AS I LIVE (Family Isn’t Everything)

AS I LIVE (Family Isn’t Everything)

Remember Bobby from the Before I Die series? Well, he’s back with a season 2 of his earlier telling of his journey through life as a HIV positive young man in Nigeria. This new set of journal entries goes by a refreshed title – AS I LIVE. Check on the entry below.

*

“Family isn’t everything

If I have to cut them off to be at peace

I won’t think twice…”

I quickly correct Roderick, whom I was having a conversation with that morning. He is inquisitive about why I want to leave my family so much, reminding me that “family is everything”. That saying is pretty much relative, if you ask me. When family becomes the reason why you don’t want to wake up in the morning, then there’s a need to re-evaluate the meaning of family and maybe post audition flyers for new family.

The misunderstanding, that morning, was just a minor one, but it had its effect. Its effect was the hay that broke the camel’s back.

The problem was the synergistic effect of previous misunderstandings, which have never for once, ended without Batman Mum making one barbed HIV comment. And just like the previous misunderstandings before this, she gracefully delivered her fat-lady-at-the-opera-closing-performance HIV quip. This time around, her words were – and I quote – “…you went and did the nonsense that you did, and brought down God’s punishment on yourself, and yet we are still training you, and you’re being stubborn.”

Before that, she had said, “After all the money we spent to train you in school, the appreciation you will show us is to come back home with HIV.”

The barbs go on and on, each one vying to wound my soul harder than the one before it.

Family is everything. That is what Roderick says to me.

Roderick: I can’t imagine life without my sisters and mother

Me: I can’t imagine life without my sister too. My brother, I can manage… My parents, I just want to bundle them up in a one-way jet and shoot them into space… We can keep in touch on phone.

Roderick: Bobby, please, just calm down. If you need time away from them, you’re free to come over to my place.

I say what I say to him like I am kidding. Inwardly, I really mean it. I really cannot do without my sister. Sometimes I wish she is my mother instead. I remember when I wanted to first leave the house; I intended to steal some money and leave. She caught me. She preached, cried, hugged me and covered for me. And at the time, I began to realize I had underestimated her ability to love unconditionally. She should be the definition of family.

Sometimes I feel like screaming till I am tired enough to pass out from cold reality. Other times, I want to pick up from where I left off, where my sister interrupted… I just want to up and flee. Even Jesse is in support of me leaving, even though he always manages to talk sense into me. No, he’s not my boyfriend, even he makes me get all mushy and gooey inside sometimes. He is like the gay version of Rowland. Jesse is like Nature’s way of saying, “Ah! Bobby, you’ve been strong for too long. Here! This will make you smile from ear to ear.”

I met Jesse at a point when I didn’t care about anything or anyone. Even the circumstance surrounding our meeting wasn’t indicative of anything this good. I’d received a mail from manjam that day; I’d received that mail like four times before that day, telling me I had 9 unread messages. I decided to go read them and have my peace. The messages were a couple of “Hi” “Hello” and “Where you at”. I logged in on Grindr, to behold over 12 messages; I replied the response-worthy ones. I can’t remember correctly if he chatted me up or if I chatted him up, but I know I talked with someone that morning, someone who seemed nice. However, I wasn’t interested in getting acquainted with him, because he was visiting, and I have this notion that visitors just want to score some ass before leaving the environment they’d travelled to. Somehow the conversation managed to go on. Somehow I got carried away, even admitting to him about my penchant for not keeping up conversations when I learn that the other guy is visiting. He didn’t get upset or anything of that sort; he kept on talking with me and I was actually laughing through most of the chat. We exchanged pins and agreed to lunch that afternoon. We had a good time, and a stronger connection evolved over time. But that’s a story for another day.

Jesse usually makes excuses for my mum, but surprisingly, he is in support of me leaving this time.

Jesse: You need to leave that house. Your first mistake was to tell them at all.

Me: I had their best interests at heart when I did that.

Jesse: I really don’t know why you had to do that when you should have known the kind of family you have. All you could have done is keep all your sharps away from their reach.

Me: I cook most of the meals at home. What if I injured myself, bled and had to throw the food away? My sister likes bursting my pimples… What if she comes in contact with my blood in the process? Generally I am careless around the house… In areas where I fall short, they need to protect themselves. These are some of the things I thought about before telling them.

Jesse: I understand all that. But the last thing you need now is an ugly depressing environment where you get stigmatized every now and then. Your mum is really annoying me right now. Ignorance is not an excuse anymore.

Me: This is one of the reasons I stopped writing my journal on KD. If I say all she does, she will be hated. I know she’s difficult, but she still has her moments.

Jesse: Just know I’m here whenever you need me, even if I’m far way.

Me: Thanks hon.

Jesse’s words resound in my ears. I begin to analyze how it would have been if I hadn’t disclosed my status to my family. Would I have infected anyone by now – by accident maybe? I had actually cut myself once in the kitchen while cutting veggies and I had to throw them away. If I hadn’t told them, how would I have explained that? The money for my tests… Where would I have gotten it from?

