I GAVE HIM A CHANCE
Another secret story of me…
Life wasn’t so pleasant. Dad lost 40 million naira in a business he did and every project he wanted to carry out was put to a halt. It was another phase of life for me because things got worse than I ever expected. We wouldn’t pay house rent for years, landlord’s thugs came to our house and took all our properties in a bid to sell them and recover some money. At that moment, our house was empty and I kept lying to people who visited that we are packing out. We couldn’t afford to eat so every weekend we have to depend on leftovers from our closest relative. On Fridays, I go to help clean the house, cook and do other domestic chores and while going I will be coming home with lots of leftover foods… Well, the foods were too good to be called leftovers. We depended so much on it and God really used those relative of ours to keep us going.
My Dad became a driver receiving salary of Six thousand naira, monthly. Can you imagine that? And watching him struggle to make ends meet kept me and my siblings crying on the inside. But… Outsiders never knew we were going through all this!
It was in this situation that I felt I could be a solution. It could be a long story telling of so many things including how I stole a neighbours school fees to buy few text books. The pressure was mounted on us by teachers, they punish and flog us mercilessly because we don’t have text books. Out of that pressure I felt stealing was the ideal.. Was it worth it? NO.
Looking at myself I felt my talent as a writer could fetch me quick money and my class mates even encouraged me on that. I started wandering from one publishing company to another looking for a publisher who could buy my book. Hopes were high and I often took permission from school with written letters concerning being absent from school or coming late to school.
I visited so many popular publishing firm including Africana Feb Publishers, Mass Founders, Midfield Publishers, Elite Publishers, Base 5 Publishers and lots more. One of the directors in Africana was amazed at my courage as I visited them in my school uniform. While most of them turned down my offer, they encouraged me not to give up. One of the senior staffs in Midfield then even told me that as a graduate he cannot win me on a writing competition. But they were only interested in publishing text books and not novels.
It was in this challenge that I met a Publisher, I won’t mention the name of his firm… And he offered to help.
He actually invited me over when he heard I wanted to sell my manuscript outrightly. The first day I came to his office it wasn’t what I expected. I thought it was going to be as organised as Africana Feb Publishers but it wasn’t. Entering the office I met people working and I noticed they gave me an eye that looked like “and who is this one?”. I waited in the reception room as a tall lanky man came in.
“You’re looking for Oga, right?” He asked me
“Yes… Yes” came by reply. He smiled and continued
“How may we help you?”
“He invited me over for business. I was going around looking for where to sell my manuscript” I told him. He gently took the book from me and went through it without saying a word. When he was satisfied he stood up and said “well, wait for him to come”. I hissed silently. Why engage me when he had nothing to offer? Or he just wanted me to know he was a stakeholder in the company?
It wasn’t up to five minutes, a short old man passed me. He didn’t look like a boss, I didn’t greet him and he also walked straight up without looking sideways. ” Hey….” the man I had met earlier whispered to me “that’s the man you’re looking for”. Really? That man? I thought to myself. He was about to open his office when he heard my little voice echo in the large room “good morning Sir…” There were senses of fear and insecurity from my voice and there was something about that man I didn’t like… Perhaps it was just because of his looks.
“Ehee… Who are you and how may we help you?” He asked me as he walked into his office.
“Ehm… Ehm…” I stammered wondering if I should shout because he was out of sight.
“Follow him…” one of the worker whispered from behind.
When I entered his office, the scent of old newspapers and books greeted me. It looked like an attic where only papers where packed. The only space left in his office was where he had his table. As I looked around in confusion, he read my thoughts and said
“You must be wondering what I am doing with all these books…” he laughed and continued “I am a publisher and that’s how our office look like. I am a mobile library.”
“Well… Sir, I am Onyedika Nnadozie. The one you sent for concerning my book ‘Girls at Squad’…” He couldn’t let me finish and he took words off my mouth.
“Oh! So its you who write about girls…” He got off his seat, walked to the door and closed it “my workers loves to poke nose” he added.
“No Sir… I don’t write about girls. I wrote about girls” I told him trying to get his attention back to the reason I came. “I have the book here Sir and like you rightly heard, I am looking for a buyer. I want to sell it outrightly”
He went back to his seat and reached out for the manuscript. I handed it to him as he read the title aloud “Girls at Squad” he paused and continued “do you think you should sell this book?” Before I could say a word he continued “no you won’t. You shouldn’t… Its your story and the world needs to read it while you personally control how it spreads. What you need is encouragement and support. I can produce the book for you at no cost, connect you to great men through whom you can sell your book to wider audience. I bet you, I will make you rich!” He smiled.
I wasn’t just amazed, I was lost in thought. He looked unsuspicious and even if I had to suspect him of anything, what will he want from a little boy like me? What will I suspect him of? The offer came so easily and stress-free and I wasn’t very comfortable with it.
“Sir… Just like that?” I asked “I mean… You haven’t met me before”
“You’re still very little. My first son is exactly your age. At this age you already know what you were called to do and I saw a mark of God on your head when I entered. I have no choice but to help you. You’ll leave the manuscript here… We will give it to our editors and do a thorough work on it. Once I am done with the editing, we will start production” he said.
“Thank you so much sir…” I appreciated
“Now tell me…” He looked into my eyes “who is that girl you wrote about? Your girlfriend?”
