FINDING DIMEJI (PART 2)

FINDING DIMEJI (PART 2)

Previously on FINDING DIMEJI

*

After the awkward experience with his mother, Dimeji and I began to relate freely once again. Weirdly, we grew even closer and practically inseparable following the dreadful episode. This new intimacy led us to connecting more emotionally and Dimeji became more vulnerable with me. He exposed me to the exact state of emotional, physical, psychological and mental abuse he was suffering at the hands of his parents for being queer and a nonbeliever. His disclosure made me empathetic towards his very pathetic plight. The toxic environment at home created by his parents exacerbated Dimeji’s mental health issues and pushed him further into depression. As expected, the poor lad reached his breaking point and began to consider taking his life. Thankfully, he didn’t. He couldn’t continue to live in that house anymore, and when he first intimated to me of his plans to run away to the North, it didn’t come as a surprise. He wanted to be as far away as possible from home.

As soon as Dimeji shared with me his desire to ‘escape’, he sucked me into his world. His admission forced me into making a tough decision; remain just a friend and watch events unfold from a safe distance or become an active participant and help him plan the great escape. My savior-complex kicked in and I selected the latter option.

What swayed me into assisting Dimeji flee from home is still a mystery to me. Perhaps his courage made me reflect on my own perceived weakness. Or maybe I still had feelings for him. Either way, I put my neck on the line for him. As Dimeji and I strategized his escape, the fear of getting caught began to overwhelm me and I grew cold feet. I didn’t let him in on my apprehension though; I was too concerned with keeping up appearance as a good friend. I was particularly wary of his mother’s threat about “untimely death” hence I decided to play safe by duplicating copies of all his relevant travel documents as well as saving screenshots of our conversations. I did this to ensure that, if peradventure things went sideways, I could easily absolve myself from any sticky situation. In recollection, that decision was a good call as all our plans crumbled like a stack of dominos.

Dimeji may have been three years younger than me but he was much more audacious. For a young man with a melancholy persona, he was pretty boisterous and resolute in his quest for freedom. He was on the verge of attempting something many have imagined but only a few had accomplished. Dimeji was prepared to fight homophobia, in his own way. He was set to leave his oppressors, to emancipate himself from parental slavery, to break off the societal shackles, to face the odds, and most importantly, to assert his will over his life. He was so bold and yet, in my opinion, so naive. Dimeji belonged to a fairly affluent middle-class family in Lagos. In lay man’s terms, he was an ajebutter. His parent’s financial muscle was sufficient to shield him from the harsh realities of life and the struggle of the average Nigerian youth. I was confident that Dimeji could not endure the unbearable hardship he was sure to experience if he eventually escaped. As a young man with no financial support from his parents, and one who was both unfamiliar with the Northern terrain and unable to communicate in any Northern dialect, I feared Dimeji was no better than a silly cow going for a vacation at the butcher’s shop. Although he had worked out a reasonable plan to generate income, he did not possess any social skills to assure me he could survive in the new habitat he planned to run away to. To me, he just wasn’t ready to leave paradise for hell. I persuaded Dimeji to reconsider his decision or at least the timing of the escape so as to enable us plan better, but I was too late. He had already disconnected his mind, body and soul from his home and was prepared to struggle for his independence at any cost.

Dimeji eventually picked a date for his escape, a cold Wednesday morning in early October. The night before the D-day, we went over the plan one final time to tidy up the loose ends. It was a modest yet delicate procedure; he was to leave home in an Uber around 4 am, stop over at my estate to pick me up, and I would accompany him, as I had suggested, to the park to board a pre-ordered bus heading to the North scheduled to depart by 6:15am.

The night was long and seemed like it would never end. As the darkness went on, a niggling fear lingered in my heart. What the hell are you getting yourself into, Seun?

It was too late to retreat; I had crossed the proverbial Rubicon. Dimeji was too anxious for me to burden him with my sudden tale of reluctance, so I retained my part as his co-star in the blockbuster horror movie. As I prepared to go to bed, my heart bled for Dimeji who was by himself, all alone in his room. In the morning, he would leave behind his life and his entire family to pursue a new one in a foreign land. His mind must have wandered around the earth that evening as he prepared to stay awake all night to ensure everything went according to plan. In that moment, I also spared a thought for his young siblings who I had come to know. How would they react to the news of their brother’s sudden disappearance? I wondered.

