Same Love

Homosexuality is now illegal in Nigeria. This is our country’s way of focusing on pressing issues affecting us.

 

By precisely 10: 13am this morning the government passed a law on who should be loved. I remember the time accurately. It was on national television. I took off the longines silver watch Tope gave me. There was no sensible reason for doing this; my mind could not react to sad news rationally. When granma died, I thought of her grey shoes she never cleaned. We didn’t make the list was all I could think right now. It was the end of us. Our love became a criminal offence, a bother to murder and cousin of theft. It was the end of the new life we had planned. To confront our parents. The apartment in maitama with the balcony. Our children Teju and Nike.

We didn’t make the list. A fourteen-year jail term for gay lovers. 10 years for witnesses. I fell back on the couch; suddenly I wasn’t able to process the simple sentences that followed. The reporter wore an orange head tie and no expression on her face. Pictures began flashing in my mind. My horror slideshow. It began with my disapproving father, the retired civil servant, and ex-director in the Petroleum Corporation, family man, father of four with an equal number of mistresses we never talked about. I would not imagine my mothers face stricken with grief and worry. Her frequent cries on how she gave up her life for her husband. How she wished she lived for herself.

Topes face settled in my mind, her small oval face filled with soft features and incredibly soft lips. Another flash. The first night we kissed, how we didn’t plan it or have the government in mind. We were drunk and exchanged stories about abusive relationships, she cried and told me about how her father didn’t think she needed a masters degree. She was already educated enough to please a good husband. I comforted her that mine was the same, about the time he tried to educate me on how we were true Africans; men were next to the gods and women a little above animals. She wouldn’t stop crying. She wanted more out of life, she needed to escape. Maybe all fathers are alike. I wiped her bare eyes she didn’t even put on mascara, she never put on any makeup. She was heaving in my arms. I tried to steady her, put my face to hers close enough to take in her warm breath. I kissed her softly. I don’t still know why I chose this moment. I had been mulling it over in my mind for sometime. When I saw her in the shower. I dismissed it as curiosity. Imagination running wild. What if I touched her?

She kissed me back, very lightly. She slid her hand up my blouse and unhooked my bra. I continued to kiss her, her tiny cold fingers on my breast. I held my breath. Tried not to make a sound. Silent gasps. I took off her blouse. This was wrong. It felt so good. I loved her so much. We were sinning. God, I love her.

 

My phone vibrated. It was Tope “can you believe this people?” she asked.

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Changes

Warm morning showers now brought shivers down my spine. Showers that now took hours. The heavy pitter-patter, my pathetic attempt to shut out the voice of my screaming parents. Screaming piercing words that have penetrated my once sweet daydreams. I no longer dream. I’ve forgotten how to dream in the daytime. I’ve forgotten the way I used to speak of hope, of faith and moving mountains. Now I stand under hot water till thick steam swirls around me. I derive some sort of joy from the foggy mirrors, all blurry and bleak like my reality. Today nothing was certain; I would slowly count my assets or lack of it. No money. No reasonable job. Migraines. Screaming parents with my future in their palms. 

How I longed for escape. My newly aggressive inner voice continually screamed, “at least death will be more peaceful”

3 years later I would crave the madness and emptiness of my childhood home. I would compare the emptiness with peace and the madness with spontaneity. I would have written a best seller and landed the job of my dreams. I would still soak my self in a bath every evening and count assets. I still didn’t know how happiness felt. My grieving divorced mother. My newly remarried, male chauvinist father. Emptiness.