K’osidim n’obi (Entry 4)

K’osidim n’obi (Entry 4)

I was going to talk about something else in this entry but I’ll just have to move it to the next entry because I desperately need to talk about Ozumba.

Ozumba is a – to put it indelicately – mad man. He resides beside a garbage tank just two streets away from my house. Day in day out for three years, I walked past him when I went about my business. On my way to school, to the market, to the pharmacy, every single time, my routes always took me past Ozumba. My mortal fear of mad people kept me far away from him. This is a consequence of a mad woman called Ogazi, who chased my friend and I tirelessly back home one afternoon some years ago. And so whenever I walked past Ozumba’s dump, I moved in a wide semicircle that ensured that I stay reasonably out of reach should he suddenly get the thought to come after me.

The day came when I was coming home with my friend (let’s call her Ure), and we were walking past Ozumba’s dump. When the man was within sight, Ure giggled.

“Have you ever really noticed how sexy this mad man is?” she asked.

Surprised raised my brows, but she was still speaking.

“God, those legs are to die for. And that bitch is a diva!” We were walking past the dusky figure slumped next to the garbage tank, but she was turning her head back to stare at him as she gushed.

I laughed at the hilarity of her comment, and stopped and turned to stare at him as well. For the first time since I knew him, I really focused on Ozumba. And I could see what Ure meant. He really was attractive; he was rising then with a feline grace, his movements lithe, almost comparable to the routines of Yanis Marshall that I spend most of my free time obsessing over. (That bitch is my God). I was observing Ozumba, and the sashay in his hips was suddenly obvious to me. All of a sudden, I became interested in knowing more about him. This urge was like a strong pull I almost couldn’t resist.

This happened seven months ago. I was able to overcome the urge, because really, how do you go about knowing more about the man who lies by the garbage dump. Eventually, I was able to get Ozumba chiefly out of my mind until a couple of months ago.

It was evening and I was returning from the market, my arms loaded with nylon bags, when I noticed the small crowd around Ozumba’s corner. I moved in slowly, carefully, in case he went off like a bomb and the crowd scattered; I didn’t want to be caught in the middle of a mild stampede simply because I couldn’t contain my curiosity.

As I got closer, I glimpsed of Ozumba, through the bodies teeming around the dump, a bloody arm bent at an odd angle. Then I saw the cuts that crisscrossed his chest and ribs. The stench coming from there was unbearable, and yet Ozumba lay motionless. I knew his wounds had to have been causing him untold agony, but he seemed oblivious to them and was sprawled there, staring blankly ahead of him, his chest rising and falling, his bruised and battered face twitching every now and then. He looked entirely unaware of the crowd chattering all around him.

Soon, a small van arrived. It looked like it’d come from a psychiatric hospital. The professionals in the van came down and carried him away. He stayed complaint all through the time they got him up from the ground and took him into the van. As this happened, I tried to listen in on the murmurs swelling around me, to glean from the crowd what had happened. Apparently, he’d been beaten, mercilessly so. This wasn’t the first time, I presumed, because I’d spotted bruises on his face in times past. This time however, the bruises looked really bad, like the devil himself had possessed the people who’d assaulted him.

As the van drove away, the crowd dispersed. I turned to head on home, my heart sagging under the sudden weight of guilt. Yes, for no reason I could think of, I felt guilt. Perhaps on behalf of the ‘sane’ people who’d been beating this ‘insane’ man, perhaps because of his neglect – I didn’t know. I just walked away feeling terribly guilty.

“Kainene!” someone called me.

I turned to see the woman hurrying toward me. Her name is Gladys and she lived a few blocks away from me; she was one of those people you tend to dislike for no reason at all.

“Good evening,” I greeted.

She relieved me of one of my nylon bags, and we walked on with her enquiring if mother was home.

“Did you see what happened to that homo mad man,” she said when the pleasantries were quickly done with.

I stopped in my tracks, momentarily, before resuming my trek. “Homo?” I asked.

“The one they beat up nah,” she said, jerking her head back in the direction of the garbage dump.

“What makes you think he’s gay?” I asked.

She scoffed. “We all know his story biko. And even if we didn’t, he does like woman, that one is enough to give him away.”