There is an upside to telling them, as well a downside. Which side weighs heavier?

One thing I have promised myself is to never let anyone or anything get me depressed anymore. Jesse talked to me about that before he left. But it’s a struggle to keep that promise. The endless contention is really beginning to wear at my psyche, and I cannot feel peace at home.

I have even been told that I get upset too often lately. I’m a mild-tempered human being, so I don’t fly off the handle too much. Apparently, that has changed. I can’t tell if it’s a result of the contention at home, or a consequence of the drugs I’m on.

Speaking of…

My parents signed me up for an experimental drug. I told my doctor friends about it, and they evaluated the therapy and returned neutral responses. One particularly said I should go for it, if it was the option available. After much thought, I agreed to it. Mostly because my mother would sing songs about it till I die of high blood pressure.

I can’t tell if this drug is causing the shift in my mood or the resentment of my parents. Whichever is the case, I am sure I want to stay away from my parents. There are people who have read my story. They have called me “brave”, “courageous” and a whole lot of other names for it. Is there then bravery to be found in the uncharitable thoughts I have about my parents? What about those who have placed some amount of faith in me? And a couple of others I have counseled about this? If I stay, won’t I lose my mind? How much value can I place on my peace of mind?

The moment of truth has come upon me. And on the heels of these questions plaguing my mind comes regrets. Regrets about ever telling my family… Regrets about ever being honest… Regrets about being “brave”, “courageous” and a whole lot of other names.

Family isn’t everything.

Do not tell me otherwise.

Family isn’t everything. They may very well be your undoing.

Written by Bobby

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21 Comments

  1. Francis
    October 16, 06:34 Reply

    Please what’s the name of the experimental drug? Are you taking it together with the normal antiretroviral drugs?

    The mood issue might be environment related sha as I get like that when in a thought hostile environment.

  2. Peak
    October 16, 06:45 Reply

    Wow!

    1st of all, I’m super thrilled that you are back.
    I need a couple of rereads to soak up this episode. Some parts of it felt like dèjà vu.

    Welcome back bobby **bear hug**
    (PP where the +++ journal at?)

    • Pink Panther
      October 16, 06:47 Reply

      I think Temi D has wrapped the series. I’m not sure. He was going for ten episodes, but stopped at 9. And I haven’t heard from him. So… *shrug*

  3. Mandy
    October 16, 07:07 Reply

    Lol. If Gad were here, he’d have a seeeerious problem with this post. Like, how dare you say family is not everything. Ha yu hinsane? 😀

  4. bobby
    October 16, 07:21 Reply

    well…like i said..its pretty much relative.

  5. sensei
    October 16, 07:25 Reply

    *sigh*
    Welcome back, Bobby. I’m actually at a loss for words. This world is a dark, cold place and is firmly in the grip of ignorance. I am a firm believer in humanity but I also have moments of despair. The real truth is that your parents don’t know any better. This is no way justifies their actions. As I see it, you have two options. First, run away like you planned. Second, find a way to cope and become insensate to negative comments. There is even a third option, you remain as you are. No option is easy. I wish you the best

  6. Dennis Macaulay
    October 16, 07:48 Reply

    Bobby my darling!

    I wish I could tell you that all will be fine but I cannot guarantee that. Hang in there sweets!

    I know you are resilient, I was one of those who was of the opinion that you shouldn’t have told them.

    The world is a horrible place, find a way to cope

  7. Chizzie
    October 16, 07:58 Reply

    I’m just going to start off by quoting from a Kacey Musgraves song.

    ” Family is family, in church or in prison.

    You get what you get, and you don’t get to pick ’em

    They might smoke like chimneys, but give you their kidneys

    Your friends come in handy, but family is family

    You might look just like them; that don’t mean you’re like ’em . But you love ’em! ” ???
    Oyah let’s join hands in a circle and sing along

    I just hope you don’t end this journal abruptly, defeating the purpose of you starting it in the first place, just like you did the last one

    • bobby
      October 16, 08:20 Reply

      would search for this song…love the lyrics already…

  8. Dennis Macaulay
    October 16, 08:15 Reply

    Family can be overated, but not always. Sometimes it is family that saves you from trouble, but sometimes same family throws you under the bus.

    I remember when my friend had a kito situation, his mom suppressed the case with a lot of money; made sure not one soul heard about it and I was in awe of her.

    However after the matter died down, then came the trouble at home. He did not hear the end of it; if he broke a plate it was because he was a homosexual who could not control himself, if he forgets to buy petrol for the generator? “Ehen if it’s to go and see your plenty men will you forget?”, and when he did not make the first batch for law school she said God punished him for being a dirty sinner.

    The home became toxic for him, we his friends stopped visiting and it went on that way until he escaped to law school and never looked back.

    So when someone says family can be overated, I don’t argue with them!

    • bobby
      October 16, 08:18 Reply

      Lmao…buh if it was to visit men i wont forget sha rotfl

  9. Khaleesi
    October 16, 08:18 Reply

    Welcome back Bobby!!! What can i say? You just have to forge ahead and somehow find the strength to go on … It wont be easy but you have no choice but to be strong for the alternative is too scary to contemplate …

  10. Jeova Sanctus Unus
    October 16, 09:17 Reply

    Family is whatever we want it to be. It isn’t about shared DNA. Some peeps are adopted, remember that. Just endeavor to do right by you.

