FOREWORD: It has recently come to my awareness that some of the submissions I get usually go straight to my Spam. And because I simply click the Empty button, I lose them all. I realized this when I got some queries from some readers of the blog who were sure they sent me write-ups that I was positive I didn’t get. Plus, the last time I emptied my Spam, just before the line-up of bulk mails vanished, I spied a name and the subject ‘Kito story’ attached to the mail.

And so, I’d like to say, if you sent me any piece that I have neither published on the blog nor acknowledged to you, not informed you that I have gotten, please kindly, if it’s not too much trouble, get back to me via email (pantherptb@yahoo.com). Kindly tell me the content of your piece; if I recognize it as something that has been drafted and is pending, I’ll let you know. If I don’t recognize it, then it was probably emptied from my mail. And you may have to resend. I’ll be paying more attention to my Spam from now on. Again, I apologize for any inconvenience this might bring on anyone.

*

I have three siblings – two brothers and a sister. The oldest is Dede. His name is actually Obinna, but he’s much older than the rest of us, six years older than me, and so, what started out as an acknowledgement of his seniority gradually became adopted as the only name he’s called in the house, and sometimes by outsiders as well. The day Mother called him ‘Dede’, she caught herself, gave a self-conscious laugh and said with some self-deprecation, “Chim o, now my son has become my senior.” Dede works and resides with his family in Port Harcourt.

Tonia is the second-born, older than me by a year. We were both born in the month of September, me on the second, Tonia on the fourteenth. So there comes a time every year when the two of us are the same age, just for twelve days, and then she’s back to being my big sister. My parents usually joked that they’d had Dede as an only child for so long, that when Mother became pregnant with Tonia and had her, they’d eagerly gotten back into the sack to try for another child, in a bid to reassure themselves that Tonia’s conception wasn’t a fluke.

Mom, dad, too much information, I’d think whenever they told that story.

Fabian is the last, younger than me by a three-year age gap. He doesn’t look younger though. Both him and Dede inherited Father’s looks – dark complexion, rangy build, with Fabian’s broad features tempered with Mother’s gentler genes. Tonia and I are more our mother’s children, with our light skin, slender frames, and piquant features. Our dissimilar appearances aren’t the only things that make Fabian and me as different as Esau and Jacob. He has a brooding temperament, only becoming animated when he’s with his guys, his girls or his video games. He loves football, fancies himself a rap artiste, dislikes chick flicks, and honestly doesn’t get what I enjoy when I watch E! and delight in celebrity gossip. On the other hand, he can be very domesticated, cleans and cooks, whereas the only cooking I know to do is make indomie, eggs and plantain.

Ekene frequently tells me that when I get steady with a guy, the love of another shobosho won’t be the reason we would break up.

“Abi, do you think that adage, ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ is only meant for women catering to their men?” he preached once awhile back.

The difference in our personalities make Fabian the one sibling I don’t have a close relationship with. Often times, I feel like we are two strangers who live under the same roof. I know next to nothing about his life, and I’m sure he has no clue about mine either. And we both make no effort to bridge the chasm between us, preferring to let the foundation of our relationship rest on the fact that we are related by blood.

It was past 4pm on Tuesday, and I was already headed home. I’d left the office earlier to run a work errand for Mrs. Oguzie, who’d given me leave to go on home when I was done. And I was presently in a bus, tucked away in a corner by the window, chatting with Basil, a half smile on my face.

Basil: You know, I wasn’t going to tell you, but I was in Lagos last week.

Me: What? Why weren’t you going to tell me? And why didn’t you tell me when you were in town?

Basil: Of what use would it be? The last two times I visited, you refused to see me.

Me: I didn’t refuse. I was caught up with work.

Basil: You keep trying to sell me that excuse, but I’m not buying it. For some reason, after the good time we had in Abuja, you returned to Lagos, and shut me out.

For some reason? I thought. You and I know what reason that is. Feeling reluctant to resurrect the matter of his boyfriend as the problem we both had with moving forward, I typed on my phone instead: Still, you should have told me you were around. I might have had time and we would have hung out, had drinks…

Basil: Alcohol makes me horny. And drinking it with you will make me thirsty for your ass. No use putting myself through that if you weren’t going to give it up to me after drinks.

