LIVING AGAIN

LIVING AGAIN

We were both quarreling that day. Our voices were raised and angry. My voice especially, a sharp tongue scissoring the air, had not a single pause in it. How could I not keep talking? When I’d just found out that Chukwuebuka, my boyfriend of seven years, was still very much active on Grindr. And upon confronting him about it, he’d not only spat his admission in my face, but used his hand – the very same hands he’d promised to never use to destroy things in our flat again when angry – to shatter the TV screen with a punch.

“See what you have fucking caused!” he screamed at me, his hands now on his head.

It had taken us three-month salaries to get the flat-screen TV—a whole three months!

“You’re the cheater here, not me. This is all on you,” I snapped back as I dropped into a couch, my eyes on the cracks that had webbed their way across the TV screen.

Chukwuebuka was staring at the screen. Neither of us said anything for a while.

“I cannot fucking live like this,” he finally said, his tone sounding like he was about to cry.

I turned my face to him. He looked miserable, the way he remained standing in front of the television, bent over, his hands still hooked over his head.

Sometimes, like right now, I wondered why exactly I’d stayed so long loving this man, why exactly I couldn’t stop loving him even when he found ways to make doing so unbearable.

“You know you could just leave…” I half-opened my mouth to say that, my tone bitter. But then I shut my mouth, swallowing the words. Instead, I said with forced mellowness, “We will buy another one…maybe something a bit cheaper this time.”

I refused to respond to his claim that he couldn’t live like this. After seven years together, five of those as live-in lovers, I couldn’t live like this anymore.

But where do we go from here?

Chukwuebuka turned to face me. He didn’t say a word, didn’t even look me in the eye. He grabbed his sweater from the chair’s arm where he left it lying since last night when he came back from work, and with quick strides, he headed for the front door.

I didn’t try to stop him. With the storm of our fight passing, maybe space was what we needed right now.

An hour later, the loud persistent buzzing of my phone sent me falling off the couch where I had fallen asleep. As I struggled to keep my eyes open to focus on the phone screen, my head began to hurt.

It was my elder brother Tega. He was calling from America.

“Hello…” I said, rubbing the back of my head, the pain increasing with every slight movement of my neck.

“WhatsApp now,” he said, then ended the call.

 I had not even clicked on the app when his video call came in. I clicked answer. Tega’s thick Afro, tinted a bright blonde colour, appeared first on my screen, before he straightened and his bulbous, dark face came into view. His glasses were sitting, slightly askew, on top of his nose. He was holding up a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest novel, Americanah.

“I don finish am o,” he chortled. “I don read Americanah finish!”

“And?” I said, wondering why he felt he had to announce this to me, even though I was the one who encouraged him to read the book.

“Omo, Adichie finish work,” he said, flipping through the pages. “So now, tell me what you think.”

“I wish the book had a little bit more gay in it…I mean, Ifemelu was just too cool not to have any gay friends around.”

Tega laughed. “You homosexuals hardly leave any dick lying around for nobody. So yeah, Ifemelu probably might have been looking out for herself.”

“Fuck you,” I said, laughing. It came out like a strange sound, like I hadn’t laughed in a long time. The thought made me think about Chukwuebuka, and my eyes traveled to the wall where the clock told me exactly how long he’d been out.

“What does your boyfriend think about the book?” Tega asked, pushing his glasses up his face with one finger.

Just as suddenly as the laugh burst out of me, a sob choked my voice as I blurted out, “He left.”

“huh?”

“We had this big fight, and he left.”

“He broke up with you?”

“No. but he may as well have. He said he couldn’t live like this anymore.” Remembering Chukwuebuka’s dejected words felt like a shard of glass passing through a fresh wound.

“Oh, I’m sorry, bro,” Tega said with the same softness he welcomed the news of my sexuality when I came out to him a few years ago. “How’re you feeling?”

I sniffed, swallowing the sob. “What do you think?”

“Maybe it’s for the best,” he said. “In light of what’s currently happening in Nigeria, maybe you shouldn’t be with him.”

“What are you saying?” I bristled. “Chukwuebuka and I have been together for seven years. That’s not what you tell someone who’s been that long in a relationship, Tega!”

