THEN, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

THEN, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Let’s tell a story. A story where you found Him, that Him that they say completes you, and he happens to tick all of your boxes. Let us say the story begins where you don’t jump into the relationship like the jumping broom rule at Caribbean weddings. Instead, you take your time, be acquaintances first, and then friends, and on one of those ordinary days while you are both taking a stroll down the estate where you reside, He looks you deep in the eyes and gets quietly emotional – so emotional, the look sends electro-romantic waves through your entire being, causing you to throw an arm around His neck and tell Him that you feel Him too. It is the closest to a public display of affection that you both can attempt out there.

Not long after, you both reach some agreements. You both do not want half-assed things. You both are tired of hooking up with other men. You both want to grow and be responsible for somebody else who is not family but is willing to be. You are both willing to unlearn, learn and relearn, hence, the birth of Us. We.

What if it blossoms past five months, each day posing its own challenges and bottlenecks and breakthroughs – and you wax stronger? And times when you cannot be together, you recount your daily experiences over long phone conversations or chatversations. Amid all the lovey-dovey interactions, there are arguments, disagreements and make-ups. There are quarrels that are resolved over kisses and chocolate bars or steamy sex or a treat. Things are not perfect, but the going is good.

Then there are mutual friends, and His friends that you know and your friends that He knows. He takes you to his home, you meet His father who has no worries, or is just not-so-attentive. Not giving you the look or wanting to know who your father is. You think His mother is super cool because she is aware and super understanding of her son, and by extension, she is accepting of you and rooting for the both of you. You meet His older brother, who is back from the States on a visit; this is the sibling who had a long talk with their father about acceptance on His behalf when He came out some years ago. You meet His sister, pretty, and either mildly homophobic or just doesn’t like you. His two younger siblings get your phone number; they frequently chat you up on WhatsApp and make you promise to visit and play card games and monopoly or scrabble with them. You begin to join whoever is in the kitchen to help prepare meals for the family.

His family is great and accepting, a stark contrast to yours who you have kept in the dark about your sexuality.

But of course, now that you have met His family, He has to meet yours. You take Him to your own home, introducing Him as your best friend. He doesn’t mind; He understands. Unlike His father, your father pumps Him full of questions, wanting to know what He is doing and who His parents are and where He comes from. Your mother is socially awkward and barely talks to him, instead dragging you to the backyard to hiss questions at you over why you’d bring your friend home when you should be bringing your girlfriend.

This first meet is not an entire disaster, but it isn’t an entirely pleasant one either. But He insists on coming again and again, joining you whenever you visit your family, because He wants your parents to like Him as much as His does you. And eventually, they do, with your father frequently chatting with Him over bottles of Guinness as they discuss football and politics, something you wish you could do with your father but never could have because you had absolutely no interest in those subjects. Your mother also takes to asking you about Him whenever you visit without Him, asking you to make sure you bring Him along during the next visit.

Your first anniversary gets here, surprising you with the fact that at one year, this is officially your longest relationship. You celebrate with a date night, some gifts and intense sex afterwards. The second anniversary is celebrated in an even grander style. He presents you with getaway tickets to the Philippines. You have never been out of the country, and your parents are ecstatic when they learn of your upcoming trip. Your parents – these two who do not understand boundaries – further embarrass you by calling Him to shower praises and thanks on Him for being such a good friend to you.

By the third year, He makes the move to ask that you to move in with Him. You hesitate at first, not because you do not want that, but because you are not sure about this next level of your relationship. You are afraid. You’d heard of relationships that crashed and burned when the partners moved in together and suddenly realized that they couldn’t handle that much of each other. You are also afraid of what people might say about two young men living together.

But He was so charming, so sure. He talks to you about never wanting to spend more time apart from you than is necessary. He tells you the opinions of people outside your relationship do not matter to Him and shouldn’t matter to you either. You allow yourself to be convinced, and with mounting excitement, you both move in with each other, into a bigger apartment with a guest room.

