didn’t want him to attract the attention of other passengers. I didn’t want them to mock him. But during the call he didn’t seem to care for his voice. It was a short trip and he slept three-quarters of it.

    I still can’t shake off the feeling that I missed a chance at an important acquaintanceship.

  6. Sworld
    October 26, 06:29 Reply

    being hostile seems rude to me!
    I just feel it’s unnecessary for people to act that way irrespective of who approach them.
    if I ought to be X?
    After I sensed you already kinda good with me!. I will serve it back to you very COLD.
    so you could feel it! Lmao

  7. Bhawscity
    October 26, 07:15 Reply

    You were clearly in the wrong. You don’t need to be his light in shining armor prince savior, but that dude literally screamed “HELP”. that day with you on that bus might have been the best days he has had in years. I don’t get how folks do it, become so cold, I wouldn’t lash out on you as I would have loved to because this is a public blog but, boy, you was very wrong. We have to love ourselves and help a bit if the society doesn’t want to love us. Like detol say “if we don’t take care of ourselves, who will”

    For readers out there; please if you see a Queer person who seemed vulnerable, always help, instincts work. Come on, we can’t be harsh to ourselves.

  8. Jeff
    October 26, 11:14 Reply

    He’s a student of NDU you say???

  9. ROCK
    October 30, 21:35 Reply

    Heart rending..not heart warming.Its a story about never belonging anywhere and it’s one of the saddest things that can happen to a person.This thing called society.I have been there,still there actually.Growing up effeminate.Always the outsider.Ridiculed.Then you start to over compensate.Become rude.Unruly.Hit the gym.Bulk up.Join a cult.Pick up bad habits.Trying desperately to run away from those mocking voices in your head.
    But still.
    No way.
    Because you know.
    I feel sad for that guy.He has been running all his life.Just like I left home once I realised that I can’t take it anymore.Its better to be seen once in a while and In small doses.
    Kudos to those who don’t care

    • Delle
      October 31, 10:33 Reply

      I hope you’re better now?

  10. Taul
    November 01, 18:31 Reply

    Hostility? Another problem we have in the queer society.

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