"I like Christopher," Inoma suddenly said in the middle of our random discussion, causing me to have a brief moment of brain freeze.
"Huh?" I asked in confusion, before looking at her.
She had a worried look on her face. "Is it bad?"
It was like I heard her, but then didn't hear her. Like I heard her, but then hadn't finish processing it, so I asked, "Uh?"
Inoma sighed. "I knew I should have just kept it a secret and let the feelings die."
"Huh?" I asked again, so she get that I was lost. My brain had processed it all, but I didn't want it to seem like I was faking it so I kept the act up. "What are you talking about? All I heard was, 'is it bad?" is what bad?"
"That I like Christopher," she replied a little more comfortable, but worry still very much evident in her voice.
I shook my head, trying to look neither surprise or sound surprise as I replied, "What on earth would be wrong with that?"
Inoma went silent, gently playing with her fingers.
"It is only unexpected," I said, causing her to look at me. "I mean, when did it all begin?" I asked with a shrug and my hands spread out like I was expecting something.
"Since," she replied shortly, not saying anything after.
"I never imagined it, but it would be sick having two friends dating," I said, in an attempt to lighten the mood.
And it worked, Inoma chuckled as she replied, "Right?"
I nodded. "Does Topher know?"
She shook her head.
I nodded. "Now, all we have to do is get that clueless boy to know."
She chuckled and nodded. "But don't tell him now, let's wait till I am ready."
I nodded. "Works."
"So, what's up with Fareedah?"
"Let's take a stroll," I told her as I got up, and began to change from my indoor clothes to something I can wear out.
Inoma nodded as she got up also, so we could head out.
"I am stepping out with Inoma," I shouted as we both made our way to the door.
"Where are you people going?" my elder sister asked out loud, her voice sounding from the kitchen.
"We do not have anywhere in mind, Sister Eva," I replied, "It is only a stroll and we would be back soon."
My younger brother ran to me as he said, "Sister Celia, can I follow?"
I shook my head in reply. "Go and play ball outside," I dismissed him, making him pout as he went out to play with his peers.
"Make sure you don't stay out late," my sister said as we were about to step out.
"Okay," With that, we left.
We didn't walk far long before Inoma asked, "Does Aunty Eva know?"
I looked at her with a confused look, before I asked, "Know what?"
"That you like a girl."
I looked at her with a frown before I looked away. "You better be joking," I said lowly as I walked beside her. "You expect me to go to my sister and tell her, 'Oh, I like a girl'? Are you kidding me? I have never thought about this or felt burdened by it, but do you know how difficult it was to come into some sort of acceptance with it? I do not know if it looked easily, but it was really hard to tell either you or Christopher. It was like I was stripping a part of me naked. It was so difficult, okay? And do you even know how much thinking I had to do? Do you know how the slightest thing a person says to me or about the LGBT+ community affects me and makes me think for a very long time? I am sensitive to even the slightest remark, ignorant or not. It might not be something I have paid a lot of attention to, but knowing I am part of the community just arouses some sort of fear I didn't even know I had. But then you ask if I told my friendly, yet really strict sister that I like girls? In a society that frowns on it? Seriously?"
We had walked out of our street and were taking a turn to the left, walking by the road side. As usual, the road wasn't busy, but cars were still passing by us every now and then. "I didn't know it was that serious," inoma said quietly to me, looking at the ground as she gently kicked at a stone. "I didn't know it was hard on you."
I shook my head in response, before I said, "No, it is okay. I wasn't expecting you to."
We sank into a deafening silence, each giving the other space to chill out and relax. I looked around, watching how the people around were relating. There wasn't anything that wasn't available where we lived. If you needed fresh ingredient for your soup or stew, you would find. Provisions? You'd find. Baby food? You'd find. There was absolutely almost nothing you didn't fine. I watched how a woman with a wide smile, tried to get the seller to reduce the price of her ugwu vegetable leaf from 300 naira to a hundred naira. I was not surprised by her action; my mother was worse. If it were my mother standing there, she would expect the seller to bring it down to 50 naira. I always wondered if she wasn't thinking about the income of the sellers and how they were going to survive. She would always say, "They are still making their gain, even more sef."
"So about Fareedah, how are things?" Inoma had suddenly asked, brining me back to the fact that I was still walking with her and that was the main reason I asked us to take a stroll, so no one listen in on our conversation.
"I do not know how to perfectly explain this," I began, "But Fareedah is that kind of person who communicates better in person and don't know how to communicate online. She is barely even online. So, honestly, we haven't spoken once since I came home."
Inoma frowned as she looked at me. "And you are okay with that?"
I nodded with a smile, looking away from her and straight ahead.
"If it were me? I just wouldn't be able to," Inoma replied, "When I do like someone, I must speak to them every day, or at least almost every day. That way I know how they are doing, and I just feel that sorts of help with bonding."
I smiled. "With this, there would be more to talk about when we meet. That would help more with bonding, and time spending."
Inoma shook her head. "I just-"
"So you and Christopher talk every day uh?" I asked, unexpectedly cutting her off and an attempt to shift the topic from me.
Inoma chuckled with a blush, before she replied, "Almost."
That was adorable. I didn't know her feelings for him were that deep, but that made me happy. I honestly wasn't still sure how to feel, but I didn't feel weirded out by it. Instead, I hoped things went well for her.
"Hmm," I said at an attempt to tease her, and it worked, making her blush as she looked away.
We soon changed the topic as we agreed it was time to head back home, while we talked about random things. Inoma complained of how she didn't like coming home because of the chores, but then anticipated it because she missed her family. I agreed with her and told her same.