My Bro is a weekly Zikoko series that interrogates and celebrates male friendships of different forms.
Jacob and Seun met in their first year of university, when they were just 18 years old. 30 years later, on #ZikokoMyBro, the two talk about transitioning from roommates who hated each other to best friends, going their separate ways in their 20s and reconnecting in their late 30s.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane
Jacob: My first memory of you was in our first year at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, back in 1992. I got in on the second list, so when I resumed, most of our coursemates already knew themselves. You were the crowned prince of parties, and I came to school all focused. Looking at you, I kept reminding myself, “This is the kind of guy I don’t want to be.”
Seun: I was the social prefect in secondary school, so I’ve always been popular. LOL. We didn’t talk throughout our first year because I never noticed you. It was when we became roommates that I actually got to know you. And we started fighting from the moment we started living together.
World War 1993
Jacob: You were the worst roommate ever. I was constantly cleaning up after you, and you never even acknowledged all I was doing. Because I was brought up to be overly polite, I didn’t know how to tell you how frustrated I was, so I was always passive-aggressive.
Seun: That was the problem. There were weeks when you didn’t say a word to me, and I thought you were a snobbish ajebutter. It’s true sha. I’m not easy to live with. But we never had a real fight. We just hated each other in silence.
Getting drunk and becoming friends
Seun: The first time I ever felt close to you beyond our cold “heys” and “hellos” was that night in our second semester when I came back to the room drunk and sick after a party.
Jacob: How could I ever forget that night? You usually came back drunk on weekends, but this time was different. You kept throwing up, and I thought you would vomit your intestine. I didn’t like you, but I wasn’t going to let you choke on your own vomit, so I got a bucket, sat beside you, rubbed your back and prayed you wouldn’t die right before exams started.
Seun: Jacob, you were thinking about exams? I was really sick that night, and you stayed up with me until I got it all out of my system and slept. I woke up the next day and just knew, this guy has seen me at my lowest, I have to get to know him.
Jacob: You’ve gotten lower than that, Seun.
I was taken aback by how nice you became after that night. I still didn’t like you, but you were persistent, always trying to start a conversation with me, so I started warming up to you too. You’re not that bad when you’re not causing wahala up and down.
We ended up getting a place together after our second year. You still didn’t clean well, but I agreed it was a cross I’d bear for our friendship.
Seun: At least you managed me until we graduated.
Parties, late nights and life after university
Jacob: Life after we finished university was wild. I was jealous of all the fun you and your other friends had when we were in school. You guys went to parties while I was spending my nights trying to maintain my first class. The pressure was a lot, so after university, I decided to do all the things I missed out on.
Seun: Those were the good times. We would close from work on Fridays, go dancing and only sleep on Sunday nights. We did that until you got tired of it.
Jacob: It wasn’t for me, but I was glad I got it out of my system.
Three years after university, I knew I wanted to settle down. I’d been dating my girlfriend back in university on and off, but we reconnected again, and I asked her to marry me when I was just 25.
Seun: I never felt like a third wheel when both of you were dating in university, but the moment you got married, I started noticing you becoming distant until I felt like a stranger.
Taking a break from our friendship
Jacob: I don’t think I changed when I got married. I just rearranged my priorities. I’d done the partying thing with you and realised it wasn’t what I was into. The problem is, you were still really, and I mean, really into going to parties. You wanted to go out, and I wanted to stay at home all the time. We wanted different things.
Seun: But just like in university, you could have communicated this better. You never returned my calls, and I started seeing less of you. It was like I did something wrong but didn’t know what it was.
Jacob: I started feeling guilty for always postponing our outings, so I decided to avoid the conversation altogether.
Seun: Smart move. I asked you several times what was going on.
Jacob: I know now that it was wrong. I should’ve just spoken to you about it. Then the kids came, and life just revolved around them. That’s when the gap widened between us.
Seun: I felt unwanted, so I kept to myself too. It broke my heart because you’d been like my brother for so long. But it was clear you needed space, so I gave you space. Your move to the UK in 2003 didn’t make it easier — NITEL calls weren’t cheap.
Jacob: Sho get? Those bills used to be crazy. The break wasn’t expected, but it was necessary at the time. We were on different paths.
Reconnecting and rebuilding life together after a separation
Seun: I made new friends, but you were still my best friend, even if we didn’t talk. While you were away in the UK, I still found ways to find out how you were doing. Your wife and I share mutual friends; unlike you, she communicated with them.
I was shocked when I ran into you at a wedding in 2010. I didn’t know what to say.
Jacob: I was shocked too. I’d just separated from my wife in 2009, so I came back to Lagos to pull myself together. I remember I broke down that night when I was talking to you. So much time had passed. It was the first and only time you’ve seen me cry.
Seun: That’s why I didn’t know what to say. I’d heard about the separation but seeing how hard it hit you put things in perspective for me. You’ve always been a family guy, so having that part of your life end must’ve been really hard. I knew I couldn’t be angry anymore. I had to be there for you.
Jacob: You were my unofficial therapist back then. We talked and talked, and I was surprised by how you’d changed. You still liked parties, but you switched nightclubs for owambes. LOL. Just having someone to talk to helped me during that period.
40+, single and thriving together
Seun: Crazy how we’re almost 50, and we’re still single men.
Jacob: We’re not the same. I’ve been married, so my case is different. I never saw myself being single in my 50s, but it looks like that’s how it’ll be, and I’m getting comfortable with it. We’re the weird single uncles at weddings now. It would’ve been much more challenging if I didn’t have you to plan activities with.
Seun: I knew I wouldn’t ever get married, so I’ve mentally prepared for this phase of my life. But you’ll still meet someone soon, Mr Romantic. Hopefully, I’ll still be in your life if that happens again.
Jacob: You can count on it.
I want you to know
Seun: Even though our friendship hasn’t been perfect, I want you to know I’ll always have your back. I shouldn’t have stepped back when I noticed you were pulling away. I feel sad about the time we lost, but I know we have the rest of our lives to make up for it.
Jacob: Do we have that much time? Remember we’re almost 50 o.
Seun: Thank you so much for holding my hand through one of the darkest periods of my life. Looking at our friendship, I realise many things can come and go, but real friendships hold you through everything. I appreciate you for doing just that. Here’s to 50 more years.
Seun: You and who? I plan on clocking out at 80 tops. LOL.
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