I am in my room upstairs. The semester is just beginning and the hostel is eerily quiet because many students are yet to resume. It is raining outside and the sun is shining at the same time. Did you ever hear children sing that the tortoise has grown a boil on his buttocks? Did you ever wonder where the tortoise has his buttocks?

He would have been here with me, lying next to me on this bed, silent; we would have kissed and cuddled, all the while enjoying the silence that was comfortable only with him. I worry now that I may never find peace in silence, in any condition, with anyone else.

I stand and walk to the window and draw the curtain while leaning on the windowsill. I see that the sun outside is a pale yellow, the colour of the unhealthy leaves of a plant. Just now, one leaf falls from a branch of the gmelina tree in front of my room and I wonder what it would feel like being that leaf – to live, dry, die and rot away. It had seemed so easy falling that way. It makes me think how ephemeral life is. How much time we have spent and how much we have left in an airless, fierce world.

Today makes it exactly twenty-four months since he left, and somehow for those months, I have never been able to keep my sanity. Today, finally, I got the courage to write this, so I will write as fast as possible or I will lose it. I want to say all the things I can. Maybe then this weight, this guilt that has clung tightly around my neck will loosen.

Today, permit me to say all I can.


Love of My Life,

How does it feel being there? How have you been doing these past months? Did you find the fire – the raging flames that await sinners? Are you a sinner? Am I one too? Were you condemned for what we were to each other? Does that fire even exist? Did you see God? What did He say about everything? Did you ask him? Please tell me.

It has been raining here for days and I have a cold. Has it also been raining there? Do you also have a cold? Do you get cold over there? You remember that first night, how you touched me in your sleep and how hard I was. We have never been able to explain what happened that night, but it was magical. Like metal to magnet. No one will believe we fell in love after a cold night in a dim room filled with sleeping friends.

Something keeps telling me that you have been coming around here. Why then have you decided not to touch me or even talk to me? For a long time now, I have not had afang soup as good as yours and I terribly miss your cooking. I miss you badly too. Some nights, I just lie down and talk to you – do you even listen to me?

You were the one I saw standing under the gmelina tree yesterday, okwaya? You were unsmiling, so who has offended you yet again? Why did you vanish like that? You should have at least said goodbye. I stood there staring until a drizzle started and I had to go pack in my laundry.

Love of my life, are you still Obiora over there? Did you take a new name? My many questions do not tire you, do they? I am sorry but I want to know everything that has happened – that is happening with you. Do you still cry during a movie or scream while watching a wrestling match? Do you still sing John Legend while bathing? Are these things even permitted there? What has changed? What has not? I hope you did not go sharing a bed with someone else or I will punch the wall. I wish I knew all this without asking. It is surreal asking you. I should know and it breaks my heart, this not-knowing.

You know, I kept hearing you call my name those first few weeks and I have never really stopped. I hear you on rainy days, on cloudy days, on sunny days – even today, with the mix of all, I heard you.

Two years now, I still hear and see you everywhere. Two years today and I still feel sorrowed. How was I so blind? How did I not see beyond your smiles? What kind of person does not know what his love is going through? I should have known. I should have heard beyond what you said to me during that last phone call. I should have seen that you wore a bright-faced mask everyday just to make me happy. I should have loved you more, held you tighter. Above all, I should have protected you. I feel guilty, but at the same time, I am angry. I am angry because you left. I did not do enough, yes – but you left! You did not think about me, did you? if you did, you would have saved me all this pain.

I sometimes wonder about that day when you were so thoroughly violated – the day that orchestrated my life changing forever. That Saturday when you went to the Main Market. I should have gone with you, but you told me to stay home, because the following day, Sunday, was my birthday. You wanted to get me a surprise birthday present, I would eventually come to learn.

Our government thought it was wisdom to criminalize its citizens for what they called a deviation from the normal. But we were never to know just how much damage the law had wreaked until that day. You were going about your business in the market, as you always do everything in your life. And then, from nowhere, a man called you – one of those red-eyed, rough-faced touts – to say you’d disturbed some market woman’s wares. He gestured for you to come over and apologize to her.

But my Love, you were so unaware of the evils of this world, your naivete so pure. You should not have gone to meet him. You should not have gone to the market on your own in the first place.