I quietened the instant urge to get into an argument with her about how effeminacy is not proof of homosexuality. I didn’t want her to be sidetracked from telling me more.

“Okay, what story? Tell me,” I queried.

Then Gladys proceeded to tell me the second true story I’d heard this month that broke my heart. (The first will be my next entry).

Apparently, Ozumba’s family is alive and well. He was initially fondly called Chiboy. Back in the day, he’d been caught in an act of intimacy with his male lover by his mother, who went on to cause such a scene that neighbours began gathering to know what the problem was. As answers were given, word spread and more people gathered, and a mob was born. Ozumba was thoroughly beaten by this mob, taunted and humiliated while his own family watched. Thereafter, he was shackled and the hell that was his life began. He was taken from prayer house to prayer house, beaten as a means of deliverance for years, locked up, fed all sorts of vile things. At some point during this inhumanity, he broke. He simply cracked. He buckled under the atrocious pressure and never recovered. He fled from his captors and took to the streets, a ‘certified mad man’. Also, during his trials, his mother had died; apparently her heart couldn’t bear the sufferings of her son. What a laugh!

As Gladys spoke, I interrupted her to wonder at the sheer cruelty of her narration. Naively, I asked if anyone had spoken up for him, if he’d had anyone support him in any way. Gladys said no. Nobody, absolutely no one, had objected even once to the hell he was getting put through. His loved ones, neighbours, people he’d interacted with as he grew up into a young man, had stood by and let the abuse go on.

The guilt I felt earlier turned into grief. The weight on my heart was heavier this time. I felt like breaking down into tears. When we got to my house, I took my nylon bag from Gladys and went in under the maelstrom that was my thoughts. My emotions were awry. I felt wretched. How could this have happened? What manner of human beings had been capable of such cruelty for so long a period? Who could stand by and watch such a thing being done to a fellow human being and not oppose to it? I thought of Ozumba’s face, the bruises that had distorted his handsome features, and my heart shattered. I tried to imagine the pain he must have felt, the betrayal that ravaged him as his family stood by and let strangers mutilate him.

My mother had always thought I was odd as a child and then as an adult because I rarely cried. But I did now. I broke down in the privacy of my room and I wept my heart out. I cried for Ozumba. I cried for his broken heart. I took up my phone and I wrote a small piece with all my heart dedicated to him. I uploaded it on Facebook, an outraged little gesture, at once sad and angry in its query of the humanity in people.

If I didn’t already have one, Ozumba gave me a reason to never give up on this fight for equality, for our rights as LGBT people. Ozumba made me see the desperate importance of the reorientation of Nigerians in their regard of its LGBT community, from animals to their fellow human beings.

Ozumba will also always remain with me – of that I’m certain. From now till forever, I know I will always carry a small piece of him in my heart.

Written by Kainene

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32 Comments

  1. pete
    November 07, 07:15 Reply

    So sad. And to think in their mind, they thought they were helping him.

  2. Dickson Clement
    November 07, 07:21 Reply

    Thank God….I was so afraid in my anticipation that all these observation may end up in someone screwing a mentally unstable .

    What sort of a mother could be so unaffectionate ?
    And they even did their dirty laundry in public

    • Pink Panther
      November 07, 08:54 Reply

      Ozumba’s mom makes me remember what Kryxxx said about his own mother.

        • KryxxX
          November 07, 10:45 Reply

          Can you please stop this silly assumption that you know me so well to even know my OWN MOTHER’S REACTION! This story is sad enough and you are about to compound the situation by getting me angry! Trying so hard to bridle my tongue B4 I say something I might regret! Pls don’t push it! Don’t!

          • ambivalentone
            November 07, 12:31 Reply

            Bwahahahaha.??? Perhaps he is the alter-ego u don’t remember u av. 2 convos in, an entirety of cyberstalking and he is sure he can tell a good story about ur own life??

  3. Mandy
    November 07, 07:31 Reply

    This is the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever read here this year. ???

