The +++ Journals: Entry VI

The +++ Journals: Entry VI

The dreams did not go away. If anything, they became more vivid and recurred more often over the next few days. I wanted to share what I was going through with someone… Daberechi, Josh, maybe even a shrink (I doubt we have those here, the closest option is probably Yaba left!). But I didn’t want to burden my friends with my worries. I did not want to go on and on like a broken record. I also believed that for me to fully appreciate and tell my story someday, it was best I lived through every emotion and torture on my own.

So I waited. I waited and waited. I prayed that as the week went by, I would be able to lose myself in the work and feel less guilty.

But things got harder because while I subjected myself to long hard hours and meeting crazy deadlines, I could not come home to get the ample six, seven hours of sleep I was used to. I was usually exhausted – emotionally and physically drained. The cracks began to show. I did not laugh as loud and as often as I normally would. Instead I found myself snapping at interns and submitting reports riddled with errors. I even got my first well-deserved memo. It did not help that I was avoiding Ma’ami’s calls, and that I learned an acquaintance I knew passed away from a strange illness.

By Thursday, I was a wreck. I should have been somewhat excited that the week was finally coming to an end. Yet I struggled to get out of bed, throw on some clothes and head to the office. Somewhere at a red light, I must have been so swallowed by my thoughts that it took angry toots and a few curses for me to jerk back to reality. In that very moment, I realized I needed to take charge, as I felt like I was going head-on towards my own destruction.

I remember Bobby of the Before I Die series once wrote an entry about compulsive behaviour and how he chased after an ice-cream truck down the road. The manifestation of my own compulsive behaviour was to make a U-turn and drive towards the house. However I decided against it, because NEPA, the torrid heat and my amebo neighbour would have only worsened my already crappy mood. So I decided to do something I’d always dreamed about doing. Spend a day at the beach on a work day!

The beach has always been one of my ideal chill-out spots. Perhaps it was because it was the only place where I didn’t have to make up any reasons for wearing tiny shorts. There were opportunities to ogle men in sea-drenched underwear. And whether it was a day out with the girls or alone time with that special someone, I always looked forward to the azure skies and endless stretches of golden sand. I believed that it would be a good place to sit down and have a good conversation with myself. And as I drove down the relatively traffic-free roads, listening to my Girl Power playlist, I felt somewhat lighter, even giddy with excitement.

I turned off the freeway and unto a dirt road. The bumpy path led to a deserted stretch of sand and waves Mr. Big and I had once discovered. For every Carrie Bradshaw, there is a Mr. Big. That one man who comes into your life and makes you question every doubt you had about happily-ever-afters and till-death-do-us-part. We had stumbled upon it by chance on one of those restless nights when it had been too humid to stay indoors. We called it Rainbow Cove, which I found cheesy but cute.

For the few months we were together, we spent many nights here, often just watching the stars and smoking blunts and being absolutely comfortable in each other’s silence. Those were the good ol’ days, before we went our separate ways, before I consciously allowed myself to drift from him because I was too scared to love him. Scared that one day he would succumb to family and societal pressure and settle down. He fought hard for us though, but eventually he had to let go. And I told myself then that it was okay and was what was best for both of us. But really, it wasn’t. I have often thought about how I should have tried harder. Tried to make it work and enjoyed it till it withered away instead of burning bridges. Perhaps one of our crazy plans of leaving Nigeria and starting a new life would have come to pass. Maybe if we were still together, I would not have set out down that wild path that eventually led me here. Perhaps I should have told him the last one before him left me pretty fucked up. And when he told me he had met someone new, perhaps I should have fought a little. I know that was all he wanted. For me to just try a little. So many perhaps and maybes…

Soon, I cleared off the road, rolled up my sleeves and trousers before setting out on my journey.

As I meandered my way to Rainbow Cove, I remembered the many times Mr. Big and I walked down these roads. Sometimes with his dogs, other times alone. We often held hands as we walked in the comfort of the shadows. He was the first man to hold my hands in public and although it felt strange, it was a good kind of strange.

The beach had changed. There were a few buildings springing up around its perimeter, few patches of wild flowers had grown before you get to the sand, and our hammock was no longer there. It also seemed like a few other people had discovered our little secret spot; perhaps it had always been known but since we had always been there at dusk, we had believed that it was only ours. There was a woman in a white garment praying to the sea and ringing a bell aloud. There were also a few hoodlums who seemed to be smoking weed. I was tempted to ask them for some.

I sat down beneath a dwarfed coconut tree and began to think of all that had been bothering me over the last few days. Firstly, there was the strong desire to migrate. Go far, far away and start anew. I would never have imagined that I would ever consider going away. I knew a few friends who had relocated to Amrika and other parts of the world over the years. Some had sought asylum, while others had gone to further their studies and simply never came back. And although most of them seemed to be faring well, I often prided myself that I would never be that person.

I, Temidire Durotimi Cole, daughter of the soil, would never be a second-class citizen in obodo oyibo! Ehn-ehn! Not for me.

