A MEMOIR OF ALL THE MEN THAT HAVE BEEN

A MEMOIR OF ALL THE MEN THAT HAVE BEEN

FOREWORD

A Memoir Of All The Men That Have Been is a seven-episode autobiography that tells individual stories of the men that I have met in the last three years who have truly affected my heart in all the ways possible, most especially emotionally. I decided to pen this down mostly to get closure with these experiences that have in one way or the other shaped me into who I am and what I stand for at the moment and also, more importantly, to find peace. The urge to tell these stories came at one of the lowest points in my life because writing, especially for me, is therapeutic.

Reliving the moments as I wrote was more tasking than I thought it would be, but I had a good time putting it out. I hope you have as good a time reading it.

 

CHAPTER 1

FRANK

From a randomly-accepted friend request on Facebook to an active follower of my posts, Frank slowly but surely made his presence in my e-world known. It, therefore, was unsurprising when we began to get very chatty on Messenger.

It was 2017 – two years after I had broken up with my first and only boyfriend. I was then a final year student in a challenging citadel of learning somewhere in the East and a soon-to-be 21-year-old homosexual man. The year seemed promising and I had a lot planned for it. Top on the list was leaving school with a good grade. After five grueling years of studying Engineering, that was all I needed to gift myself with. In other words, I was not looking for the complications that seem to be attached to relationships. Or situationships, for that matter.

But then Mitch, my bestie and roomie, would tell me to loosen up and “live a little”, and I thought hard about it. This school had sapped so much from me; did I really want to go through this final year stressed out?

And so, when Frank came along, with the insistence of someone not looking for something fleeting, I was wary. I engaged him while making sure to not be emotionally drawn in. If he got the message I intended, he did not let on because no sooner had we begun chatting, than he asked for my contact. I reluctantly gave it to him but would go on to not pick his calls. I only answered when I felt like it.

However, he was not deterred and his persistence paid off, because we soon began to regularly talk on phone even more than we did chatted on Facebook Messenger. He sounded very pleasant; his deep voice always sent thrills through me at the sound of his initial “Hello”. Frank was also very talkative. He always had something to say, and I, who is usually the garrulous one, soon assumed the position of listener whenever he rambled. Oh, but I enjoyed his rambling. It was especially delicious when he would switch from English to Igbo. The way he spoke Igbo was like a well done traditional meal garnished with the finest spices, and I lapped it up with relish.

When he called me “Obi m” or “Asa nwa”, I felt my cheeks heat up, not just because of the frankness I could hear in his words but also because of how his tongue made those pet names sound so beautiful.

It was easy to like him and easier to understand that he liked me too.

Then he began ending our phone conversations with pregnant pauses, like he wanted to say more but couldn’t. I would always hear the ellipses, his repeated “erm, Delle…” and naturally, I would prod and probe, but he wouldn’t say whatever I knew he wanted to say. This new development was even more unsettling because Frank was not one to stumble for things to say.

One night as we talked, the hesitance crept into his voice again and I could hear him fighting through his words. This time around, I resolved I was going to get it out of him. Clearly, it was something he wanted me to know and I felt he should trust me enough to say it.

So, as he stumbled and tried to move past it in his usual fashion, I pressed on. “Can you just tell me what you want to say already or do I have to come over there and beat it out of you?”

He laughed but I could tell it was forced.

“Anyone hearing you say this now will think you can beat me,” he joked.

“Maybe I can’t but I can listen to what you have to say,” I replied, refusing to be distracted.

It was a long pause that followed. One that had me checking my screen to be sure I had not lost him.

Then his voice came through. “I am HIV positive.”

My first reaction was going to be to laugh that “but it’s not a big deal” kind of laugh. But then I realized he might not take that well. I honestly did not know what to say to him and did not think he needed placatory words. But one thing I knew was how I felt.

I mean, I had figured it was something along that line when he kept dismissing my attempts to get to what was on his mind. So, hearing this now wasn’t entirely a shocker.

He was already saying something about understanding if I have an issue with it and want to stop talking to him, when I cut him off and told him the truth: I had no issue with him being HIV positive. I told him we could be together and if it did not work, it would not be because of his status.

It was particularly sad that he would think I would decide to throw all that we’d had together away, irrespective of the duration, on account of his status. I was already an avid KD follower at that time, a space whose stories about the struggles of poz guys, I hoped, had made me open minded about this issue.

HIV cannot coman stop me from having boyfriend biko.

And it did not, because two days after I was done with my first semester exams, on his request, I was on my way to his school. It was going to be a five-day holiday for me, a period during which us spending time together would determine whether we wanted to be together. For me, I just wanted to love and be loved, to know what that felt like again. I was not thinking about what would happen after graduation or how feasible it would be to date someone who resides in the East.

