The night before, during a routine profile perusal on Grindr, I was the one who messaged him first. I don’t usually do this; I’m usually the one who responds to messages, and this is because I’m often unimpressed with the profiles I see on the yellow app.
But I was mildly curious by the fact that the profile name was “Mowe-Ibafo Add”, whereas his profile icon was directly beside mine. I do not stay anywhere near that area, and I was curious enough to want to know what was going on. Of course, I reasoned that perhaps, Grindr’s map locator was malfunctioning yet again; in the past, I’d gotten chatted up by guys who live in Abuja and even as far as Benin Republic.
The guy’s name is Chuks. And he explained that he was in fact within my area but retained his pseudonym because he was only visiting.
As is the way with a Grindr conversation, we quickly got around to talking about hooking up. I was not going to work the next day and figured I could get laid.
He was a little annoying at first, demanding I initiate the picture swap disregarding the fact that I asked for his picture first. Anyway, seeing as I believe in giving out energy I expect from others, I sent him a picture.
It was an expiring picture, where the viewer has about a ten-second one viewing chance at your photo. He responded by stating that he wanted a “normal” picture or I should forget it.
Usually, after such an exchange, I would block such a person. But a combination of my intrigue at this audaciousness and, perhaps, konji made me decide to go through with this. The least I could get from this was to at least see what he looked like.
So I resent my picture, this time not an expiring one. And he sent his, a couple of photos actually, and he looked okay.
Things were going good at this point, as I proceeded to ask for his social media information. He gave me both his Facebook and Instagram handles, and he checked out. I sent him mine as well.
I didn’t bother asking him his role because unlike most people on Grindr, I read profiles. But of course, he asked me mine. (Whether he didn’t read my profile at all or he did but had to ask as if to confirm what he’d read, I’ll never know).
Soon we were chatting on WhatsApp with the fervor of two guys lusting after each other, yet there was a mutual and unspoken awareness that after this hookup, little or no communication may be maintained. It was one of those hookups you just know will start and end with that first time.
According to him, he was staying with the friend whose birthday celebration had made him visit from Mowe. Seeing as he was visiting, I naturally have more knowledge of the vicinity and should go over to him. My area is quite the serene one and I knew the street he was staying at, so it was not really an issue for me to go see him. The plan was for me to go over at 11 AM, do my business with him, and then return home before the sun gets to that point where it’s basically cooking all of earth for breakfast.
The following day, at 10.30 in the morning, I called him. It was a reminder for him and an assurance to myself that I was indeed going to meet someone I had even known up to twenty-four hours.
However, I noticed I wasn’t feeling as enthusiastic as I usually did whenever there was a shag waiting to be had. I dismissed the feeling as the lethargic effect of the knowledge that I’d be the one making the trip (I would rather have a hookup come over to mine, for so many reasons ranging from having more control of the situation to staying away from the sun).
And so, by 11 AM, I was locking up the house and stepping out into the street, on the lookout for a bike.
By this time, I was feeling drained of energy. Sensing the changes in my system, I got into my head as I very often do.
This is clearly your Guardian Angel on your case for you to not go anywhere!
Shey you want to write a kito story? You’re feeling left out in the world of kito, abi?
Are you going to say you do not know a lot of kito stories start with this mind battle you’re currently having?
Must you have this sex?!
SILENCE! I screamed my insides to absolute muteness. I was already on a bike for chrissakes!
It is pertinent to note that, in light of my brewing and unexplainable nervousness, I had left my debit cards and smartphone at home. That I was willing to go ahead with this, in spite of my better judgment, didn’t mean I was going to entirely stupid.
In about eight minutes, I came down from the bike in front of the house with the number Chuks had given as the address.
After a quick visual sweep of the environment and satisfied with the mild business of the street, I handed the bike man the only two hundred naira I came out with, expecting my change of 100 naira. The bike man looked at me with eyes that told me he didn’t have the change with him. As he searched theatrically in his sling pouch for change I already knew he didn’t have, the gate of the compound we were in front of opened slightly, and a face I didn’t recognise emerged. Then the gate opened some more and the guy stepped out. He was a pretty good-looking, fine-bodied young man who walked over to talk to me.
“Good afternoon,” he said, smiling as he approached in his shorts that were pulled down from his hips enough to show he was wearing red-coloured boxers. He was shirtless. “I heard noise and have been waiting for the person to come inside, but no one did.”