But life has a way of kicking us in the butts and laughing at our strong beliefs. Relocating suddenly seemed like the best thing for me at this point, the only thing actually. I believed that if I was in another country, the guilt would not weigh me down so heavily. But I couldn’t go immediately. I needed to save some money and put structures in place before I could venture out into the great unknown. I told myself, in another year or two, I would have saved as much as I could so that I could explore this option more deeply. For now, I needed to deal with the present.

Another thing which was of great concern to me was how I was going to balance work and my new status. The healthcare system in Nigeria sucks. I hate going to hospitals, even private ones that have above average services. And the options I’d been presented with so far seemed bleak. Most of the facilities which offered healthcare for HIV/AIDs victims were not in my immediate vicinity and were run by the government. And they operated during such odd hours that it would mean that I would have to keep taking permission from my Line Manager to visit. And the more often I would have to visit (which would be a lot at the initial stages), the curiouser more colleagues would get and probe.

I had only been sick a handful of times, so if I had to keep going to the hospital every Wednesday for a couple of hours during work period, brows would begin to rise. I’d have to concoct an iron-clad excuse, because, of course, I could not tell them why I had to keep going. The Nigerian society is unforgiving and hostile towards HIV patients, even in the so-called Multinationals. I would have to rub minds with Daberechi on this one. I would also suggest to her that we – mostly her anyways – should start a project that would provide healthcare services for LGBT HIV patients and especially one that could provide these services on the weekends for those of us who needed to keep this under the wraps as much as possible. I also made a mental note to research on ailments serious enough for periodic check-ups in the hospital and learn as much about them as possible.

And finally, another big issue which I could not seem to get off my mind was the guilt. I needed to forgive myself for how careless I had been in the past. The honest truth, which is often easier said than done, is that no matter how much I beat myself up about who had infected me and the likely random hook-ups I may have infected, I could not change these things. It was already done. However, with this awareness of my status, if I still chose to bareback, then that would be something else.

What I desperately wished I could do was call the guys I had been with over a year or two and advise them to get tested. But I knew the grave consequences that could come with that. If they were positive, some may resort to blackmail. Others may not be able to brace up to face their new reality. I needed to be selfish with this.

And perhaps, someone out there might read this and think Mr. Cole is a jerk, but this was the best option for me. I could only ensure that I made a conscious effort to keep those around me safe, and talk to friends and loved ones as much as possible about safe sex practises. As for me and sex, I wasn’t even in the mood to see, let alone touch, any cock, even if it belonged to Idris Elba (Sorry Pinkie!).

I can only hope that whoever stumbles upon these entries will learn to always use protection, not share sharp objects, and whenever in doubt, get tested. And tell a friend to tell a friend. The more we share, the better we can help one another.

I decided to take a walk along the shores for a few minutes. The sun was getting hot and I was feeling parched. I came across a tree were Mr. Big and I had once carved our initials. We were high and feeling risqué on that particular night. It was still there, fading but still etched in the bark of the tree. A memoir of our love and one of the happiest moments in my life. I yearned to relive those days once again. And who knows, maybe someday, down the line, I would be privileged enough to share special moments with someone else special.

My phone buzzed in my pocket, jolting me back to reality. It was my colleague.

“Oga! Where are you?”

“In my bed…”

“Is today a Public Holiday, because everyone else did not get the memo!”

I laughed weakly. “No jaré. I wasn’t feeling too good. I need to see the doctor.”

Eiyaa, pele! When we said you should marry so that someone will be taking care of you and making you ofe nsala at home, you did not agree…”

I laughed again. More loudly this time. “I have heard you. Oya, find me wife.”

“You! Can you remember all the other dates I hooked you up with? Anyhoo, hope you informed your oga, as he has been barking like a rabid dog since moreeen,” she said in a mischievous whisper.

“Yes,” I lied. In my state of compulsive behaviour, I had forgotten to text the boss.

“Take care, babes, and get well soon… I cannot do all this work alone biko!”

“I will. Thanks for calling!”

I hung up the phone and sent my boss a quick text, including a ‘good morning sir’ at the start, so it would seem like I sent the text way earlier..

It was noon by now and I walked around a bit before heading back to my car. I was certain this was the last time I would come back here. I decided to head back home, but made a quick stopover at the supermarket. I bought a large tub of ice-cream and promised myself next time, I would buy fruits and vegetables as Daberechi had advised. Fortunately for me, there was no one at home when I got there. And there was light! Maybe the Universe wasn’t conspiring against me after all.

I turned on the TV and began watching Looking from the beginning again, while bingeing on my tub of ice-cream. And although I did not have all the answers, I felt better than I had all week long.

For that, I was truly grateful.

Written by Temi-D

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  1. simba
    July 14, 06:27 Reply

    One step at a time…it gets better with time…..
    I got confused,at a point thinking it was a lady,tht made the entry…

  2. Peak
    July 14, 07:31 Reply

    How one person can capture so much emotions in his writing still beats me. Every entry is more raw and personal than the last. Thank goodness I’m not a crying man, cos this journal is deep, but today’s entry is just too profound. #AFan #AStan

    Seriously are there shrinks around? Cos I’m seriously tired of sounding like a broken record.

