FOREWORD: The latter part of this episode of Love And Sex In The City was informed by an actual occurrence involving two friends of mine, whose rights as a citizen of Nigeria were threatened. Oftentimes, our rights are trampled on and abused by the very same public servants whose job it is to preserve them. And in that rare case when an individual who knows his rights stands up for it – and wins – it begs for stupendous admiration and an ovation. I have applauded that friend. This episode is to let him know of my admiration for his effort as well. Check on it.
“Can you just imagine!” Ekene burst out furiously. “Eh? When will we TBs learn to love ourselves in this country, learn not to backstab and cut down and take advantage of our fellow guys in this Nigeria, eh?”
“Honestly, it’s disturbing,” Adebola said. “The lengths some of us go to malign the rest of us is shocking.”
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned is old school,” quipped Biola. “Both hell and a woman scorned have nothing on a vindictive gay guy.”
My friends were still reacting to my news of what transpired at my workplace yesterday. It was Saturday, and Biola, Adebola, Eddie and I were back at Biola’s new place. Ekene and Jonathan were here too; Paschal couldn’t make it because he went on a booty call in Ikoyi (somewhere in Lagos State, a middle-aged, well-to-do queen was getting properly fucked). And Yinka was still away on a job.
“We should teach this Jim guy a lesson,” Eddie said. “Dee, do you have his photo. Give it to me, with his number and Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’ll just update his entire shameless profile on my blog, and shame him for all my readers.”
“Eddie!” the rest of us gasped laughingly.
“What? It’s what he deserves,” Eddie maintained. “If he could do it Declan, then it’s safe to assume that it’s his MO. He could be one of these opportunistic TBs who go about trying to wear kito on anybody with something to lose. My update would be a good service to the community of gay Nigerians.”
“And an outing of his sexuality to the public,” Jonathan admonished. “Eddie, both straight and gay people read your blog. If you update him on your blog, you’d be outing him to everyone he may or may not know who follow your blog.”
“So? Did he not try to do worse to our friend?”
“There’s a reason why they say revenge is a dish best served cold,” Adebola interjected. “Let’s leave him to his karma. He’ll get what’s coming to him.”
“Abeg, it’s a big world,” Ekene said. “And Karma is a very busy bitch with too many assignments. Every once in awhile, we should help her do her job by getting a jump start on the revenging.”
We laughed at his words as Eddie high-fived him.
“Well, I’m just glad I can laugh about it all now,” I said. “Because all of yesterday, while the whole thing was still ongoing, I was so worried and I felt so exhausted with all that worry. Honestly, emotional turmoil can be just as debilitating to the body as physical stress.”
“Why else do you think they advise HIV positive people to go for counseling,” Jonathan said. “Because the mind is a powerful thing, and when it’s stressed, one’s system can react just as adversely to it as though the body was undergoing manual labour.” He continued with, “And really, this your issue is the exact reason why I cannot commit fully to this game –”
“It’s not a game, Jonathan,” Eddie cut in. “It’s who we are.”
“Call it whatever you want. My point however is, when you invest too much of your time getting emotionally tangled with all these guys you sleep with, things are always bound to get ugly.”
“Yes, because females are such a safer bet in circumstances like this,” Ekene said drily.
“At least, this kind of drama with a woman is expected in this country,” Jonathan shot back. “It’s not a threat to your image when a woman files a sexual complaint against you. Such a man is congratulated privately by his peers after the public reprimand.”
There was no arguing his point.
Ekene rested a sympathetic look on me, rubbing my shoulder as he said, “You’re okay though, right?”
I smiled at him. “Of course, I’m okay. I dodged a bullet. So, I’m fine. So fine, in fact, that I gave Dotun a wank job to thank him, remember?”
Four of them chuckled as Biola said, “Slut like you. You couldn’t give him a proper thank you, like lunch on you, or a thank you card.”
“Where’s the fun in that?”
There was more laughter. But Jonathan had a small frown on his face.
“The Dotun, that’s one of your managers, right?” he said then.
“And you masturbated him –”
“The word is ‘wank’,” Ekene interrupted. “Don’t be such an Englishman.”
“Ekene, leave me abeg. So, Declan, you serviced him in his office, during work hours, mere moments after you’d just dodged your bullet based simply on the technicality that you and this Jim did not get it on in the office and during work.” He blew out an exasperated breath. “The reckless things you people do sef…”
“Which people?” I said, bristling at the tone of censure in his voice.
