I was born on a cold dreary September morning. My mother would sometimes tell me in that way people tell stories they have forgotten they’ve told a hundred times about how the roads were flooded and my father was panicking. She’d say with a small smile how at the back of her mind, she wanted to whack him on the head and tell him to calm down. They made it to the hospital, and as soon as she was on the bed, I said out. A few minutes later and I’d have been born in an old 504 that smelled like chicken feed.
They named me Anuoluwa. When I asked why they christened me that, she said she just liked the way Anu sounded. I didn’t like the way the name sounded in my ears, like it belonged to a girl. I had asked her when I was eight if I could change it and she said when I was older, if I wanted to. I’m older and I no longer want to. Why? Because I really can’t be bothered; besides, most of my friends just call me Ace.
I grew up with two dogs, Edgar and Poe. My father had bought them when I was five and my younger brother was two. They were mongrels but we took great care of them (and by ‘we’, I mean my mother) and they grew big. They were both males and I remember when I was younger, they’d attempt to fuck each other and my father would throw stones at them, muttering curses under his breath.
This behaviour stopped when a bitch took up residence close to the refuse dump a bit of a distance from our house. We noticed that the dogs would disappear for days on end and then return looking battered and bruised and thin. Edgar left one day and never returned. I suspect our Calabar neighbour, who used to greet us with an extra wide grin after Edgar disappeared, had something to do with it.
When I was fifteen, I had to move to the hostel. I use the words “had to” because I resisted the idea as much as possible. I’d heard stories of the wickedness of seniors, but Mother was going to start work in another state and Father was not the handiest of men in the house. So my younger brother was carted off with my mother to Abuja (with the excuse that she’d feel too lonely there) and I was sent to boarding school. I was in SS1.
The hostel wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, something about having your friends around all the time made things a bit more bearable. Besides I was a senior and could vent whatever frustration my seniors put me through on the other juniors.
The boys in my class and I would talk about girls at night when we were supposed to be sleeping. We’d talk about which girl’s nyash was big, and who we thought stuffed tissue in her bra to make her breasts look bigger, and who we’d fuck or ask out. And a few of the boys would boast about which girl had let them smooch in the corner of the class while prep was going on or how their runs with a girl was going.
I envied this last group of people. They seemed to be enjoying the bounties of the world while I was still trying to work up the courage to make conversation with the girl behind who I sat in class, and whose hair smelt like Shea butter and perfume. Some nights, I’d lie down and close my eyes and imagine her crushed against me. I’d imagine feeling the softness of her breasts (they were soft, according to one of my classmates). I’d imagine the taste of her mouth and her hand moving up and down my penis.
But my imaginations were all I had because I was liverless. Looking back, I realise a couple of other girls had shown interest in me but I had never been interested. There was a time a girl who constantly asked me if I had an extra pen to lend her was behind me on the dinner queue, and with mild irritation, I realised she was pressing and rubbing her pubescent tits on my elbow. I didn’t react to it. I just let it happen till I got my food and left.
One night, my bunk mate had to stay on the same bed with me because the frame underneath his mattress had broken. I asked why he didn’t want to sleep on the floor and he said something about being too cold, and before I could object, he had settled beside me. And I grudgingly let him. Strangely, I found myself breathing fast at the thought of our bodies crushed against one another. The heat of his skin against mine sent my heart oddly racing. I lay stiffly beside him, listening to the night and wondering about him. He had already started snoring softly beside me. My mind drifted and I fell asleep.
And then, I began to dream about the girl with the hair that smelled of Shea butter and perfume. She was kissing me and I was kissing her back and pressing her breasts. Her hand slipped into my boxers and started to stroke my shaft and it felt so good and so real, like it was actually going on.
And then, I realised with a start that it was actually going on. I was jolted awake to the feel of a hand stroking my shaft. I was confused but it felt so good, so I let it continue till I shuddered as I came. Then the stroking stopped and the hand slipped out of my boxers.
I willed myself to turn and look at my bunkie in the moonlight. He was still snoring softly beside me and I hoped what just happened was a dream, even though I knew it was not. I wrestled with myself while lying there, willing him to stop snoring, to open his eyes, look at me and tell me he had put his hand in my boxers and touched me. He never did. Sighing softly, I turned back to my side.
Before I fell asleep again, my mind drifted to Edgar and Poe, and my father muttering curses under his breath when he threw stones at them for trying to fuck each other.
Written by IBK