But you went back to at least apologize to this market woman, although you were sure you hadn’t done what you were accused of. And just like that, you walked into a trap. The tout and his cohorts surrounded you and took everything you had on you. You did not resist. You never do. Always calm. Always preaching peace.

And as you walked away, someone in their midst said something about how you walk, how you had to be gay because of how you walked. And in the blink of an eye, they who have just robbed you surrounded you, a judge and jury, condemning you with their taunts and fists, everyone else looking on, unmoved by your pain and your cries.

I do not want to remember any more. I will not.

That night, when you called to tell me, I punched the wall until blood came from my knuckles. I do not cry. I cannot cry. You know this. But tears burned at the back of my eyes when I heard of your suffering. My heart was heavy; it still is. I have not forgotten what a cool person you are, and it was petrol to their bruteness. How could they be so cruel? What did you ever do to them? Was it not enough that they taunted and called you names, took your money and phone – why did they also have to strip you naked? Did you steal? Did you kill? What do I even ask? Someone, tell me!

By being sweet and effeminate, you became their prey. The words you said to me that night – “None of this would have happened if I were not like this…” – are yet to leave my head even after all this time. I wonder now how much danger we escaped when we held hands in public, when we danced together in the shadowy interior of the night club – even when we kissed under the school’s water tank after night class.

Danger. It is so bizarre referring to Love as a risk.

It breaks my heart knowing that this happened to you. Such shame brought upon a person’s body and soul. I am very sorry for this. Believe me, my love, I am. I pick my phone often to call your number, reflexively. But of course, the automated voice on the other end says it is switched off. Just like you. Switched off from this life. Oftentimes, I do not believe it. It was a birthday surprise I never saw coming – the text message I got that you’d been found dead on the couch on that Sunday. They said you’d taken something. The irony of our love – my birthday became your death-day. I stared at the message on my phone, wishing then as I wish every day after, that your call would come through, and I would pick to hear your calm, husky voice saying, “Hello, nna m.”

Your friend, Kaka, experienced a similar brutal harassment just last week along Upper Iweka. He left the hospital two days ago, and it appears his right eye may never open again. It is horrible, Love of my Life. It is. This country has gone to shit. It is no longer safe. How sad that sounds – the country is no longer safe, as if we are the criminals terrorizing the country. Soon after graduation, I will leave. Would you please come with me?

Can you tell that I am wearing your cardigan now? The pink one with the flowers. I have just taken it from the wardrobe; it is warm and happy, just like you. I miss you terribly, Love of my life. I cannot continue writing. I do not know what else to say or how else to say it.

I hope you will come again. When you do, please come without this body but your heart filled with love. I will sleep in this room every night, waiting for you in my dreams. Come and never leave again. Ka o di. Until we meet to part no more.

A furu m gi n’anya,



The rain outside has stopped and the sun is shining brighter. The pale veil over it has gone away. The sun is smiling now. The boil on the tortoise’s buttocks should have healed by now. A stream of light has found its way into the room now. Suddenly, tears are running down my cheeks. They feel scalding against my face. They taste salty in my mouth.

Today is the first time I cry again after many years. Today, I realize that grief is for those who owned and truly loved. You do not grieve over what you do not love. I love him even more now he is no more. Today is that day; twenty-four months ago, he died.

Written by Nnamdi Vin-Anuonye

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  1. Charles
    September 26, 07:37 Reply

    This is just sad. Inhumane and mean.
    Why does love suffer such persecution?
    Could things get any better?
    There is always a limit to how far we could take some pushing and punishment!
    More sad he had to take his own life and ruin chances at love.
    So this is what they want ba?

    Hell no! Ain’t giving them that pleasure. Heartless sadist.

  2. Barbie
    September 26, 07:53 Reply

    Hey. I’m so sorry about what happened. No words can change anything that has happened. It is going to be fine. Happy birthday brother.

  3. Richiemichie
    September 26, 08:06 Reply

    And the tears fell. Now I’m reminded. Now I’m so scared. Now I just want to disappear.

    • Pink Panther
      September 26, 08:23 Reply

      Let the reminder make you strong instead of scared.

  4. Queen Blue Fox
    September 26, 08:53 Reply

    I felt the pain in this, it’s so sad.
    May the souls of all those we have loved and they have passed away from the pains and sorrows of this life rest in perfect peace.