After confirming Dimeji had packed everything necessary for his trip, I helped him revise a farewell note intended for his parents. The note, a compelling literary stroke of genius, was composed straight from his heart and contained the reasons for his actions. Amidst a shroud of angst and uncertainty, I eventually succumbed to sleep around midnight. It turned out to be a short-lived rest as barely two hours later, there was fire on the mountain.

The sky was still dark and sinister when the piercing sound of my ringtone jolted me from sleep. It was Dimeji calling. Still very much lethargic, I greeted “Hello” with a yawn.

“Hello, Good morning Daddy,” Dimeji responded.

Wait, what? My lethargy disappeared immediately.

“Daddy,” he continued, “the security man won’t let me leave the estate. He said he wants to speak to you first.”

Ehn? Speak to who? Hold up! Daddy? Security? Ei, what’s going on?

“Here’s the phone,” Dimeji was saying as he handed it over to his estate security personnel. “My father is on the line; he wants to speak with you.”

Ah! Temi Bami! Tani Baba e?

“Hello, Good morning sir,” the security man greeted with a pinch of respect.

It took me only a split-second to switch into character. Drawing from the reserves of all my acting experience, I cleared my throat and responded in a calm and intentional voice. “Hello, what seems to be the problem?”

“Sir,” the security man said, “sorry to disturb you o, but I just want to confirm what your son has said.”

I said, “Yes, that’s my son. He’s travelling back to school this morning. Any problem?”

“Not really. Sir, but don’t you think that it is a little bit too early. Why not let him wait until it is four of five in the morning, it would be safer that way.” There was genuine concern in his voice.

The security man made a valid point, I admitted to myself. But what was I to say? I only just found out that “my son” was leaving home at 2:30 am, and not 4 am per our agreement.

“He has to be at the park on time,” I finally explained after what felt like forever.

“Okay sir,” he conceded. “If you say so.”

In the background, I heard Dimeji add a few more lines to corroborate his ‘father’s’ testimony. Still unconvinced though, the security man interrogated further.

“Are you there, sir?” he asked.

“Yes, I am here,” I responded.

“I’m sorry to do this but… can you please tell me where your house is in the estate?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Your address, sir. I want to know your house address.”

Ehn? I panicked and immediately ended the call. What the hell just happened?

I became very upset at Dimeji for this sudden turn of events. Helping him runaway is one thing; lying to some unknown security personnel was totally different. I didn’t sign up for that. This was meant to be easy for me; I was supposed to be just a passive observer in his escape. Now, he’d pulled me in deeper than I wanted to be. I was still furious with myself and Dimeji, when another call came in. The anger in me rapidly turned into horror. Dimeji’s contact was on the Caller ID, but I wasn’t sure of who was on the other side of the phone. I decided to take no chances and ignored the call. For all I knew, the security man could have grown suspicious, marched Dimeji back home and reported the incident to his folks who were now trying to contact me. Dimeji’s contact called a second time and then a third time before I vigilantly answered.

“Hello, Seun, it’s me,” Dimeji’s familiar voice came in through the phone’s speaker. It was the tonic required to temporarily calm my nerves. He sounded very anxious on the phone as he began to probe me. “What happened? Why didn’t you pick up? Are you there? Where are you?” he fired.

“I am still at home.”

“Okay. We are on our way.”

“We?”

“Me and the Uber driver.”

“Okay. I’ll meet you at the bus stop,” I said before ending the call.

At 2:4 5am in the morning, everyone in my house was well asleep. I tiptoed my way to obtain the house-keys before sneaking out through the backdoor to meet up with Dimeji. As I trudged along the quiet, dark and lonely streets leading out of my estate, I realized just how incredible the entire escapade was. That call had cemented my participation in whatever was going on. In that moment, I decided to put my foot down and do something I should have done a long time ago: take charge.

