Previously on MY NAME IS DIMEJI…
I met Seun on Twitter, and everything happened very fast. I was basically new to being out of the closet in any capacity. And I was not very smart. (Remember this: I was not very smart). I went to his house to see him after we’d just been talking barely a week – an act of recklessness which we both acknowledged. But I was excited to know him in person.
I didn’t know what I was going to his house for, and I didn’t know how to feel when I left. We talked; that was nice. I’ve found I enjoy talking. Just sitting, or standing, or walking with another person and talking. It’s a lot less boring than it sounds. So, we talked. Then we danced. Then he kissed me.
Joeboy’s song, Baby, was playing. I really like that song. “Wetin be that. Nothing I can’t do for ma bebe, ma bebe…” Love it.
I don’t know what to say about the rest. I…I didn’t “know things”, lol. I still don’t know things. And I didn’t really have much time to think about it after, since I was rushing back home for prayers (we were supposed to fast that day). I missed my bus stop on top of all that and had to walk, and walk, and walk.
He and I were supposed to try. And I wanted to try. I was trying. I was afraid trying wouldn’t be successful. But he wanted to try and I wanted to try. And I was excited. And I wasn’t very smart.
Smartness – or a lack of it – is a theme here. Sometimes, you feel hopeful, and then you let your guard down. That is why I told them everything, multiple times. That is why my mother walked in on him and me video-chatting with me topless. That is why I didn’t think to delete my chats before handing her my phone (which belonged to her before me, so she still had some stuff on there), because privacy is a real thing that totally exists in a Nigerian household, lol. I wasn’t very smart.
And, as such, the spiral began.
This was all during break. School wasn’t in session. I’d gotten an (unpaid) internship at a place in Lekki. I turned down a couple of other (paying) internships because this one was from a pastor in my church (not smart, see?). Next semester was going to come eventually. And I was pretty sure it was going to be as horrible as the last one. There were courses that I was sure I wouldn’t be able to pass, and as such, my motivation for school and my performance were steadily going down the drain. I didn’t want to go back. What would be the point?
An idea is like a disease. You catch a bacteria cell and then it feeds on you and multiplies rapidly. And sometimes you’re in some environment, exposed to some conditions that work to help the bacteria thrive. That’s how it was.
I wasn’t very smart but I did manage to get a partial scholarship from Shell back when I was in 200 Level. A hundred and fifty thousand naira a session. And I’d forgotten about it completely, and then, I got the email to “send your bank details for payment”.
An idea began to grow in me then. Infected me, you might say. It’s not a lot of money but it could last a while, possibly. And I’d had all those job offers that I had to turn down; so it was in the realm of possibility that I’d be able to get other offers.
It was a wink of a dream, but there I was, thinking I could totally just pack my bags and go away.
I tweeted about it. And a friend, Uzo, reached out to me and asked about it. He lives in Kaduna. He said, “Kaduna is cheap, a lot cheaper than Lagos.”
Well, wouldn’t it be kind of unsafe? I wanted to know.
“It’s not as dangerous as you think,” he reassured me.
The plan was hatched. He’d look for a place that we would rent together. We’d put money together so we could survive for a while. Then job hunt. I was not very smart but I was not useless. I once got an email from some foreign company looking for “young talent” after they saw my Github. So, yeah, I had capabilities. And I was in two online internships that would result in certifications; so that’d help my chances.
It was real, but it was still…slow. It wasn’t supposed to be so rushed. But something else was afoot. The next semester that I dreaded had already started, and I was trying to ignore it. But my parents were becoming worried about my seeming nonchalance and wanted to start getting things sorted out regarding school. I was going to have to start dealing with that soon.
It was going to be an extra year, so it wouldn’t be straight forward like a regular semester. This meant that we would need to see some school officials. One day, my mother asked me to check for my school fees on the school portal. I checked, and it was expensive. Private University is of course expensive. And I know what it takes my parents to afford it. I was also sure that I was just going to fail again and that scared me. I couldn’t let them waste that money. I couldn’t let them waste it on me.
So, my plan to run had to be fast-tracked. Uzo had already found a place. I paid for it. I got a bus ticket. I had my plan ready. It was all good. It was all happening.
I told Seun because my mother knew him. It would have been silly to think that he wouldn’t have been contacted the moment they noticed I was gone. I told him and that was meant to be the end of it. But he’s a good person so, as good people often do, he tried to help. To his own detriment.
It was crazy, half-thought and risky. He was worried, justifiably so. We talked about it every day until that day – Wednesday, the 40th Wednesday of 2019.
I had my bags packed. I’d laid out the clothes I was going to wear. I’d pre-booked the uber that would take me to Seun’s. I was prepared for everything except the anxiety. Waiting is tasking, as everyone knows. Patience is a virtue few people possess. I can be patient sometimes, but not often. And I was afraid.
Getting caught would be The End. I couldn’t afford to get caught. I was jumpy. I heard someone in my parents’ room wake up, and that heightened my anxiety. So, I took my stuff downstairs.
But I was still afraid. So, I carried the box and bags out to the gate. I dressed up in the living room and I couldn’t stop cringing over how noisy a simple activity such as putting on my jeans was.
I was still supposed to wait, but I was afraid. So I went to sit outside. I could wait there.
Then I heard someone use the toilet in my parents’ room, and that was kind of it. I couldn’t wait any longer for fear of getting caught.
I cancelled the preordered uber. I got a new one. I picked up my stuff and started the short trek to the estate gate. I had trouble with the security guard, who was justifiably suspicious because of the time I’d chosen to leave. He said I had to call my dad. I was kind of miffed, but what else could I do. I changed the name Seun’s number was saved on my phone to “Dad” and then I called him, because I thought he would be asleep, and then I could say, “See, I told you that he’s sleeping.”
But the ringing phone woke him up.
I was lucky that he quickly understood what was happening when I said, “Hello, daddy”. Otherwise, that would have been an early and tragic end to my escape.
That snafu at the gate was soon resolved, and I was allowed to leave.
Seun had asked that I stop at his bus stop, so he’d accompany me to the bus depot. The company would be nice; I really didn’t want to do this whole thing alone. But at his bus stop, he said to let the uber go so we could talk. Inconvenient, but still okay. Not a big deal. Then we talked through the whole risky mess of it, and that was cool. I do enjoy talking to people.
Then I was supposed to go, and he said he wasn’t going to be able to follow. That was fine. I was supposed to be doing this alone anyway. He’d helped so much already. But there wasn’t any transportation. Uber after uber cancelled. And did O-Ride ever even work – because it never worked for me. I didn’t realize that I’d transferred any aggression there. I was honestly trying, in my frustration, to not make it seem like I was angry at him, because I wasn’t. I was just frustrated. I should have made that clear.
Eventually, I found transport. There was no time for goodbyes. I had to leave quickly. I messaged him later, once I reached the bus depot, before turning my phone off.
And I was ready to leave to the rest of my life.
Written by Dimeji