Previously on WHILE WE WERE YET KIDS: So they say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Well, try scorning a gay teenager, then you’d know how stinging his scorn is; about as stinging as a slap in the face. Oh wait, that already happened to me. When Kanu introduced his palm to my cheek!

*

I was by no means a queen bee as a secondary school boy. I had a clique of friends, sure. But even amongst them, I was not the most popular one or the one who commanded the spotlight. I wasn’t gregarious enough for that exalted position.

But there was something about an SS# boy assaulting his mate in full view of the entire school that turns the assaulter into a villain and his act a wrong one that must be addressed.

Kanu slapped me right there in the dining hall, and some hell broke loose. A swarm of SS3 boys immediately clustered around us, with my friends closing ranks around me, shielding me from the collective shocked stare of the other students. I was shaking. The imprint of the slap was burning against my cheek. Tears had pooled in my eyes, tears which in my effort to blink them back were slipping through my lashes and dropping like beads down my cheeks. I felt humiliated. My entire body was burning with mortification at the assault, rage at Kanu, and devastation at the death of my rep as a senior boy.

Some of the other SS3s who’d gathered around us quickly got confrontational with Kanu, and the ensuing ruckus alarmed the dining hall prefects so much that they swooped down on us and attempted to get us all to move the altercation out of the dining hall and over to the hostel. Through the melee, I caught Chioma’s bespectacled gaze as she stared apologetically at me. She appeared distraught that whatever she’d said to Kanu must have provoked him to lash out at me.

And she wanted absolution; she wanted it right there and then. So that as we all began to move out of the dining hall, she came after me, called my name to get my attention and reached for my hand.

“Get away from me!” I hissed, recoiling from her at the same time.

“I’m so sorry…” she said miserably. “I did not mean for this to happen…”

“Well, you should have thought of that before you opened your big mouth,” I snarled.

I couldn’t bear to look at her, and allowed my friends guide me away from her.

We got to the hostel, where the senior boys gave free rein to their displeasure with Kanu. Sharp words were shouted back and forth. Kanu was unrepentant about what he did. And that was okay by me. I didn’t want him to be. I’d prepared myself to begin hating him from then on.

Eventually, that turbulent night passed. A couple of days passed too. Life returned to normal, except that I was not speaking to Kanu in the hostel and I was not speaking to Chioma in the classroom. Otherwise, everything was just peachy.

Then one afternoon the following week, JBoy (yes, he was a dear friend) and I went to visit another close friend of ours in his hostel. (Let’s call him Buchi). Buchi was very popular, rich, the life of the party and a prefect. As a prefect, he owned his own room, a boxy compartment that adjoined his dormitory. Such prefects’ rooms were called box-rooms. (They were actually intended as storage for the boxes of students, but everyone preferred the iron-clad safety of their guardians’ homes to the doubtful security of the box-rooms)

JBoy and I were in the dormitory, approaching Buchi’s box-room, when Kanu emerged from the room, on his way out. The atmosphere instantly tightened. Words were not exchanged. Kanu didn’t look at me. I didn’t look at him. But JBoy stared daggers at him. (If anyone despised Kanu as much as I did over the assault, it was JBoy).

The moment we were in Buchi’s room, JBoy went straight to the point. “Come, Buchi,” he began, his eyes sparkling with fire, “I hope Kanu was not here to collect nyash from you.”

Before then, I’d heard talk that following my rejection of him, Kanu had moved on to Buchi. I didn’t bother verifying from my friend because I didn’t think it was my business. I was just that uninterested in Kanu.

“That’s what he came for o,” Buchi said with his signature throaty laugh.

“And you gave him?” JBoy bridled. “You two did it even though you know what he did to your friend?”

Buchi laughed again, unfazed by JBoy’s rapid anger. “Relax joor. Haba! Your blood too dey hot. We didn’t do anything. I told him no. I’m not a disloyal friend now. I told him he would have to apologize if he ever wants to see this ass” – he slapped his derriere lightly – “again.”

“I don’t want his nonsense apology,” I quickly interjected.

“Oh for sure, we don’t want his stupid apology,” JBoy added, incorporating us into one single injured entity. “What we want is for him to suffer small.”

“How do we do that?” Buchi asked, his eyes shining. He was always one for intrigue.

“Don’t worry, we’ll figure something out,” JBoy assured.

“Well, whatever you have to plan,” I said, “leave me out of it. Anything that concerns Kanu is not my concern.”

My tone was so emphatic that my friends took me serious. They didn’t tell me a thing. And because of that, when the story started circulating that all the boys in our set and in SS2, who bent over for anal sex in those hidden corners and empty parking lot and deserted dormitories, were shutting their legs against Kanu, I found the story too incredible to believe. But the story persisted. Senior boys were talking about it and sniggering. And Kanu was walking about with the kind of sour expression that only frustrated konji could confer.

Soon, I stopped finding the story unbelievable and joined in the quiet snickers, chuckling to myself every time I watched Kanu walk by, and imagining his dick was pushing against his fly, begging desperately for libidinous release. I enjoyed immensely the thought that he wasn’t getting sexual gratification from anyone, that there was such solidarity amongst senior boys to unleash a sex strike on the bad guy. I relished the thought, and every time Kanu and I walked past each other, I flipped my imaginary weave-on, silently letting him know who was responsible for his UKD (Unsatisfied Konji Disorder).

And then came that morning. It was the first day of our WAEC Home Economics practical, the first of the external examinations we were about to embark on. SS3s had returned to school from a short holiday ahead of the rest of the student body to commence with our practical exams, for both Home Economics and Agricultural Science.

That morning, I was standing in my white-and-blue, in front of the hostel, waiting for those of my friends who offered the same Home Management subject as I did (It was Home Management practical that day; Food and Nutrition was going to be the next day – or was it the day before? I can’t quite recall).

Anyway, as I stood there, inhaling the morning air and trying to keep memorized all the answers I needed to prove to the Homec invigilators that I’d be an excellent homemaker some day, I heard footsteps approaching. I turned with a slight smile, anticipating the approach of my friends.

The smile froze when I saw Kanu drawing up to a stop beside me. He was looking at me. I looked back at him. He really was a handsome boy, almost pretty in fact, with small eyes that had a perpetual bedroom look in them, and a tiny rosebud of a mouth that begged to be kissed. As I stared at him, briefly, I wished the circumstances between us were different: I wished that I wasn’t dating and in love with Vince, that I didn’t hate Kanu, that I hadn’t said no to him, that he hadn’t slapped me, and that we were friends.

I was thinking these thoughts when he said the words I least expected to hear from him.

“I’m sorry.”

I stared at him for a few seconds, absorbing his apology, feeling it reach inside to thaw my insides, to tease apart my tenseness, to unclench the muscles holding my face together into a rigid mask. I attempted a smile as I replied, “Thank you.”

If the apology was given because of a starving libido – as a couple of my friends teasingly remarked – that didn’t matter to me. Forgiveness was sought for, and forgiveness was given. Kanu and I got past all the antagonism and regained our acquaintanceship.

PS: We became such friends that when he asked, I agreed to impersonate him in his TOEFL exam a couple of years after we graduated from school.

PPS: Forgiveness didn’t come for Chioma until we met three years after graduation. We ran into each other in the university (we weren’t in the same school though), and she was so profuse with her apology that I, bemused that we hadn’t settled our past, accepted her apology at once. We hugged it out, laughed over old times, exchanged numbers, and went our separate ways, never to call each other.

Written by Pink Panther

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