Me: *BBM Blushing Smiley* You shouldn’t be saying these things to me, you know…

Basil: You’re right. I should be showing you instead.

There was a brief spate of virtual inactivity from his end, and suddenly, the photo of a penis popped up on the chat page. I was so startled by the pictorial message that I gave a small start on my seat, reflexively moved my phone face down, and darted a quick look to my right. The woman on my side was heckling the bus conductor for her change; she obviously wasn’t interested in my libidinous business with Basil.

I turned back to my phone, surreptitiously angling it away from any would-be prying eyes to drink in the sight of the dick. A ping from him popped up below the photo saying: Seen what you’ve been missing?

Oh yes, I could see alright. It was his dick, hard and demanding anal attention. There was no way I could forget it. My mouth watered with the memory of my lips wrapping around that dick. Dark and lengthy, without being angrily long, with a bulbous head that was so sensitive that during sex with him, I nibbled on it a number of times, enjoying how spasmodically Basil jerked on the bed, and how choppy his breathing got when I did that.

I dashed off a quick response: You’re a wicked soul. God is watching you.

Basil: I hope not with 3D, otherwise He will see all the sinful things I’m thinking about you and me together.

A laugh gusted out of me at that, and I was thinking of a rejoinder when the bus conductor hollered my bus stop.

“O wa o!” I called back, and then typed a hurried goodbye to Basil, before readying myself as the bus pulled up at the junction. A number of passengers alighted, and I walked over to the bank of okada riders to secure a ride to my house. Seconds later, I’d clambered on the bike, letting out a welcome sigh as the wind whipped across my face on the speedy ride down the road.

The drive to my house didn’t last very long. I had come down from behind the okada man when a quick glance at my compound’s gate brought to my focus the pregnant young woman heaving her bulk through the pedestrian entrance of the gate.

“Alice, good afternoon,” I hailed with a wide smile, as I collected my change from the bike-man.

“Is it still afternoon sef?” She squinted up at the sky. Her hands rested on her distended midriff as she waddled a few steps forward to meet me. “This pregnancy is killing me, I swear. It’s just to eat and sleep, and eat and sleep that somebody knows how to do these days.”

I chuckled, petting a hand over her womb. Alice is my age, and my childhood friend. I grew up in Shomolu, and our families lived in the same block of flats. She, Tonia and I attended the same primary and secondary schools, and were in the same classes, and our friendship didn’t wither when my folks bought our house in Surulere, and we had to move away from the old neighbourhood. Incidentally, she got married last year, to a medical doctor who lives two houses away from us, and with her marriage, she moved right back to being our neighbour. She is a sweet-faced girl, coffee-coloured, with a charming, sometimes playful, disposition. Aside from my sister, she’s the only other female I can call a friend.

“You know, pregnant ladies are not given a pass to be lazy, simply because they are pregnant,” I chided teasingly. “They do have to exercise too.”

“The person who said that must either have been a man or a woman who was pregnant with one child,” she rejoined, “not two.” She was expecting twins.

I laughed. “Anyway, what brought you out of all your eating and sleeping to our house?”

“I wanted to give Mummy and Daddy the package they’ll give to my sister when they get to Owerri.”

“Oh shoot!” I clapped a hand over my mouth.

Alice eyed me quizzically. “You forgot that they are traveling today, didn’t you?”

“Yes o. It’s true, their flight is by seven, abi?” I was now moving toward the gate. “Alice, I’ll come by later, okay?”

“Oya nau, bye-bye.”

I hurried into my compound. My parents were traveling to the East this evening, in order to attend the funeral of a relative on Thursday. Even as I walked in through the pedestrian entrance of the gate, I could see that the compound was a minor beehive of activity. Father was conversing with a short, squat man who stood behind an unmarked car, which had its boot thrown open. I presumed he was the cab driver they’d chartered to take them to the airport. I could hear Mother’s loud voice, as she barked instructions, and Fabian was moving in and out of the house, stowing away luggage inside the taxi. As I approached, Mother stepped out of the front patio, with Tonia following behind her.

She was still talking when she saw me. After a quick consultation of her wristwatch, she said, “Nna, odikwa mma? This one you came back early, I hope it’s not because of us…”

“Yes nau,” I said with a smile, moving to her side to put an arm over her shoulder. “How can I not be present when my main people are traveling…”

Mother beamed.