“I know –”

“I know you straight people have the luxury of simply going through relationships like it’s your god-given right, but homosexuals have to fight for every good thing they get. How many women have you told me you’ve claimed to love this past year? Three! Must be nice to just have love waiting around the corner for you after each breakup, but for someone like me, love means survival.”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying, Onome –”

“What! What are you saying?”

“Just last week, Goodluck Jonathan signed that fourteen-years bill into law. Shit be going down with all the ways that law has placed a target on you people’s back. Don’t you think it’d be wiser and safer for you to let go of some gay lifestyle, starting with not living together with a man?” His eyes stared beseechingly at me.

I knew he meant well. He couldn’t possibly see anything wrong with what he was doing, the older brother advising his sibling to be a little bit gay for his own good.

But that was just the sad part of it. That he’d think that the only way for me to live was for me to live less.

“So I should be less of who I am because Nigeria has proclaimed its desire for me to be invisible? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Listen, man—”

“I have a right to live too, Tega!”

He looked at me, his dejected countenance betraying how inadequate he felt in the face of my pain.

“You do, bro. You do.”

“I have to go.”

“Look, hey –”

I disconnected from the video call. I was about to turn off my phone when a text came in.

It was from Chukwuebuka.

I’m sorry, babe. I’ve deleted Grindr and I promise to not do anymore stupid hurtful stuff, like breaking our TV. I can’t live without you. I love you.

Tears stung my eyes as I smiled and texted back: I can’t live without you. I love you too.

A second later, his response came in: And yes, we will have to get a cheaper TV this time.

A gay laugh bubbled up from inside me as I read this. This felt like a fresh start, a new beginning. And this gave me hope, that in the midst of the terror that the government had unleashed on my community in the past week, we will live.

Written by Real Me

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14 Comments

  1. Delle
    June 07, 07:46 Reply

    Why. Is. This. Fiction!????😭😭😭😭

    • Mandy
      June 07, 11:48 Reply

      Because Nigerian gay men being in 7 year relationships before 2014 was not achievable? 😀

  2. Francis
    June 07, 08:42 Reply

    You people will get a cheaper TV or invest in low budget therapy? 🤔

  3. Wonda Buoy
    June 07, 10:02 Reply

    I’m starting to trust that most stories categorized as FICTION are actually not!

  4. Colossus
    June 07, 10:04 Reply

    Even though this is fiction, it’s the reality of a lot of guys. The ups and downs of relationships, the struggle to hold on in spite of everything.

  5. Mandy
    June 07, 11:53 Reply

    Tega’s misyarn is the reality of the relationship we have with some of our allies. They’re supportive. They’re kind to us. But every once in awhile, they betray how much their privilege has insulated them from our realities. To Tega, living in hiding, living less seems like the way forward in an oppressive society. But how can we live free if we continue to wait for when the society will stop oppressing us long enough for recognise our human rights?

  6. Realme
    June 07, 17:21 Reply

    I had so much fun writing this one😊

  7. Blehckzeen
    June 07, 18:11 Reply

    This was so fun to read. But God knows I don’t want a boyfriend that breaks things o😂

  8. T.Man
    June 07, 19:42 Reply

    This remind me of my supposed boyfriend and I. I recently came accros his baddoo profile.. Dude has his phone number written on it. I was disappointed and shocked,I confronted him why he will put his number on badoo but instead of being like Chukwuemeka in the story he has the guts to tell me his phone number has been there before we started dating like it made it better. I think I should write to you KD this time

  9. Oba of Benin
    June 09, 18:10 Reply

    you know, the havoc GRINDR have caused in relationship is quite overwhelming. I know my boyfriend is active on that crazy app making him susceptible to cheat on me which he does any way with concrete proofs after a good number of fight but at the end of the day (sigh)…….. i just cannot walk out of a relationship i have struggled hard to always keep on track. Once my boyfriend deleted the app in my presence only to download again in my absence thereby changing the yellow app to some calculator picture (you know all those powerful android phone).
    In short, i do hope your boyfriend deleted the app for good.
    Nothing beats self-reconciliation in any relationship.

  10. Raine
    June 10, 01:49 Reply

    I am not going to watch him break anything we contributed and bought in that house. If he is angry, he should go outside or we shout it out.

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