FOREWORD: In the beginning of Kito Diaries, I started a non-fictional series about the memories of my childhood gay trysts. The series was titled ‘While We Were Yet Kids’. (Read former episodes HERE, HERE and HERE). I stopped writing when it seemed to me like I couldn’t remember anything else to write about. But I recently stumbled on the series while seeking something in the archives, and suddenly fresh memories came surging through my mind. And so, here I am again with all new episodes.
Read and Enjoy.
The first time I knew love – or something like it – I was fourteen years old. And the boy I gave my heart to was the same age. Let’s say his name is Vince Okwoche. I was in SS1B and he was in SS1F. He was one of the most popular boys in my set – tall, good looking, charming and a Lagosian. The Lagosians in my school then (a mix of a few Yorubas and plentiful Igbos who’d been born and bred in Lagos) were either smooth operators or uncouth characters. The smooth operators who could speak Yoruba used the language like it was French, the language of love. Vince was a smooth operator.
I’d always nursed a teensy weensy crush on Vince, right from our JSS3 days, but it was a crush I didn’t let flourish, majorly because I thought he was out of my league. Back then, in JSS3, I was this chubby, soft-spoken, bright-skinned boy whose only comfort was when hidden away behind his storybooks and text books, or when striving to be one of the brilliant students in class. Oh, and I was a darling of the girls, simply the girls’ best friend (Yes, I know, that stereotype fit me like a glove). Plus I was the class captain, and I was in some sort of ‘budding relationship’ with a classmate, Joshua (you know, that kind of relationship where you two like to go everywhere together, even though you’re not in the same hostel, and sit together during prep and laboratory classes, even though you’re not seat partners, and you hold hands when you think no one is watching, but you haven’t kissed because you’re not sure about each other, and you have no courage to have ‘the talk’ even though the signs of affection are there).
So you see? I was way too caught up with my teenage life to let my thing for Vince amount to anything other than a slight yearning from a distance.
And then, we went home earlier than the rest of the school for the JSS3 holidays. And returned to SS1 with our brand new personalities and brand new uniforms…
And brand new attention for me. I don’t know, perhaps it was because I lost most of my baby fat during the holidays or my uniforms were sown to fit me better this time… Perhaps it was because I’d learned how to pout to delicious perfection, or my skin colour was a more supple shade of fairness. Whatever it was, Vince finally began to notice me!
My happiness started when I saw him do a double take the first time he saw me that term. And I felt fresh bursts of this happiness every time I spied him giving me the lingering side-eye. One of the hottest boys in school was noticing me! It gave me such a rush!
But I still had a ‘boyfriend’ (who, by the way, I was yet to share a kiss with), so I had to play it cool.
Then came that night that changed everything!
It was during night prep. Night prep was not often that serious as day prep was. Girls weren’t even permitted to attend the night prep. We only ever took it serious and really studied (or played at studying) whenever prefects were on duty. Otherwise, the night prep was just another extension of the boys’ hostels, with boys milling about, playing, chatting, doing laundry, and just generally being boys.
That night, I was at my seat, which is right next to the window overlooking the thoroughfare that separated the SS1 block from the JSS3 block. I was seated and talking with Joshua, who sat next to me. We were talking about mundane stuff. And then, excitement walked into the classroom in the form of Vince and his clique (The Lagosians loved to move around in groups).
Vince and his gang sauntered over to our corner. Joshua was also Lagosian, and before long, they were all carrying on with a conversation in rapid-fire Yoruba. Their banter was often punctuated with ribald laughter from the other boys and suggestive looks thrown my way by Vince, a phenomenon that made me suspect they were talking about me. Occasionally, Vince would say something to Joshua, who would give an abashed chuckle and deliberately not look my way, while Vince would give me an appraising stare.
Eventually, the caravan left the classroom, and Joshua had to eventually turn to face me.
My next words shot out of my mouth without delay. “You people were talking about me, weren’t you?”
He grimaced, before giving a reluctant “Yes.”
“And what were you saying about me?” With a frown, I added, “And don’t lie to me o.”
He sighed before answering, “Vince started by saying that this one me and you are always together, is anything going on between us. I asked him what he meant by anything. He said I should know what he’s talking about. So I said that me and you are just friends. He acted like he didn’t believe me. But I insisted that we are just friends.”
I should have felt stung by Joshua’s classification of our ‘relationship’ as ‘just friends’. I should have felt irritation, disappointment, something negative over the fact that the boy I was so close to had denied the opportunity to formally brand me his. But I didn’t. Instead I was too keen on what else Vince had to say, too consumed with contemplations over why he was asking questions pertaining to me.
“Yes?” I urged. “What then did he say?”
Joshua ducked his head, the way he did whenever he was about to say something he thought was uncomfortable. Then he replied, “He said that so I mean I haven’t tasted your lips before…”
Sweet God Hallelujah! I thought. Vince said that?
Joshua was still talking. “I said no, that we haven’t kissed because we’re friends. Then he said that I’m dulling. And that’s when they left.”
My face was flushed and my entire body felt hot, in spite of the cool draft wafting in through the window next to me. A gamut of thoughts raced through my mind – about Vince, about his possible interest, about my lips, about his lips, about what all these could mean.
“Are you angry?” Joshua said softly, eyeing me like he couldn’t interpret my flustered expression.
“No, no, no,” I replied. “I’m not. Why would I be angry?” I laughed shortly. “No, I’m not angry.”
Reassured, Joshua nodded, and we carried on talking about other things.
Eventually, the bell for prep over was rung. And Joshua had to go fetch water, so we could return to the hostel. Naturally, we were supposed to go together. But I needed some time to ruminate over my thoughts of Vince and his questions. So I declined going to the borehole with Joshua, giving the excuse that I wasn’t feeling too strong for the trip. I told him I’d be waiting in the classroom for him to return, so we could go back to the hostel together. He nodded his acquiescence and left. And I was left alone to my thoughts amid the loud caper of my classmates.
A few minutes passed before the rustle of footfalls on grass and dried leaves intruded on my solitude. I looked up and at the window, and my heart leaped up into position and took off in a 100metre race before the ‘On your marks, get set, go’ instruction was finished.
On the other side of the window, standing under the argent wash of the moon, was Vince.
He called my name. But my mind was too intent on bringing my heart back to its original position to give me an appropriate response. And even if it had, my mouth was simply too dry to let the words through. So I simply stared back at him.
“Aren’t you going to say something?” he said with his signature crooked grin, which was really just a slight curve of his sensual lips.
“Hi,” I finally managed to say.
“I want to tell you something,” he said.
He gestured me to lean closer to the window. Evidently he wanted to whisper the something to me. I leaned sideways. He whispered the words. I didn’t hear him, and shook my head at him. He said them again. I still couldn’t hear over the din in the class.
“Okay, give me paper and pen,” he said.
I handed the materials over, passing them through the burglary proofing of the window. He bent over so he could write with the paper placed on his lap. Then he straightened and handed the paper back to me.
I read the words on it, and my heart that had just been recaptured broke free and sprinted off again. My mouth turned dry, as though Harmattan had winnowed off all the saliva.
The words I’d just read were seven letters: I want to kiss you right now.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Written by Pink Panther