A few months down the line, you make an even bigger commitment to each other by starting a business together – a unisex salon in the heart of town. You’d always wanted to be an entrepreneur; He just wants to make you happy. The business begins to boom, slowly acquiring a solid reputation about town. This emboldens you to take up a second partnership with another entrepreneur, a female designer, to make bespoke clothes for events, and to style celebrities and politicians. This expands your business chain so much, you quit your day job so you can focus on being a full-time entrepreneur, while He maintains his own job and carries on being a silent partner.

What if after eight years together, He gets tired of your parents thinking He is your best friend who you live with? His family knows you both are in a relationship and they have been very supportive. Why not yours? You are scared, pressured even, but you know He is right. It is unfair to Him. Your parents should know the truth. So you spend a weekend in your parents’ home, and on the Sunday, you come out to them. You tell them everything.

You didn’t expect immediate acceptance, but you didn’t think they’d be so intensely close-minded about it either, with your mother wailing and dramatically throwing herself on the ground and your father enraged and even wanting to get physical with you. You are their only son, they remind you with their anguish. How can you fail your family name like this?

You end up leaving the house abruptly as it is obvious that your continued presence is causing your parents pain. But they are having none of this, calling you on the phone to demand for your attendance at a family meeting of angry uncles and aunties who have been waiting to ask why you have decided to shame them instead of bring home a girl, even with all the money you are making. The meeting is unproductive, ending with you angry and the rest of them just as upset. Privately, your mother begs you to reconsider, to get away from the evil influence of Him – this same Him who she had extolled as her second son all those years past is now her enemy. Everything you try to explain to her falls on deaf ears as she insists that you move out of “that house” and come with her for deliverance.

He knows what you are going through and is full of encouragement for you. He even gets His mother to speak to yours, from one mother to another. He is so sure it will work. It doesn’t. In fact, it escalates the situation. You learn from Him that your mother was very nasty on the phone, calling His mother an evil woman, a devil’s incarnate with no morals at all for daring to be proud that she has a gay son. You’re told your mother had wished death and an afterlife of hell, torture and gnashing of teeth on His mother and her household, and ended with a warning for her to keep her satanic son away from you.

You are both mortified and inflamed. You think about His sweet, kind mother and you are flooded with shame over the thought of such a woman being on the receiving end of your mother’s venomous diatribe. You call your mother to vent, but she is steadfast in her belief that “that woman” deserved it. The next time you visit His family with him, you notice a coolness in His mother’s interaction with you, and it breaks your heart to think about how your family’s poison is ruining your relationship with these beautiful people.

But the situation only gets worse. Your father visits His parents’ house with your uncles. They are let into the house when they express their desire to talk with His father. But the situation escalates when your people get quickly angry, demanding for His father to get His son away from you. It takes a phone call from His father to his uniformed friends to get your people thrown out of his house.

You are appalled when you hear this, but your shock is nothing compared to your reaction to the fact that this drama had somehow found its way to Linda Ikeji. The celebrity blogger splashes the news all over her page, prompting other bloggers to pick it up and exacerbate the mess. The scandal has all the ingredients: homosexual lovers, Nigerian parents and a backdrop of the society’s homophobia. Your names are on everybody’s lips, and your business suffers for it. Some of your super-rich clientele cancel their business with you and you find yourself making a refund or two.

Your life’s work is bleeding, your life is bleeding, and eventually it all starts to affect your relationship with Him. There are now weeks of silent dinners; there are no pillow fights, no massages, and no boisterous conversations about the state of LGBT politics in other countries. The kisses you exchange are stiff and you both find yourselves struggling through the passion of your lovemaking. He moves into the guestroom with the excuse that He needs the space to work at night, but you know it is a lie. The pall of your parents’ furious disapproval is falling over your happiness with Him. And every time you look at Him across the breakfast table, you wonder when He is finally going to do it, to tell you that He can no longer be with you. You wonder how He will do it, if there is any way He will do it that will make it less painful, make your heart break in fewer pieces.

