The Three Nigerians

The Three Nigerians

It’d already been a stressful day. I’d just finished quite the exam, the type you spend eight straight hours reading for and when it’s time to pen down what it is you’ve accumulated, you’re blank. After the exam, I realised I had no cash on me and decided to get to the bank before heading home. However my business at the bank wasn’t to be expedient; I had to go into the banking hall to queue up, seeing as the ATM machine was speaking in a language the hot sun wouldn’t let one understand.

I’ve always wondered at the beauty of the subconscious sometimes nudging one to the advent of something that’s yet to happen.

I was on my way to class a few days before this particular afternoon when I found myself absentmindedly thinking about how it’d been awhile since I was confronted on the issue of my sexuality. As an effete, these presumptuous confrontations are a common occurrence. Sometimes, they’re mild approaches; other times, they come in the form of harassment. I’d in fact gotten used to it. And so, the fact that it hadn’t happened in awhile was kind of strange.

I’m feminine. It doesn’t help that I’m on the slim side, so yes, I’m the hub of all the gay stereotypes. But why weren’t people side-talking whenever I spoke to them, I wondered. Had I burst out of my closet without even realising it? My friend, Mitch, would often say to me: “You never owned a cupboard, let alone a closet.” I entertained the thought that Nigerians were becoming a tad more open-minded. I mean, all that rainbow in shows like Scream Queens, Empire and HTGAWM had to be doing something to reset the homophobia in this country, no?

Anyway, back to that afternoon.

I was in the bank, quietly bemoaning my fate, astounded at the pisspoor banking system of this country. A cashier at one time actually made a call and chatted leisurely on his phone for several minutes when he clearly had a line of customers queued up in front of him. I stood there, way in the back, staring incredulously at him and wanting to scream.

I was too tired to remain standing in the queue, so I informed the girl directly in front of me that I’d be going to sit down in the waiting area of the back and that I’d be back when I see that my turn for service was close. She nodded her acquiescence and I went to locate a seat which I dropped into with a grateful sigh.

There were two girls seated beside me who were chatting and laughing. I took out my phone and focused on it, occasionally getting distracted by their chatter. Then I overheard the one right next to me say something about PANS. (PANS stands for the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigerian Students).

Oh, these girls are pharmacy students – these unserious-looking girls? Hmm, I thought caustically. Wanting to be sure, I decided to ask.

That was my biggest mistake of the afternoon.

“Hello, please, are you a pharmacy student?” I asked the girl right next to me. She was the one I’d overheard mentioning PANS, and she was the one I was looking at, clearly excluding her friend who was seated on her other side.

But the ‘bebeto’ of a girl who I hadn’t spoken to claimed the question for herself. Only she didn’t answer me. Instead, she shrieked, “Oh my God! You sound like a girl!”

I mentioned she shrieked, right? And this means her utterance drew the attention of a good number of people around us to us. I felt instantly mortified. I didn’t know what and how to respond. Was a ‘Thank You’ appropriate in this case? Yes, she sounded surprised and genuinely amazed, but was that all there was to her sudden interest? It wasn’t as though this was the first time I’d be hearing such observations.

Finally, I found the words to say. “Umm, okay,” I replied with a small smile.

Then I returned my focus on her friend, you know, the one I’d engaged in the first place, hoping my hint of dismissal wasn’t too subtle for the banshee to pick up on.

As it turned out, it was too subtle. She was in fact just clearly getting started with me. “I swear to God,” she spoke up again, “if you weren’t facing me so I could see your face, I would have thought you are a girl.”

I let out a short mirthless laugh and said “Okay” again, in that ‘Can you please stop talking to me’ tone.

“Sorry o, but I have to ask,” she said, shifting closer. “Are you a homo?” There was a hint of uncertainty in her tone, as though she wasn’t sure how I’d take the question.

I was taken aback by her effrontery. And a “Huh?” slipped out of my mouth.

Apparently thinking I didn’t understand her the first time, she repeated, “Are you gay?”

“And you’re asking because I sound like a girl or because you have a strong gaydar?” My temper was starting to fray. “Besides –”

She cut me off. “What’s that? That ‘dar’ thing you just said – what does it mean?”