  5. J
    September 26, 08:59 Reply

    This is just sad. There are so many heartless and bitter people in this country. He was bullied and he couldn’t stand the shame and he took his life. I was attacked once, disgraced in the presence of so many people, I ran away, escaped with shame… The date remains fresh on my mind. I was more than devastated, I was so scared that I came in contact with jungle justice, I thought I was going to die. I ran away, the relay of death ????… No one should go through this pain because of their sexuality. May his soul rest in peace.

  6. Law
    September 26, 10:23 Reply

    This made me cry. It brings back memories of 2012 when my friend also took his life, the pain… Oh that pain was deadly. I never wanna experience it again. I am also sorry u are going through this. U have to find a way to live with this.

  7. himbo
    September 26, 13:27 Reply

    i kept hoping this was fiction. sigh. hang in there bro. and if you need to talk reach out. i’m a grief counselor.

  8. Chivie
    September 26, 14:50 Reply

    This makes me so angry and sad at the same time. And I prayed that this was just fiction. I hope you find peace.

  9. Nell
    September 26, 16:50 Reply

    This is just so sad, this should never happen to anyone.
    Gosh! I’m broken.

  10. Giddy Gideon
    September 26, 18:52 Reply

    I cried. A very similar story to mine. There is comfort in sharing experiences. Thank you for sharing this. God bless you.

  11. Sultan
    September 26, 23:22 Reply

    This is really sad and inhumane, i wish our people could change for better @ once… Hard luck dear

  12. Kaego
    September 26, 23:25 Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. Really.
    I assure you that the pain gets more bearable with time. Especially if you start seeing a therapist or counsellor, or even a shrink (if you happen to come across one in Nigeria).
    One thing I can say, that I’ve said over and over is that I’m getting angrier. This is injustice. And not the type done by manipulation, it is injustice caused by illiteracy on different levels.
    Many Nigerians have faced discrimination based on sexuality, which is really dumb. Especially considering the age we’re in. This is not one for homo erectus, or homo habilis, this is the thinking age. If one isn’t thinking right, who knows where they would lead themselves. Talk about a community then.
    I once thought a revolution was necessary, but having explored almost all extents of Lagos alone, the virus that is illiteracy is much deeper than I can admit.
    Yet, that doesn’t deny the fact that something must be done to curb situations like this.
    I just wish I knew what.

  13. Patrick
    September 27, 03:52 Reply

    This is the kind of story that leaves me in a funk for days. I’m so sorry. I’m heartbroken.

    What has to happen for things to change? Surely this hate can’t continue forever.

  14. Arinze
    September 27, 08:58 Reply

    I was captivated in the beginning. Then sorrow-filled at the end. This story touched me in so many ways; it has reminded me of the cruel reality we live in.

  15. slimmy
    September 27, 09:49 Reply

    it pains me whenever I hear stories like this.. have had similar stories as an effeminate guy in that same Onitsha.. the trauma and devastation that it brings to our souls takes time to heal.. take heart bro..

  16. Alamu
    September 27, 21:42 Reply

    I’m so sorry. I can’t say I understand what you’re going through, but I know one day, you’ll feel better.
    Everything will be fine, really.
    Talk to someone, cry, shout, let it out.
    I wonder why we don’t have police men stationed at every public place to protect people from violence from crazy people.
    I got into a public bus this week and because the driver asked the guy not to hang on his bus, I don’t know where he got the blade, he unwrapped it and was going to cut the driver, if not for another drunk friend who stopped and the police truck was parked about 10 steps away.
    Nigeria has a lot of frustrated people who are waiting for the chance to take it all out on someone they don’t like.

    I’m sorry, once again.
    You will find healing. I’m sure he loved you too.

  17. Eddie
    September 28, 01:53 Reply

    Na wa…. Really sorry… I think about ending it too sometimes… I feel worthless and cringe whenever I hear my folks talk about how homosexuals are animals… Still cringing… Try to keep your head up k

  18. Sworld
    September 28, 07:41 Reply

    so touching n full of tears!.
    I’m so sorry for your loss
    it breaks my heart!

  19. Pankar
    October 14, 16:42 Reply

    I cried, its a long love lonely world really. Let there be hope

  20. Patrick Nduwuaku
    January 08, 05:37 Reply

    A part of me died with Obiora while reading this. I’m so so sorry

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