When Dimeji called to inform me he had arrived at the bus stop, I said in a firm voice, “Dimeji, end the trip. Come down from the car and cross the bridge to the other side. We need to talk.”

He protested, reminding me that this detour was not on our itinerary. But I stayed adamant. He grudgingly conceded when he must have noticed the chill in my voice and my refusal to argue with him. I reached the bus stop to meet a distraught and shaken Dimeji struggling under the weight of his traveling bags. He was shivering like a single, desolate leaf in a storm. His hands were trembling and his breathing was stifled. I quickly pulled him into my warm embrace and held him until he was moderately calm. I lent him a hand with the bags and together we located a little dark shed by the side of the road to sit and talk. A strange and unfamiliar tranquility enveloped the immediate vicinity of the bus stop; there was not a single soul in sight except for the homeless man who lay deserted on a bench. The surrounding was stark, bare and empty, a perfect setting for the uncomfortable meeting Dimeji and I were about to have.

***

On the phone, I divulged everything I knew about Dimeji and his whereabouts to his parents. I took them on a trip through the nooks and crannies of my controversial relationship with their son. I started from the very top, from our interactions on Twitter using burner accounts to the infamous WhatsApp incident and finally to his disappearance from home.

“A few weeks ago,” I said, “Dimeji told me about his plan to run away from home, saying he was depressed. I tried to persuade him otherwise but his mind was made up. He explained that he was having suicidal thoughts and needed some space. He booked his trip and planned his escape all by himself. I only gave him advice.”

My revelation was met with a blend of relief and anxiety on the other end of the call. I could hear Mr. Adeleke muttering in the background while his wife heaved a huge sigh.

Dimeji’s father then cornered me with a question I was not expecting. “Were you the one that pretended to be his father on the phone call with the security man?”

“Yes sir, that was me. I am very sorry about that,” I apologized.

He was not impressed.

“I have forwarded all his traveling documents in my possession to you and your wife on WhatsApp,” I continued. “I have also sent the farewell note he composed for you. That is everything I know. Please, I don’t want any trouble. I am so sorry.”

“Thank you, Seun,” Mrs. Adeleke said. “God will bless you!”

“Amen.”

“Uhm… before you go, Seun, please what bus transport did Dimeji take?’ she asked with renewed concern.

TO BE CONTINUED

Written by Orobo Hunter

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14 Comments

  1. Jake
    February 28, 07:21 Reply

    Oh wow. The thought that I still have to wait again is saddening 😭😭

  2. Seth
    February 28, 07:23 Reply

    Really curious as to why he chose Northern Nigeria. I have lived there and absolutely nothing will take me back. I have a feeling I know how this will end.*sigh*

  3. trystham
    February 28, 08:54 Reply

    It requires a drastic action? They are both mad. I’m sorry o.

  4. Zoar
    February 28, 10:56 Reply

    The Mum is already regretting their actions all along to their son….

    I just hope they bring this boy back to their lives and give him all the Love he needs.

    It’s a death sentence when the only people (Family) that should shield you from harm are the people actually causing the harm.

  5. David Kamdili
    February 28, 17:50 Reply

    Nice one @ Orobo Hunter. I hope this is our final wait

  6. Peace
    February 28, 20:38 Reply

    Ewoo chịm oo. This is both engaging and scary. I haven’t even touched my food. Plus I’m sweating. Dimeji nwa m ọ I hope you’re safe. Orobo hunter, Pele, I can’t even imagine how you must have felt.

  7. Mandy
    March 01, 07:16 Reply

    Reading this chapter makes me like this Dimeji even less than I did when I started reading the story. He is quite frankly one of the most selfish people I’ve ever known. My god. Just look how centered on his own situation he is, disregarding what he may be putting Seun through or how he may be endangering Seun. At no point did he even bother to ask Seun what he feels about the whole situation or try to find out if the person who is supposed to be his friend is even comfortable with the role he has put on him. This guy is just a self-centered prick.

  8. Good adé
    March 01, 16:58 Reply

    Nice one orobo Hunter. The way you captured each character is just beautiful and relatable. Like i can actually act out every scene in my head and put a face on each character. Thanks but give us more ☺️

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