It was the last week before the start of the end-of-semester exams. I had failed that awful compulsory psychology course two semesters running and I had to resit it this semester, again. And there were all the other final-year courses and that all-important Project, (as the dissertation was known at undergraduate level). I knew that I was behind with my coursework and that this week was going to be the only chance I would get to put myself back on top of my academic work. I had to put my head down and study; and study I did...whenever I could get Moses out of my mind. This was in the days before the Internet and when telephones were a luxury, the preserve of the affluent. There was no way of knowing where he was or what he was doing, or who he was with. And I just sat and thought and wondered about this man and the magic that had developed between the two of us. The university is located on the shore of the Lagos lagoon. The water is at the rear of the campus, such that the shoreline is far removed from the centre of campus life. At the lagoon front is an expansive grass lawn and just at the water's edge on the far side of the grass is a long quiet road along the shore, which leads to the Vice Chancellor's residence. Palm trees line the road and wooden benches similar to what you would find in a park are placed under the trees close to the water line. It was in this lovely place that I would spend long lonely hours, looking out over the water, wondering if Moses was thinking about me too. None of the people on campus who I called my friends knew I wasn't straight like they were. For them life was good, girls were aplenty. I didn't know anybody who wasn't straight. There was nobody I knew with whom I could share this thing I was feeling. This was a time in my life when being gay felt to me like a curse. There was nobody to talk to, but there was Moses...on my mind, always...
And so it was with much anticipation that I approached the Shrine on that Tuesday as I turned the corner into Pepple Street, the small side street where the Shrine is located. A group of men stood in front of the club entrance engaged in a conversation of sorts, one of them waving his arms about. In my eagerness to see Moses again I had arrived rather too early, because it was obvious as soon as I turned into the street that there were only few people about. I felt a bit awkward, but surprisingly among the group of men standing by the entrance was the man I was here to meet. We must have spotted each other at exactly the same moment, because the reason I'd noticed him was because his head made a sharp movement, the way one does when one suddenly notices something of interest from a distance. Our stares locked, before he turned away quickly and muttered something, perhaps an excuse to his colleagues from the band with whom he was standing. I slowed my pace and came almost to a standstill, not sure what to do. But Moses left his colleagues and came towards me, looking genuinely pleased to see me. He extended his hand, which I shook in the way I would any friend. Those in the group whose backs were turned to us, turned around to see who their colleague had left them to meet. But their curiosity quickly disappeared when they saw me, the nondescript unremarkable young man that I must have appeared to be.
It was awkward indeed. It was only dusk, quite early in the evening and Moses had things to do before the show started. He clearly hadn't expected to see me at this hour and I felt a bit guilty for being the cause of his discomfiture. I apologised to him for turning up this early and confessed that not seeing him had become unbearable. He looked at me in that way that makes you feel that he can see right into you and read all your thoughts. I knew he understood. It was annoying that I was not allowed to throw my arms around him right here and now, because this is what I would have loved to do; to feel the warmth of his body against mine, to be held once again by this man. We were standing in full view of everyone around us but there was no denying it, I was helplessly in love. Moses said he was expecting Grace to arrive any minute now. He had told me the last time we were together that there was always a seat reserved for her at the front, because he liked to see her while he was on stage so he would know she was safe. He asked me if I would like a seat in the front tonight, and of course I wasn't about to refuse the first thing ever offered to me by this man. Besides, the thought that he even wanted to have me constantly in his sights was exciting. So naturally I said yes. At least, I too would get an undisturbed view of the man I had come to the Shrine to see. I will take in as much of Moses as I can tonight, enough to allow me bury my head in my books until Friday when I will be back here again.
Leaving me, Moses rejoined his colleagues and shortly afterwards they all entered into building through the stage door. I wandered around for a while. It was too early to gain entrance to the club as the gate was still locked shut, so I moved further down the street and found a quiet spot. I sat on a bench by the roadside under a tree, a place which I assumed was a hangout for local residents, where ayo a traditional board game was played. From where I sat, I had a clear view of the Shrine and it was not long before a taxi pulled to a stop in front of the club. Two women alighted from it and I immediately recognised Grace. I couldn't help noticing how elegantly she carried herself, a true African beauty this woman and I could see why Moses had married her. Both women disappeared into the club through the stage door. As night fell, the street became noticeably busier as more and more people poured into the area. I realised that I ought to return to the entrance gate in order to claim my position in the queue as one who arrived early. The gate eventually opened and when I entered I went straight towards the front. I hadn't been there long when Moses emerged from backstage. He seemed preoccupied with something, walking around the stage then saying a few words to one of his colleagues and then to another. They were doing all those things that members of a band do with their instruments before a performance. I hoped I wasn't being a nuisance. Moses looked out across the hall where a few people were already milling about. He didn't notice me straight away so I made myself more noticeable by moving into his line of vision. Moses acknowledged me with a nod and then went back into the backstage area.
I went to one of the kiosks that was just opening and bought a drink. As I turned around to return to the front I saw Moses coming towards me. We smiled at each other and went together to the front where he showed me the seat that he'd reserved specifically for me. I was unused to the VIP treatment, indeed, such had never happened to me before and I wasn't sure what to make of it or how to react. Anyway I sat down, although all of the other seats were still empty. Turning around, I saw that the crowd was rapidly increasing in size behind the seating area and I wondered if anyone I knew from campus would see me sitting at the front like an honoured guest. It wasn't long before the seats around me were occupied by others, strange people quite unlike the sort of people I was used to seeing at the Shrine, those who jumped and danced wildly to the music when the band was playing. Well, I felt important and I was just adjusting myself to this new status when to my astonishment, Grace wafted past in front of me and sat down next to me. I wasn't sure if I was excited, or if I was horrified. She smiled at me, obviously remembering me from the last time. I greeted her politely, secretly hoping that this woman would not even conceive of the idea of striking up a conversation with me. Thankfully, she didn't and to my great relief the band emerged on stage just then and the show began. If only this woman knew what her husband and I were up to. In a way, I felt I was in a superior position because I was sure she knew nothing about the erotic relationship that her husband had with me, or about that side of her husband that craved the love of a man. I knew her man better than she did.