It was sometime towards the end of May, 2013. My birthday was a few days away. I was home, done with school, awaiting the next stage of my life with the commencement of my NYSC posting, and thoroughly bored.
I decided to reactivate my manjam account, just to see what was going in there. I’d been off the site for quite some time, because of the horrid stories I’d heard about dubious characters who set up gay guys who are essentially good people merely looking for hook-ups.
Hello, Sam here, would love to be your friend.
The message dropped in a few minutes after I reactivated my account. As was my routine, I went through his profile. He seemed like a cool guy, from the stuff he wrote about himself on his profile. You know, in manjam, unlike Badoo (where there are full-faced photos), you rely more on the profile write-up and provocative profile pictures to access a potential hook-up’s desirability. So I responded. And we exchanged numbers after a brief chat there on the dating site. We started talking over the phone; he said he wasn’t on BBM. He called frequently, and we had lengthy conversations during these calls. And he never once urged me to visit him. My birthday came and passed, and he called to wish me well. He was actually very sweet over the phone.
And so, a few days after my birthday, I decided it was time for us to get together. He seemed cool to me, and in no way had he made me feel any foreboding over our hook-up. I wanted to go see him. He was pleased about it. On the day we agreed upon, I got dressed in a pair of jeans, t-shirt and a pair of nice, designer palm slippers I got myself for my birthday. Reacting to a hunch, I decided to drop my Blackberry at home, and go on with a simple Nokia phone. What could possibly go wrong? Oh yes, my wallet… I decided to leave that at home as well, because it had in it my ‘to go with’ money for my imminent stay at the NYSC orientation camp.
When I got to the junction that led to his street, I rang Sam up.
“I’m close by, will get to you in a few.” I remember him say from the other end.
He came soon, and – Dayum! – he was fine. We chatted for a while, before we got on an okada and were transported to his supposed house. As we strolled toward the building, he asked me other questions about myself; driven more by my natural reserve than any distrust for him, I lied in response to his questions about me and my family.
We soon got to the unfenced compound. The house was a sprawling bungalow of apartments, neat and simple. There was a middle-aged man spread out on a mat in the passageway; we greeted him as we passed. He grunted a greeting back.
Then Sam led me into his room; lounging inside was a lankily-built guy who he introduced as his friend. I exchanged greetings with this friend, before he got up and walked out of the room. Sam offered to get me drinks, but I politely declined, using the excuse that I’d had something before coming.
There was no light, so he told me he’d be stepping out for a bit to turn on the generator. In the passageway, I heard the middle-aged man ask him in Bini dialect not to turn on the generator. The man grumbled that there wouldn’t be enough fuel for the evening if the generator was turned on now. I heard Sam assure him that he would re-fuel the generator for use in the evening time. And then I heard movements that indicated the man was moving his siesta from the passageway into his room, in order not to be disturbed too much by the intrusion of the generator’s noise.
For some reason, I started to feel uneasy in that moment. I couldn’t explain it; a small voice in my head urged me to get up and leave. I was still contemplating what to do when the door of the room was thrown open, and three fierce-looking walked in. My heart jumped up my throat as I took in the nasty expressions on their faces; they were all well-built, and one of them was really an ugly mo’fucker. Sam had vanished. And I knew I was in trouble.
They turned on the CD player, dialing up the volume of the music playing to drown out whatever noise would come from whatever they had planned for me. There was after all an adult in the premises. They commanded me to pull off my shirt. When I refused, with my heart pounding away, one of them hefted a bottle from somewhere in the room and smashed the base on the ground, causing it to splinter. Then he waved the jagged edge threateningly at me. I stared at them, feeling my fear squeeze my heart; it felt as though I was in the middle of a nightmare. And my fear rendered me breathless; I suddenly found myself struggling to breathe.
As my breathing rattled audibly inside my nose, one of them, who had the kind of familiar looks that made me think he was related to Sam, quickly asked them not to hit me. He looked alarmed, and stared warily at me. I realized he thought I was having an asthmatic episode. He looked educated, certainly more enlightened than the other two, hence his caution. So I milked my struggle to breathe, and turned it into quite the performance. I was gasping and panting and choking on my respiration. Majid Michel would have been intimidated by my acting skills.
They insisted that I empty my pockets. Somewhere in my mind, I allowed myself to feel a huge wave of relief at my wisdom in leaving my Blackberry and wallet at home. What would I have told my sister who gave me the phone as a graduation present?
They asked if I had anyone who could bail me out of my dire situation, and I sobbed out a story about how I was this poor young man living at the mercy of his evil stepmother (the exact story I’d been feeding Sam since the getting-to-know-you period of our . . . I want to call it friendship?) Anyway, they believed me, seeing as they’d probably already heard the story before, from Sam. The ugly one was so keen on hitting me, he even shoved me roughly around a few times. And as I begged for their mercy, I turned my pleas into a wail. Boy, did I wail – in that high pitched voice that the late Whitney would have heard and snapped, “Shut up, bitch!” At this point, they started to look really worried that the middle-aged man who was rooms away might hear me, and so they hustled me out of the room, and the building.
Of course, I didn’t leave with my new palm slippers. They handed me a pair of sorry-looking bathroom slippers to wear out. They didn’t leave my side as we trooped outside, and so I knew that even though their bust had turned out to be a disappointment, they would soon think up a Plan B. I didn’t wait to find out. The moment I had a clear path, I sprinted away from them and was off in a run like Regina Askia in that old Nollywood movie, Full Moon. I heard shouts and the rush of feet behind me, but I didn’t stop. I am a runner, and run I did. Soon, I hopped on the closest okada I saw and urged him to ride off without bargaining.
That is the narration of my close brush with a kito affair. Thinking of it all now, I just thank God it wasn’t more than that.
Written by Tickles, @mirage234