Um, okay? I thought as I eyed him up and down, before sneaking a peek into the compound, as he had left the gate open, to ascertain that there were no weed-smoking, red-eyed boys waiting inside to lynch me.
“Good afternoon,” I finally said, half-smiling. “I’m just waiting for the bike man to give me my change.” I gestured in the direction of the bike man who was at a shop a few feet away from where we were standing, trying to make change however way he could.
GOS (Guy On Shorts) then looked inside the compound and gestured for someone to come over. An uncomfortable lump immediately formed at the base of my throat but dissolved when Chuks bounded out of the compound. There was this air of carefreeness he had about him that made me instantly suspicious, like he was trying to appear very cool to make me feel relaxed.
It was also apparent GOS knew it was Chuks I had come to see, and that didn’t exactly go down well with me. I was increasingly becoming suspicious of everything.
Seconds after, GOS walked a few feet away from us and started making a call.
Panic, once again, coursed through me.
It didn’t matter that he was making this call right in front of me and in public. It didn’t matter that I could very well hear him give someone directions on how to get to him.
None of that mattered. What mattered was that with all the happenings of the day so far, the knowledge that it was a guy on the other end of the phone call, the fact that I wasn’t expecting to even meet this GOS person in the first place (Chuks had sent me a picture of the friend he came to see the previous night), and the very well-known fact that in a potential kito situation, these guys usually make calls right around the time they want to jump you – all this made anxiety to start coursing through my system.
Meanwhile, I was yet to see the Chuks’ friend in question.
However, I maintained an outward calmness and forced myself to study Chuks. He was not as fine as his pictures suggested, shorter than I’d have liked. But it was him nonetheless.
I thought again of all I know about kito situations. About how the person who draws you in usually either turns out to have faked his identity or simply doesn’t surface.
So, the fact that the person I chatted with the night before was the same person I was now standing before must mean this wasn’t a potential kito, right?
So, my nerves were starting to settle, when a bike drove up to us. Moments later, it became evident that this was the guy that GOS had been speaking to on the phone. He was putting on dark shades, was just as tall and slender as GOS and looked very much like all those guys who could mobilize a mob attack.
And that was three. Not counting Chuks’ friend of course.
Once again, a bigger lump formed in my throat.
I backed away from Chuks and cast a surreptitious glance at my bike man, who it would seem was not in a hurry to provide my change. He was haggling with the shopkeeper, and for some strange reason, his presence and the nearness of it brought me relief. I knew that he was very likely the only link to safety I had, should this turn out to be a situation I’d need to flee from.
In all this time, I was still outside the compound. The gate was still open. GOS soon went in after muttering something about the heat, and he was followed by the new guy. Then Chuks said something to me, something I paid no mind to, and dashed into the compound with a promise to not be long.
The coast was suddenly clear and I thought to myself how this was the opportunity to disappear without a fuss, without having to explain why I was suddenly changing my mind. I didn’t know why they decided to go in at the same time and I wasn’t going to allow myself to find out.
I approached my bike man with shaky hands, refusing to look over my shoulders and instructed him to get back on his bike.
“Take me home.”
Those were the words I said before climbing on behind him, and I’d never felt more grateful to be owed change in my entire life.
As we sped off, I didn’t allow myself spare a glance behind me. I just wanted to be back on my bed and laugh the silliness of my paranoia into the echoes of my room.
As expected, Chuks chatted me up as soon as I came online, demanding to know why I left. As if sensing that I didn’t have any concrete reason, he quickly added, “Because of the guys you saw, abi?”
Then he sent a torrent of laugh emojis and said he understood. He even offered to come over himself after explaining that GOS is his cousin who knows about his sexual orientation and is cool with it.
As I declined his offer to come see me, a wave of mortification rushed through me. But it was fleeting.
What he had explained made no sense to me. How come his (straight) cousin was in what was supposed to be his queer friend’s house? And was apparently also inviting his own friends over? And why was I not informed of this cousin until I met him?
Perhaps I was exaggerating things in my head. Perhaps nothing would have happened had I gone on with the hookup as planned.
However, I do not regret following my instinct as it came upon me.
Nigeria has inflicted an indelible mark on us. For as long as this country criminalizes my identity, I won’t beat myself up for running away from perceived danger, whether real or not.
This situation with Chuks may have turned out to be perfectly harmless. But thank God I didn’t stay to find out.
Written by Delle