“Never mind what it means,” I snapped. Realizing now that Ms. Garrulous had no brakes, I decided to get comfortable with the exchange. “Asking me such a question just because of my voice is quite stereotypical, you know that, right?”

She laughed briefly, genuinely amused. “It’s not just your voice o. Even your mannerisms and the way you handle yourself – so soft, so smeh-smeh.”

“So if I were loud and brash, that’d mean I’m straight?” I said sharply. I was seriously losing my cool with her.

“I just want to know because I’m sure you are the type all these gay people would want. You know, the way you behave is something guys, gay ones, especially like.”

Is this lady for real? I thought, astounded. “You seem so sure about what gay guys like.,” I said snidely.

She paused and looked me over with unwavering interest, gearing up to ignore my snideness and shoot another question at me.

“Wait, are you the only child in your family?”

I sighed before replying her first question and ignoring her second, “Being gay is not restricted to a particular kind of person. Even someone like Buhari could be gay. Muhammed Ali could have been gay, for all we know. You watch Empire, don’t you?”

She nodded.

“Well, from your reasoning, Jamal shouldn’t be gay. But he is. That’s exactly my point. It’s wrong to ask me such a question just because of my physical disposition.” At this point, I looked at the queue to ensure these she-demons were not going to make me lose my spot.

“Ehn, I know but…” Ms. Garrulous paused, obviously losing her train of thought. “Anyway, like I asked before, are you an only child?”

“Why do you keep asking that?” I said irritably.

“You seem like such a little kid. So fragile and delicate,” she said, smirking at me like those were supposed to be words of comfort.

“So I’m now not just acting like a girl, abi? I’m also like a child? Girl, you are confused,” I shot at her, tasting bile.

She reared back and got defensive. “No nah. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still the same thing I was talking about. You just seem so fragile to me.”

“By your own analogy then, you and your friend must be children, seeing as you are girls, right?”

At this, the other girl, the one who’d been quietly observing our exchange, choked on an abrupt burst of laughter.

I shook my head as I continued, “To answer you, I’m not an only child. I’m the first of four children.”

“Wow,” she said simply, looking like my answer had disproved something she’d believed in. she permitted me a few seconds of blessed silence, before pouncing again. “So do you have brothers, and if so, do they act like you, you know, voice and all?”

I felt insulted and retorted immediately, “Do you have sisters, and if so, do they ask the same kind of question you ask, you know, stupid and all?”

Her friend choked on another burst of stifled laughter.

She stared at me, looking like she wasn’t sure whether to be offended or not.

Before she could make up her mind, I continued, “Can I ask you a question? What’s the answer to that your question you asked about me being gay going to do for you and your life? I’m actually curious to know. If I’d said yes, what would you do? Call the police and tell on me? Consider yourself fulfilled for the day for landing such fodder for good gossip? If I said no nko, would that be it? The end of it? Or would you go on to debate with me over whether I’m lying or not? I’m just really curious to know how the question of my sexuality will affect your life.”

She opened her mouth and shut it, much like a fish out of water. Then she said, “Well, don’t be angry. Why I asked what I asked is because, you know all these gay guys are looking for people’s lives to destroy –”

“Are you serious right now?” I interrupted with a short bark of humourless laughter. I couldn’t believe this young woman. I was hungry, tired, slightly aching in the head; I couldn’t possibly add IQ reduction to such a résumé. Indulging this girl had been a terrible mistake, it just dawned on me. “They destroy people’s lives – how do you know this? I mean, have you had any encounter with them that resulted in you being this way?”

Clearly her life was a mess. I simply wanted to know if the gays were responsible.

“Haba na,” the friend, Ms. Quiet, finally found her voice. “It hasn’t gotten to that. How can you say that? All she’s saying is that these people think they are having fun, but it’s not fun. They don’t know what they want. If they see you now, they will think you are part of them, not knowing it’s just your nature to be this way.”

“Listen,” I addressed them, “there are all sorts of people in the world living their lives, good or bad. And oftentimes, they manage to live these lives without affecting others negatively. Now, something as relatively insignificant as someone’s sexuality doesn’t affect you in any way, so why are you so disturbed? I couldn’t walk up to you, a complete stranger, and ask you how much you have in your account. That would be a senseless thing to do. And it applies in this situation. Some questions, like the one you asked, have no base. And unless you have had direct contact with these life-destroying gay people, I don’t see why you should be worried for me. It’s not your priority, okay?”