I was, like Mitch had lushly put it, living a little.

The person who came to pick me up at the park was a looker! Now, I had seen his pictures on Facebook: legs that go on forever, a skin that told of good hygiene and special care treatments, and a smile that could make the sad happy. Still, when he came to the park, I could not help but gawk and somewhere deep in my head, I said, “This is my man.”

Frank would go on to be one of the most caring men I have ever been with. A guy who despite his many engagements – and he had a lot of them, seeing as he was also actively involved in his church in addition to being a medical student – found time to cook our meals. He would come back from lectures with either biscuits or ice cream or cakes. He knew what I loved (I am a sweet tooth) and he got them for me.

I have to put this out there: I did not think, until then, that I could put on weight. But Frank fed me fat! Literally.

The sex was great. He was spontaneous and although I am such a helpless planner who likes everything prim and tidy, I delighted in his spontaneity. As regards being tidy and clean, he scored an A+.

But he was not perfect. I mean, who is, right?

He was really loud – the kind of loud where he’d wake up early in the morning and dash out of the room to the middle of the compound to scream for his lodge-mates to wake. I did not like that. I did not complain though because I did not think it was my place to, but I honestly did not like it.

He was also helplessly talkative. He had something to say about literally everything. It was so much that sometimes I developed a sore throat because my own talkativeness was trying to keep up. I did that until I could not and resorted to being an active listener. Spared my throat.

He was also very popular. Which was not a surprise seeing as he was an active church person, an overly social individual and pretty much into getting attention drawn to himself. I remember so many times, on our way to the school’s cafeteria, stopping because my to-be boyfriend had to say hello to Sister Chinyere or discuss briefly with Brother Paul. And I would stand apart from them, trying to be invisible but failing miserably at it because he would not let me. As a matter of fact, there were times he would chide me for being too anti-social and I would tell him in simple terms that I was friendly enough to respond to their greetings and he really should not expect so much from a first-time visitor.

I liked that he was emotional enough to cry when we watched movies together (hyper-masculinity is a turn off and Frank was miles away from that), but I hated that he loved to watch one movie twice in a space of hours and even wanted to analyze each scene.

Urgh!

On the fifth day, after he had seen me off to the park and waited until the driver moved, I began to reflect on my stay with him and hated myself for paying more attention to his flaws. That was when the reality of distance dawned, and by the time I reached my destination, I had made up my mind on what I wanted to do.

We couldn’t be together.

But how could I tell him this without him thinking it was because of his HIV status?

I talked to Mitch about this, who all but called me Lucifer for not giving the boy a chance.

Two days after I returned to school, I told Frank.

And he expectedly brought up what I feared he would.

“Would I have had sex with you if that was an issue for me?” I countered.

He seemed to ponder on that for a bit and my heart broke when he pleaded that I reconsider, almost thawed when he suggested I take more time to think things through. However, I knew long-distance relationships would not work for me and tried to explain this to him.

We ended up being good friends, and when he eventually started dating someone, I felt only good vibes for him. Sometimes though, I would find myself wondering if it was the long distance that discouraged me or the fact that I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship.

This brought me right back to where my mind was at when the year started: to not let myself get entangled in any emotional complications. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to be with anyone.

I held on to this reason –

Until the next boy came along.

Written by Delle

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9 Comments

  1. Mikey😘
    November 18, 07:57 Reply

    Your own is better they come one by one, it seems they come all along and then disappear, since February I’ve been single and I can’t seem to find what was flooding my dm.
    Great read, I enjoyed the story

    • Delle
      November 18, 11:52 Reply

      Lol. It isn’t like I wasn’t meeting guys in-between these ones, these were the ones that had the most impact in my life and on me, as a person. They were more…pertinent?

      Thanks for reading 🙂

    • Malik
      November 19, 10:07 Reply

      They all come and then disappear… 😄😄

      If this ain’t the truth.

  2. Realme
    November 18, 09:14 Reply

    Ah !
    Frank for me
    Was everything dreamy and rare!
    WOW

    • Delle
      November 18, 11:53 Reply

      Lol. I’m sure he is. To your credit though, he is dreamy 😂

  3. Good ade
    November 18, 10:19 Reply

    “until the next boy comes along’ i am coming my love!!! Lemme freshen up. Amazing write!

    • Delle
      November 18, 11:54 Reply

      Hahaha. Hurry dear. I’m waiting impatiently 😏

  4. Mitch
    November 18, 10:49 Reply

    Chelukwa!!!!

    I have been misrepresented!!!!
    I want a lawyer!!!
    I need to sue!!

    • Delle
      November 18, 11:56 Reply

      Oh shut up, Millipede! Shouldn’t you be glad you were ‘represented’ at all? 😂

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