“Ah… Nooooh!!! Hahahahaha” I laughed finding it very funny “I don’t even have a girlfriend”
“Really? You don’t? I can get you one if you wish” he said but I still found it very funny and rejected his offer as part of the joke. He stood up and came behind me. Before I could say “Jack Robinson” his hand has caught my private. At that moment I still didn’t know what he was doing with it and I struggled carefully and hit his hand and he left me alone. I was afraid to talk… I didn’t know what my fears was but I was just very afraid to talk or shout.
“Well… Don’t panic boy. I just wanted to know the size of it and see how your girl enjoys you. Well, we are done… I will do as I promised and you must check back tomorrow and see if we have started work on your book.”
He pressed few notes into my palms and asked me to buy myself something with it. I left with mixed feelings. I was happy my book was going to hit the market, I was confused because of his behaviours and I was afraid because of what he just did. I have heard of cultists and ritualists who have used people’s private parts for rituals and I didn’t want to guess he was one.
On another visit, he asked of my girlfriend again and I gave him the same answer I had given him before and he breathed deep.
“You’re a wise boy.” He said “it’s of no use to make girlfriends. They can get pregnant, you can become a father even when you don’t want it…”
“No Sir…” I interrupted “That’s not my reason. I don’t believe that a girlfriend has something to do with sex. That’s just a dictionary mistake…”
“No human can stay without sex. It keeps you younger and energetic. It makes you mentally balanced. You mean you’re still a virgin?” He asked with a sharp rejoinder
I wasn’t comfortable with the discussion but I replied him “yes Sir… I am and…”
“That’s my point!” He smiled “You can have sex and still be a virgin. Have you heard of gays before?” He didn’t allow me to answer and he continued “you’re gay… That’s why you don’t like girls.”
“No sir… I like girls. I am not gay. Its disgusting” I exclaimed
“You’re… If only you can give me a chance of showing you the acts of homosexuality… If only you could allow me feel what your body is like, you stand a better chance of achieving more in life. I just like you, your brain and everything about you. You’re too young but you already have the mind of adults. But you must be committed to me if I will be committed to seeing that your book hits the market. The ball is in your court.”
“I am a Christian, there are things I don’t do…” I tried reminding him but he always has what to say
“Me too… Haven’t you heard of David who loved Jonathan more than women? Isn’t that gay? Haven’t you seen that David committed lots of sins and God didn’t punish him. That grace is upon our lives too. I know lots of Pastors who are homosexuals and they are doing well…”
He continued talking but I wasn’t listening anymore, my head was filled up and I couldn’t even see clearly anymore.
The point was clear. He was a Homosexual. I was worried over so many things and I felt harassing him would mean loosing the agreement we had towards my book and so I decided to pretend I was playing along until my book is out. I desperately wanted my book out, I desperately wanted to see my book in stores and I was desperately putting myself into trouble. Shortly, I was out of Secondary School and I started working in a paint factory.
I kept having sleepless nights because of the man. I remembered spending a day in Church, praying and crying because since the first day I met that man, my heart has never been at rest. I decided to meet one of our Pastors in my Church. I narrated my experiences to him and asked him for advice on what to do, he said the Church will help me if I make a move of independently getting my book out. He prayed for me and even offered me food.
Fast forward to 3 year and few months, the gay publisher kept promising me heaven and earth and kept giving me flimsy excuses why my book is not yet out. One of the Saturdays I went there, he almost raped me in his office… It sounds funny to say an old man wanted to rape a young boy. I was 17 years when I first met him.
During December that year, I saved up about 40,000 naira (Nigerian Currency) and decided to have a christian story I wrote in print with the title is “The Reality… A search for the truth”. I printed it in Base 5 Printing press and it came out exactly on the night of 25th December 2010.
On 28th December, I went to the Man’s office concerning the book. We were discussing on other issues when he went out of office to get something. I took a risk… Searched his office before he could come back and found my book. I stole it, hid it in the bag I came with and that was the end.
In January 2011, I took my printed book to Church. I had no plans to launch it because there was practically no money to do so anyway. I thought the entire church would pick a copy, I thought the Pastor would encourage all members to buy and support me… I thought my day has come and I calculated 100 naira × 1000 copies and saw myself making lots of gain. Unfortunately, I was told to stand at the gate of the church with the book. That was the best they could do. At the end of the day, I sold only two copies. I went home in tears and disappointment.
On February 2011, I went to another branch of our Church. The Vicar asked me to get my books. They had larger audience and I expected more. On Sunday when I thought people would be encouraged to support me, I was asked to also stand at the gate of the Church and know if someone wants to buy. At the end of the day, I sold only 4 copies… It didn’t even cover my expenditure in transporting myself and my book to that place.
I met another man who volunteered to help me sell my books. He was a marketer who deals on current affair books. He asked me to follow him around whenever he goes for marketing but on one condition. He will always do the talking and I will also help him sell his books. I started going from market to market, from lesson centres to another and from school to schools with him. You know what? We sold hundreds of copies of his books but in three days only 12 copies of mine was sold.
My parents and siblings don’t know much of these stories… All they knew was that I leave house in the morning and come back in the evening. Even if I was monitored, it couldn’t help.
“Train up a child in the way he should go… When he walks alone and when you are not there to guide him, he will not depart from it. He may want to but something will always draw him back…”
I thought of going back to the Gay-publisher and see if anything can come from him but I found a new hope… It was another person.
…to be continued