    Your sister…that’s what love looks like.

  11. Delle
    October 16, 09:31 Reply

    Umm…hy Bobby! Guess all you said there isn’t fiction. I won’t say I’m sorry about your status cos pity is shabby. I really really dig your courage. For the records, I’m kind of new here so I didn’t know about you until now. Big ups bro, I never would have thought brave Nigerians like you are existent. Ok, enough rants

    Well personally, I really don’t think family is everything (yes, I buy into your view). The people you love the most are the ones that could hurt you the most if and when they set out to do so. I feel you should distance yourself from them (not detach yourself)…at least for a while. Absence they say makes the heart grow fonder. If you don’t take such rash decision, your mum will not recognise your value.
    In a situation like this, someone has to get hurt. It’s very cute how you feel towards your sister but damn that love for now and save yourself the depression. Family depression is the worst of its kind…take my word.
    Jesse is right, you should leave…at least for sometime.

  12. Max
    October 16, 09:44 Reply

    First, throwing away the veggies was unnecessary since they’ll still be washed and cooked and secondly your sister would only be infected if your pimple blood comes in contact with an open wound on her hands. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen any body with wounds on their finger in a long time.
    Paranoia is part of the reason you’re going crazy at home. Personally I think you should leave the house for now. And you’re right about family being over rated, sometimes they can be your undoing.
    Whatever negative remarks you get from family is the one that hurts the most, because you’ve spent your entire life with them. From the moment you opened your eyes to the time you spoke your first words, it has always been your family and that kind of bond is what makes rejection or resentment from them hurt the most. You basically live your life for them, to please them and make them proud and all. Thats why it hurts. The moment you start untangling from them(independence), it wouldn’t hurt so much anymore.

    Stay strong, I admire your bravery.

  13. Itz_Mztur JOJOARMANI
    October 16, 09:46 Reply

    hehhehe he broke plate coz his a homosexual, its like ha everywhere;last week i was complaining of slight weakness in my body system and mumcy was like “how won get sick when u press phone from morning through the night”

    just be strong Bobby! for yourself, your worth more than you think.

  14. Teflondon
    October 16, 12:04 Reply

    Bobby
    What can i say, that hasn’t been said. you are brave for sharing your story, its never easy leaving with HIV but one thing that kills faster than the disease itself is the stigma you experience.

    In as much as it pains me to say this, (as i am a champion of the school of thoughts that ‘family is everything’) It’s best you leave home for now. For your own safety (I.e thoughts of committing suicide) , Your peace and rest of mind, Most importantly you just have to do it for YOU. At this moment in time all that matters is your happiness and your family is not creating an environment for that, so its best you stay away for now. Trust me, If they did actually gave birth to you, they will try to reach out to you and make amends.

    At the the end of the day, all we can do is advice and support you with kind words but you will make the actions you seem appropriate for you.
    But
    Family is Everything. you just have to be in the right one. (Not necessarily have to be blood related.)

  15. iamcoy
    October 16, 12:39 Reply

    Bobby you haven’t answered Francis on the experimental drug. Those chemicals usually have their pros and cons.. The atmosphere around you is what you will it to be, family could be overrated but like in the song above THEY ARE FAMILY and should not be cut off totally because friends may advice but how many can sacrifice (I am watching Lamar Odom’s case closely, friends are tweeting but family is by his comatose side).
    I say you take a 2 month hiatus and return just before Christmas, it creates a longing for you by Family and makes it clear if your short fuse is as a result of the experimental drug or the tense atmosphere. #BeStrong

  16. ronniephoenix
    October 16, 16:12 Reply

    I support!!!!!!!!!.

    If I had a way to just disappear from them or something of that sort I would be the happiest person on earth.

    Can you imagine, my mom warned me she would actually cut my beautiful hair.

  17. Uziel
    October 17, 07:11 Reply

    You have:

    Option A: Run away and enjoy a better level of independence and handle the shit. However, (i) you might become estranged from your family and this might cause a rift that’ll never really mend or (ii) things won’t be so bad when you eventually return back to them. It’ll be uncomfortable, but bearable. This option seems less probable taking into account what I have perceived of your family.

    Option B: You stay put and grow a thick skin. You find a way to get a handle of the situation without really running from it. I’d get a job and reduce my financial dependence on them. This is completely different from moving out and just dejecting them. However, this option seems pretty hard. But it is the better than the former in the long run.

    Option C: You stay put with them and play larky while not really playing to their whims. They want you to visit prayer houses, you go. They want you to take experimental drugs, you do (as long as they aren’t overtly harmful). They want you to finish their sentences with ‘Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am.’ you do it. This might seem really hard, but I’ve come to find that it works best for someone in your position.

    In the end, the decision is yours, but choose the one whose consequence you can handle.

    Good luck, Bobby.

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