Fear in Oshodi

Oshodi was its normal on Friday: rowdy, messy, congested, odour-infused- with Tobi, at Dusk, the moon already crawling out of the grey-bluish sky. I had always walked the market, especially that route, with Damilola, every weekday evening. And, while we walked through the pile of moving bodies-the hawkers and buyers-the stall owners and the roadside sellers-the wanderers and the route-passer- after we take an alight from the tricycles, our back-packs carried otherwise, the fear of Oshodi hoodlums dragging our bags from us blossoming in our thoughts, even if they were only our books in them- we walked with spring in our legs, without the space to walk side-by-side to talk. We only have the chance to talk in the tricycle or at the Bridge, mostly, to say our goodbyes. I have grown fond of it, but it changed one Evening with Tobi.

We’ve had a long day at school. We were supposed to be having our final project inspection that Friday, but our inspector, the lecturer, Miss Wena, had travelled. 

It was the first week of resumption, last week. As soon as I got to her office on Monday, I displayed, as if to say I was pleading for something so important from her. I asked for my project, but she told me to check back on Friday, that the only day she’d have time to correct out projects would be only Fridays, because her class schedules are so straining.

I was expectant of meeting Dammy, because I hadn’t seen her since after the Christmas Carol we attended at Daniel’s church, which was on the 24th of last month. I called her through Lola’s phone, and I gifted her insults, because we had chatted on WhatsApp, and I had told her I was going to be at school, which already gave me the impression that she was going to be around. That if I wasn’t able to accomplish my project, somewhat, I didn’t waste my transport fare, because there would be someone of cut-soul there. But it was, at the inception of my arrival, a waste. I was angry, but I had to bitch around. 

Tobi came around about two hours after I had reached school. I missed him during those holidays, and I could only tell him once, the day he texted me, asking me when I was going to be at school.

I usually greeted Tobi, like every other guy, except some, with a hug. So as he shook my hand, I offered him a hug, which I forcefully wrapped my hands around him as he was hesitant. He was happy to see me, so as I was to him.

Tobi made my day! We had some photographs. They were beautiful, although I still anticipate their outcome. 

Precious was around too. Tobi was also taking pictures of him. When I proposed to have a picture with him, he ran around. You know why? Because as a prospect, world-renowned film maker, he can’t affiliate himself with a gay person. 

He’d said earlier, after I tricked him that I missed him, “Tell Daniel.”

I obliged. “Daniel, I missed you,” I said.

Daniel wasn’t shocked, but the kind of laughter he threw at me seemed like “He had never said that” or “Is he a joke?”

“Did Precious force you to say that? Were you forced,” the laughter still propping his face.

“No, I wasn’t.”

Then I said to them, “words don’t have sexual orientation, only otherwise-if you make them have.” They both laughed, with Precious hailing me.

I said to Precious, “I have no problem with you not wanting to have a picture with me. In fact, it is nothing. But we shall all meet in the future.”

“Yes, we shall. As stars.”

“I don’t want to be a star. I just want to be successful, rich and happy.”

He smiled, the kind of innocent one he used to smile at me when he never knew he had a chance at life with the people he mingles with lately.

I suffice to say that nothing should inhibit our relationship, including our fates and choices. 

Still this time, I said to Precious, “You are running away from me because I am openly gay. But the truth is, you’ve been sleeping with, and you are still sleeping with, gay people.” Tobi affirmed what I had said, and Precious was bothered and inquisitive about who they were. I know them, but my lips are glued. 

Tobi said he understood Precious, that Precious was scared of gays. Sooner, Tobi got angry at Precious’s reaction. “Why you dey do like dis na? It is not like he is going to be fucking you in the picture.” I felt inferior, but I smiled. Tobi understood the pain, so he tried allowing Precious pacify me.

Tobi and I had decided to visit the hostel to say hi to Oyinda and Tobi (girl). He said he had seen them over three months, and he had promised Tobi(girl) he was going to be around, so we visited, with the intention of coming back to school, which we couldn’t. 

It was unlike the hostel, it’s serenity. My set left the hostel, so the new occupants are the ND1’s and 2’s. The hostel was almost empty when we came in. About 15 minutes after we settled, the occupants began to arrive, planning for a match between the two classes- ND1 and ND2. It was good to smell how happy they were, since looking was a crime. 

I sat with Tobi(boy) with the people we went to visit, and some other guys. We were having a blissful discussion. During this discussion was when we decided to watch the match, which we did, but left some minutes after.

Tobi and I had just gotten down from the tricycle, after we left the field. We had talked less in the carriage, but something triggered a topic as we alight from the tricycle. I can’t remember who started. I do not remember what discussion it was, but I was there, confident, with my back-pack carried as it should, conversing with the gesture of my hands for portrayal. It was an important discussion, because I was serious- my voice loud in the merge of other people discussion. 

“Stop throwing your hands,” Tobi said to me, looking ashamed.

“Oh!” I exclaimed and continued, “I forgot we are in Oshodi market. And these people won’t hesitate to judge me. I maybe beaten here now.”

“Good you know. Your walking and talking are enough.” 

I agreed, with a smile on my face, and a strike of fear in my heart. As we got out of the market, at the foot of the pedestrian bridge, we bade ourselves farewell, unlike Dammy, whose farewell was always beneath the bridge, or across the fast lanes. 


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