“Hmm. You’re being so unnecessarily defensive, don’t you think?” Ms. Quiet said.

“Your friend was being unnecessarily intrusive, don’t you think?” I replied.

“See ehn, I’m not against you if you are gay o,” Ms. Garrulous snatched the wheel back from Jesus. “I was just asking a question because my mind said I should, and all these homo things are not good at all.”

“And I’m just telling you that you can’t go around asking people you’ve just met everything your mind tells you to do. It’s inappropriate. I’m 20 years old and you’re – what, twenty-eight?” She shifted uncomfortably in her seat as I continued, “But with what has just happened here now, I’d consider myself more enlightened and open-minded than you, because I know a person isn’t automatically evil simply because he or she is gay. People don’t destroy lives because of who they sleep with. I know a bunch of gay and lesbian people with very lovely personalities. Good people, a lot more well-behaved than you. You really should work on yourself. Reverse your attitude on yourself, ask yourself the inappropriate questions you ask people simply because your mind tells you to, and observe how they make you feel. It’d be a huge step towards self development.”

At that point, I looked again at the queue. The girl who’d been in front of me was currently at the counter, which meant it would soon be my turn to transact.

“It’s my turn on the queue,” I announced to my lovely companions with a bright smile. “It was nice meeting you girls. Bye now.” And I got to my feet, wagged my fingers in a small wave, and walked back to the queue, leaving the two Nigerians behind.

Written by Delle

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  1. Mandy
    July 16, 06:26 Reply

    Delle, shey you know you missed an opportunity to properly educate two ignorant Nigerians right there, right? You got too defensive, and let the chance to enlighten them slip by. The girls weren’t even antagonistic with their ignorance. in fact, Ms. Garrulous almost came off as adorable with her plenty-plenty questions.

    She cut me off. “What’s that? That ‘dar’ thing you just said – what does it mean?”

    See? She was primed for education and you just let your vex blind u to that.

    • ambivalentone
      July 16, 07:22 Reply

      You think? Have you EVER been on the receiving end of such unwanted attentions? Trust me, it is even more annoying than being asked if you are gay while making cases for gay rights.
      He dinnor even give u the complete trend of questions sef.
      “Oh my God. You act like a girl. Are you an only child?”God help you if you’re not.
      “Are you the last born?” That must be it.
      “Are you the only boy?” if the answer is still in the negative.
      “Did you grow up among girls?” That would explain ur weirdness
      “You MUST be closer to your mom shey?” with a certainty that brooks no argument.
      They start telling you about a million other ppl who act fem that they know when u do not fit in that stereotype.
      Trust me, its ANNOYING. No time to educate.

      • Delle
        July 16, 13:27 Reply

        Lol! It’s usually like that. But then again, I didn’t give them that aura to be so comfortable. Hunnay, I aint gat no time for unexposed chuwawas.

    • Delle
      July 16, 13:21 Reply

      See ehn Mandy, I totally understand what it is you’re saying but here’s the thing: in a situation where the girls are asking questions, not because they want to know to be enlightened, but because they are subtly trying to wrap their heads around what they term ‘abnormal’, the last thing on your mind is to indulge them.
      On a normale, I mean, very normal day, I’d have given then little bits on what the dar is (even though I don’t see how that is vital to their being). This wasn’t a normal day though.
      And no matter, there are these side emotions these girls exhibited that would tell you they were being snide in all that charade of being sweetly inquisitive. Not all can be described with words you know.
      I wasn’t there to discuss with them from their first countenance, given the chance, I’d have read them to filth without being coy like I actually was.

  2. Wiffey
    July 16, 07:27 Reply

    Mandy the educator… I’m sure you aren’t effeminate cause if you were you’ll understand that hearing that question from a stranger changes everything. At that point all you can do is bark or walk away but those girls were lucky the picked a defensive bitch an not a psychotic one that would have gone diva on their ass.

