The Heart is where the Man is
“The British are coming!” Muyiwa Adeniyi shouted from the bedroom window upstairs. He watched Dami drive in from the airport with their older brothers, Kunle and Wole, who came in from London on holidays. They were not British citizens; but he called them Brits, atypically, because they were both studying medicine in a College there. Their older brothers lived with their father’s younger brother, Uncle Bayo, and his family in London.
Now that Kunle and Wole were home on holidays, Dami and Muyiwa planned to abandon their housework; obliging the older ones who had a distinctive air of responsibility. Muyiwa ran past their mom at the dining table and pounced playfully on Kunle and Wole at the front door. “Please don’t break my door,” their mom warned them; smiling. The older boys exchanged pleasantries with their mother and they all laughed heartily.
A grand silhouette of the Adeniyi’s house stood mid-way on the street. Posh and solid. Mr. Adeniyi looked on, his sons were talking boisterously at dinner. He, also, was a London trained engineer. He was scrupulous and ambitious and so were his boys. He looked at his wife; “let us toast the Londoners,” Mr. Adeniyi said. They raised their glasses of red wine. “To long life and abounding successes,” he said proudly. They said cheers and a round of drinking and laughter followed. It was a good evening.
“Dad, we bumped into Emeka Anozie in London,” Kunle managed to say in the midst of the gaiety. They all fell silent. The Anozies were their next door neighbors for nearly two decades until a fire accident took the lives of mother, father and two daughters. Only Emeka survived. After the inferno, Emeka left his home without a trace.
“Oh really! How’s he doing? And why did he leave home without a word? His cousin said that he did not know where he was,” his father asked anxiously with his mouth full of fish and vegetables.
“He left home to do a fashion design training in London,” Kunle replied.
“Emeka is now gay,” Wole said soberly looking at no one in particular.
There was more silence in the room. They were all shocked. Their dad dropped his fork in his plate and shook his head. “Did you just say gay?” He asked in bewilderment. “But he was dating Seun back then. Wasn’t he?” He asked.
Wole nodded and dug his fork into the stockfish in his plate, he looked into his food and avoided his dad’s puzzled gaze. Emeka wore jewelry in his ears and nose and make up and cornrows too, and his swagger was exaggeratedly feminine. “He said that women did not appeal to him anymore and that he was now contented with men,” Wole added.
Emeka Anozie was Kunle and Wole’s childhood friend, they used to play football together and talk about girls in their spare time; in hush tones and coded words. Emeka was a sweetheart; he was marked by downright assuredness and sanguinity. When the Adeniyi boys bumped into him in London, it was difficult for them to look away; even though he was gay. He told them that he was in dire need of accommodation; he faked a British accent as he spoke to them and he stood with his arms akimbo. Kunle reckoned that Emeka needed to be in proximity of tolerant people; Uncle Bayo’s family could afford that and they too, his closest friends. As the eldest, he summoned the courage to ask his Uncle if their friend could live in his house, but he did not make mention of Emeka’s queerness. “We’ll like to meet him first,” Uncle Bayo said to Kunle that night.
When Emeka stepped into the parlor, he observed that Uncle Bayo and his wife frowned at his cornrows and the pink scarf that held his pants together. They were flabbergasted and inarticulate with surprise, notwithstanding, they managed to scrutinize him meticulously. They asked him about a score questions; averting their eyes from his gaze, occasionally, when he caught them staring at his neat cornrows. “I was living with my boyfriend, John, but his parents stopped paying his house rent because they did not approve of a gay relationship,” Emeka had said to them. “I will leave for Nigeria at the end of next month, when my program finishes,” he added.
Their uncle sighed and looked at his wife. It was a tough verdict, this one; because they were parents to four young adults, his nephews inclusive. Both husband and wife whispered into each other’s ears for a long time, finally Uncle Bayo said; “son, you can stay for as long as you want.”
The boys were overjoyed; they could hardly believe it. It was sheer luck.
“Emeka has been living in Uncle Bayo’s house because he does not have a place to stay,” Kunle said; taking his dad away from his stray thoughts.
“How could Bayo allow a homosexual live in his house? What happened to his scruples? What an irresponsible decision!” Their father lamented. “For crying out loud, this boy left home without a word. Does he know if he’s running away from the law? So Bayo will encourage you too, if you ever wanted to be gay! Instead of you to talk some sense into Emeka, you are both parading him like a fine piece of art!” their dad said irritatedly.
It seemed odd to the boys; nobody should tell you who to love and who you shouldn’t love.
“Daddy, I like Emeka,” Muyiwa said with the wit of a fourteen-year-old. “Even if Emeka is gay and even if he is a criminal; I will let him stay in my room,” he said stubbornly.
Emeka had taught Muyiwa and Dami how to throw punches because both of them were being bullied in school. Dami nodded in approval of what his brother said; he could not believe that Muyiwa could express his feelings to their dad on such a touchy subject. He was delighted; Dami had no doubt that Muyiwa would hold one’s own when he leaves him at home to study in London.