Tonia interjected, “Look at this one. Who are you trying to whyne? All the pocket money for the duration of their trip has already been handed over to me o.”

“Unto wetin nau?” I complained.

“Unto I am the new madam of the house nah.” She placed her arms akimbo. “So better play nice, otherwise no breakfast for you people tomorrow.”

“Mom…” I began.

“Antonia, behave yourself,” the woman scolded.

“Yes, ma,” Tonia replied with an unrepentant grin.

“Oya, oya, chim, let us go,” Father cut in brusquely. “Fabian, is that all the bags inside?”

“Yes, dad.”

“I’ve given you the money for your trip to Port Harcourt, right?”

“Yes, dad.”

“Okay, open the gate. Ngwa, chim, let’s move.” He was already opening one of the taxi’s back doors. “I don’t want go-slow to catch us on the way. Better for me to sit and wait for my flight at the airport, than for me to cut it close.”

“Oh, my husband, I have heard,” Mother cajoled. She gave me a quick hug, before ambling inside the back seat of the cab beside Father.

The gates creaked noisily as Fabian pulled them open. The doors of the vehicle slammed as its occupants got comfortable, and the engine vroomed to a start. The cab driver steered the vehicle slowly out of the compound, and Fabian began to pull the gates close.

Just then, Tonia gave out a squeal, startling me around to face her. Her hands were thrown upward, and a look of rapturous delight was stamped on her face as she yelled, “Three days! Three whole days! Ah, Dennis, here I come.”

“Can you just imagine,” I chortled as we started back inside the house. “You couldn’t even wait for your parents to get to the expressway before deciding to go out and sell your market.”

“Oh puhleeze, it’s not market-selling if the person buying is going to have it for keeps.”

I gasped. “He has proposed?” I looked swiftly at her fingers; they were bare. Of course they were; Tonia would have gisted me the news the moment it happened.

She laughed. “No, not yet. But I’m practically Mrs. Dennis Madubuike anyway. It’s just a matter of time now.” She and Dennis have been dating for eight months now, and she’s clearly in love with the guy. For her sake, I’m always hoping the relationship will end up in a marriage. I’ve never failed to notice the fleeting expressions of discontent she tries to hide whenever we’re in the company of the very-pregnant and very-married Alice.

“When are you leaving?” I asked.

“Now-now,” she answered as we walked up the stairs toward our bedrooms. “I’ll be staying with him and going to work from his apartment until Saturday. I’ll come back here on Saturday morning.” Our parents were scheduled to return to Lagos on Saturday afternoon.

“Abeg, make sure you drop our chop money before you leave o,” I said warningly. “I can’t fit to be coming to that you people’s love nest in Jibowu to ask you for our house allowance.”

“Don’t you have money in your account? Take care of the house from your salary nau,” she teased.

“I am warning you, Antonia Chiamaka Odum!” I growled.

Her response was a light laugh as she vanished into her room.

I heaved a sigh as I walked into mine, flopping over on my bed and drinking in the quietude that had fallen over the house in the approaching evening. I usually came back from work to a house where Mother was always heckling somebody – Tonia, Fabian or Father. The woman was a loud force of nature. I felt some lassitude spread out inside me, slowly deadening my limbs, and I was considering curling up and drifting off into a late nap, right then with my clothes on, when a tap sounded on my door.

“Fabian, come on in,” I called out. I knew he was the one on the other side of the door. He always knocked before admitting himself into my bedroom. Tonia simply barged in unannounced and unapologetic. I never bring any runs to the house whenever I know she’ll be home.

Fabian slouched in and planted his trademark deadpan expression on me. “May I use your phone?” he said in a voice that was deeper than mine. “I want to check my email for the information I’ll need for my interview, and my own phone is dead.” He was scheduled to attend a job interview in Port Harcourt on Thursday, and would be flying over there tomorrow. He finished his Youth Service last year, and was currently a grudging participant of the job market.

I dug out my Blackberry from my pocket, keyed in my security code and handed it over to him. “If I’m sleeping when you’re done with it, kindly leave it on my table,” I instructed.

He nodded and walked out of the room.

