Violence is so not my thing. I’d never hit anyone in my life… Ever! So it came as a shock to me when I punched Afam – a quick blow straight at his mouth that Wednesday afternoon. His teeth cut my index finger slightly and it hurt.
How did we get here? It must have looked ridiculous, my anorexia-weakened, five foot eleven inch frame launching itself at all that thick, massive, six foot four inches of him.
Well, let me start from the very beginning.
You remember Afam, right – the phenomenal douchebag from the events of Pills and Potions. Yes, the one who sent me the breakup text that read: I think you’ve mistaken our intimacy for a relationship. I just wanted to make you feel better after your illness. I love you but it’s better we remain just friends.
Well, he called a few weeks after his destructive text, to say he made a mistake, that he wanted me back. My answer was not friendly at all. And he reacted with anger eventually, like he thought an apology was a sure ticket back into my life. The nerve on him!
Fast forward to a good evening; I was on my way home, about to hop into a bus, when I got a call. Alor was at a photo session. He had (being the stress-less friend he is) forgotten a small nylon bag he needed at home and wanted me to fetch it to the studio for him.
“What in the world – I’m all the way across town!” I spluttered in outrage.
“Just pop by my house and ask for it,” he wheedled. “I swear I’ll make it up to you.” And he ended the call abruptly, as though he feared I’d refuse if he stayed on the line any longer.
At for a moment, I seriously considered leaving him hanging. Then, with a sigh, I turned back and boarded a bus going in the opposite direction. Roughly an hour later, I was glowering at Alor as I handed over the plastic bag. He was cooing his apologies and blowing kisses my way. It was past five and I knackered. But since I was there, I decided to wait around and charge my phone, and then leave with Alor when he was done.
I’d barely sat in a chair when I got a call from my sister. I was still irritated, so I ignored the call, and focused on the TV screen. I got another call, this time from Amaka. I didn’t pick. Between my sister and Amaka, I got a bunch of calls that I was determinedly ignoring.
But then, when my father called, I was no longer irritated. I was worried. This man never calls me. Like – ever! He texts, never calls me. So upon seeing his incoming call, I snatched up my phone.
“Kainene,” – his voice was low, very low, causing my heart to pick up pace – “come back home.”
Okay, now, it was cold fear that gripped my heart.
“S-s-sir…?” I stuttered, like I hadn’t heard him.
“I need you to be calm and just come back home,” he said. “Now, please.”
And that was it. He hung up.
I gathered my senses enough to wave a vague goodbye to Alor and stumbled out of the studio. I waved down the nearest tricycle I could find and in thirty minutes, I was home.
Everyone seemed to be avoiding my eyes as I walked in. Amaka looked like she’d been crying. Upon meeting my eyes, she mouthed an “I’m so sorry”.
I clutched at my chest, feeling my heartbeat threatening to shatter through, and managed to get to my parents’ room, where I was wanted. My father turned to me once I got in; he had this look of deep pity. I saw the expression and I instantly knew what this was about. He stood from where he’d been seating and walked out of the room, leaving me alone with my mother.
She had her hands folded on her thighs, staring after him as he left. Then her eyes met mine, and by God, they were cold – cold and hard like flints.
“You are a homosexual.”
It wasn’t a question. She didn’t sound the slightest bit shaky. It was a firm statement.
My knees suddenly felt nonexistent.
There was an eternity of silence, during which I said nothing, and then she said, “I heard it from Maureen.”
I stared at her, bewilderment rooting its way in my heart. How could my mother’s hairstylist, whom I’d never said more than a “good morning” and “good bye” to, be the one to out me? At this point, bewilderment gave way to outrage as I considered the gossipy train that might have taken the story round until it came to her.
“And who did she hear it from?” I asked a bit too sharply.
My mother stared at me for another lifetime, then exhaled and waved me away.
I turned and stumbled out of the room. I was in my own room, trying to sort through the emotions I was feeling, when Amaka walked in. She looked like she’d been crying.
“I’m so sorry, Kainene,” she sobbed. “I couldn’t cover for you. She rattled me…she rattled me…”
“It’s okay, love,” I comforted.
Some hell was let loose after this. Right after my father walked back into their bedroom, the screaming started. Mother’s voice was coming from the room like that of a banshee, muffled by the closed door. I tried to imagine her betrayal, her anger. My father knew about me; he’d known for four years, and he hadn’t told her. Amaka, my cousin, had known for a year and hadn’t told her. My sister Uhie had known for two years and hadn’t told her. Basically everyone else in the family but her had known I am gay.
“She said Maureen told her,” I said to Amaka. “How –”
“That’s just it,” Amaka said. “She rattled me because she had concrete proof. It was Afam. It turns out Afam was dating Maureen. He told her, but he twisted the story, made it look like you were chasing after him, begging him to be with you. And that’s what Maureen reported to mummy.”
The whole world stopped as I stared at Amaka and she stared back.
“Are you serious?” I asked.
Amaka nodded, wiping her face. “Once Afam’s name came up, I just knew there was no way I could cover up for you.”
There was a knock on the door and Uhie walked in. She wouldn’t meet my eyes. “They are calling you,” she said and left immediately.
The second trip to my parents’ room was more confident. I was prepared. I sat down on a small chair, facing them. Mother was twisting her fingers nervously on her lap.
She looked at me. “I just need to know one thing,” she said, her lips trembling.
It hurt me to see her look so vulnerable.
“What is it?” I asked quietly.
“Promise me you’ll have children,” she said.
I didn’t even know tears had started falling down my face at this point until I let out a short laugh at what she said. My cheeks were moist and my laugh lacked humour.
“Uhie can give you grandchildren nau,” I said.
My mother smiled sadly. “Yes, yes, she can.” She nodded. “But I want to know you’ll have your own children. Children are a joy I want you to experience.”
I smiled, and even though I had no intention of doing anything of the sort, I nodded. “Yes, yes I will have children.”
Who knows, maybe my paternal instincts will kick in sometime in the distant future. But for now, it’s a well known fact to anyone who knows me that children make me feel extremely awkward and nervous. But I nodded to my mother. I smiled at her. And I gave her the promise she wanted to hear.
She nodded in acknowledgement. “Then I’ll pray for the strength to endure.”
At this, I got up from the chair and went to her, and hugged her. She hugged me back, and we shared a moment.
Thereafter, I went after Afam.
I found him in his house, and that was where I hit him. After I hit him, I waited for him to retaliate, my whole body shaking with rage. He tried to talk, but I shut him down with my cries of rage. I screamed at him. I wrecked things. I threw his things about. I’d never lost my cool so completely like that before, but this time, I couldn’t help it. When he could get a word in edgewise, it was denial. The motherfucker denied! He lied, kept swearing he didn’t know what I was talking about. But in the face of my unrelenting rage, he began begging. He admitted he did what I was accusing him of. That he’d talked to Maureen because he was hurt by my attitude when he called me to ask for me back. He’d been angry and had wanted to do something to hurt me.
As he talked, my head pounded. My eyes hurt so bad as I stared at him with complete hate, deep scorching hate that filled my heart. I had never felt that way in my life.
Then I stepped back, opened my mouth, shut it again, and then shook my head at him.
“Thank you,” I finally said. “Thank you for helping me do something I didn’t know how to go about doing. Thank you for making my life a whole lot easier. There’s nothing for you to be sorry for. Except for the miserable existence you call a life.”
And I turned and started for the door.
“Wait, wait, please,” he called. “Will I ever hear from you again? Should I call? I want to make it up to you please.”
I turned and looked at him again. This time, I laughed. I was laughing as I walked out of his house, down the stairs and out into the evening.
Written by Kainene