The Many Colours of Happyness

The Many Colours of Happyness

This is a work of fiction by a latest contributor to Kito Diaries. Read and enjoy.

*

two-men-on-the-beach-at-sunset-holding-handsWHEN WE WERE children, Kosi and I, we drew stick figures on old papers; figures dancing in the rain, with triangles for eyes. We grew up watching the stars. We would sit side-by side on cold nights and stare at the stars, and Kosi would always observe how beautiful they were, the stars. So beautiful. We grew up in the midst of colours and flowers: yellow ixora, red hibiscuses, purple bougainvilleas, red bougainvilleas. Maybe that was why Kosi stopped drawing stick figures and started painting flowers that did not look like flowers at all.

It was one misty Harmattan morning. I woke up with the sun in my face and soft birdsong on the dogonyaro tree outside my window. I climbed out of the window after taking my bath. We were neighbours then, Kosi and I. Their house was a small bungalow. The corridors were dotted with aloe vera in clay pots. Inside the house, an aquarium, milk-coloured sofas, a fluffy rug, mirror-like tiles, ready laughter. His sister Kasarachi was cleaning the furniture with a damp rag. She was small like Kosi, but her skin was not a burnished black, but a glowing caramel. ‘Ah, Idris,’ she said.

‘Good morning,’ I said.

I walked past her, into Kosi’s room. He was still asleep. I sat on his bed and stared at him. I noticed again that his hair curled. We called it coil-coil hair, American hair. I caressed his hair. The gentle tingles played in my head. It was not the first time I was hearing the tingles. The first time was two years ago, on my tenth birthday, when I asked if we could kiss like they did on TV. He said yes, and we walked quietly to his room, and I placed my lips on his. Lips on lips. It was innocent. I felt that urge to kiss him again.

When he woke up, I had left his bed and was staring quietly outside, at the mist. ‘You slept for hours,’ I said.

‘Oh.’ He waved his hands. He sat on the bed, rubbing his eyes. ‘I have something to show you.’  He unzipped his schoolbag. In his New General Mathematics textbook, there was a folded paper. He unfolded it. It was a painting. It was a shade of purple-red.

‘What is it?’ I asked.

‘It’s a flower,’ he said.

I cocked my head, stared at it with more concentration. ‘It doesn’t look like one.’

The stars formed many patterns in the sky. Silver patterns. It was before Kosi painted his purple-red flower. Two years before. He had just refolded his stick figure and put it in his pocket. I was still holding mine. ‘That thing we did yesterday,’ he said. ‘Kasarachi said it’s a sin.’

I stared at him. ‘You told her?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘We won’t do it again.’

‘Kissing is not a sin,’ I said.

‘We won’t do it again,’ he said. We were both quiet, then he pointed excitedly at the sky. ‘See!’

The stars had formed a pattern like a man.

In those years when he painted purple-red flowers, golden chandeliers, naked women even, I became more and more afraid. I would return from football training and find him painting; in the background, horrorful music. ‘It’s called classical music,’ he would say.

I’m afraid, I wanted to say. I’m afraid I’m not normal.

‘What is that?’ I asked, nodding at a painting.

‘Oh, this?’ He stared at the canvas. ‘I don’t know what it is.’ He paused. ‘What do you think?’

‘I don’t know,’ I said.

One day, I returned home from school and found Inna and Baba quarrelling. It wasn’t the first time, but now, their voices were raised and it seemed like Baba would hit her. They stopped when they saw me. The next day, the same thing, again and again. Sometimes, I woke up at night and heard them quarrelling. Once, I crept to Kosi’s window and rapped on it. ‘Let’s watch the stars,’ I said.

He glanced at his wall clock. ‘It’s late,’ he said. ‘We have school tomorrow.’

That night, I watched the stars alone. I did not cry, even though I wanted to. Guys don’t cry.

Everybody in our school knew me. I was a striker on the football team; I could jump shoot and dunk and dribble when playing basketball; and I was always the best in Physics and Mathematics. I had three ‘girlfriends.’ Aisha. Deborah. Ngozi. Aisha had small breasts and a beautiful face. Deborah had big buttocks and big breasts. Ngozi was funny and pretty. I told all of them that we were just friends. Just friends. But I told my teammates that they were my girlfriends, that I had in fact banged Deborah, and that Aisha had given me a blowjob.

