We Needed Human Diaries
We didn`t need my coded and hidden diary, or my classmates` locked diaries, We needed diaries that had ears to listen; eyes, that we were sure had seen what we saw, mouths that could guide us in love, and hearts that were loving enough not to condemn us.
We needed human diaries that we could confide in,
diaries that would not judge us,
diaries that wouldn`t read themselves to the world.
Such were the diaries we desired, however, they were scarce. They only existed in a few homes. And no, not the “when I was your age” homes.
Not the homes where parents always came first in class “when I was your age,”
not the homes that parents didn`t know the opposite sex “when I was your age,”
not even the ones who studied day and night “when I was your age”.
We needed parents who would tell the truth as it was/is. Speaking of telling the truth as it is, I remember a classmate in Junior Secondary School 3, (the third year in high school). Her name was Morayo.
Hers was a human diary she could speak with, one that looked like she could confide in, however, her diary never/rarely told her the truth on life issues.
So Morayo would tell us, half crying, “Don`t touch me again, it`s dangerous.”
“But I only touched your hand, what`s the big deal?”
“It doesn`t matter; my mummy said I can get pregnant if a boy touches me.”
It was one of the funniest things we heard in class. We thought it was a joke until we got to know that she meant it. It then became annoying — that her mum told her that wasn`t what made it annoying, but that she believed it. We didn`t understand how anyone who attended science classes, and had read on reproduction, in particular, could believe such. But sadly, that is what indoctrination does. Morayo was almost androphobic. She didn`t attend class parties because she believed that only sinful acts happened there. Oh, did I tell you that she spent the first two years of her Junior Secondary School in an all-girls school? She did. That also contributed to her distance from males. She found us, boys, strange. That was what her experience and human diary did to her.
Perhaps her diary had sad experiences with males, which she then passed on to her daughter, and even exaggerated stories to command fear. Maybe. You could argue that this mindset had its positive sides, however, I can argue also that Morayo grew up scarred. She had a human diary who rewrote her opinion on relating with the opposite sex.
What if Morayo found out later that a mild touch on the hand wouldn`t cause pregnancy?
What if she unfolded other lies that her diary said to her?
What if she got daring to do more?
This is the story of many who have lying human diaries
We Adopted Human Diaries
Because our first unit of socialization failed to provide us human diaries, and we got tired of the paper diaries that didn`t give feedback, we adopted our own human diaries.
For some, their diaries were more experienced senior students,
For others, their diaries were teachers,
Some even turned to virtual friends…
The first human diary I remember having was a senior student who was about three classes ahead of me. Her name was Oyinkansola. At the time, I was wooing a girl, Emem, who was a class ahead of me. I was clueless about how the female mind works (it`s been 16 years, and I wouldn`t say I know so much yet); I loved Emem, or I thought I did, but I just couldn`t get her to “be mine”. I couldn’t stand the shame of not winning her heart. Already, I was facing some criticism on how I went for a “completely flat girl”. I`ll tell you what this means.
It was the time when we were so ignorant and insensitive. We objectified females. We talked about their worth in terms of facial beauty and the sizes of their body parts. That was the reality we grew up in. It was what we heard artistes sing about, it was what we saw older females pride in, it was what we saw much older males get excited about. So we desired females who had “front and back”. Emem wasn`t one of such people. Her “front and back” were “flat”. Looking at it now, that was a terrible thing to have focused on. And sadly, a number of people still have this and many more absurd ideologies as their own reality. So sad.
Together with the love of my life, I want to be a human diary to our children. We will tell them about our experiences and teach them to lead better lives. Without making them feel like we`re intruders, we want them to be comfortable discussing their desires, attractions, thoughts, plans, actions, mistakes, regrets, and whatever else requires guidance. And no, we won`t even feel bashful discussing their kisses, dates, and other details young people consider secrets. It all depends on our relationship and approach. But I`m not ready to raise wrongly guided children. I`m pretty sure my other half isn`t, whoever, or wherever she is now.
So how could I have lost with Emem who was “flat”? If I were to fail, shouldn`t I fail at a task that I would be hailed for attempting? Why fail at a task people wouldn`t even bother considering. Those were my thoughts. There were my misguided thoughts. There were the thoughts of an eleven-year-old who succumbed to peer pressure. There were the thoughts of a year one secondary school student without sex education. There were the thoughts of a chap who needed to spend more time studying, and more energy understanding his new environment. But I instantly felt I needed to save my face. I felt I had to prove my masculinity by getting Emem to agree to date me. The focus gradually drifted from my interest in Emem to my interest in my ego. Looking at my interests now, and thinking back, “front and back” has never meant anything to me. Emem was kind and easy-going, and that was all that mattered. Or perhaps, all that should have mattered. But I had peer pressure to deal with. These were issues that I permitted to compete with my attention for 16 academic subjects, thereabout, and the need to adapt properly into my new life of being a boarding student. As I write, sweet memories of Emem flood my mind. I smile as I still feel the coolness of the water she brought for me on Sundays when we attended church, as somehow, only girls had access to a refrigerator. She probably has “front and back” now, or maybe she still doesn`t. She probably serves someone else some cold water now, or maybe she doesn`t. At the time she brought some cold water for me, I remember we weren`t even dating yet.
So I had Oyinkansola as my human diary. Being an older and more experienced female student, she helped me interpret Emem`s words and actions. She told me what to tell Emem and sometimes promised to tell me what Emem told her friends about me at the female hostel. My 17th subject was a clear success. I asked Emem out, and she was up for a relationship. That was perhaps the only subject I had an A in that academic term. I felt like a pro. I didn`t consult my human diary anymore, except a few times when I needed some crisis management tips. It altogether felt interesting. This 17th subject wasn`t entirely a bad idea, really, as my school uniform got neater, my shoes were polished on more days, the same way my teeth were brushed more often with a great deal of attention. I began to understand why some of our human diaries paid much attention to their looks. There was a need to impress. We even had an expression for it; we called it “must impress”.