You reach your breaking point when something that shouldn’t affect you so much happens. You are in a parking lot, when a woman, a random stranger, walks up to you and starts accusing you with how selfish and wicked you are for rubbing mud in your parents’ face, how she’d rather be childless than have a son like you to shame her.

This woman doesn’t know you. She doesn’t know what your life is like. She doesn’t know your story. And yet, here she is, judging you and casting aspersions on a situation she has no understanding of. This realization that everything good in your life is starting to get affected by so much toxicity breaks something in you. By the time you get home, you are crying. The tears are falling freely down your face and you cannot hold back the grief as it wrecks through your body.

He comes home to witness you in this state of dejectedness and He takes you in his arms. He tries to console you. He cries with you. He says it is His fault, that He shouldn’t have tried to make you tell your parents the truth. You cling to each other, feeling rocked by the woes of the past several weeks. You just want to love each other in a world that appreciates your love.

He tells you that you both will get through this, that He now knows this. He seems to be sure about this, as the next day, He gets home early from work with getaway tickets to Mexico. Your pleasure at this is cautious but steady. You tell yourself it is okay to trust this new budding bloom of happiness.

The trip is idyllic. You stay in bed for days. The first time you make love, it is sweaty and exhaustive. You have missed that energy. Then you shower, scrubbing at each other’s backs, toweling each other dry, then getting back into bed, the blinds to the large French windows to the balcony drawn, affording you a breathtaking skyline view of the city from the bed. You look into His eyes and He stares back into yours, and for the first time, you are assured that your love for this man has not waned, not even the slightest bit.

On the final night of your vacation, after a night out, when you both get back into your room, you step into the bathroom to ease yourself, and when you reemerge, you find Him on one knee, a small black box open in His hand, facing you with the sparkle of something small and significant nestled inside it.

“Will you marry me?” He says.

Your heart catches as a flashback of everything runs through your mind. On the one hand lies a family that will never accept this happiness – a family that is toxic, but a family that is yours for as long as you have lived. And on the other hand is a man who is the reason you are so happy – a man who is loving, and a man who could be all yours for as long as you both shall live.

One cannot live with the other. Your family or this man… Now that it has come to this, what happens next?

Written by Peaches

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  1. Black Dynasty
    July 09, 09:33 Reply

    Maybe it’s my simplistic way of viewing life but the fact remains that we will all die eventually, but don’t know when. Could be tomorrow, in a month or in 60 years.

    No point spending your life trying to please people that reject you when you’ve done no wrong. When people show you who they are, believe them….. you deserve happiness, you deserve love and you deserve peace.

    In simple words, i would say yes in those shoes 🙂

    • Leeman
      July 09, 11:07 Reply

      I think I’m with you on this. Not even a dilemma scenario for me. I’m sure what my answer will be without a blink.

      Probably because I didn’t grow with a close knit family or the fact that I could be irrationally selfish at times.

      But after everything, I’ll always choose ME first.

  2. Ade
    July 09, 09:59 Reply

    wow! enjoyed every bit of the story .indeed you found true love..Our whole life is a pilgrimage, a shadow, infact a bowl of cherries, we all gonna die someday..I usually get worried about always striking a balance between family and my personal life, but it’s just one heck of an endless worry because of this part of the world one belongs..
    At some point I felt “Better a lie that heals than a truth that wounds” Cos the truth is I didn’t expect less from an African parent which is usually what they would wanna do. Please find true happiness , keep your hopes high for a better days ahead..don’t give up, best relocate I feel… Love conquers all.

  3. Lonz
    July 09, 11:22 Reply

    Enjoyed this. Tiri gboza.

    My answer is yes. We choose make our destiny and my life will not be lived being untrue.