There was a boy in my class, Ben. He had eyes like a girl’s and he walked and talked like one. My classmates called him a homo. He did not have many friends. Sometimes, he sat alone in our classroom and cried because of the teasing. I did not tease him, but I did not ask them to stop. I did not tell them that it was Ben who had given me a blowjob. Thrice. Once in the toilet, and twice at his house in Yankaba. Not even Kosi knew.

One Christmas morning, the year I turned eighteen, there was a bomb blast in Kano. Three or two churches – I cannot now remember – were bombed. It was the same day that Inna called me to her room, crying. ‘Your Baba is divorcing me,’ she said.

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know.’

I watched her cry. She blew her nose, shook her head. There was something helpless about her that morning. I couldn’t understand it. ‘When you get married,’ she said, ‘make sure to treat your wife well.’

I stared at the blue walls. ‘I won’t get married,’ I said.

‘You will get married,’ she said. She stared at me; her eyes were searching. I looked away. I will not get married.

Later, I went to Kosi’s room. He was with Kasarachi. She had come to visit, and her baby, Chimdi, crept up to me. ‘Good evening,’ I said, lifting Chimdi into my arms.

Kasarachi smiled. ‘It’s been a while,’ she said.

‘Idris has been running away from me,’ Kosi said. He was smiling. I wanted to punch the smile out of his face. I could easily do that: I was bigger than him.

I sat on the bed with them. Chimdi was a lively child. He had his father’s face – wide face, big eyes, smiling lips. He kept calling me Brother Idris. I tickled him. He laughed. ‘You will make a great dad,’ Kasarachi said. I knew she was teasing, but I looked at her and said, ‘I won’t get married.’

It was evening when Kasarachi and Chimdi left. Kosi returned to his painting. I sat on the bed and watched him. Evening painted long shadows on the trees outside. After a while, I said, ‘Kosi, we need to talk.’

He did not look away from his painting. ‘Okay.’

I stared briefly outside. Breeze ruffled the trees. They looked shady in the dusk, the trees. They looked like giants with floating tentacles. I wanted to go outside, to be one with the trees, uncaring. That is the way to be happy. ‘We really need to talk,’ I said. ‘Please.’

He packed up his painting kit and sat on the bed. ‘Okay.’

I wanted to tell him that he looked beautiful in his paint-stained shirt. ‘Baba is getting a divorce,’ I said. I wanted to add that it made me want to scream at the world. At the whole fucking world. The same way I wanted to scream at the world when I thought of me: If it’s anybody’s fault that I’m this way, it’s God’s fault, not mine.

‘What happened?’ he asked.

‘I don’t know.’ I wanted to cry, but I forced myself not to. Crying is for girls.

It was after our graduation that I told him. We had just returned home from school. Inna dropped me off at home before driving to her new house. ‘Don’t forget to come over tonight,’ she said.

It was not planned, my telling him. One moment, I was lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling, and the next moment Kosi was lying on the bed beside me. I don’t know what caused it, but I asked, ‘You remember that day before my tenth birthday?’

‘Oh, that day,’ he said. ‘We were both stupid kids. Yuck! To think that I actually kissed you.’ He was laughing.

‘I will like to do it again,’ I said.

He stared at me and burst out laughing. ‘So funny,’ he said. I did not laugh with him, and slowly, his laughter trickled to a snort. He stared at me. There was disbelief in his eyes. ‘You’re so not like them.’ He stood up to leave. I held his hand. He punched me on the face. I left him alone.

After he left, I took a bus to Yankaba. Ben smiled when he answered the door and saw me. I tried to smile back. ‘You said you wouldn’t come back,’ he said.

I always say that, I wanted to say. Instead, I said, ‘I’ll be going to the mosque in thirty minutes’ time.’

Ben frowned – I noticed how so feminine he was – and shook his head. ‘You’re all the same, all you ‘straight-looking’ boys,’ he said. ‘You’re going to mosque, so I should do the normal shit quickly, isn’t it? And the next moment you’ll walk away and tell me how much of a mistake it had all been. I’m no longer into that shit, you hear? My life is too short to spend it chasing after shadows. I don’t know about yours.’

He was panting by the time he stopped talking. His eyes were wet. I stood there, staring uncertainly at him. I wanted to tell him about Kosi. I wanted to say, I just need to forget, please.

