My personality is not of one that seeks attention, but I am responsive when people turn their attention on me. As long as it’s not intrusive though. Jerry Oritsegbubemi (real name) wasn’t subtle with the way he sought my attention. He intruded. And even though I found this upsetting at first, I eventually warmed up to me. Which was certainly one of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life.
I generally love tall, athletic, good-looking guys. Throw in a shiny black skin, and you have my mumu button. Jerry was tall, athletic and too handsome. He was also light-skinned. He didn’t check all the boxes, but he was enough to get my attention.
Let’s start from the beginning.
2018 was my final year in the university. It was also the year I started exploring my sexuality. I always knew I liked boys more than I do girls. But last year, I began to explore, starting with Planet Romeo and Surge, and eventually settling on Grindr. I met a few guys and had a few hookups. At this stage in my life, because I was exploring who I am, I was not really into anything that had to do with love, romance and relationships. The hookups I got into, mostly from Grindr and Facebook, were all chop-and-clean-mouth. No strings attached. Some of these guys wanted more after the sex though. A relationship, something more lasting, and I would always tell them no. The reactions to my rejection weren’t always nice or cordial.
It is not that I don’t believe in love or want to love. It’s just that the kind of temperament I have would not permit the thriving of a relationship. I am very laidback, mostly uninterested, and sometimes moody with no reason. Therefore, it didn’t seem ideal to me to lead anyone on into something serious I knew I would eventually sabotage without meaning to.
That afternoon, I was eating alone (I am almost always alone, as I consider myself the lord of solitude) when a very beautiful boy slid into the bench opposite mine with a bottle of Coke in his hand. He was smiling.
“Hey. I am Jerry, 300 level Electrical Engineering,” he said, as though that would solve the puzzle of him invading my personal space.
“Okay,” I simply said as I continued eating.
“I know you probably want to eat me up for invading your space,” he said, still smiling.
I eyed him, noting how I would sure love to eat him up, but in my bed.
“Okay,” I said again. “How may I help you, Jerry?”
He laughed. “Are you always this formal? Well, I have been noticing you around campus, and I think I like you. Your personality, I mean.” He added this last part hurriedly.
But I knew instantly what he meant. My personality, my ass. Dude was hitting on me. His flirtatiousness had my gaydar buzzing. But I wasn’t impressed by his tactic. I don’t trust people who “notice” me from afar; letting me know that makes me feel like I’m being hunted or something.
“Okay, noted,” I said. I was looking at him, my head cocked, as though to tell him: You can leave me alone now.
“So, it’s true,” he said, still smiling.
“So, what’s true?” I wanted to know.
“You are very proud and a snob,” he said.
I sat back in my chair and stared at this stranger in both bafflement and annoyance. Who the hell did he think he was?
“What rubbish is that, and who’s been telling you that?” I seethed, now really wanting to eat him, flesh and blood.
“It doesn’t matter. What matters is you should change your ways and be friendlier.”
The guy was preaching to me!
With a glare, I leaned toward him and said, “I don’t owe you or anyone my friendliness. I was here, minding my business and eating my food, when you came to ruin my appetite. Well, I may not be hungry anymore, but I sure feel like drinking a Coke.” With that, I snatched his bottle of Coke and took a gulp. I honestly didn’t know where I got the guts to be that brassy, and from the stony look he gave me, I thought he was going to hit me.
He didn’t. instead, he stared at me some more, took his bottle back from me, and without another word, slipped out of the bench and walked away.
I thought that would be the end of Jerry, but boy, was I wrong.
We kept on bumping into each other all over school: at the library, the laboratories, the hostels, at canteens. Even church. It was as though now that I’d encountered him once, I had to notice him everywhere.
And he was always very cordial toward me. Nice even. I soon began to warm up to him, and when he asked me to be his boyfriend, no one was more surprised than I was when I said yes. Now, when I think back on it, I realize the real reason I agreed to date him was not because I wanted to love him. It was because I felt guilty for drinking his Coke. Ridiculous, I know.
In the beginning, Jerry was a perfect guy. He went out of his way to do things for me. The sex was good. I could not believe myself when I finally began to confront the realization that I was falling in love with this guy.
Things however began to change when he began to charm other guys and girls. I could handle the girls that excessively fawned over him; that was what society expected from guys. But the boys – no way! When I noticed his shameless flirting with some guy, I confronted him and he gave me a halfhearted apology, saying he only did it for fun. That he didn’t intend anything to come out of it. I believed him. Of course, I did; I loved him.