  4. Someone's Someone
    July 09, 12:01 Reply

    I’m telling YES with everything breath I have in me. IDGAF about family acceptance. This is my life to live and on my own terms. I’m taking that ring and moving into the next level in that relationship. Family will either love me or miss me with their BS.

  5. Wizzy
    July 09, 12:15 Reply

    I will say that yes,over and over again. No real parents will reject their child just because he’s gay.is my life, my happiness. It may sound selfish but it is what it is.

  6. Temitope
    July 09, 12:52 Reply

    I absolutely enjoyed this ….
    So, what next? You go with the person that makes you happy.
    I think the ‘Holy Book’says man will leave him father and mother… My dear, go with Him ???♥️

  7. Jahbless_Azubuike
    July 09, 12:52 Reply

    my dear, I will kiss him and say yes. because that’s what have been waiting for..

    already have been rejected (friends and family) so I have to hold that for my happiness all through.

  8. Julian_woodhouse
    July 09, 13:44 Reply

    This was such a beautiful story…. Didn’t know I needed it. Thanks Peaches.
    .
    .
    .
    Well, the deed has been done… His family can’t un-know his homosexuality… They’d come around…love does that

    • Peaches
      July 09, 22:50 Reply

      @Julian Woodhouse You are welcome.

  9. Black Coffee
    July 09, 13:47 Reply

    I’m definitely saying YES! My family may decide to come around later. I’m not giving up this happiness for anything in the world.
    Beautiful piece Peaches.

    • Peaches
      July 09, 22:54 Reply

      @Julian Woodhouse You are welcome.
      @Black Coffee Thankyou

  10. Mitch
    July 09, 15:57 Reply

    Dilemma?
    Over a family that puts its happiness over mine, its sanity over mine, a family that values its pride over my mental health?

    Fuck that!
    Fuck them!
    I’d marry him, his family becomes my family – if not, we form a family of our own – and my family can rot for all I care.

    Unu anafukwanum nonsense!

  11. Loki
    July 09, 20:35 Reply

    Yes, yes, and yes again!!!.
    Fuck family, if they can’t accept me as i am, it means they never loved me at. Life is too short to spend with nagative vibes so yes, amma make sure dat ring goes on my finger

  12. OB
    July 09, 21:33 Reply

    He should say yes, and disown that vile family of his, that want to tear his life apart… Arrant nonsense!!!

  13. Delle
    July 10, 08:42 Reply

    I don’t even know why I should be confused in such a situation or allow myself be thoroughly disturbed. Family isn’t just blood abeg. I’ll throw them aside and cling to those who understand the meaning of family.

    This was a very very beautiful piece, Peaches!
    I’m so impressed!❤❤❤

  14. Jeremy
    July 10, 14:06 Reply

    Its a capital yes….as the case may be. You should come fist, your happiness matters. It’s OK if your parents are not accepted of it you shouldn’t think less of yourself its a homophobic country you should expect the unknown. Outline your own rules and live by them.. This life as they say doesn’t have part 2

  15. Gaia
    July 10, 14:56 Reply

    Which family??? Parents that will die in few years and then you’d be left alone. Oga…. it’s a big fat Yes. Thank You!!!

  16. Abby
    July 12, 17:31 Reply

    Please just say YES and start living again biko..
    Family isn’t with whom you’re related by blood, they’re people that want you to be happy and even glad you’re in their lives.

    The word “FAMILY” in Nigeria has lost its true meaning biko.
    *Egi Echin* ?

  17. Liam
    July 15, 00:55 Reply

    I could totally relate with the story, maybe because I feel that’s how my family would react when I eventually come out to them, don’t know for how long….. But I would still say Yes.

  18. Rexxy
    July 17, 01:28 Reply

    I’ll say yes pliiiixxxx… Instead we’ll move to the abroad….

    Family is basically concerned about how they’ll be perceived that’s all

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