I returned home feeling sorry for myself. I did not go to the mosque. I did not say my prayers. I lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling. I did not resist the urge to cry this time. It was a quiet crying. I slept off and dreamt of purple-red stars and grey waters. When I woke up, it was dark. Long shadows crept everywhere on the walls. I went to the bathroom, and when I came out, Kosi was sitting on my bed. For the first time since we were kids, I felt awkward standing naked before him. He stared at me. ‘That thing,’ he said. ‘I wonder how it enters your boyfriend’s…’

‘I don’t have a boyfriend,’ I said. I put on my boxers.

‘But those guys will be dying for you,’ he said. ‘I hear gay guys like nice chests and handsome faces.’

I was fully dressed now, and I stood staring at him. ‘You don’t need to say all these things to show your acceptance,’ I said. ‘And you don’t need to stare at me like I’m some sort of deformed person.’

‘See, I’m just trying to get used to this thing.’ There was something in his eyes, something I saw in my teammates’ eyes when they teased Ben. Puzzlement. They will never understand. I will never understand. I felt a gnawing pity for us, not just for Ben and myself, but for Kosi and my teammates, and for Inna and Baba, even for Kasarachi and Chimdi.

‘Sorry,’ I said.

‘You’re going to Bompai?’

‘Yes.’

He scratched his head. ‘Will you tell her?’

‘You mean Inna?’ I asked.

He nodded, yes.

‘You’re a joker,’ I said. ‘You want me to commit suicide?’

He laughed. I laughed. Outside, the moon was a silver-grey. The stars were few. There was a celestial detachment, a celestial uncaringness. Everything was quiet. Silver-grey. ‘You must paint this sky,’ I said.

‘Yes, I must,’ he said.

Written by Rapu’m Kambili

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37 Comments

  1. Absalom
    July 09, 05:10 Reply

    I read the first soft paragraph and knew this could only be our delightful Rapu’m’s work! Beautiful as always. I especially like the part about Kosi’s experimentation ending in childhood; you handled it well without putting too fine a point on it. 🙂

  2. just coming back from the mosque, reading the story with a Maher Zain’s song I love so much playing in the background…oh my, it should be adapted into a Nollywood picture.

    (pinches self back into reality)

    they can not and never understand unless they want to….my parents think I’ve sworn an oath of allegiance to the Nigerian branch of “gayism” cult.

    pinkie, be expecting a full recount of all my FIVE kito stories….I don’t wear kito anymore, I now do gladiator heels

    • pinkpanthertb
      July 09, 05:35 Reply

      Get writing. And get submitting. We can turn your own particular kito stories into a series here on KD.

  3. Chizzie
    July 09, 05:34 Reply

    This is arguably the most beautiful thing I have read on this blog, Rapu’m u wrote so well. ..it was effortlessly and cohesive and transitioned perfectly. I think You should start a journal like blog series and teach some ppl how it should be done. ..

    Lovely read!

  4. deola
    July 09, 05:35 Reply

    Such a well written piece. The tone of the entire writeup is soft and endearing which makes for a beautiful read.
    The fact that they will never understand I think is what scares us all…
    Rapu’m great job.

  5. simba
    July 09, 05:39 Reply

    Woa, I think u have some trainings on writting. Kinda Poetic,flowed smoothly and easily digested. I love it…I remember then in High School when,I use to exchange letters,corresponding abt our love with the hottest dude in the Class..it was all innocent,but not so innocent lol…currently we don’t even talk anymore

  6. Dominic
    July 09, 06:07 Reply

    This is beautiful. Being born and brought up in the north, I could relate so well with the characters. Well done author!!!

  7. Dennis Macauley
    July 09, 06:10 Reply

    This felt like poetry! You have a huge fan here! This should be a published short story. I’d like to read this again while listening to Josh Groban or Andrea Bocelli

  8. trystham
    July 09, 06:17 Reply

    It was such a sad story. My head kept swelling and I could barely breathe for unshed tears up until the last full stop. I actually thot Kosi died. Such sensitive artists always never survive in the stories. Great twist.
    P.S PLEASE get copyright protection on this stuff biko. Some living Xerox machines are around.

  9. Rapu'm
    July 09, 06:18 Reply

    Wow! Thanks everyone for the nice words. I’m trying hard not to blush. Many thanks.

    • chestnut
      July 09, 07:48 Reply

      Lovely piece! There’s something so “Chimamanda” about ur writing( I mean that as a compliment). The story was so deep and sad; the kinda story that draws ur into it’s depths and wraps itself completely around like a thick blanket. By all means, blush; you’ve earned blushing-rights.