“You guys!” He spread his hands out in an expansive gesture that took the rest of us in. “The other day, Ekene admitted to sleeping with his boyfriend without condoms –”
“Hey, hey! Don’t just drag my matter out here o. Moses and I are in love with each other, and our sex life is none of your business.”
“In love – can you even hear yourself talk?” Jonathan’s lip curled with a sneer. “If HIV recognizes the power of love, surely, the world would be a better place, no?”
Adebola chuckled at that, but his mirth vanished the moment Jonathan rounded on him next. “And you, as if gay men have finished in this entire Lagos State and beyond, you now have to go after straight guys–”
“If you’re going to give me grief yet again about letting Bryson in on our secrets, you can save it,” Adebola interjected waspishly. His handsome face tightened as he glowered at Jonathan.
“I am giving you grief about all the times you have talked about converting straight guys and trying to seduce Bryson in spite of the many futile results with him. Clearly, he doesn’t like ass –”
“Not according to his episode with Declan,” Biola said in a stage-whisper, and he and Eddie burst out in a fit of giggles.
Jonathan turned his frown on him. “And you, Biola…”
Biola arched a very eloquent brow at him, his expression so deadpan you knew it had to be a cover for a deadly retort. Jonathan took the hint and tightened his mouth over what he’d been about to say.
Like I once said, there’s no bigger bitch than Biola.
“Oya, please, enough of all this drama,” Eddie said placatingly. “We all know Jonathan, he’s the self-professed conscience of this group. We should be used to him by now.”
“Easy for you to say,” Adebola growled. “He never has anything evil to say about you.”
“Which is curious,” Biola said as he wagged a finger at Eddie, “and has been making me wonder whether you, Eddie, have given your shobosho to him to eat before.”
“Biola!” Eddie gasped the same time that Jonathan said, “Oh please!”
“What? It’s a perfectly logical line of reasoning,” Biola said with a delicate shrug of his shoulders. “We all know that ever since you and Paschal did the nasty, that one could die sef defending you. And now, Jonathan… Honey, what do you have hidden down there in your honeypot? Give me some of your recipe ejọọ.”
“He’s a Calabar boy nau,” Ekene said with a grin. “You think all the bottom power belongs to their women?”
“Stop, stop, stop, I beg of you!” Jonathan protested laughingly as Eddie guffawed helplessly beside him. “Nothing has ever happened or will ever happen between me and Eddie, abeg.”
“Never say never,” I said with a small smile.
We chattered on as we continued with the reason we came to Biola’s place, which was to outfit the apartment with some of portable furniture he’d been able to transport here with his mother’s car. Both Adebola and Jonathan had also used their cars to convey some of the materials from Yaba to Ajao Estate. There was none of the heavy stuff, just some bags filled with his things, the curtains and its accessories, and the carpet which we had already snipped and spread out all over the living room, after cleaning the floors. Biola hoped to be all moved in by the end of this coming week, before his three-week leave was over.
“I think I’ll throw that housewarming bash I was contemplating,” he was saying as we thronged out of the house at the end of our exercise. I felt grimy and achy all over, but pleased by the effort we’d expended in helping him. I brought out my blackberry which I’d ignored all afternoon and began dashing off replies to my unanswered chats. “Not something big and extravagant, instead I want it to be small and tasteful, just for friends.”
“Will it be a TB affair?” Adebola queried.
“I’m still thinking on that. I know there are some of my colleagues who I admire and who will not be happy to hear that I threw a get-together without inviting them. But then, I don’t want a stiff party where my gay friends won’t get to have real fun simply because of the heterosexual presence.” He shook his head as he tut-tutted.
We filed out through the gate to the noisy thoroughfare beyond, engaged in pockets of separate conversations. I was on my own however, inattentive to the chatter and focused on my phone chats. Just then, a voice barked from a few yards away from us.
“Hey! You there!”
I continued walking.
“You with the phone, pinging!”
My friends stopped moving, and just then, the words registered, and I realized I was the one being addressed. None of them had their phones out. I turned around to watch as he approached, a policeman who had detached himself away from the team manning the checkpoint several meters away. He was a bulky man, with doughy features, small sharp eyes and a uniform that hung unattractively over his frame. One hand held a gun and the other stabbed in my direction as he huffed, “I’m talking to you and you are still walking – are you mad?”
I was taken aback by the hostility. “Excuse me, officer, but I didn’t know you were talking to me. Is something the matter?”
He came to a stop before me and swept his angry, little eyes over me, before he tilted his head to take in the rest of my company. I heard the shuffle of feet as someone from behind came closer to us.
