The sitting room was hot, stuffy from the choking silence which enveloped it. I and Eric just finished sweeping everything out from under our carpet and our breath started failing us. Eyes flashed around- mischievous and shocking eyes bruised with disappointment and disgust. My heart was skipping. Like an accused waiting for the judgement of the Judge, I sat, hands on my jaw watching them. I wanted them to say something, anything at all. I just wanted to have a glimpse of what they were thinking. The expressionless stare was like a stab to my chest.
A soft chuckle shifted our attention to Ken.“Eric too? Whatever happened to your insatiable love for ladies?”
“That was a cover. I thought I could control it. I thought having them will bury this, but I guess I was wrong.”
“You know about this Frank?”
Frank shook his head. He had joined in the middle of the discussion. “Not about Eric and Ahmed. God! Who the hell is that guy?”
“I have told you everything about him. I have told you everything about my life- my secrets and lies. And I understand if you both are going to judge me. I deserve it. But just know, I didn’t choose this life. I didn’t ask to be born with this ungodly feeling and the fact that I have struggled for years to suppress it means that I hate it even more than you think you do.”
I stood up. There were only two options left- either they hate me or support me. And whichever they choose; I wasn’t ready to break down because of it. I knew what I wanted for myself and that alone I would go for. It was my life and I alone have the right to make changes and amends, others have mere opinions, which I either regard or disregard.
“I am sorry if I brought shame to you both. I am sorry Frank for making you hate me. I only thought friend support each other no matter what. But you proved me wrong. And Ken, I am sorry for not telling you when you asked. My bestie and roommate taught me to keep my secrets to myself. I am sorry. If you guys are no longer comfortable living me, I understand. We have less than three months anyway, so I will just rent an apartment and stay away because our friendship means a lot to me and I won’t trade it for anything. Once again, I am sorry.”
It was long speech- one I was happy and relieved I gave. I started for the room, hoping they call me back. But they didn’t. I locked the door to my room, fell on the floor and broke down in tears. I wanted to hate something or someone. I wanted to channel the fury in me to something- maybe my parents for bringing me into this world. Or God for creating me this way. But I couldn’t. My parents never asked for any of this, and God I was meant to understand makes no mistake. So who? Who then was responsible for my deformation? Somebody was to be blamed, else my inner self would burst and leave me shattered and damaged.
Then I remember Ahmed. It was him. He was the right person to channel my anger to. He was the one who assaulted me, exposing me to this life. Although I was born with this awkward feeling, it was his touch that triggered the fire. His seduction was what exposed me to the pleasures foiled away in the forbidden pit of homosexuality. And now, after many years of escaping his contagious grip, he returned to ruin my already fixed life again. He took advantage of me and now I have become a thing of disgrace, something scorned and despised by all. I have become a shadow of myself to the world which has no patient for understanding complications like me. No! Not complication. They called it abomination, a taboo, an atrocity formed and entertained by the devil himself, a curse from God on sinful souls.
I scoffed. I was born with this feeling. I have it right from the first day I felt something sexual. The first time I felt sexual attraction, it was towards my kind- a fellow guy. I did not understand it and so did not entertain it. I lived my life hoping that one day I would meet a beautiful girl who would sweep me off my feet and then fall in love with her. I was scared to even tell somebody to avoid being tagged a retard. Spending my adolescence in a mental home because of something I have control over was not of my future plan. Now how was it a curse from God when I was born with this feeling? What sin could I have possibly committed in my mother’s womb to warrant such punishment from my Maker? God I know isn’t so merciless to use such as a punishment. My Mother always told us that why God created individual with deformation and physically disabilities, not because of their sins, but because He wants to show and tell the world, that He has the power to make anything just as He pleases. And in as much I didn’t want to question His supremacy, I still believed that he alone has the explanation to why someone would defer nature sexually. Why then was it hard for the world to understand that I didn’t choose this and God didn’t curse me? It wasn’t a gift, and I couldn’t have taken it even if it was. But the world did not know that, or maybe they knew and of course chose not to understand.
I clenched my teeth. My face twitched and my lips shuddered in rage. My heart was filled with hate and anger, eating deep down my soul. If I saw Ahmed that moment, I could kill him, damning the consequences.
Like a locked steel door, my heart locked, bracing myself and giving me a new strength I never knew I have. I wiped my eyes, drying the tears that dogged in it. I stood up, unclad myself and walked to the bathroom. I stepped under the cool and whooshing water from the shower. My hands rested on the wall, giving my staggering legs the support that it needed. The water ran past my skin and went deep into the veins. It cooled my hot blood and purged every beat of anger in me. It formatted, renovated and rehabilitated my thinking. I stepped out changed and refurbished. I was a good man, a responsible man no matter what. For six years I have controlled my sexual urge towards men and even women. Not everyone could do that and for the fact that I could do it made me an honourable man. I smiled as I pulled my boxers up my waist. I was about to pick my singlet when my phone rang. I glanced at the phone and it was Hope. A wide grin escaped my mouth and I quickly picked up.
