THE PARANOIA IS REAL

THE PARANOIA IS REAL

One of the things you get as the person in charge of Kito Diaries’ editorials or the person behind the social media accounts of Kito Diaries is you become the hub of many people’s stories and experiences, both good and bad. When it is good, I find myself either chuckling or reacting with a feeling of warmth over the good fortunes of the owners of these experiences. When they are bad – especially in the cases of kito stories – I feel a range of emotions which vary from vexation and sadness to relief that I had someone else’s experience to learn from and a deeply-rooted paranoia that turns every association in the gayborhood into something potentially evil.

This paranoia was the reason I uninstalled Grindr and made myself a promise never to get back on it. This paranoia was the reason I began to get dismissive with hookup conversations that required me to step away from my comfort zone. This paranoia is the reason I don’t trust anyone new in my space – the reason why my friend visited me with his fuck buddy, and even though I had an errand to run, I wouldn’t leave the two of them alone in my house, not because I didn’t trust my friend, but because I didn’t trust his friend.

I read these much stories from various KDians and I find myself fashioning my life to learn from them.

Recently, that paranoia was put to the test.

I was scheduled to see a friend of mine at his place of business in Ajao Estate. This guy – let’s call him Morris –is someone I’ve known for years. We have an easy, trusting relationship. It was a meeting that would satisfy both our interests – I wanted to see him about some affairs of mine and he wanted to see me about talking to a ward of his, a young gay guy who he was rehabilitating after he was thrown out of his father’s house.

Morris’s place in Ajao Estate does not fall along the conventional route of the keke napep. So in previous times I’d been to see him, I’d usually just charter a keke to take me straight to the place. But that afternoon, I wasn’t feeling fresh wallet-wise. So I asked him to give me the directions to the place following the usual keke public transport. He sent me the directions on WhatsApp.

I got to Ajao Estate, got into a keke along with 3 other passengers, and off we went. According to Morris’s directions, I was supposed to get to the final stop, get down, and then proceed to trek through a series of rights and lefts to get to him.

But I started off by taking the wrong turnaround after I dropped from the keke, and predictably missed the first landmark I was to look out for. It was a hot morning and I was soon pissed as I began to realize that I was lost. So I called Morris and proceeded to express my displeasure over predicament. As someone who himself wasn’t very conversant with the area, he swiftly handed the phone to some other male who began telling me to calm down and try to ascertain where I was. But I was too aggravated to entertain any more redirections. So the guy said I should walk back to the keke final stop and wait for him to come get me.

When I hung up and began walking back, I suddenly began to get an uneasy feeling bubbling up from the pit of my stomach. I recalled a phone call a friend of a friend who’d been kitoed made to me, when he sought to narrate to me how he’d fallen victim. His story was the usual trope: chat online with a hookup, agree to meet hookup in his area, arrive at the agreed bus stop, and getting asked to wait for a younger brother to come pick him up. And the rest was painful history. I recalled his story and all the other kito stories I’d been acquainted with over the years, and how what most of them had in common was a “middle man” coming to pick the victim up at the junction.

But this is Morris, I told myself. He’s been my friend for years. He was the one who gave me directions on the phone.

Was he? a small silky voice whispered ominously into my ear. It was such a cold voice, I felt its shiver of apprehension slither down my spine. Was he really the one who gave you directions? the voice persisted. Think about it: you got the directions on Whatsapp. Anyone could’ve had his phone and typed those directions to you.

Yes, but the directions are to his place of business, I argued back. A place I’ve been to several times before, and not to some unknown place.

Yes, but what if he’s not around, the voice rejoined. What if he is not at work and some of his workers who have access to his phone and suspect the nature of your friendship with him are using this opportunity to lure you into a trap?

But I talked to him on the phone just now, I argued.

Did you really? the voice questioned. Was that his voice on the phone? Are you really, REALLY sure it was him you spoke to on the phone?

By this time, you can imagine how very unsettled I was increasingly getting. That bubble was turning into a furious churning, frothing as it rose steadily up from the pit of my stomach. I stopped walking and redialed Morris’s number, this time determined to pay close attention to the voice I would hear on the phone.

“Hello,” he answered.

It was him. Right?

I wasn’t sure any longer.

“Hello, Morris,” I said his name, just to be sure, to hear what he would say.