  10. Blaq Jaqs
    July 09, 06:40 Reply

    I haven’t read writing this beautiful in a very long time. Poetic. Fluid… sheer beauty. Perfection. Choi! It was melodious. It was poignant. It was dreamy. I can go on and on and on. Sometimes I struggled with transition at certain bits probably because I was greedy and didn’t want it to move so fast but I was overwhelmed again and again with the beauty of your crafting.
    You are somewhere in the ranks of an Adiche or a Habila or a Coelho in my opinion. I was truly blown away.
    Wow. I’m somewhere in between green with envy and in love with you (Obatala I’m sorry!). If you have a blog or a collection of stories you’ve written please share the link!
    Well done Rapu’m! Well done!!

  11. luke
    July 09, 08:13 Reply

    Am sorry l Most say this is the best write up since this blog started, well done and l agree with the others keep this up and am sure get a best seller novel out of you.I was blown away, for the first time l read every line with calm and didn’t jump non, you had a poetic flow to the story, you have won another fan, good job and thanks for kicking my day with such story. Have a good day all

  12. Lothario
    July 09, 08:55 Reply

    This is amazing! Well done Rapu’m, well done!

  13. lluvmua
    July 09, 12:26 Reply

    Nice story rapu’m . It was so wonderful . But why do I keep hving this feeling tht this story actually hppened ? Is it cuz it looks so real??? *confused*

  14. Aproko Pikin
    July 09, 14:16 Reply

    Rapu’m

    I stand in awe after reading this piece especially as I am not particularly good at this. It felt so real and emotional. Very Chimamanda-ish. Good job dear. Me loving you already. *kiss kiss*

  15. Rapu'm
    July 09, 15:47 Reply

    Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. This is encouraging. I appreciate.

    • tikky20
      July 09, 17:43 Reply

      Fluid and Brilliant. Rapu’m you did an awesome job here. This is on the top 3 of the best write ups I’ve read here..very sensational …….. Almost got me to tears, because a huge part of my life was actually painted in this story. Growing feelings for your childhood best friend, who finally gets to know about your sexuality, and gets ok with it ,but then at the cost of your heartbreak and current bottled up emotions that you try so hard to keep locked, even when you sleep on the same bed with this person, that probably has done everything with you(except sex) and lie together on each other in “implicating” positions…. They actually wouldn’t really understand. *nice job Rapu’m once again. You got a fan here

  16. Khaleesi
    July 09, 16:14 Reply

    am not a major fan of poetry, but I couldn’t help but feel the beauty and flow of this piece. nice one Rapu’m!! you show major promise!

  17. Lexus
    July 09, 17:15 Reply

    Who wrote this? Its horrible. But keep writing.

      • pinkpanthertb
        July 19, 05:10 Reply

        Apparently, he’s someone commenting in the desperate need to sound controversial.

  18. Dominic
    July 09, 23:10 Reply

    Now I know who this write up remind me of…. Audee T. Gina author of I’d rather die and Marks on the run

  19. adebolu roland
    July 10, 07:37 Reply

    Interesting,wen will does dat called themselves straight understands dat we are better dan dem

  20. kendigin
    July 10, 11:33 Reply

    Great write up. Sounds a lot like chimamanda.

  21. Williams
    July 10, 22:40 Reply

    Absolutely phenomenal stuff.You’re such a brilliant writer.

  22. Abimbola
    July 12, 11:53 Reply

    Hmmn. It’s been a while I read posts on this blog. It’s saturday and I’m taking time out to read entries from my favourite blog.
    Saying this post is nice or great is an understatement. While reading it, I was really into it. This is synonymous to my story. A lot of times, I wish Dapo understands.
    Thanks Rapu’m for this wonderful poetic piece. You took me down the memory lane and got me so emotional this morning. *wipes off the single tear*

  23. victor
    July 13, 11:50 Reply

    This is so good rapum,u should make a book,a very long bOok,lols. I love it and I love you

  24. emerging
    July 19, 05:19 Reply

    This is truly remarkable. Seems like an abridged version of something great. Wud love to read more of your work.

  25. Koteh
    July 30, 10:19 Reply

    Captivating, Emotional and Chimamanda-ish…Keep it Up bro…..dem no fit understand

  26. Max
    August 18, 15:52 Reply

    Beautiful piece…

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