MY NAME IS DIMEJI (The Finale)

MY NAME IS DIMEJI (The Finale)

Good people exist. No matter how much bad there is in the world, how many frankly evil people are around, how many tweets say it’s not true, good people do exist. I’ve met so many of them, and without them, I would be dead or in a much worse place.

I’ve met most of them on twitter, some on Slack, on Discord, everywhere else. And they’re always listening, advising, helping, everything. Good people.

At this point, after everything, it was a new year and I was hopeless. I’d slipped and my prophecy that this semester would be a failure was about to come true. I’d stopped finishing my school work and I had a load of unfinished reports. Fortunately, we hadn’t paid any school fees yet. It was an extra year and the way things were done was that school fees would be paid just before the exams and not at the beginning of the semester.

My problem with school (as simple as I can boil it down) is that I’d developed a hatred for it. And it made me supremely anxious. So, when I tried to do schoolwork, I would get overwhelmed and end up looking for something to distract myself with (a coping mechanism), and since I wouldn’t do the work, I would then get anxious that I’m not doing the work and to cope with that anxiety, I would once again distract myself and the cycle would ensure that at the end of the day, I’d still not done any of the work.

So there I was again, deer in headlights, not sure what to do, going with the flow, and waiting for the flow to stop going.

Good people were a bit more hopeful than me. That was how I was convinced to reach out to Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) and to The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs). The conversation with TIERs was cathartic. I knew there probably wasn’t anything they could do but it felt good to talk to someone. I had to pretend to go out to buy credit to make that call. And the conversation with the counselor from MANI was the same. It was good to speak to someone at the very least. Then there was the WhatsApp group, Loser’s Club, and all the people I could relate to. Good people.

Point is, I had in a few ways found a way to exist a bit less miserably than I normally would have been, even though I was still staring head-on at the rushing headlights.

And there were people trying to do more. They almost opened a GoFundMe for me. Good people.

But, I wasn’t very smart.

I was deleting chats periodically but not as periodically as I should have. I’d archive them so they wouldn’t be on the main screen, and that should have been enough. One day, my mother wanted pictures from my phone and I’d logged out of Twitter and muted all the notifications and everything, and that should have been enough. She found the pictures she wanted and I tried to send them to her, and right there, in the share dialog, was The Loser’s Club.

WTF, WhatsApp! Seriously, why would I want a chat that I’d archived to show up as a quick action in the share dialog?

I tried to quickly click forward, all the while hoping she hadn’t seen it. But she was right there beside me, and she had seen it.

“I saw Loser’s something,” she said, before taking my phone from me and navigating to my WhatsApp.

I thought she wouldn’t find anything. The archived chat button is all the way at the bottom. But then she searched.

Again, why the fuck would I want a chat I’d archived to show up in search? WTF WhatsApp!!!

And so, there it was. She found it. And she read my messages there. When someone asked, “Would you go to a safe house?” and I replied “Jeezuz, yes”, she turned on me with furious eyes and accused me with, “So you’re still talking about being gay?”

She read the messages with the MANI counselor. I’d told her (the counselor) that I’d contacted TIERs. “What is TIERs?” she rounded on me to ask.

“The Initiative for Equal Rights in Nigeria,” I answered.

“Heiii! So this is what you’re doing?” she exclaimed.

Then she went back to reading. She read everything.

Then she began talking, about how I was a liar. And how she was done with trying to get to me to be about god and not being gay, and so, all she was going to worry about now was school. “You finish the degree and I will have your bags ready and you can go and meet these people you are talking to so they can take care of you,” she said.

She called my sister. She said her piece to her. My sister wanted to speak to me. I said what I could to her. My sister said she still thought I should open up to them. She said I should apologize to our mom and she would calm down. I rehearsed the apology in my head for close to an hour before I went back to my mother’s room.

I didn’t make it very far through that before she interrupted me with what she had to say. That since I wanted to be a liar and “get fucked in the ass” (not my words, I swear), that it was fine. But her god-given duty was to ensure that I finish this degree, and she would make sure that I did. And after that, she would pack my bags herself. She wasn’t going to tell my father about any of this because he wasn’t feeling well at the time. And I was going to be the one to have to come up with an excuse for why she was taking my phone and laptop again.

Then she came up with her “fair deal”.

We – me and her – were going to draw up a contract. I would agree to finish this degree and then she would let me go (read: kick me out). And I would not just finish the degree but finish “well”. If I didn’t finish the degree and the school kicked me out, or if I didn’t finish as well as she wanted, she would enroll me in another school and I would start all over again. (This was ironic, because a few years ago, I wanted to start all over again, but they said, “We’re not going to pay for anything else”).

