15 Minutes that Changed My Life

Name: Obric Merlin Rex

Age: 26

Country: Tanzania

This is the story of the 15 minutes that has altered the course of my life, forcing me unwillingly to prepare for the exodus.

It was an ominous day starting with a job interview which didn’t pan out like I wanted it to. You see, it was one of those interviews where even before going in, you knew it wouldn’t go well because of a feeling the enveloped and followed you like an invisible mosquito buzzing incessantly at night: you could feel it in your bones. And so as you closed the door behind you, your early premonitions were proven right.

As I was desponded, I decided to go straight home. I took the Posta-Mbagala bus which was full to the brim. The traffic was heaving slowly, like a rat about to die. The haunting clouds were circling like angry black birds and the atmosphere was dead, windless, lacking movement, lacking life; apart from the snail moving traffic jam of purring engines filling the air with petrol-ized fumes. I managed to get a seat and for the entire ride I passed it in a series of fitful patterns of dozing off and waking up.

The bus stopped at Mvinjeni and I pushed my way through a thick forest of people, stepping on a few and almost floating as I approached the door.

Outside the setting sun was incognito behind the blanket of darker clouds ushering what was predicted to be a heavy downpour.

I entered the house that I shared with my mom, sister and older brother. I found my sister lounging in the living room watching television. I dropped like a bag of potatoes on the sofa, enervated. I talked to my sister for some time before heading into my room. But before I did, she asked if she could use my phone to send a message. I handed it over.

Just as I was about to head for the bathroom, finally the clouds let out; rain started pouring outside, like million nails poking the metal roof. And then suddenly I heard a commotion in the living and so I decided to go and find out.

1st – 4th minute ++ My sister started screaming at me. Are you gay? What is this on your Facebook? Why? And then it hit me that my gay-friendly Facebook was saved in my phone. Shit! The cat was out of the bag. My mind went blank, my lips dried and my throat ached. As if the cold from the outside caught up with me, I started shivering, my eyes blinking as if they wanted to let down their own rainfall, but nothing came out.

5th – 6th minute ++ Are you gay? The phone was on her left hand, the right was pointing at me. The second round when she asked, it didn’t seem like a question anymore. It was a statement, an accusatory statement heavy with malice and contempt and all the bad adjectives and adverbs put together, raining from her mouth like a fountain, her body language disgusted by what she had found out about me.

7th – 9th minute ++ And then my mom who was in the kitchen stormed into the living room and after she was brought up to speed she took the phone from my sister’s hand and went through it. I didn’t know exactly what she saw but her immediate action, primordial motherly instinct; she started pouring like the rain outside. She was crying and screaming at the same time and nothing from her mouth made sense. Everything was happening too fast and my mind was blank and terrified for the most part. I was shaking and I don’t know how I managed to stand there without my knees giving in.

10th – 11th minute ++ Then my brother came out of his room; an inch taller than me, and one of those kids hustling the street or more like sitting around without doing anything. We have never really gotten along well due to the vast differences between us. I like to read and he doesn’t. I like politics and he is not interested. I am a bit introverted and he is a loud mouth. Our personalities couldn’t be any more different. Since my father passed away, he was supposed to be the head of the family but the shoes have been too big for him.

He started shouting at me and for a moment I thought he would come and punch me, shove me, push me, spit on me, kick me or slap me. The foam formed at the sides of his mouth like an epileptic child.

12th – 14th minute – “I can’t change,” I heard myself shouting back in the midst of the argument. This fueled the downpour of tears from my mothers, as if she wanted to hear me say otherwise. She collapsed on the sofa and I heard her say the infamous quote

“What did I do wrong?”

I wanted to tell her that it was not her fault. I wanted to get closer so she could hug me and we could console each other. I wanted to her to say that she would love me nevertheless. I wanted the rain outside to stop with all the shouting in the house. But it wasn’t possible.

15th minute – The last minutes of those 15 minutes included my brother vowing to kill me, my sister continuing to extend her dictionary of profanities and my mother on the sofa hands on her head bawling like there was a funeral.

The following day, the rain had stopped and everything was quiet. I left the house and went to the beach. I was so distraught that I thought I would just throw myself in the water and drown. But by the time I got there, I sat and stared at the tides for two hours, contemplating about my life.

Today no one speaks to me. I walk like a ghost in the house that my father built with love. I have become an outcast.

I have become that which resembles Ebola.

Please leave a comment. By the way, you don’t need to fill your name and email address. 


4 Comments Add yours

  1. khalfan says:

    Friend you are gifted, this is how most of Tanzanian gays facing.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Amazing post!


  3. Bradz says:

    Your words are lyrical….like melting butter on a hot croissant. I want to know what has happened to him…


  4. Anonymous says:

    Ooohhh… too bad for the boy!!! I wish u could be there jus to stand by his side


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