Really, for every kind of peer pressure I have succumbed to, I, at some point, saw how unnecessary it was; however, I just felt the need to keep up with the Joneses. I guess many other people felt and still feel this way too. My conversations with Emem got boring after some weeks. I began to think the relationship didn`t worth the struggle to get her. However, I was grateful for the lessons I learnt as a result: the lessons from my human diary and the entire dating experience. Emem was my first girlfriend, and the memories remain unforgettable. I got so familiar with Emem, that the familiarity began to breed the proverbial contempt. It wasn`t even up to three months into the relationship that I began to feel the need for a change. I decided to get an extra girlfriend instead. I felt that would be a good way to conquer being tired of either. By the way, Emem still brought some cold water every Sunday, and even brought for some of my friends too, as I requested. The water even got colder as we dated. I wasn`t going to lose that privilege.
I was already polygamous at age 11. Hilarious! I felt like trying lessons from my 17th subject on someone else, without guidance this time. So I did. Another “flat babe”; her name was Tutu. People told me over a decade after this time that I was attracted to ladies who were small. I was surprised it took me that long to figure that out. It wasn`t something I looked out for, it just happened that way.
Every learner who seeks independence too quickly is likely to make grave errors. That was my story. Tutu was Emem`s friend and classmate, and I knew. But I must have felt that I was smarter than I actually was. Thinking of it now, I was actually foolish (laughs). Maybe if I had sought Oyinkansola`s opinion, she would have told me how silly my decision was. I applied my 17th subject knowledge on Tutu, and it worked so well. I even added some knowledge I had acquired in the course of overhearing some other human diaries. What`s more? My uniform got much neater, and so did my shoes and mouth. At this time, I somewhat felt like SAS [read part one of this story to know him]. I had two girlfriends, same way SAS had more than one wife. I even began to walk differently around the school. I was the only one who knew why there seemed to be springs under my feet. I felt like a Yoruba demon. I was only 11, and I had 16 subjects to learn. My math skills were terrible, however, I was doing well with the girls, Emem and Tutu, at least. I also sensed that I was desired by some others, but I wasn`t sure. I didn`t even care. I felt “blessed” enough.
How did I think that dating friends who were in the same class was a thing to do?
How did I not think that both girls would discuss their relationships?
Did I not think I could lose both girls as a result?
Well, it all happened on one of those says we prepared for the only inter-house sports competition I witnessed in that school. The morning sun was just starting to get unbearable, and athletes were on the field sweating it out. Non-athletes were there too, cheering up the athletes. I`ve never been sporty, so I didn`t have much to do that period. I also didn`t bother to cheer the athletes up. I remember that I was sitting alone somewhere when I saw two people approach me. They were in their white shirts and grey pinafores. I, for a second, hoped it wasn`t what I imagined. A confrontation? Emem and Tutu got closer. I don`t remember what exactly it was that they said, however, I remember it was about dating both of them, and they also tried to hit me on my head, which I suspected would have escalated into some more beating, so I ran away. This must have been less than a month into dating Tutu. Running away that day, I got to find out, was running away from both relationships, the cold water I got on Sundays, and the pride I derived from having two girlfriends. The day of the confrontation was a Friday. I got no cold water on the following Sunday, and somehow, none of them spoke with me afterward. I even noticed they got closer after the confrontation. For a while, I avoided them. I also didn`t tell my friends the truth about what happened between me and Emem. I`m not sure they knew I was dating Tutu. At least, none mentioned it. And yes, I was glad I wasn`t on the field that day. The confrontation would have attracted some attention I didn`t want.
The Diary Within
Like the ones I had with Emem and Tutu, there are some other experiences that remain unforgettable. Without ever recording such experiences in a diary, I remember them so well, except maybe for details like what Emem and Tutu said when they confronted me. If I had recorded it in a diary, it would remain intact and easy to quote, as long as I kept the diary. But look at me now, the diary within forgot that part and some other details which physical diaries would never forget.
The diary within is full of emotions. It keeps more records of wrong. It keeps some records that have no significance, or perhaps we don`t know their significance. The memories of this diary dwell within, and many times have some outward scars or signs. Some are physical, while others are behavioral. The diary within can`t be read without the owner`s permission as I read SAS` diary. However, the diary within can still be read through expressions. Just recently, I got shocked at how many of my friends, male and female, were sexually abused as children. I began to understand why some of them do the things they do. I then realised that I had an idea of the contents of their diaries within, through their expressions without. I became less judgemental. You never know why people act the way they do until they open and read to you their diaries within. When people read their diaries within to me, I feel so sorry for them that I almost want to find out the location of those who hurt them and go deal with them. But then I remember Emem, and Tutu, and many others, and imagine that my name exists in their diaries within, with negative records. Those girls had probably never had a boyfriend who cheats, perhaps I was their first boyfriend, so they could have ended up assuming that all boys were cheats, their next boyfriends after me might have had to deal with some inherited battles, and this is all because I left an unforgettable impression. My record dwells in their diaries within.
I had some inherited battles to combat too, there were diary records which I had no business with, but I had to conquer, in order to survive certain situations, in order to win certain hearts, in order to prove myself worthy of certain positions. There were diary wars I`ve had to fight.
Fighting Diary Wars
Watch this space next Sunday for the third part of Diaries Never Forget.
Written by: Akinsiwaju Sanya