“And if I want to punish you, you will do the same course again when I make you start at another school,” she threatened.

Then she went on to say that if I didn’t do what she wanted, she would “make sure your (my) life amounts to nothing.” (I’m not paraphrasing).

I was going to have to draw up the contract myself because, apparently, that would prove that there was no coercion involved. (It’s only just occurring to me that the only reason for a contract would be if she wanted to take me to court. Did she intend to take me to court? Lol.)

This was her “fair deal”: Do what I want, or I will destroy your life. A queen of fairness; we luv 2 c it!

I was terrified and I believed every word she said and I was convinced that if I didn’t make it out then, that I would be trapped for the rest of my life.

The next day, she and my father went out and she didn’t hide my laptop properly. She left her second phone for me to use. There were a lot of things to do that day. My siblings had an outing. I made a tweet and I was desperate.

A good person saw it. The person offered me respite: a place to stay, somewhere to run to. Someone I didn’t know and had never interacted with before. If you were me, would you not run? Okay, maybe you wouldn’t. But I did.

I ran and I’m better for it. If only I’d been smarter and succeeded the first time. I’m sure that through all of this, I could have handled a lot of things better. But I’m only human, and not a very smart one at that (the self-deprecation must be tiring at this point). But I saw a possibility, one where I could thrive, and I’d be damned if I didn’t chase after it with every ounce of strength that I have.

So, someone offered me accommodation and that’s where I went. That’s where I’ve been since. And I’m doing okay. Might be about to get a job. I haven’t and will not be going back home. I have been communicating with them via email, mostly my sister. But that’s about it. For now, I’ve mostly closed that door on them and I’m not opening it until I’ve settled myself.

THE END

Written by Dimeji

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  1. Jake
    June 12, 06:00 Reply

    Wow. Deji please do what ever it takes to get your sanity back. It has been a long antagonizing period. You need to heal and just breathe. You’ll be fine. Till then keep being amazing. You’re a survivor!

  2. Ola
    June 12, 06:57 Reply

    Oladimeji getting your degree is also important if you don’t want to be a factory worker later on,if I were you I would have endured till I finish school and get my independence but whatever works for u tho.

  3. Jinchuriki
    June 12, 09:04 Reply

    I’m really sorry you’ve had to deal with all of this and I cannot imaging how tough and frustrating it’s been for you, I cannot even understand what it’s like to live like that, but it’s important you complete your degree and finish well, for yourself. This will give you a very good foundation. Of course it’s possible to succeed in life without one, but it will be really tough moving forward if you don’t have your degree. Please Dimeji. I implore you to complete your degree. One thing I can relate with is how school is a burden, but that degree, it is what sets us apart from a lot of people and it can set a lot of good things in motion for you. Again, please! Even if you must start afresh, please.

  4. Olly
    June 12, 15:52 Reply

    I’d agree with Ola on this one. On the other hand, you’ve been through a lot and could do with this space. Take time to heal. You need it. Always remember no one can break you unless you let them. I hope you feel better. Be strong.

  5. Ebube
    June 12, 17:50 Reply

    Dear Dimeji,
    Your story has been one of great many thoughts, emotions and feelings and for personal reasons, I feel everything you’ve put down here from the very first episode.
    I wish I could talk to you more often. Talking helps, trust me.
    But then, please heal. It takes time but it’s very possible and really important that you do.
    Please reach out via Twitter @ebube_iam

  6. Ikenuo Festus
    June 13, 11:07 Reply

    I followed your story religiously and though I didn’t have a similar experience, I can imagine what the feeling is. Mental & emotional injuries are more dangerous than physical injuries & setbacks. A friend only opened up to me today the hell he is being through in the hands of his aunt & her husband. I assumed they were his parents until I was faced with the reality today. He endured all of the abuses and only left the house yesterday. It is devastating and draining.
    However, where there is life, there is hope. There is no better version of you anywhere in existence. You are unique & the best of yourself. Nothing, absolutely nothing should be a determinate factor in your life’s choices but your overall happiness & growth. Endevour to heal & equip yourselve with the tools to success in life. If it’s a Technical school that works for you go for it; if a university setting, ride on. Just go for what works for you. I have lived by this principle & today, I am happy where I am. By October I will be 30,all I have been able to achieve, those used as a yardstick in comparism to myself are miles behind.
    Hold your head high & know that in this life’s journey, you are in no competition. There is no ribbon at the end of the tunnel for the first to get there. Be you, I trust you won’t disappoint yourself. You are stronger than you think. Feel free to chat me up if you so wish. If u find yourself in Abuja at any time, my days are open for you. @dr_tila my Instagram handle.

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