When Papa opened the door, I was still in mother’s dress, swallowed in it, dancing, swaying. He stared, I stared, a cock crowed; the world did not freeze, did not know it should freeze.

That night, Papa called me to his room; a darkened space smelling of tobacco. Gently, he stripped me, held my penis and said something about a man loving a woman. That a man loves hunting and hammer and palm-wine. That a man must not be a woman.

I left his room, still naked, thinking of carrots and why something so sweet grows underground.

Twenty years later, I am wrapped in Blynn’s arms, in his room, in cold southern Chicago. It is snowing outside. It is nothing like Africa. Nothing like home; just a whitened space.

Blynn is saying something about abortion and Trump and more Trump. I do not listen. I feel numb. Airless- like his name, Blynn. I try to remember home and the scar on my left ear. I remember the night I bled while Papa whipped, saying he loved me, that the spirit of ‘homo’  in me had to leave. I was nine. I remember mother standing there and crying and saying, “Hapu ya!  Let him be!” I remember the morning I ran away. I was sixteen. I remember everything. Everything. Because in remembering, we heal.

I do not know what love means anymore. Is it the name of something like love? Like strawberries? Or is it the colour of Blynn’s eyes?

“Grey,” I say. Blynn’s smile stiffens.

“What?” He asks.

“Grey, the colour of lust.” He stares at me. Amused. Confused. For the first time, he smells of tobacco.

“I must go home now. I must see Papa.”

I stand but I do not leave. Sometimes, home is best loved from afar.

 

***

 

Bryan Joe Okwesili is a queer realist. He grew up on the brown dusts of Anambra state, embracing literature and finding solace in poetry. Now an adult, he is keen on telling diverse African stories. He loves soliloquy as much as he loves reading queer stories. His short fiction “IFE OMA” was featured in Erotic Africa – The Sex Anthology 2018 by Brittle Paper. Other of his works also appear on Kalaharireview, Expound, Afrcanwriter, Brittlepaper and elsewhere. He is currently a student of law at the University of Calabar, Nigeria.