MY NAME IS DIMEJI (Part 3)

MY NAME IS DIMEJI (Part 3)

The highlight of the bus ride was that Kogi State is huge. We spent such a long time driving through that state. There was no traffic. The roads weren’t so horrible that we were going at a snail’s pace. But we were in Kogi for so goddamn long, I started to think the driver was taking the scenic route or something.

The trip as a whole was long as hell. We (well, only me. I was the only one who boarded in Lagos. Everyone else came on at Ibadan) left Lagos at 6:30ish in the morning. We reached the bus depot at Abuja at about 10 PM. I was tired and hungry and I hadn’t eaten all day, and an ATM had swallowed my card, and the mama put I’d wanted to eat at during a pit stop wasn’t accepting transfers, and the closest ATM was too far to walk to, so I couldn’t transfer to my other bank account and use that card.

We’d stopped in Abuja because it was too late to continue on to Kaduna. We were going to have to stay the night here. I was disappointed. I really wanted to make it to Kaduna that same day. But there was nothing to do. So I stayed. I called Seun, and he convinced me to call my mother in order to calm her down. I called her and told her where I was and that I was safe.

Then I sat down and was on my phone when my mother rushed in and grabbed me. It was a big shock to me to see her there, pouncing on me and snatching up my things. It turns out my parents had gone to the bus terminal in Lagos and begged the manager for information regarding the bus that was headed for Kaduna, and he’d told them that the bus would stop in Abuja that night. And so, my mother had gotten on a flight to Abuja to wait for me to arrive. She was at the other of the two bus terminals in Abuja, which is why I hadn’t driven up to her waiting for me.

When she went to talk to the bus driver, I swiftly sent Seun a text: “My mom is here.”

When she got back to me, she took my phone, made me show her my password. With all the courage I’d mustered to enable me go through with running away from home, whenever I was around my parents, I ended up being a scared child. When she demanded for my password, I couldn’t find any of that courage to say no.

She called my dad and spoke to him. She was supposed to take me to a hotel room but she was afraid that I’d run again while she slept. She said to my father something about sleeping with her head on my lap so that I wouldn’t be able to leave. She said this in Yoruba, because she didn’t want me to know what she was saying to my dad. I don’t speak Yoruba very well. Actually, I barely speak it. But I understand more than people assume. And everyone in my family frequently assumes I don’t know what they’re saying when they speak Yoruba around me, but more often than not, I do.

After her conversation with my dad, she tried to preach to me but I wasn’t having that; that was all my ‘bravery’ was good for. I spent the rest of the night sitting there in the bus terminal, staring into darkness, hating myself for even thinking it was possible for me to get away from my parents – and all the while, held prisoner even here by my mother’s head on my lap as she slept.

I would have still managed to leave, just pushed her head gently aside and fled, but my bags were locked in the bus and the bus driver, who she’d briefed on the circumstances surrounding his passenger, was very much on her side. I suspected that if come morning, I became defiant enough to not want to go with my mother, he wouldn’t let me back on the bus. Since the things I was running away for basically boiled down to religion, education and sexuality, the bus driver – and everyone else in the coming months who were told about this whole thing – heard what my parents wanted them to hear: that I was a spoilt child whose actions were rash and unfair to my parents, and no one wanted to hear what I had to say for myself.

In the morning, we went to the airport. An acquaintance of my dad was the one who’d been chauffeuring my mother when she got to Abuja. During the drive to the airport, my mother told him an abridged version of why I’d run away from home, and he, like the bus driver, heard what he heard and carried on a conversation with my mother about how stupid I was.

As they talked, I thought about those words again: I’d rather die… And I spent that drive to the airport searching for the courage to open the door and roll out onto the freeway so I could do just that.

I almost cried at the airport while we waited to get checked. I was devastated by how completely my plans had been ruined, and I didn’t know how to feel. I wished our plane would crash.

We landed in Lagos and we waited a bit before my dad came to pick us up. Then we went home. When we got there, my dad turned to me and gave me a hug. He said he was sorry. That he didn’t realize what I was going through. That he felt that he had betrayed me because “I’m your father and I should have known.”

This was not what I’d expected.

He had a meeting to go to, but he said we’d talk when he got back.

I had to leave my laptop in my parents’ room per my mother’s instruction. She was with my phone still. I had a bath. I ate some food. I still had those internships, so I used my laptop to attend to them in my parents’ room.

My dad came back eventually. We talked. I spoke my mind; this was one of the very few times I was ever able to with them. I talked about how I didn’t want them to keep wasting money on something I hated so much that it (among other things) made me want to kill myself. About how I was sure it would be a waste anyway since I didn’t need it and would probably fail again if I was sent back to school. About how I was pretty sure I needed therapy. How I didn’t believe in God anymore. How I was gay and how that wasn’t going to change.

He listened. He said his piece too. He said he had heard but I was still going to have to try. Try school, try religion, and – even though he didn’t say it – try heterosexuality. But we’d be understanding of each other along the way, he assured me. It was just trying; we didn’t have to lie to ourselves.

I didn’t believe him, but I decided to keep an open mind. I would try. I would do school and I would read the bible, and maybe something would change.

I was hopeful again. There were however a few requirements from my parents for this new exercise to work. I couldn’t use Twitter or any social media platform to contact any of my friends. We were to “keep it in the family”. They would keep my phone but I could have my laptop (because of the online internships). I really thought that even though I’d failed in my attempt to run, I’d still gotten something out of it. Maybe I didn’t have to run anymore. Maybe we really could just be a family that understood each other.

I said it before. I’ll say it again. I was not very smart.

Written by Dimeji

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5 Comments

  1. Delle
    April 30, 08:16 Reply

    Whoosh!

    Dunno how to feel about this. The manipulative tendencies of parents shaa, if we start to talk about them…

    *sighs*

  2. James
    April 30, 11:13 Reply

    I actually don’t know how feel about this too, but ur dad is an amazing human.. I got goosebumps when u said he gave u those hugs..

    • Pink Panther
      April 30, 15:01 Reply

      Remember how he ended this episode. He believed but he wasn’t very smart. Lol

  3. Mitch
    May 03, 09:19 Reply

    I am relieved your mother came to get you! You were not thinking straight, never make hasty decisions like that. And yes if you keep saying you are not very smart then it might just come through.

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