    • Temi Cole
      July 14, 14:12 Reply

      Lol. Thanks for reading and not crying! And let me know if you find a shrink, I could use a session or two…

  3. kacee
    July 14, 07:53 Reply

    Wow i thought “Temi” was a lady. This journal is so……*wipes nose* is so depressing, My brother all is well…..pls take care of your self.

  4. Diablo
    July 14, 09:10 Reply

    Chasing after an ice cream truck, going to the beach on a whim, avoiding work for the heck of it …those are all impulsive, not compulsive. You’ll be ok

    • Temi Cole
      July 14, 14:05 Reply

      A stubborn me will argue that these actions are also compulsive which could mean uncontrollable, overwhelming and overpowering which were similar to what I was feeling… but yeah… impulsive is a better fit. Thanks!

  5. black
    July 14, 09:44 Reply

    Temi-D I feel your pain. I have two very close people in my life that have gone through the phase you are at now and while I understand you may have a different way of dealing with this kind of emotional pain, I would advice that you consider confiding in close family and friends. You see, sharing ones problem can really help not only you but those you share it with. My best friend and an ex-boyfriend are the afore mentioned people that went through this phase and it really helped that friends and family supported them through it. Getting love and support from the people you care about the most goes a long way to strengthen you for what is up ahead. What’s more is the depth of a mothers love for her child. I just joined this forum and I don’t know if you’ve confided in her already since I didn’t get to read earlier posts of your story but if you haven’t then I strongly suggest that you do. It really does get better with time, heck after a while you might come to understand its not as bad as you think it is. Worse things happen to people everyday, we all learn to live with what we have and make the best of our circumstances.
    To address the question about the availability of psychiatrist in nigeria, of cos we have those and support groups also for people with HIV/AIDS both for Hetros and LGBT people. I can provide contact details if you require them.
    I hope this helps. Do take care of yourself.

    • Temi Cole
      July 14, 14:43 Reply

      Thanks a lot. Ur comment is much appreciated. I hope u get to read previous entries, especially the one before this… I dealt with the relationship with my family and why I chose not to tell them… at least for now… I think I will eventually but not yet.
      This entry is a reflection of where I was about two months ago. It’s safe to say I’ve made significant progress beyond this and I’m much better. I hope that I get to share the sunnier entries here!
      I’d appreciate the contact details for the support group. I’m not there yet, but I’m sure eventually I will feel comfortable enough to sit in a support group. Pinkie has my details so you can reach me through her.
      Thanks a lot once again!

  6. Francis
    July 14, 10:45 Reply

    Thanks for the entry man. Like Kacee said, it’s quite depressing and even me sef wey dey see HIV patients daily catch fear. It left me wondering if adherence counselling is enough. As in why not involve shrinks in the HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention program. Then again we have to take to into consideration the low number of professionals in the country.

    It also reminded me I had a follow up HIV test to run sef given that I’m currently suffering my second cold sore in 2 weeks (Malaria and Common cold ish. Probably my enemies at work sef). Had to plead with the lab guy to run two tests instead of one and both are negative. 3 months to go and I’ll finally be rid of my HIV paranoia.

    I wish you the best on your journey and pray it does get better for you. *hugs*

    • Temi Cole
      July 14, 15:23 Reply

      Lol. I didn’t even know this entry would come through as so sombre o! But I’m glad most of them are gone. You are correct about incorporating shrinks into the program but lack of professionals and funding is a major challenge as I’ve come to learn over the past few months.
      I’m sure d cold isn’t a big deal but of cos you should always double-check just to be sure…

      • Francis
        July 14, 19:39 Reply

        @Temi: Yeah, funding is a big issue now. Most free services are turning to paid and our yeye government ain’t doing sh*t. I’m just grateful that the US isn’t pushing this war against discrimination of gays aggressively. HIV for turn malaria for Naija 🙁

  7. Kester
    July 14, 11:50 Reply

    When people in large cities like Lagos complain about the lack of places to receive help, support and treatment in private, I wonder what people like us who live in akwa ibom state would say. Please don’t make me believe the situation is that dismal. Lagos should be happening in every sense of the word. and here was I feeling I will relocate to Lagos at some point maybe I should just sit my ass down and make do with what is available

    • Temi Cole
      July 14, 14:00 Reply

      Lagos is not so bad. There are several facilities available. This entry was reflective of my state of mind and knowledge about two, three months ago. I’ve been able to find some services, they are not perfect but they work pretty well!

  8. JustMe
    July 14, 17:22 Reply

    Such deep emotions…..U will b fine, Sure u will, Stay strong

  9. MrFresh
    July 16, 00:19 Reply

    Temi …its well dear …it wld only get better …ur health is much more important and i really understand y u having mixed tots or feeling …u wld be fine

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