In spite of the exhaustion I felt and my earlier conviction that I’d be asleep soon, I lay on my bed, awake, watching the waning light of the afternoon and the approaching draft of the evening play on the foliage of the tree which towered over my window outside. The caper was evident in the silhouettes that danced over my window panes and across the furniture beside the windows. It was such a peaceful spectacle, and it made me drowsy, not enough to doze off, but enough to cause my mind to drift with thoughts of my love life. The faces swam across the vision of my subconscious. Kizito’s… Basil’s… Dotun’s… All of them interesting, charming men with different pros, cons and appeal. I was attracted to Basil, even with him being taken, and all that jazz. I felt a pull toward Kizito, one I couldn’t explain, shrouded as it was with the complexities of his person and our acquaintanceship. And Dotun seemed so easy and comfortable, which made me reluctant to cross the line of intimacy we shared into anything heavier.

What to do, what to do…

You need a man, that omnipresent little voice affirmed inside my head.

Yes, but which of them?

None. These ones have too much baggage. You need to go find yourself an unattached, non-bisexual, charming man.

Yes, because those are very easy to come by, I snapped, silencing the voice.

A couple of hours later – a stretch of solitude that was interrupted when Tonia bustled into my room to drop the allowance Mother had given to her – as dusk fell over the world outside, causing my room to darken, I heard the familiar sounds of Fabian preparing to turn on the plant. The machine thrummed to life, and moments later, lights spilled all over the house. Feeling groggy, I got up from the bed and began to undress.

I was in my boxers and singlet when there was another knock on my door. “Yes, come in, Fabian,” I said wearily.

He jerked the door open, and wordlessly walked over to my table, dropping my Blackberry with a clatter on it. There was something antagonistic about his countenance as he turned swiftly and made for the door.

“Well, a ‘Thank you’ would be nice,” I hollered after him.

He stiffened to a stop at the doorway, and in the moment he stood there, I stared quizzically at his back, wondering what his problem was. Then he whirled around to face me, and I found myself staring at features that were tight with anger.

“How could you?” he hissed venomously.

Taken aback by his obvious fury, I questioned, “How could I what?”

“That – that – that” – he was pointing at the table, at my phone, and my pulse instantly quickened – “that – don’t you know it’s an abomination?!”

The world seemed suddenly to tilt. Oh gawd… I groaned inwardly. “What are you talking about? What is an abomination?” I couldn’t quite hide the disbelief in my voice. I hoped I did a better job with the dismay.

“Are you a homosexual, Declan?” he fired.

The question struck me hard, leaving me breathless. I took a millisecond to regroup. I was able to breathe again, before saying, “What sort of question is that?”

“The sort of question that you are not answering. Tell me, are you a homosexual?” Fabian’s voice, marinated with anger, went up an octave.

I swallowed hard, pulling desperately at tatters of outrage I knew I should exhibit. Then I snapped, “Would you mind telling me how you came about such a presumption that is giving you the audacity to disrespect me like that?”

“Your phone!” he spat, jabbing at the table again. “I was checking my mail, when someone – some Basil dude – pinged you –”

“You went through my BBM chats?” I cut him off, my voice a whiplash of mounting anger.

“I mistakenly tapped the message open!” he retorted a bit defensively. “But that is not the point! The point is, what business has a dude – has anyone, for that matter – to send you pictures of a dick? Can you explain that to me?”

“No! Now get out of my room!” I shot my hand toward the door.

“You are not even denying it!”

“Denying what –”

“That you’re a homosexual –”

“I don’t owe you any explanations, Fabian. Get out of my room right now!”

“It is an abomination, Declan! A sin! It’s not normal!” Fabian’s face was stormy, and his eyes sparkled with fluid rage. “Better rethink your life and repent from it immediately, because if you don’t, I’ll be very ashamed to call you my brother!” And with that, he turned around and stomped out of my room, making sure to slam my door as an exclamation mark against his ultimatum.

In the wake of his departure, I very shakily sank onto my bed. Oh no, oh no, oh no… I silently screamed.

The room started to sway. I exhaled slowly and closed my eyes. Oh no, oh God no…

The sensation worsened until I was forced to put my head on my pillow. The dizziness was followed by a surge of nausea, and I wondered whether I would be sick. And all the while, I silently protested: God, why did this have to happen…?!

Written by Pink Panther

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