“Yes, just wait small, okay?” he said. “My boy is on his way to come and get you.”

“Um, okay.” And I disconnected the call.

I stood there, still not sure what to do or what the situation was. Just minutes ago, I’d been sure of where I was going. Now, I’d managed to double-talk myself into a bind of uncertainty. I mean, I’d just listened to the voice of who was supposed to be my friend, and I wasn’t even sure it was his voice.

I began considering my options, which were really not that many: I could just turn around and return home. Or I could just damn all this confusion and trust that Rainbow Jesus would not lead me into temptation. I thought about calling Morris again to let him know what was going on with me. But the thought of speaking out loud my consternation made me feel foolish. Besides, if it was someone else looking to lure me into a set-up, he wouldn’t up and confess if I told him on the phone that I was anxious about coming to see him because of my suspicions.

I gritted my teeth and finally came to a decision. My meeting with Morris was too important to just dump at the last minute.

I was going to risk it.

One thing helped me make up my mind: I’m neither afraid of getting outed nor cowed by the threat of police involvement. Some of the kito stories I’d read or heard of always had an element where the victim was subdued, not by the strength in numbers of his captors, but because they threatened him with an outing or with involving the police if he made any noise or tried to call for help.

If you make noise, we go tell everybody say you be homo!

Police station no far from here… We go carry you go station!

These threats don’t faze me.

As long as I was sure not to let myself get cornered into an enclosure, I was certain I’d be fine. If hooligans suddenly jump me, I would scream and shout for help with all the abandon of one who isn’t afraid of anyone knowing he’s a homosexual.

So I got to the stop and soon, my phone was ringing. When I answered, the person on the other end identified himself as the guy Morris sent to fetch me. The bus stop wasn’t a busy one, and soon we located each other. He started back the way he came from, and I followed after him, careful to maintain a great deal of distance between us. One time he looked back, saw how far behind I was, got a fleeting questioning expression on his face, before facing his front. I was wound up tight as I walked behind him, my muscles braced for a sprint at the first sign of trouble.

Eventually, we got to Morris’s place of business, and the guy disappeared through the gate. With a pounding heart, I approached the gate, got to the pedestrian opening and stopped. There was some noise coming from inside the bungalow: people talking, bodies moving.

If this was a set-up, surely I wouldn’t be left on my own at the gate, right?

Still I waited, wanting to hear Morris’s voice first. And moments later, I did. He had raised his voice to berate somebody. Something about the clear familiar timbre of his voice unclenched all the anxiety from my insides and I was smiling as I walked inside to meet him.

Written by Pink Panther

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  1. Michael
    August 18, 07:42 Reply

    Shebi it was this kind of paranoia that cost me a hook one time. Sigh!

    • Pink Panther
      August 18, 08:00 Reply

      ???
      I remember that story. Lol. Nawa o. The fear of Naija’s homophobia may be the beginning of wisdom, but it often gets in the way of small small blessings ?

  2. Queen Blue Fox
    August 18, 08:13 Reply

    I swear! I don’t even trust old friends anymore, it’s that bad. It’s crazy

  3. trystham
    August 18, 08:51 Reply

    And did u tell him? About ur irrational fear?

  4. Francis
    August 18, 08:55 Reply

    ?????????

    This kind paranoia is very much allowed biko. I don’t even trust people I’m close to that much anymore sef. So much hunger/jelox in the land to make person switch to the wrong side.

    If na me, there’s 95% chance I would have turned back. Last last na to apologize reschedule the meeting.

    These days I dread the whole “If I had known”. My dear you knew but made the choice not to listen to that voice in ya head ??

    • Pink Panther
      August 18, 09:19 Reply

      Aswear, e be like say that voice in my head was your own. At some point, I was thinking: “What would Francis do?” 😀

  5. Kritzmoritz
    August 18, 09:18 Reply

    LMAO!

    Chai. I don suffer.

    And you didn’t say anything? I would’ve planned one scary party for you.

    Meanwhile, we are moving to Akoka at end of this month. Sorry for the experience.

  6. Legalkoboko
    August 18, 10:06 Reply

    I pensively read through to the end. What a relief Pink Panther.

  7. Delle
    August 18, 13:27 Reply

    After I left Ajao Estate, I realised just how the much members of the community reside there.

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