“Hello!” Then I paused, emitting another wide grin. “Alright dear, I will just be there.”
I wore my singlet and few seconds, my shirt and my trousers are lapped on my body. I dashed into the sitting room lifted. My roommates glared at me. They wore a curious expression engineered by my sudden change of mood.
I smiled at them. “I am going to the hospital. Hope called me and…”
Eric stood up. “I am going with you. If this is what I am thinking, then you might be in trouble.”
I scoffed. “What trouble?”
Ken coughed. “I know Idima. He is feared in school. And if Hope if planning on breaking up with him for you, then I am afraid the fight is not what you can handle alone. So I am going with you in case anything happens.”
“Me too,” Frank said, avoiding my eyes.
“I appreciate you all trying to help. But I can handle myself. If I am going to be with her, I need to learn how to fight alone. You guys are not…”
“Common Thony!” Eric moved closer to me. “You told me how scared you are of this guy. Let us help you. We are friends.”
I was tempted to counter that. Tempted to tell them that friends don’t judge their friends, they support each other no matter what. But something seized my words in my mouth. I sighed and glanced at them one after the other. I inhaled. “I am fine. Thank you.” I walked out, bordered a taxi and headed to school.
Sitting in the taxi my mind rumbled in thoughts of how crazy and stupid they were for suggesting they fight for me. I have just washed the dirtiest of my linens in front of them and they said nothing, leaving me hung in between speculations and heartbreak. How then would I trust them to allow them fight for me? No! I shook my head. I will pass. This was my war, and I will fight it alone.
As I relaxed to enjoy the exciting ride to meet my heartthrob, another crazy and weird thought hit. How were they cool with Eric and not me? How was he better than I am? He was the one who lured me into the act after all and I made it clear to them. What was it about him that made them forgave him so easily? I sighed. Something was amiss but I was not letting it distract me from where I was going. I guessed I have a way of attracting hate to myself. With my head relaxed on the backrest of my seat, I closed my eyes and dreamt of a future with Hope.
“Hey, get out.” the driver opened my door.
I jerked up. Looked around and we were in front of the school. I sighed, jumped down and paid him. With racy steps, I found my way into the school
The school was half empty. A few students, probably the diehard bookworms were returning from evening class or personally study from the library. While some where just entering. They probably were going to sleep in school that night. I looked around and saw some lovers- hands around each other like one would run away if let loose. They strolled around the school with no particular destination. I sighed. That could be I and Hope. But then again, I was not sure of what she had asked me over for. But with excitement in her voice, I am sure she was on my side. Ignoring the distracting environment, I found my way towards the clinic.
I stepped into the clinic a determined and accomplished man. I was happy, like one whose wife just delivered a bouncing baby boy after six girls. I was about to knock on the door of her ward when a thought struck me. What if she had called me to say no? What if she called to tell me she likes me but cannot date me? What if she wanted to officially friend zone me? I inhaled. Disappointment was not going to do me any good in my current situation. I took a deep breath, reliving myself of all expectations. My aroused nerves calmed and I cautioned myself.
As I stepped in, I was prepared for anything. I was ready to accept whatever she has for me except to be friend-zoned. But then again, ladies never made such thing open. They just impose it on the guy and because the guy would do anything to win their heart, the task becomes easier for them.
Our eyes met and for seconds locked in ecstasy I hoped to be real. “How are you feeling?” I blinked.
She smiled. “What do you think?”
I ambled to the bed and sat beside her. “I think you are doing just great.”
She smiled again, avoiding my eyes.
I looked around the room. Her stuff was all packed. Nylon of drugs was on the drawer just beside the bed. “Have you been discharged?”
“That’s great. What are you waiting for?”
“You. I am waiting for you take me home.”
I felt important. I felt wanted. A slight smile emitted from my mouth and I composed myself. “I am glad you called. Now let me take you home.” I held her hand and helped her up. She staggered and fell into my arms. An unprepared hug ensued. Then it broke. We stared into each other’s eyes, blinked and looked away.
“I am sorry about that.”
She smiled and held my hand. “Let’s go.”
I glanced at her, smiled with a nod. Then I led her out. I wanted to ask her what we were doing, what we were, and where we were going. I wanted to have a full knowledge of what was going on. I wanted things to be ironed out so I could know my stand. But I couldn’t ask her. I couldn’t spoil the mood which we have unconsciously created for ourselves. So I followed her sheepishly out of the ward into the reception. I looked outside and saw Ahmed driving out. I heaved a sigh of relief. She pressed my hand a little bit harder, though it felt warm and soft to me. I looked at her, smiled and stopped.
“What about the bills?”
“Idima paid in the morning.”
My heart stopped for some seconds. That name was the last thing I wanted to hear that moment. I smirked and slowly withdrew my hands from hers. His was to pay the bills and mine was to take her home. A savaged division of labour. “That is good.” I started for the door.
She stood, glaring at me. I paused and turned to her. “Let’s go. You need to rest.”
She moseyed to me, looked me in the eyes and sighed. “I broke up with him in the morning after he paid the bills.”
…..the story continues…