Kayd parted my curls and moisturised my scalp with warm coconut oil. He performed this ritual with the care of a priest engaged in active prayer. I never felt holier than when he combed my hair, or rubbed honeydew cream on my stomach to make my silver stretch-marks glint.
This man showed me that love — embodied love —was an easy language to master. He demonstrated again and again that love was not a haunting, but a deifying act.
He saw me during moments of crisis and carnal devotion. He saw me with clarity and moved accordingly.
Every night, when he made me call out the ninety-nine names of a God I had almost lost faith in, he stretched my tightness until we were both satiny with sweetness; until we both started shivering; until we both convulsed with concentrated euphoria.
Afterwards, as we lay there in silence, my room heavy with the smell of foox and fucking, I thought about black men like Kayd and myself in countries all over the western world: black men who had begged for their last breath as white cops fired countless bullets into their bodies; black men who had carried their mother's prayers in their bones for protection; black men who were made to feel dirty and dangerous from the moment they could say ‘Dada’. The only thing that separated those men from us was the flip of a coin — nothing more.
So I called out the ninety-nine names of a God I had almost lost faith in and paid tribute to my brothers lynched by white terrorists with badges and switched-on body cameras that made no difference, in the accurate belief that they would never have to pay for what they did. I called out the ninety-nine names of a God I had almost lost faith in and gave thanks for the miracle that I was still alive.
I was still alive.
Image by DIRIYE OSMAN and STEVE BRIGHT