  3. Kainene
    July 16, 07:37 Reply

    Believe me sometimes these pple can be so annoying, and difficult to teach. its like one of my best friends telling me yesterday “its not like I’m homophobic or anything oo but I’m just saying there are steps your mother could have taken to prevent your sexuality” after my one and a half year of enlightening her after coming out to her and I’m like “somebody that went to school!” I swear with some people it can be like schooling a retarded 2 year old pre schooler.

    • ambivalentone
      July 16, 09:47 Reply

      Steps taken to prevent your sexuality like what??? Abort you??? Drown you??? Abandon you??? DITCH THAT BITCH!!!

      • Kainene
        July 16, 13:58 Reply

        My dear wait for it oo…she said I should hav been kept away from anything remotely feminine, I should hav been encouraged to mix more with “normal boys” instead of with the girls while growing up. Though it was subtle there was smth in her tone that told me she still feels there’s “hope for my salvation”

        • ambivalentone
          July 16, 14:21 Reply

          Can’t say I approve of your choices in friends. This one will kill you conveniently

  4. Nuel
    July 16, 08:03 Reply

    That was the best way to me too have handle d situation. Quite good.

  5. doe eyed monster
    July 16, 08:10 Reply

    “See ehn, I’m not against you if you are gay o,” Ms. Garrulous snatched the wheel back from Jesus.

    Hehehe, I swear KD writers ehn, lol.

    • Mandy
      July 16, 09:13 Reply

      That part killed me too, aswear! Lmao

  6. bain
    July 16, 08:27 Reply

    If a stranger asks,”are you gay?”,I’ll say”yes! U dinor know since?,oya wat will u use this information n do?”.

  7. Mandy
    July 16, 09:06 Reply

    Abeg yall should not vex. I wasn’t criticizing Delle on his reaction. And granted, perhaps because I’m not effete, I don’t know how irritating it can be to be asked stereotypical questions. I was just recognizing the opportunity that could’ve been invested in teaching her to unlearn the things she’s learned.
    My bad if I came off sounding like I’m diminishing the right to be mad at foolish questions.

  8. Mirage
    July 16, 09:45 Reply

    @Mandy guess u hv been seeing too many Hollywood movie!this was a real life situation and ur hormones are raging and I commend the writer for being genuine and not some piece I read here where their world is made to look perfect.

    • Pink Panther
      July 16, 10:52 Reply

      So when someone talks about educating homophobic people, he’s not being genuine? And his world is perfect?
      You must think very little of the Nigerian LGBT if you imagine that everybody’s reaction to homophobia is antagonism and defensiveness.

    • Mandy
      July 16, 11:10 Reply

      You’re quite funny, you know? What’s not real life about reacting with the need to enlighten someone when he acts ignorant in your face? If you think that’s just stuff for the movies, then I almost feel sorry for you. I wasn’t trying to put down Delle’s reaction to the girls. I was simply pointing out another narrative. Don’t take out your beef with any other KD writer on me biko.

  9. Canis VY Majoris
    July 16, 11:18 Reply

    Well this couldn’t have gone any better. Although an exit ‘avada kedvra’ curse would have made it perfecto!

  10. posh6666
    July 16, 12:21 Reply

    I really do wonder when Nigerians will stop asking such a really rude aND intrusive question.The truth is if you say no you are not they wont believe you,if you say yes you are a lot of them will actually think you are joking aND can’t actually have enough liver to admit it to them if it was true…

    The major question here is that why is it that it’s mostly girls that have such courage to ask such stupid questions?and how is such an answer important to their lives???

  11. posh6666
    July 16, 12:35 Reply

    I have met loads n loads of guys growing up some as really close friends while some as aqcuintance but even when deep in my heart I know i’m kinda girly which I have toned down majorly over the past few yrs hardly do they ever show any hint of making me feel different or ask stupid questions…

    Infact over the yrs it’s been me who has been curving them and kinda creating a wedge BTW us cos sincerely I just feel we no longer have anything in common…They wAnna ttlk about girls,football,smoke weed,drink alchohol,smash some bomb ass pussies which is super awks for me…

    I will just be there superbored wanting to talk about the latest show on E! ,some major fashion trends or cool LGBT movies or infact just day dreaming about whipping out the dick of one among them who I have crush on and just suck the hell ouuta his cock till he speaks out in tongues.

  12. geeluv
    July 16, 20:31 Reply

    that exam really do you strong thing…. lolz

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