  4. ambivalentone
    November 07, 07:36 Reply

    Why was he beaten? Did he proposition someone? Did he molest someone? Did someone from his past see him and shout “Ehen! Na d homo be this”? I know there is no rationality to the insanity of a mob, but something at least triggers their madness

    • Pink Panther
      November 07, 08:53 Reply

      Hate sometimes doesn’t need a trigger. And he didn’t specify that a mob beat him.

      • ambivalentone
        November 07, 09:23 Reply

        ‘…I stopped in my tracks momentarily before I resumed my trek…”the one they beat up na”…’

        • Pink Panther
          November 07, 09:53 Reply

          You’re a Nigerian. In Nigeria-speak, ‘they’ means anything from the mob to the invisible man.

  5. Gaya
    November 07, 07:41 Reply

    I was getting irritated at the begining over the obsession for a mad man but at the end I got so weak and tired. Death is way better than this suffering those monsters gave to this young man. Poor Ozumba……. ?

  6. Lopez
    November 07, 07:46 Reply

    I imagine myself walking to Ozumba’s mum shaking her nd giving her a good slap saying what kind of stupid mother r u. I bet he’s a good son until she finds out he’s gay nd look where her son end up…
    For u Kainene, I simply like d flow of ur writing, I mean not trying to show us how smart or opinionated u r but just conveying d message, that’s how to capture d mind of readers (some should pay attention pls).

    • Pink Panther
      November 07, 08:52 Reply

      Where do you want to get Ozumba’s mum and shake her? In the hell where she’s died and gone to?

  7. y
    November 07, 08:27 Reply

    Heartwrenching. Nigerians really are terrible.

  8. Drone
    November 07, 08:53 Reply

    This is very heartbreaking.

  9. Peak
    November 07, 09:13 Reply

    Thanks for sharing such a profound story. Sometimes, I feel a lot of LGBT people forget and take for granted the severity and pains in our individual journey and that of others. This is quite deep and a dark reminder.

    Thank you.

  10. Chizzie
    November 07, 09:28 Reply

    The only satisfaction I got from this story, on a Monday morning which isn’t the best way to kick off your week btw, is that his mother died. And I hope she rots in Hell.

    • SillyAnonymous
      November 07, 15:24 Reply

      That’s very hardly satisfying…
      we all will die, Ozumba too.

  11. Bain
    November 07, 09:48 Reply

    i read things like these and I realise how lucky I am….I need to go hug my mum n tell her I love her.

  12. Jide
    November 07, 09:54 Reply

    Really sad stuff.. When I got to the part about him being gay, my thoughts initially went to some comments I’ve read online where homophobic folks would write things like “I have dealt with many of you, and some are roaming the streets now”, and I wondered if that was something that happened here, too bad it was even the mum that lit the fire.

    Love the way you write BTW. I love to read your stories.

  13. Lopez
    November 07, 11:56 Reply

    Wallahi if I’ll see her in d hell i’ll slap d shit out of her PP! Haba she’s d mum o nd to imagine she’s d genesis of all these? Some pple don’t deserve to be parents

  14. Dickson Clement
    November 07, 13:45 Reply

    If you see her in hell….?

    So you making plans to travel to hell anytime soon?

  15. Delle
    November 07, 14:47 Reply

    This is sad. Horribly so. Nigerians are one of the most cruel beings on the face of the earth! Tueh!
    So his madness was induced? And his mum? Pffts! I sure as hell hope her heart constricted so painfully, the ventricles popping one at a time as her arteries in turn got ruptured causing her to fall on a flooring of iron spikes and that her coffin was made out of thorns and buried in a tomb or red ants!
    Rubbish!

  16. Lorde
    November 07, 15:21 Reply

    Really sad story, so those pple that “broke” him, where are they now? They didn’t even try to look for him, if they really loved him, they’d have found him… beating him all in the name of love…. and that his mum sef no try, I know mothers can be a tad hysterical when they hear the news of our sexuality, or catch us I the act, but this mother no try, she get luck say she die b4 ozumba catch am

  17. lady marmalade
    November 08, 20:17 Reply

    No vex o really…no vex but I feel as if this was a work of fiction…it’s rather convenient that kito situations just pop up around you or wherever you go…might be wrong ooo…no bite me ejo!

    • Lorde
      November 09, 03:27 Reply

      Bite him, just for that comment

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