“Although you look like a girl,” My mother averred, after she watched road walkers laugh at me on my way to the vendor’s, some feet from our house, across the road. “But you are not,” She continued, “You are a man. Don’t have it in your head that you are a girl because they call you girl- you are a man.”
Osas had talked about my resemblance, including my physique, to a girl, with Tobi.
Osas is a homophobe, because he doesn’t believe that being gay comes naturally. He puts in place testosterone or chromosomes with the devil’s intervention on a rail. He would say, “If I give you enough testosterone, you’d become a male. You would even feel repulsive at the ‘calling of gay’ beside you.” I laughed as he continued, “I am not saying I hate gays, because I know it is not their fault, but there is a problem between the formulation of the chromosome and testosterone. They do not have enough, or they do, having more of the female’s.” I laughed, and laughed. It went by, and I dealt with it.
Basically, I won’t be talking a lot about sexuality, but references to it would be made. I would like to talk about a little of experience as an effeminate man.
Being effeminate is as being traumatic as being gay. And, for sure, without vagueness, there are two entirely different things.
I can be a masculine guy, but gay. I can also be an effeminate guy, but straight.
For a very long time, post-infant, I have been effeminate. I have been girly and flamboyant and calm and happy. I have been feeling very okay, even when my mum wasn’t okay by people’s reactions, like that morning’s, towards me.
I was mad that morning. The usual sunny, gut-smell morning. I had worn a T-shirt from a monochrome raw-material, as long as a knee-lenght, with slits up to my hip lines. I had paired it with one of my blue, tight jean trousers, one of my favourites, after after the other had been torn apart by my mum because they made me feel feminine. I got into these with my favourite sandals and I left for the vendor’s to buy some food for breakfast. As I got there, I realised the eyes on me. I didn’t look like I saw them, but I knew they were looking at me. Their stares were hot that my feet began to run from the floor.
There were these two guys at the vendor’s shop, one of them, who had finished eating, was pinching the other, asking him to look at how I talked and walked. My mum was in the shop, with the tinted-glass-partition, closed, looking at them and me.
I didn’t bother when she had to complain, because she had complained more than I can count, and I was already tired. I had to remind her of a Youruba adage that goes thus: “He who listens to the noise of the market is likely not to be successful.” I made her realise how painful it was for me, not to be able to wear what I would love to, not to be able to comfortably walk as a human being. It was sad.
I was eventually told to change those jeans. I wore a freer pair of jeans, and I left home so angrily- my heart tore.
Uncle Timi is an England returnee. He has been here since before December, and he should probably be flying back by the end of this month.
When a person returns from places like that, you know the tradition? Gathering. Reuniting. The gathering of old friends or family friends. We have them get drunk and all, all in the name of “Londoner” or “Returnee.” Crappy mentality!
There’s this guy, I think a returnee, too, who has only stayed in America for some months, his first time being there, and is used to the phrase “I see you” as a form of greeting. The day I visited uncle Timi, the very first day, which I would continue to do till he would fly back, to take orders of drinks they’d like to have, the guy was staring at me, but I didn’t feel it. He wasn’t serious to me. He looked like a miscreant, so I batted my eyes from his attention seeking self. I knew they were all going to talk about me being gay or effeminate, and then, introduce me as my mother’s son, after my departure.
There was a time, last week, when this same guy was at my mum’s shop. That was the first confrontational action towards me, which I felt uncomfortable with.
Uncle Lakunle is promiscuous. He has a hundred girlfriends. He brings them to the street, the same place where his family lives. A day before new year, he had come to ask after my mum because he wanted to borrow 1k to feed his family. And then, three days after, he had money to splurge on drinks for a girl and his friends.
The America returnee was around at the time I was giving uncle Lakunle his bill. Uncle Lakunle had asked me, at that time, to ask the lady he had brought, again, if she’d like another bottle of Heineken.
“Excuse me please,” I pat the lady, cutting her from the discussion she seemingly was engrossed in, with his relatives. I continued, “Would you like to have another bottle?” She gazed at me scornfully, as she replied, “No.” and returned to her conversation. I left her side with a broad, shaky smile.
As I headed back to let uncle Kunle know what decision she’d made, the America returnee started murmuring, “Kini? Kini?” consecutively- in a vague voice that would be heard only by those so close to him. I was close to him. I was at the spot, so I heard as they laughed. His friends, including Lakunle, scoffingly told him not to laugh at me.
Muhammed is my sister’s friend’s brother, my childhood friend, too, and Lakunle’s cousin. He was with them. He also made gest of me, pointing out that, “Na so d guy be.” I smiled and talked with myself as I left were they stood.
The returnee was going to make me feel more daunty, so he asked, “Sé eni Alomo?”
“No,” as I was slightly walking backward, in a fearful manner.
“Kilode ti o fi n sa si eyin?” He was taking his steps according to my backward movement.
“Nothing. I have anxiety,” I replied him with a smile on my face, shivering.
He looked at me as though I was one of those comical characters he’d watched, probably on a date with his borrowed-white girlfriend, while he turned back, with a smile.
I’m sure, the discussion at uncle Timi’s place later at night would be about Iya Kudus’s effeminate or gay son.
On New Year, the customers whom uncle Yomi came to save me from the Church for were uncle Timi and Co. And as I walked towards them, it was a jaw-dropping feel- including uncle Timi. A slight breeze of their discussion sweeped through my ears as I walked close to them. It was uncle Timi’s voice.
“Why is Demola walking like a lady?” I pretended like I didn’t hear, and when I approached them, it was a warm, tranquil welcome, emphasizing, “Good morning, sirs. And happy New Year!” They all replied and immediately asked for drinks.
Photo credit: Oluwatobiloba Kelani.