The policeman returned his glare to me and rasped, “Your phone, I want to see your phone…”
“I beg your pardon?” My brows lifted with incredulity.
“You heard me, mister man.” He waggled the fingers of his right open palm at me, gesturing for my Blackberry. “I want to see your phone.”
His eyes flashed. “Are you asking me that question, eh? Is it me you are asking that question?” His gun hand jerked involuntarily, threateningly.
“What seems to be the problem, officer?” Biola’s cool voice interjected just then. He was at my side, watching the policeman with an emotionless expression.
“The problem is that I will soon arrest this your friend if he doesn’t cooperate,” the man spluttered.
“Cooperate with what?”
“I want to search his phone!” declared the policeman.
Search my phone?! Oh my God! That absolutely could not happen! Absolutely NOT! I had porn – gay porn! – tucked away in the video section of my phone’s media library. And with all this brouhaha surrounding the anti-gay bill passed by the Senate, I had no doubt that this overzealous officer of the law would use his discovery of homosexual content to make big trouble for me.
Seriously, God – twice in two days?! Won’t I rest from all this threat to pull me out of my fabulous closet?!
“Sir, I’m afraid but I have to ask,” queried Biola in the same cool tone, “but for what reason do you want to search his phone? I mean, do you just stop every Tom, Dick and Harry on the roadside with a phone to search their devices?”
The policeman blinked, a bit shaken from his element by Biola’s crispness. Then his scowl returned and he grunted, “Look here, mister man, there have been a lot of armed robberies around these parts of late–”
“And what, you think my friend has incriminating evidence hidden inside his phone?” The sarcasm was apparent, even to the obtuse older man.
His eyes flashed again, and he snarled with a stubby finger pointed at Biola, “Look here let me tell you–”
“Before you tell me what you no doubt feel is important to let me know,” Biola cut in with unintimidated sharpness, “I feel it’s best you know I’m a lawyer. Not a law student. An actual lawyer, and someone who is thoroughly educated in the knowledge of the law and well-versed in the knowledge of his rights as a citizen of Nigeria. I just felt you should know that, you know, before you decide to use, or abuse” – he dropped a heavy stress on the word – “your power as an officer of the law.” He ended the remark with another stress of the last word.
The policeman stared for one full moment at him, his mental struggle to determine how dangerous this bratty young man was to him very evident. Finally, he snapped, “I have every right to search his phone–”
“According to what part of the law?” Biola questioned primly. “In fact, a section of the Police Act, if I remember correctly, provides that an officer may search an individual if he has reasonable grounds to suspect the individual of a crime. May we please know your reasonable grounds for wanting to search my friend’s phone?”
He waited a beat, and when the policeman opened his mouth to croak a response, he continued, “That same section also states that the officer must ask the individual questions before carrying out the search, as to his presence in the circumstances which gave rise to the suspicion, and a satisfactory explanation will make the search unnecessary. Perhaps, you can start with the questions now, sir, questions that could probably link my friend to these armed robberies you talked about earlier?” His brows lifted in mock anticipation.
After another beat, during which time the policeman opened and shut his mouth a couple of times, like a fish fighting for oxygen outside the water, Biola then went in for the kill. “And finally, the Act states that before any search will take place, the officer must give the individual to be searched the following information, such as his name and the station he is attached to, the object of the search and his grounds or authorization for undertaking such a search. Perhaps…just a minute, sir” – he dug into his pocket and picked out a small jotter and a pen – “perhaps, you can start by giving us your name and station?” The jotter was flipped open and the pen was poised over the first page, while Biola stared expectantly at the other man.
The policeman glared hatefully at him, then at me, and divided the look between the others behind us. Then he returned the glower to Biola and hissed, “Idiots! All of una wey resemble homo! One day na one day – nonsense!”
And he pivoted on his feet and stomped away, back toward the checkpoint. A small cheer broke out between my friends as they gathered around Biola and me. They were all talking at once.
“Guy, I have a whole new respect for you, mehn…”
“You totally butchered that policeman, make him gra-gra cool small…”
“See what a good knowledge of the law and your rights can do for you…”
I didn’t say a word. Neither did Biola. Finally, as we walked back to our cars, he shook his head and said heavily, “This country… And this is a result of a bill that hasn’t been signed into law… this kind of treatment from someone whose duty it is to uphold the law and protect the citizenry. This country makes it very hard for me to love her sometimes, honestly.”
The aching despondency that throbbed in his words bounced off my kindred emotions, resonating loudly in my mind, going on and on into its deep, dark recesses.