Was it the times I took my bucket to fetch water at the tap? Or when I would queue up on the bathing line waiting patiently for my turn to shower? The countless times when he would come to my washing spot with his poisonous aura?
He never spared a moment to ridicule me. Although he didn’t get physical, his words scarred me more than any deliberate blow would.
Girl-boy, he would taunt when he was in a light mood. Other days were faggot and bloody, ass-tearing homo.
Words meant to cut through the essence of my being.
Chukwuma – I’d learned his name the day he came into my room to ask my roommate the match fixing of the day – was a nightmare back then in my second year.
I had first encountered him one afternoon during a hasty walk to a fixed lecture.
“Faggot!” someone spat at me.
I turned to behold the plump guy with scattered beards on his chin and a sour countenance on his face.
One look at the expression on his face told me what he was looking for – a confrontation. An altercation I was not in the frame of mind nor had the time to indulge.
So I turned away from him and moved ahead, determined not to give the buffoon the satisfaction he was so clearly looking for. Unfortunately however, my decision not to engage him turned him into my personal albatross, as he forever began to seek me out to torment me with his callous words.
As an effeminate man, I am used to homophobic taunts and insults from the ignoramuses that exist around me. And the persistent affliction called Chukwuma was going to be no different. At a point, I began to take it in stride. When he called me names, instead of letting that dampen my spirit, I nurtured a feeling of self importance, smiling inwardly as I short-circuited the hurt I’d normally feel from such persecution to pride that I had become the centre of someone’s devoted attention.
Then came the night when I returned from the Franco canteen located behind the hostels to meet a furore in the hostel. The first floor was a raging din of raised voices and commotion. With great caution and a dint of curiosity, I approached the noise.
I spotted my roommate standing on the fringe of the commotion and moved straight to him.
“Tobe…” I tugged at his arm, attempting to draw his attention away from the argument he was paying grave attention to.
He turned to me.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Hmm…” He heaved a sigh like a man who had just found out about his wife’s infidelity, his arms folded across his chest. “Dem dey talk say Chukwuma na homo o. Say im dey touch one of im roommate as the boy dey sleep. The roommate sef wan carry am go security.”
He was still talking when I zoned out into my own thoughts. Chukwuma…gay? It all began to make sense to me, the reason behind his persistent verbal maltreatment of me. He was of course a faggot himself – obviously one who had not yet owned his truth and resented me for whatever freedom of expression he perceived me to have. After all, all effeminate men are seen to be homosexuals regardless of what may actually be the reality. He was clearly put off by my apparent oblivion to any insecurities he figured I must have, insecurities he himself couldn’t get a handle on. And so, he came after me.
Bullies, after all, are the most insecure.
Eventually, Chukwuma wasn’t reported to the security. The roommate he purportedly violated accorded him leniency that, in my opinion, he didn’t deserve.
He however disappeared from school. We never heard of him or from him. It was good riddance to bad rubbish for me, even though I sometimes wished we were friends so I could slowly but surely make him come to terms with who he is. Maybe then he wouldn’t be so stupid as to reach for the dick of his sleeping roommate with his mouth.
But I’m glad he got his comeuppance. I guess life handed him a noose on my behalf and he did good with it.
Written by Delle