Then my birthday came around and my boyfriend ghosted me the entire day. I was up very early in the morning of that day, believing he would be among the first people to wish me a happy birthday. But Jerry neither called nor texted. Not a peep from him the entire day. That was crushing. The way my mood stayed sour that day was a new thing to me; I even snapped at my mother when she called to wish me a happy birthday. I felt betrayed. I swore I would not call or see him again, and that I would ice him out should I ever lay my eyes on him.
But I was in love. I hated being in love but I couldn’t help it. By 9 PM, I stomped over to his house off-campus, looking like I felt: infuriated. When I knocked on his door, it took about twenty minutes for him to open the door. My fury knew no bounds.
“What the hell!” I yelled at him. He was standing by the doorway, obviously not wanting me to go in.
“What is it again this time?” he said in this world-weary tone that stung, that made me feel like I’d always been a nag with him.
“Are you kidding me?” I growled. “My birthday doesn’t mean a thing to you, abi?”
It was obvious from the way comprehension dawned on him that he hadn’t even remembered. But that wasn’t even what hurt. What began to splinter my insides was the absolute lack of remorse he replaced the surprise with when he said, “So? Na you be the first girl to do birthday?”
So, on top of everything else, he just called me a girl?! I thought I’d gotten to my breaking point, that surely, I could now lash out with my fist or something –
When a really, really good-looking guy emerged behind Jerry.
“What is going on here, Jerry?” this newcomer said as he looked from Jerry to me.
I felt the ground upon which I was standing shift. Suddenly, it became clear to me why Jerry hadn’t even bothered to let me into his house. He’d apparently been with someone else. And someone far hotter!
When he looked at me and saw what I was thinking revealing itself on my face, he said, “Prince, it’s not what you think.” He reached out a hand to me, but I recoiled from him. “Tega is my friend. My very good friend. He was teaching me EEE311.”
I wanted to believe him. I really wanted to swallow that lie hook, line and sinker. But on the heels of him totally forgetting my birthday, this was just too much.
“Don’t even bother,” I said stonily. “I am not going to buy any more of your lies, Jerry.”
I went back to my hostel and started thanking the Orishas that I had not succumbed to his persuasion about me moving in with him. I did not move in with him, not because I did not want to, but because my older sister, who graduated from the same school, had spies watching me. Thank God for the spies.
Honestly, I tried hard to get over Jerry. But I couldn’t. Every time I watched porn and wanked, I was reminded how much I needed him touching me, sexing me. Grindr was no help at all. Lots of fake people with insincere intentions. Besides, having finally dated someone, I now wanted something real. I wasn’t into the meet ‘n’ shag business anymore.
Call me crazy, call me an emotional fuckup, but yes, I did take Jerry back when he came with a bottle of Coke for me, and apologized. The bottle of Coke had unofficially become our symbol of love. When I saw the Coke, I smiled. He confessed that he had fucked with Tega that night I found him in his room, and because, underneath the anger I felt that night, I’d actually found Tega attractive, I forgave him.
Not long after, Jerry started persuading me again to move in with him. Again, I said no. I honestly wanted to. It was simply ideal, for me to live in the privacy of an off-campus accommodation with the man I loved. It was appealing. But I couldn’t. My sister’s spies were everywhere. One misstep and she would come down on me with evidence to back up her suspicions of my sexuality.
“Why don’t you want to move in with me?” Jerry complained.
“To avoid too much familiarity which in turn brings about contempt,” I remember replying.
Christmas came and instead of traveling home to Lagos to spend the holiday with my family, I decided to stay behind in school. Because of Jerry. The school hostel was locked down and so I had to stay with him for the holiday.
This is when this story becomes a kito story.
For on Christmas day, a number of guys came around to Jerry’s house. I recognized at least three of them as guys I knew from Grindr. Tega was present too. Something about the way they trooped into the house set off alarm signals inside me.
When I took Jerry aside and asked him what was going on, he grabbed my wrist, tightly, and pulled me to the sitting room where the guys were.
“Prince, let me introduce you to my friends,” he said with a sneer. “And apparently, the guys you think you are better than.”
I was shell-shocked. The guy I’d fallen in love with was no longer in the room; in his place was this sneering, malicious human being, who shoved me to the centre of the room, where they all began to form a circle around me. Six guys in all.
