Henry looked past me as if seeing the events that led up to the depravity that now plagued him. I listened as he told his story.
I was initiated into the gay circle during my secondary school days. When I started the school, I was a happy little boy. Many of the senior boys seemed to take a liking to me because they said I was very handsome. Some said I looked beautiful, like a girl. They practically fought themselves to have me as a bunkmate. I was happy at the attention, not knowing what was in stock for me. I chose one of them who was the nicest of the lot as my school father. His name was Kenneth. He was so happy about it. And I was until events began to unfold.
I had resumed school early the second term of my first year in school. I was happy my school father was also in school and we had fun talking and playing games before the school resumed the next week. The day after I resumed, I went to arrange some of my clothes in the box room. It was a little room where the students stored boxes bags and some clothes.
As I rummaged through the clothes, Senior Kenneth walked in and closed the door after him. I wanted to ask him if he needed me to help him do something when he put a hand over his lips, signalling that I should not say anything. I wondered what was happening but my eyes widened further when he took off his clothes. I tried to protest when he took off mine but he said in a harsh voice I could not recognise as his.
‘If you shout, I will hand you over to the other boys to deal with.’
That shut me up immediately. I knew what privilege I had having him as a school father. He was one of the most popular boys in the school and the spoilt, only child of rich parents. Nobody could touch me or any of his other school sons. So I stayed there and endured it while he painfully initiated me into homosexuality. I was sore for days after that but he helped treat my bruises and we continued after that. I could not tell anyone my secret pain. I only consoled myself with the provisions, money, and large portions of food that Senior Kenneth gave me in exchange for the perverted pleasure I gave him.
With time, I got so used to it and no longer felt the initial disgust. I never knew it could be so addictive but it was. When Senior Kenneth left school, I initiated many other junior boys like me and had several other partners among my classmates. My best friend, Collins was one of them and we got so attached to each other that we continued even after we I got married.
Unlike Collins who despised ladies and vowed to remain single, I could swing my affection from both men to women. I tried several times to stop. I went for divine counsel but the moment I saw Collins, I just could not help it anymore. We got together again and the cycle started. I got born again and stopped for almost three years but Collins again made me break my vows.
He came to the house a year after our marriage and broke down my defences. We sometimes stole away from work to hotels and made use of the times you were absent to indulge ourselves. Each time it happened, I felt such deep remorse but like a man hooked on dope, I just kept going back.
‘Please don’t leave me, Florence. I love you. I really do. I want this marriage to work. Help me through this. With your love, I know I can overcome.’ Tears flowed freely down my husband’s eyes after he finished his sad tale.
My face was already drenched with tears. I was overcome with emotions at what my husband had gone through. In my mind, I cursed the Kenneth monster who had done this to my husband.
‘Please help me, Florence.’
‘I cannot help you. Only God can. Let’s go to him.’
We went on our knees and I cried out. I wept as I besought God to heal my husband. I prayed like a deranged woman and my sweat mixed with tears. By the time we stood up from the place of prayer, I felt light hearted. I knew God had stepped in.
The next morning, a knock sounded on the front door. I opened it and saw a stranger standing there. Before I could say anything, Henry came into the room and the look in his eyes scared me. He looked as though he had seen a ghost.
‘Good evening, Henry.’ The stranger said before I could ask what was going on.
‘Good evening………..Kenneth……………………..’ Henry said, his teeth clattering.
‘Kenneth!’ I almost screamed out the words. Could it be the same……………The man who led my husband along the pathway of destruction?
‘Honey, meet Kenneth. He was my senior in secondary school. Kenneth, meet my wife, Florence.’
‘You are the Kenneth……………………….’ I said before I could stop myself.
‘Honey, can you leave us alone……………………………………………….?
I was about to protest but the plea in my husband’s eyes made me walk slowly away, but not before I gave the Kenneth the full force of my hostile gaze.
It was three days after. I was pacing the corridor on spidery legs, my mouth dry, my hands shaking, my heart almost breaking with pain. I tried to walk up to the room and see things for myself but each time, I remembered his plea and I remained. I sat down so many times and stood up again as agitation almost made a wreck of me.
At last the door opened and I turned almost in slow motion, watching the person I was waiting for walk slowly towards me.
‘Let’s go home.’ The voice did not sound so composed and fear gripped me.
‘No! I want to hear it now.’ I could hardly wait to hear the news. My heart felt as if it wanted to burst out of my chest.
‘We need privacy.’
I allowed Henry lead me to the car park and he spoke as soon as we entered the car, handing the document over to me.
‘It is negative.’
I released the pent up tension that had built up over the past few days and we wept in each other’s arms.
I turned over on my side as I looked at my husband sleeping soundly, the rise and fall of his chest in rhythm with the fast beats of my heart. This time not with trepidation, but swelling with love for him. I did not know I could love my husband this much after all that had happened. But I did, with a love that could only be divine.
The visit of his ‘initiator,’ Kenneth had brought feelings of anger rushing through me. Anger that turned to pity when I heard his story. He was dying of AIDS; the result of his years of perversion. And he had gone all out to find that little boy whose life he had destroyed among others. The revelation had changed Henry in a way that baffled me. It had made him take the test and the negative result made him so grateful to God for giving him a second chance.
I remembered some words which I heard years back that had stuck to me.
Keeping the picture of pain and pleasure before you can help you run away from sin or keep you strong in the midst of trials.
That was so true as I thought on it later. Jesus for the joy that was set before him endured the cross. That was the picture of pleasure. A man can think of the picture of pain, the end results of wallowing in sin to prevent him from doing it.
My friend, Okiama once told me of what prevented her from having an affair with her boss. She was quite close to him and tongues were beginning to wag in the office. The picture of pain that she saw was that of the office agog with gossip if she was caught ‘red handed’ with him and this prevented her from doing it.
For Henry, the reality of what had happened to his friend was a wakeup call. When Kenneth died, just three months after his visit, Henry took an eternal pledge to shun homosexuality. The transfer of Collins to faraway Cotonu also helped his resolve and I believed that chapter was over.
It was tough for me to allow Henry touch me but I relaxed my defences and our love life resumed as if nothing had happened.
My hand travelled to the slight bulge in my belly.
As we expect the new addition to our home, I am happy that our family would be compared to Adam and Eve and the children, not the travesty of Adam and Steve who would have to adopt kids to raise a perverted generation.