Rick stared in longing at the gyrating bodies of the beauty pageant contestants and wished he was one of the girls on stage. Like the other students around him, he screamed in excitement every time a girl shook her buttocks at the crowd seductively, the feline grace and suppleness reeking of sexual promise. The occasion was Miss Fagunwa, one of the activities for the Hall Week of Fagunwa hostel at the University of Lagos. For an event that had promised to have beautiful girls contesting for a the coveted title, the compound of New Hall which consisted of five hostels was filled with students who had come to watch the spectacle.
“Shake that booty girl,” Rick screamed, his voice mixing with the loud music blaring from the speakers and the noise of the other spectators. He jumped up excitedly and quelled the feeling of disgust rising in him against contestant eight whom in his judgement was dancing too stiffly for a girl and not making use of her endowments. I can do it better, he thought to himself as he wished for the umpteenth time he was the one on that stage competing for the crown. I would have shown this crowd how to do a good booty dance, these girls are a disgrace to the female gender, he mused.
“Now ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, bonafides and squatters, join us in welcoming on stage, contestant number…” the announcer spoke into the microphone as the song ended and he made to introduce another contestant.
Rick turned from the stage and tuned out the voice of the host as he made his way through the sweating crowd. He couldn’t bear to watch this anymore, it was torture for someone like him. Rick had always known he was different from the regular guy for as far back as he could tell. He had a taste for feminine things – his favourite colour was pink, he liked glittery jewelry, the feel of feminine clothing and he simply worshipped the appeal of high heels. As an only child, he had a lot of free time to himself to indulge in his guilty pleasures as he grew up. At age nine, his parents had allowed him the freedom many of his mates could only dream of. His father’s job as a banker meant he had to leave the house very early and was not usually back till a little past seven p.m. while his mother worked as a lawyer in a top law firm. She was always too busy handling one high profiled case or the other to help her make partner at the firm to have much time for him. More often than not, she brought work home with her and she would lock herself in her study for hours on end, poring through law journals, case notes and other law related materials that she would barely notice when he slung her handbag on his shoulder or slipped his feet into her heels.
As Rick made his way back to his hostel room in Sodeinde, one of the hostels occupying New Hall, he walked with a sway to his hips, counting his steps in tune to the music which was slowly fading away the further he went into the hostel. His room, E302 was at the far end of the hostel in a secluded corner that was notorious for housing the hostel’s bad boys. Usually, the smell of marijuana always wafted into his room which was not too far from where the miscreants smoked their contraband away from the prying eyes of the hostel porters. He sighed in relief when he climbed the last flight of steps and saw that the hallway was empty. He didn’t usually like walking past them to get to his room because then he had to try his best to walk as masculine as possible in order not to draw their attention to him.
The empty hallway stretched before Rick like a runway and he allowed himself give in to the temptation he had been feeling when he was watching the beauty pageant downstairs a few moments ago. Strutting in a manner that would leave any supermodel green with envy, Rick sashayed in imaginary high heels, his hips swaying seductively as he flipped an imaginary long flowing hair. When he got to the end of the hallway, he turned around hands akimbo like a model striking a pose and with his chin jutting out, he stared at the closed doors of the rooms before him and smiled like a queen bestowing blessings on her subjects.
“What are you doing?” The voice came from behind him and Rick whirled around in fright as he realised he had been caught.
He turned and faced a pair of glazed eyes. The dreadlocked ruffian-looking intruder belonged to one of the school’s most famous miscreant, Scorpio. Rick suddenly remembered the dark alcove where most of the miscreants sometimes smoked due to the privacy it afforded. It was a secluded spot shielding them from the prying eyes of anybody offended by the smell or sight or people smoking while its position gave whoever was smoking in the alcove a clear view of the hallway. Scorpio had a rolled up joint in his hand, its glow seeming to wink at him accusingly.
“Nothing,” Rick said and quickly backed away retracing his footsteps so that he could use another staircase to get to his room though it was a longer route as he would have to make a full turn round the hostel. He was in a dangerous situation but then his intruder shouted in a loud voice.
“Gay! Sodeinde come and see GAY!!” Scoprio’s voice was growing louder with every word, “if you haven’t seen a gay assed MOFO before, come and see this sissy right now!!! Oloshi cocksucker!” the voice traveled down the empty hallway and Rick’s hurried footsteps turned into a jog as doors to rooms began to open and people started filing out as if drawn to spectacular event at a circus.
“Homo!” another voice called out and Rick bent his head in shame as humiliation welled in him. He could feel their judgmental gazes following him and he only narrowly managed to deflect a blow as he passed by a muscular guy on his way down the hall.
“I cover my yansh with the blood of Jesus. See as he dey shake yansh like woman. Oloriburuku. Bastard child.”
“You better make sure you wear three boxers or more this night before someone burst your yansh for you in your sleep this night,” another voice joked joining in on the mockery.
Rick allowed the tears of humiliation spill down as he turned the bend that signaled safety. He leaned against the wall to catch his breath and wiped at the tears angrily, his moment of glory forgotten.
Damn them all! What did the ignorant fools know? I am not gay, he screamed to himself silently. What do they know about being born in the wrong body, about having feminine feelings without being attracted to men? The ignorant assholes. He began to make his way up the flight of stairs that would take him to his room and with each step, he became more confused.
What am I really? I don’t want to sleep with a guy, I like women yet I want to dress like a woman and feel like a woman. What does it mean to be born in a wrong skin when my biological formation tells me I am a man but my mind tells me I am a woman? Does this make me gay or a lesbian? Am I going insane or am I just a nutcase homosexual like they think? The thoughts chased themselves in Rick’s head but he had no answer for any of it. Sighing in resignation, he yanked open the door to his room and entered.
“What is wrong with you Sisi Ricky?” his roommate Talabi asked in a casual tone oblivious of the further pain he was causing he already distraught Rick.
“Aren’t you going to compete with your sisters downstairs or did they disqualify you already?” Talabi’s bunkmate, Yemi asked in a jovial tone.
Rick paused in his steps and stared at the roommates who had mocked him ever since their first day in the hostel room and realised the sanctuary he had been running to was only in his mind. They were just as bad as the onlookers from outside and would only tease him mercilessly if he chose not to respond. Turning from the room, he took the steps two at a time, unsure of where he was going but knowing he had to get as far away as possible.
The pageant was still going on and the crowd was still cheering wildly. For a second he paused and stared longing at the stage where the girls were strutting and then he began running. As he ran and the wind whipped his face, he was blinded by his tears and oblivious to the curious stares of passersby. His mind registered the sound of the horn too late and he heard the screech of tyres on gravel as the driver braked sharply and made a swerve to avoid hitting him. He watched in horror as the car veered off the road and hit a streetlamp, the force of the impact denting the bumper of the car badly as splinters of glass flew everywhere and people screamed in horror. For a second he thought of running there to make sure the occupants of the car were okay but that feeling was gone in a split second and he was running again.
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