My mind was a flurry of panicked thoughts. What were they going to do to me? Did I offend anyone of them? Why was Jerry not protecting me from this? What was going on?
One of the guys, Chidi, who I hooked up with from Grindr, spoke up, “I loved you, Prince. But you kept on treating me like I wasn’t worth your time. We fucked and you tossed me aside like I was dirt. Shebi you’re the one now dying for love, eh?”
I couldn’t believe this. So, saying no was now a crime? This had to be a joke. I looked at Jerry, expecting him to smile and confirm that this was indeed a joke. But the expression on his face was enough to tell me that the guy who charmed me into saying yes to him was long gone. He looked as mean and as nasty as these other guys.
Then Wale spoke up, nastily, “Seeing you makes my blood boil. If you knew you did not want a relationship, you should not have bothered coming to see me at all.”
This was unbelievable. How did wanting to shag a guy automatically make me willing to be in a relationship? I stared at these guys in incredulity, at this point wondering how they all seemed to know one another.
Jerry soon answered that.
“See all these guys?” he said. “They are all my friends. We got to know each other on Facebook, and incidentally, they’d all had experiences that made them reach the opinion that TB guys in this school are all proud and full of themselves. You were number one on that list. And so, we came together and decided to take you down. Tega was actually supposed to be the one to approach you, but I wanted to do it myself. I wanted to be the one to make you suffer. And I have enjoyed every bit of it.”
He stared at me with a nasty look that made me wonder how I ever came to fall in love with him. I couldn’t believe that every time I’d kissed this guy, touched him, felt his touch, felt him inside me – I had been a mission to him. All the while I was loving him, he had harboured nothing but a vengeful venom for me. I shuddered, wondering how I hadn’t been able to pick up on such malevolence, however well hidden, when I was with him.
“Now you know how it feels to have feelings for someone who treats you like dirt,” he continued, “because that’s what you are best at doing. You are bad in everything else: character, sex, romance, just name it. You even had the audacity to drink my Coke!”
I wanted to cry, but I stifled the urge, determined not to let them see that amount of weakness.
“We intended to beat you when we had the opportunity,” Jerry said. “But we won’t. Just leave this house with only what you are putting on. Don’t bother taking your phone or laptop or clothes or shoes. Just leave like this. And if we hear about you anywhere again, you will receive the beating of your life.”
As I fled from his house, I struggled with bitterness and misery. I was devastated. Suddenly, it became clear to me why Jerry had badly wanted me to move in with him. Their mission wasn’t supposed to last the six months me and him ended up dating. It was supposed to end the day I’d move into his house and encounter what I encountered that day.
These guys had been targeting me for six months!
Someone had acted like he loved me when he hated me for six months!
Until I was on my way to Lagos the next day, I was still struggling to digest all this. When I got home, I lied to my family that the bus I traveled with was robbed, to explain the loss of my things.
That incident scarred me. Up until I left the school, I never again used Grindr. I deactivated my Facebook account and kept even more to myself. I began to introspect a lot about my social life. Was I really that bad? Was it a bad thing to say no? How could I be guilty of hurting someone when we enter a hookup with different expectations? I thought about Chidi and Wale and thought: Surely, I am a beast for the way I must’ve hurt them.
These days however, I am stronger and I believe that the words or thoughts of people do not define me. I have a lot of respect for myself and will never stoop so low as to date someone simply because they expect me to.
When I got back on Facebook and had learned of Kito Diaries and its efforts to alert community members to the malignant behaviour of evildoers, I searched on Facebook for the guys who kitoed me. Even Jerry Oritsegbubemi. But I couldn’t find them. Perhaps they’d blocked me, perhaps they’d changed their names.
Just before I left school for good, I ran into Tega and he apologised to me for what they did to me.
“Look, I’m sorry about the whole shit that went down,” he said to me. “Jerry is my best friend and we weren’t really fucking. It was all part of the game. I think I understand the kind of person you are because my ex was like that too. Good luck with the future.”
I didn’t even bother saying anything in response to that. I just wished I’d never met any of them.
Even though I eventually got to learn from someone else that Jerry Oritsegbubemi didn’t even graduate from school, that he was expelled, I took no joy from that. I am part being angry at him and the others. I am just focused on ensuring that the walls he knocked down when he made me feel the things I wasn’t used to feeling are staying up. Tried love once and it burned me in a way I never saw coming.
Written by Prince Ame