I met Asa three years ago. She isn't particularly beautiful; she has one of these faces that can blend in anywhere. Her beauty is subtle. And her body is something else. Dayum! Teyana Taylor would have to watch her back with this one. I was drawn to her because of her confidence and independence.
Three years passed before she reconnected with me. She wanted a few dresses made and a studio session, and I was pleased to be of assistance. We met to discuss at an open eatery I usually patronise with Bae. Pleasantries gave way to a conversation that grew increasingly personal on her side. She’d broken off an engagement with her fiancé, and as she told me this, I noticed the way her hands shook as she spoke, the way she tasted her words before speaking them, and I knew she was struggling to and failing to tell me something.
"Is there something you want to say?” I finally asked gently.
“It’s complicated but I feel as though you'd be able to help me out...” she said haltingly. “I just need to know I did the right thing.”
"Did you get an abortion?” I said facetiously, an attempt to make her laugh to get her relaxed enough to tell me what was on her mind.
Her laughter was short and nervous. “Shut up, boy. Children scare me.”
"Then what is it?”
She bit her lips for awhile. "Can you get me a bottle of water first please?"
“Sure." I nodded and then got up to go get water from the counter.
Just then, my phone rang. Bae needed me urgently. His mother’s health was failing and he was a nervous wreck. I only had time to leave Asa with her water and a lot of apologies and promises to meet up later, grab her drafted measurements and run off.
A few weeks later, my phone rang at 4 am. A bisexual girlfriend of mine was on the other end.
"Umi, what is it?” I said when I picked the call. “Are you in trouble?” I mean, it was 4am.
"I’m horny,” Umi said.
"Eww, girl! What am I supposed to do with that information?”
"I need help,” she wailed.
"Girl, are you high? Call one of your boys. Why are you talking to me?”
"Because it’s pussy I want to shag.”
My sleepy eyes rolled in their sockets. "Well, I don’t have a stash of pussies tucked away now, do I?”
“Dude, just help me find someone abeg.”
"Just come with me for a studio session I have tomorrow. Maybe that will relax you.”
“Abeg, Umi, I have to go back to sleep.” And I ended the call and promptly burrowed into my sheets.
Umi joined me at the studio. It was the session I’d fixed for Asa, and as the photo shoot went on, I noticed Asa staring a lot at Umi, so intently and for several minutes at a time. Her eyes traced the slow, steady rhythm of the movement of Umi’s hips and stared fixated on her lips whenever Umi spoke, and she shuddered when Umi’s arm brushed against her bustier as Umi helped me pin a seam together on her.
And then, something inside my head clicked. I let out a small "ah" of comprehension, before turning to beckon Umi to a corner with me. Safely tucked away from the possibility of Asa hearing us, I leaned in toward Umi and whispered what I was thinking to her.
Her eyes widened. “Are you sure?”
"No, I’m not. That’s why I said maybe.”
A few minutes later, we were done at the studio. Asa walked over to me and was back to looking nervous, back to looking like the girl I left at the eatery a few days ago.
“Umm, Kainene, uh…remember we – we…I don’t know, but I believe there’s something I was supposed to–”
“I know,” I said simply.
She stared at me, slightly startled. “Huh?”
I nodded with a knowing look to her as the impatient photographer marshaled us into his office. I squeezed her hand reassuringly.
“We’ll talk,” I said.
She gave a small smile, clearly unsure what to make of my reaction.
Later that night, she hit me up on WhatsApp, and our conversation followed the generic, outrageously-sexual, “I need a man”, “My clitoris is tingling”, “I’m so horny, even dildos won’t do” routine. We were having fun bantering back and forth. This was the Asa I knew: the one who wasn’t afraid to say the first raunchy thing that came to her mind, the one who was never short of words. The one I met at the eatery a few days ago and who I attended to at the photo shoot earlier in the day was a woman whose soul was trapped with a secret.
A secret she suddenly let slip right in the middle of our chatversation. We were talking about dry spells, and she’d typed: It’s been over three months plus that I was last knocked.
Me: Good for you. The longest I’ve ever gone is a year and two months. You still be learner.
Asa: That is a long time. My three months is the longest I’ve ever gone without knocking. And I can’t even wank because I repented and threw away my dildo. And that’s paining me now. I miss that dildo.
Asa: Wait, actually, make that two months. I fucked a girl two months ago, and since then… [cry-faced smiley]
I lay there on my bed, staring at the message, startled by the abrupt shift in the conversation. I mean, I already suspected she was into girls, but with the way she’d been acting, I thought I was going to have to pry that information out of her.
Without missing a beat though, I responded: Hmm, so Aunty Asa does girls too. This I suspected.
Asa: Gerraway joor.
I didn’t pursue that line of conversation after I got her response, because I didn’t know how comfortable she was discussing her lesbian affairs so openly. I mean, sure, she’d brought it up, but I wasn’t going to steer the conversation. So I typed “It’s not a new thing”, and reverted back to the dildo talk – a tacit reassurance to her that she hadn’t made a major revelation.
After our WhatsApp conversation ended, she called me.
“You didn’t seem surprised at all,” she said.
“That’s because I knew. I don't know how it hit me, but in the studio, I figured you out.”
She stayed silent, and for a few seconds, I listened to her gentle breathing from the other end.
“So was that why you broke off your engagement?” I asked gently. “Did he find out?”
She took in an unsteady breath before saying, “I’ve always known there was something off – different about me. I’m attracted to men, yes, but women have always held a similar kind of attraction for me. I just felt like…I don’t know, like I was marrying him to as an attempt to stifle this other part of me I always knew existed…like the marriage would somehow make it disappear.”
I smiled on my end. This kind of talk was familiar to me. At the end of the day, we all had the same struggle, gay men and women alike.
"But I know I want to explore more,” Asa continued. “I want to set her free, this other part of me. I want to let her out, not box her in like an abomination. I just really hope I did the right thing breaking things off with my fiancé.”
"How did you feel when you called off the wedding?” I asked.
"Free, happy, like I was out of chains” – there was a sudden lightness to her voice – “like I was finally ready to find myself completely.”
"Good, that is all that matters,” I said firmly. “No other opinion matters, not even mine. You did a brave thing, a strong thing, and I'm so proud of you. It makes me glad that I know you.”
“Really?” she said.
I nodded, and then remembered she couldn't see me. “Yes love, yes.”
She took in a deep breath. “Thank you so much.” Then she laughed giddily. “So now, I’m in the market for a girlfriend. Or maybe a fuck buddy to start with.”
We both laughed.
And an image of Umi dropped into my mind. My smile began to widen as I said, “You know, speaking of fuck buddies…”
Written by Kainene